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  • Writer's pictureWesley Krombel


Updated: May 24, 2022

Candlewood Lake, the largest lake in Connecticut at 8.4 square miles, has more fascinating history behind it than you may have known. Candlewood Lake lays in the far western portion of the state just north of Danbury and a few miles from the New York border.


You don’t have to go too far back in time before realizing that the lake did not exist as recently as the 1920’s. In the early 1900’s the U.S. was experiencing the infancy of the electrical age. Demand was increasing and Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) had a seemingly ‘bright’ idea that drew power by hydroelectric method.

In comes J Henry Roarback to the picture. He became the president of CL&P in the late 1910’s and had numerous ties to politicians and large sources of assets. This greatly assisted his push for CL&P’s proposal to create the state’s new biggest lake and he managed to do so in remarkable time given the era.



Yes, there is a town that was literally flooded when Candlewood Lake was created and still sits at the bottom to this day. Crazy, right?! Let’s dive deeper on this though (pun intended). Before the lake was created, CL&P had to lay out and execute the “Rocky River Basin Project”. This required a team of surveyors to accurately pin point the estimated 440ft elevation line, construction of a large dam & multiple dikes and CL&P had to acquire over 5,000 acres of land for the project to move forward. Many land owners sold their land for approximately $1,000/acre while others lost their property by eminent domain or waited for the waters to rise. Most of the land sat in a valley with wetlands in a small town named Jerusalem. The town had farms, homes and two cemeteries. Don’t worry, workers were paid $1.00/per body to dig up the burials prior to completion.

The construction of the power house. Construction commenced on July 26, 1926


Well, there are remains that do exist at the bottom of the lake to this day despite it being nearly 100yrs since the lake was created. Videos of divers can be found online showing remains that has lived at the bottom of the lake. The town of Jerusalem had 31 roadways - some of which can still be identified on a dive. Other remains include foundations, farming equipment and even a small bridge. About 100 buildings were lost, 35 families were displaced and 412 buried bodies were properly exhumed and moved to a cemetery in Brookfield, CT.

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