Where’s Waldo?

J. Waldo Smith, engineer, and George B. McClellan, NYCMayor, are each honored on the “McClellan Monument” shown above in an early post card. The structure, near the Ashokan Reservoir dam, commemorates the amazing feat of sending millions of gallons of water per day to New York City from 92 miles upstream in the Catskill Mountains.

The historical text on the monument reads as follows:

This work was planned in 1897 and begun June 9, 1905 with the appointment of the Commissioners of the Board of Water Supply. Exactly four months thereafter­–October 9, 1905– a map plan and estimate of cost as a complete project calling for the delivery of 500 million gallon of water daily from the Catskill Mountains was made to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Sod was turned for the first contract on June 20, 1907 and on December 27, 1915, the first delivery of water was made from the Ashokan Reservoir to the City of  New York.


McClellan Monument [Photo by JJ Wadlin, 2017]

Photo by JJ Wadlin, 2017.

The inscription left reads:

In Tribute to
J. Waldo Smith
Engineer of Water Supply
New York City 1903-1933
1861 (medallion portrait) 1933
Man of vision and of courage
Leader and counselor of men
Student of the human heart
He inspired his associates
And adorned his profession
The Catskill Water System is
his enduring monument

None knew thee but to love thee
Nor named thee but to praise thee
Erected by his friends in 1936




To visit the McClellan monument and the Ashokan Reservoir with its panoramic view of the Catskills:

From the Thruway in Kingston take Route 28 West about three miles. Turn left onto Route 28A (BBQ restaurant on corner). Go about ten miles on 28A to designated Ashokan Reservoir parking area. Walk across Monument Road about one mile to the McClellan/Smith tower.

On that walk are interesting informational signs, including one that indicates the names of the different Catskill mountains you are looking at across the water. Another information sign is about the building of the system. Want to know the entire story of the project? Best volumen on the subject: “Liquid Assets” by Diane Galusha has been updated and is available again at most bookstores or online.