The script for Wendigo was generic and short. The idea was to find a location that would speak to the themes and expand the scope and depth of the story. Such a place was to be found just 100 miles north of New York City in Ulster County, Here is a history that reads like a fable.
Before the dam, 1906
Last bucket, 1912

8000 years before the birth of Christ, the Esopus Indians inhabited the region now known as the Catskill Mountains in Upstate NY. There they hunted and trapped for centuries along the waters they called the Ashokan, or "Place of many fishes."

Everything was to change in the 1600’s when Dutch settlers made their way up the Hudson River and began trading with the Native Americans. Conflicts erupted between the settlers and the Esopus tribes which escalated into the Indian Wars of the 1660s. The Indians burned the Capitol City of Kingston twice, and it was twice rebuilt: the victories of the Indians were short-lived as increasing numbers of settlers moved into the area. By 1779, the Indigenous people had been driven from the area altogether, leaving behind only their legends and the names they’d given the land: Shandaken, Peekamoose, Tongore, Ashoken …

For the next 100 years, the new settlers developed the rich, rocky soil into farmland and timberland and with the introduction of a railroad and highway system, were able to grow their economy by distributing goods to far-reaching markets. Cut from the belly of the Catskill Mountains, the area’s "blustone" quarries became the source for New York City’s sidewalks. And seasonal tourists from the city swelled to capacity the Catskill boarding houses during the summer months. But New York City was to impact the area far more permanently in the turn of the next century.

In 1907, it was decreed that a reservoir to provide the city with drinking water was to flood 8 Upstate towns, and all the inhabitants were to be displaced.

The decision uprooted 2000 people and claimed

8 villages
Dozens of sawmills, blacksmith shops, stores.
1500 barns
10 schools
10 churches
32 cemeteries were moved, comprised of 2800 exhumed bodies.

"Even the Dead…will not be permitted to rest"
–local pamphlet published 1909.

A feet of engineering, the Ashokan Reservoir is considered "the last of the hand-made damns."

12 miles long,
40 miles of shoreline.
132,000,000,0000 gallons of water.
90–190 feet deep

Seven years to construct 1907-1914. A workforce that swelled from 3,000 to 4,000 workers, primarily Italian imigrants, but also Austrians, Russians, Irish, a Greek...138 American Blacks lived in segregated quarters.

There was a toll of 288 workers dead, 8,839 injured; 2 murders and seven executions.

They say years later when the water was low, you could see a church steeple jutting from the surface of the reservoir, evoking an underwater ghostown; old stores and farm houses silent beneath the surface. But in truth, all the buildings had been removed, and the earth scoured.

The project ruined the lives of many local families; some prosperred. It brought scores of imigrant workers from all over the world, and established new generations of people to inhabit the land.

A Century later, 2001, while the reservoir stands steadfast and the relocated towns have regained identity, New York City urbanites are moving up for the unspoiled country and changing the face of the population again.

History is a chronicle of the usurption of the land, whether by violence or coersion.

The wendigo is hungry...always hungry...

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