Northeastern Section - 40th Annual Meeting (March 14–16, 2005)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


BRICE, William R., Geology & Planetary Science, Univ of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Johnstown, PA 15904,

In August of 1908 the case of The People vs New York Carbonic Acid Gas came before the courts of New York, seeking an injunction against NYCAG to stop pumping groundwater as it was alleged to be causing harm to the springs at Saratoga. And as these springs had been a landmark, not to mention tourist revenue producer, for over 100 years, this pumping had to be stopped. After several legal battles and injunctions, the trial was set for January 25, 1910 in Albany. James F. Kemp, Columbia University (formerly at Cornell), was called as a witness for NYCAG and an attorney in Saratoga Springs, W. S. Ostrander (Cornell class of ‘81), asked H. S. Williams, a professor of Geology at Cornell, for an opinion. Eventually Williams was asked by the Attorney General, Ed O’Malley to be the State’s expert witness. But there were so many postponements and changes in court dates that Williams never actually got to testify. Williams did contribute material and did work on the case, but he had problems getting paid. At one point the case even reached the U. S. Supreme Court and it dragged on until 1913. But on the strength of his involvement and work in Saratoga Springs, in 1913 Williams was appointed to the Advisory Council of the Commissioners of the State Reservations. But the anticipated court meeting of the two Cornellians, Williams and Kemp, never took place.