Since writing further about John Fish’s lake situated under the Henderson General Hospital (Juravinski), I have been deluged, not by water but emails and many discussions about its origin.
It could be located under the hospital from the Sherman Cut westwardly to Poplar Ave. It is believed that improper dynamiting done around the escarpment face in 1922 caused the layers of limestone rock to shatter some distance south of the escarpment when the “New Road,” as it was called, was hacked out and rock was carted off by horse and wagon.
This dynamiting may be the reason that water started leaking from a great underground body of water, pushing its way northward to the rock face. If it is cold enough, great ice cones appear regularly as the water from the great underground lake freezes when exposed to the atmosphere.
I have tried to convince skeptics that the water pooled under the escarpment face is water that runs downhill from Mt. Hope, the highest elevation between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. In the year 1900, plans were considered for underground water from Lake Erie that had pooled south of Mt. Hope to be channeled downhill through pipes to Hamilton where great turbines would produce electricity.
But the plan was a dream and way too costly. Without man’s help, water from Erie continued to leak downhill from Mt. Hope to the escarpment where several waterfalls were fed. Now you know how Mt. Hope was named!
No towering mountain graces the landscape there for the land is as flat as a pancake. Until 1929, the Mountain Brow land north of Concession Street from Webb’s Quarry (Jolley Cut) to Mountain Drive Park was owned and maintained by the City of Hamilton.
Flooding was a major problem for city folk below the brow so a ditch known as the “Concession St. Ditch” was dug to run water from the top of the Jolley Cut to the Wentworth Street drain that connected with the lower city sewer system.
A water tower was erected at Webb’s Quarry that drew groundwater up to supply running water to the Mountain residents. The tower was removed in the 1950s and a gazebo built in its place. It is still there, providing a welcome rest spot for walkers.
The “city ditch” described in Jerry Johansen’s book “Concession Street in Context” (1994) is in actual fact the Concession Ditch as I have described. The “old city ditch” was dug years later to control flood water and sewage overflow between Inverness Avenue and Upper Gage Avenue.
It was much wider and deeper than the Concession Ditch.
Several quarries were exposed over the years due to excavation for limestone. They were the Hannon Quarry, the Gage Avenue Quarry and Webb’s Quarry. Somewhere under the prehistoric rock shelf known as the escarpment, several mystery lakes have been pooled up in dank, deep cavernous caves, all created by Erie water running north and pooling up.
Engineer McFaul thought John Fish was nuts and some will say I’m a little nuts as well. We’ll see who laughs last when the mystery lake breaks out at Henderson Falls.
Mountain historian Colwyn Beynon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.