The Old Badger
Originally published in The Freeman’s Journal on Aug. 3, 1977.
Willow Brook runs into Otsego Lake near the foot of Pioneer Street. Its course has been altered to run down the far side of a strip of land there, which is being readied for whatever is going to be built – probably houses. The brook ends at the Lake, but … Where does it begin?
I’ll trace it to its source by going upstream, like an eel. Once it leaves the Lake, the first obstacle is what we call Lake Street – at first it was First Street. This used to be a busy section of town: a tannery, a smithy and a butcher shop on the Lake side of the road with Cory’s coffin factory and Weeks Livery on the other. The brook runs under the road and along the edge of the skating rink behind the Cooper Inn (which Henry Phinney built in 1816 as a residence, calling it “Willowbrook”), under a delicate stone-arched foot bridge and then through a base of a fine stone wall and into a tunnel where it moves diagonally under Main Street toward the space between the banks.
In observer in 1909 wrote that “in front of Slote’s is dug very deep, as they are turning the course of Willow Brook close to the First National Bank, so as to have room to put up the new building of the (Otsego) Farmer (It actually became Crist Publishing Company and later the Second National Bank, then the National Commercial (and now Key Bank). The walls of the stream area made of concrete, and the top also, but what’s going to keep the top from falling in, no one knows.”