Slow, painful death

Headlines, time-tarnished photos describing Fairfield's final years

The death of Fairfield was slow. It took years, meetings, deals, budget hearings, cuts, scrapes, bruises and, in the end, none of it made any difference.

The main downtown buildings in Fairfield were gutted and eventually destroyed for their brick content. At the top is the old Loper buggy works. The Odd Fellows Hall and the Masonic Lodge were abandoned as well.

It wasn't a given that Fairfield would survive in any form. With so few houses, many assumed no new community could be created. As time went on, it became clear that at least a few wanted to stay close to home.

Flooding on the Ohio River in 1937 spurred congressional action on high-water management. The programs were part of an ongoing government Depression relief effort. Most of the work hit a dead end when World War II began.

Much of Fairfield's history was on the west side of the Whitewater River, where the original road from Brookville northward came into Fairfield, crossing the covered bridge. The closing of Battle Point Road was more symbolic than annoying.

The four people in Franklin County who were NOT on the reservoir board were probably already planning to move because someone had decided to build a dam.

Early on, opposition to the project was substantial but gradually withered as residents in the valley, one by one, began to sell in the face of impossible odds. A proposal to create a watershed system for the valley instead of the reservoir met with sufficient study but minimal interest.

Naturally, everyone in Brookville enjoyed the prospects of the reservoir, sensing an economic boom that didn't actually ever materialize. Instead, the town did what all other towns at the foot of a dam do -- they sold boats, usually their own. And bait. But parades are nice.