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Lost Ponds of Longmeadow


Who doesn’t love relaxing next to (or swimming in) a body of water on a beautiful summer day? Longmeadow is blessed with an abundance of opportunities to enjoy natural water vistas. In addition to the Connecticut River, Longmeadow has four major brooks which, along with their associated tributaries and dingles, drain surface water to the Connecticut River. From north to south, they are Cooley Brook, Wheelmeadow Brook, Longmeadow Brook, and Raspberry Brook. 



Water in three of these brooks has, currently or historically, been impeded in its journey west by dams, creating ponds that served town residents for both industry and recreation. Three of these dams still exist: Longmeadow Swimming Pool – Pond Dam (on Cooley Brook in Laurel Park); Longmeadow Country Club Dam (on Longmeadow Brook at the Longmeadow Country Club); and Turner Park Dam (on Longmeadow Brook in Turner Park). Each of these ponds has its own story, but in this article I would like to talk about two dammed ponds that no longer exist.

 

Longmeadow Country Day School Pond


In 1923, a new private boarding school, the Longmeadow Country Day School for Younger Boys, began accepting students at its location at 30 Williams Street. Developed due to concerns of unwanted feminizing influences in boys’ education (brought on by too many female teachers), the school employed only male instructors, had small class sizes, and emphasized athletics such as football, baseball, and the “manly art of self-defense” (a/k/a, boxing). 


In 1929, he school moved south to 1087 Longmeadow Street, expanding to the neighboring 1077 Longmeadow Street in 1930. Prior to moving to this new location, the school built a dam on a small tributary of Longmeadow Brook and created a pond “for the children of the school to skate on…” According to the letter from the school to the County Commissioners, the school appears to have built the dam, then asked for permission after the fact. This small earthen dam created a half-acre pond. 



Enrollment at the private school plummeted at the start of the Depression. In 1931, Longmeadow Country Day School merged with Winchester Junior Academy and moved to Wilbraham, abandoning its facility in Longmeadow. The pond does not show up on any town maps and it does not exist today. It is likely that the dam was dismantled when the school left Longmeadow.


Noble Pond


Another pond, located east of Longmeadow Street and north of the Green, shows up on most early maps of Longmeadow. This pond dammed up water on Wheelmeadow Brook on its westerly path to the Connecticut River. On several maps, the pond is known as “Noble Pond”, probably because it was located behind 655 Longmeadow Street where Dr. Lester Noble lived. The Noble family later sold the house and property to Cora M. Page, who then sold it to H.L. Handy. In county records, the dam was also known as "Handy Company Dam".



Why was a dam constructed on Wheelmeadow Brook? We really don't know, but it might have been built to provide a reliable source of water for an early Longmeadow business. The 1831 map of Longmeadow shows a tannery at Wheelmeadow Brook on the east side of what is now Longmeadow Street. Water is integral to the leather tanning process; having a pond nearby would have ensured that there was always water available to the tanner when it was needed. 



The tannery does not appear on maps after 1831, but the pond does. Noble Pond last appears on the 1920 map of Longmeadow. Newspaper records from 1920 show that the pond was used for ice harvesting; John D. Allen, a farmer, leased this pond so that he could cut ice for local ice houses.


In 1932, Noble Pond served as a fingerling trout hatchery. A newspaper article explained that the Longmeadow Fish and Game Club was carefully feeding the baby trout chopped liver and beef hearts to help them grow. Heavy rains in November, however, overwhelmed the dam which broke and released all of the young trout to the Connecticut River.



The dam was not rebuilt and there is no longer a pond on Wheelmeadow Brook. But, perhaps some of those fingerling trout survived their release into the wild and their descendants are swimming in the Connecticut River today. 


-Contributed by Beth Hoff, Longmeadow Historical Society Board Member


Sources:


Archives of the Longmeadow Historical Society


Hampden County Registry of Deeds Dams File Collection Book D11 Town of Longmeadow Massachusetts


Springfield Republican, January 6, 1920; November 13, 1932 


Environmental Protection Agency, Waterbody Assessment and TMDL Status Longmeadow, MA

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