"Wild and dreary" is how Edgar Allan Poe describes the landscape in "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains" a story written years after his short stint as a student at UVA in the 1820s.
The region commonly called the Ragged Mountains is a long thin stretch of rugged and rural hills that extends for 14 miles southwest from Charlottesville. Starting just two miles from UVA, the Ragged Mountains was said to be a popular get away for UVA students in those early years.
In 1885, the city of Charlottesville joined forces with UVA to construct the first public water supply for the local community at the northern end of the Ragged Mountains. In 1908, in response to an increased population, Mayo's Dam (see link to Holsinger's photos below) was built downstream from the original dam, tripling the local water supply.
Much to local official's dismay, the new reservoir did not have a large enough watershed to fill itself and it became necessary to find another source of water. Engineers recommended laying a pipe to the cleanest, clearest water in the area - the Moorman's River. An 18" cast iron pipe - 13 miles in length - connected what was then called the "Charlottesville Reservoir" to a small dam in Sugar Hollow. The expanded Sugar Hollow Reservoir was created in the 1940s to assure a more consistent water flow. This pipeline still carries up to four million gallons of water per day to the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
Already a popular walking and fishing spot, for years the area was also being used for damaging and illegal activities such as off road vehicle use and hunting. In 1997, in order to provide long-term protection to the area, the Ivy Creek Foundation approached the City with a proposal to create the Ragged Mountain Natural Area at the site. The proposal allowed quiet hiking, fishing, and wildlife observation. In turn the Ivy Creek Foundation. agreed to fund, design and construct a rustic parking lot, conduct a biological survey, establish and maintain a trail system, and provide maps. To date, the Foundation has established seven miles of rustic walking trails around the two connected reservoirs.
The current proposal to expand the local water supply includes raising the reservoir 45 feet inundating most of the trail system and much of the history still visible along the trails.
Read more about Ragged Mountain in the Ivy Creek Foundation's "Site Plan and Review of the Ragged Mountain Natural Area."
Read on to learn more about the intriguing history of this area.
Holsinger Photos: 1908
Search with the keyword "dam"