Facts about the lake:
- Area: 360 acres (5/8 of a square mile)
- Maximum depth: 30 feet
- Typical depth: 10 feet
- Maximum width: 1 mile
- Location: Amesbury (60%) and Merrimac (40%)
1712 – Dam constructed
The dam was constructed at the north side of the lake by John Wadliegh, adding 3 feet to the maximum water level of the lake. The added water capacity was needed to maintain water flow in the Powow River during dry spells so that water-powered mills along the river in Amesbury could continue to operate. (Source: History of Essex County)
1750 (Approx) – Archbrook culvert connects Meadowbrook to Powow River
“Caleb [Pillsbury] and family removed to Amesbury in 1727, and he became a leading citizen of that town. He and Orlando Bagley devised a plan to tunnel Pond Ridge in order that the waters of Lake Attitash might flow more directly into Powow river, and also drain a large meadow north of the lake so that its crop of hay might be more valuable and more easily harvested. It is said that the two men who dug this very successful Isthmian canal received as their pay a barrel of rum.”
From Historic Homes and Places, Volume 2, by William Richard Cutter, 1908.
Late 1800s – Kimball’s Pond renamed Attitash
The name of Kimball’s Pond was changed to Lake Attitash, which means “blueberries all around.” The original name of the lake, Kimball’s Pond, is shown on colonial period maps and originated from the name of the family who owned the surrounding lands.
Writing in an 1885 issue of The Bay State Monthly, Frances Sparhawk seems to attribute the new name of the lake, Attitash, to local poet John Greenleaf Whittier and his poem, “The Maids of Attitash”:
At Pond Hills, between Amesbury and Merrimac, is lake Attitash, which, before Mr. Whittier took pity upon it, rejoiced in the name of Kimball’s Pond. … In the “Maids of Attitash” is described the lake where
“In sky and wave the white clouds swam,
And the blue hills of Nottingham
Through gaps of leafy green
Across the lake were seen.”
All these are still here, but one misses the maidens who ought to be sitting there
“In the shadow of the ash
That dreams its dream in Attitash.”
1876 – Lake Attitash divided between Amesbury and Merrimac
On April 11, the section of Amesbury called West Amesbury became the Town of Merrimac. “Division line runs from Merrimac river to south side of Lake Attitash, thence obliquely to state line.”
From Chronological Record of the Principal Events That Have Occurred in Amesbury by Emily Binney Smith, 1901.
1893 – Strathmere Club founded
From Chronological Record of the Principal Events That Have Occurred in Amesbury by Emily Binney Smith, 1901:
“In 1893, the Strathmere Club ‘was founded to improve Lake Attitash.'”
Strathmere Club was incorporated in 1896, according to incorporation papers at the Registry of Deeds in Salem, Mass. The club still exists on the northern shore of Lake Attitash as a parcel of land with several private homes.
1903 – Lake Attitash and Attitash Park promoted by trolley line
From “A Delightful Trolley Trip” essay on a 1903 timetable published by the Haverhill & Amesbury Street Railway:
“At the northern limit of [Merrimac], and but a short distance from the track, Lake Attitash nestles among the surrounding wooded hills, already a popular summer resort for Merrimac and Amesbury people. This is a most delightful place, its groves and lake breezes being enjoyable in summer, and well worth a visit. On the southerly side and immediately on the line of the railroad lies Attitash Park, which is being extensively promoted by Lynn and Haverhill parties. A large number of house lots have been sold and this promises to be one of the most popular resorts in this vicinity.”
Attitash Park includes land near today’s Attitash Ave., Lake Ave., Bisson Lane, and the state boat ramp in Merrimac.
1905 – Fire destroys cottages and stables
“Fire, supposed to have been of incendiary origin, destroyed eight summer cottages and two stables at Lake Attitash, Mass., Friday, November 24, with a property loss of $5,000, partially covered by insurance.”
From The Standard, an insurance newspaper in Boston. Issue covering July 1, 1905 to January 1, 1906.
1907 – Ice company borrows money for railway to Merrimack River
From the December 1907 issue of of Cold Storage and Ice Trade Journal:
“The Lake Attitash Ice & Transportation Company has given a mortgage for $225,000 in favor of the International Trust Company of Boston. It covers all the real, personal and mixed estate owned or to be acquired by the company, and it secures an issue of 6 per cent, bonds amounting to $225,000. Daniel H. Fowle, of Newburyport, has conveyed several parcels of land in Merrimac to the company. One measuring 160 by 820 feet is located near Lake Attitash, two containing buildings are on the River Road, and one containing buildings is on the main road to Amesbury.
“James E. Fowle has conveyed five lots of land in Attitash Park, in Merrimac, to the company. [Attitash Park includes land near today’s Attitash Ave., Lake Ave., Bisson Lane, and the state boat ramp in Merrimac.] The company has published a map showing its proposed railway between the lake and the Merrimac River, as well as the water route between its ice houses on the river and Boston.”
1908 – Attitash ice company marketing stock and bonds
From the February 1908 issue of Cold Storage and Ice Trade Journal:
“George W. Eldridge, vice-president of the Lake Attitash Ice and Transportation Company, has been marketing the company’s stock and bonds, and, incidentally, on May 14, he delivered a “private” lecture at Music Hall, Newburyport, his subject being: “The Lake Attitash Ice and Transportation Company; what it has done and what it intends to do.” He gave a history of the company and described its proposed plant as published in Cold Storage And Ice Trade Journal of November and December, 1907.
“He said that before he joined the company he investigated its prospects and found that it was a “veritable gold mine”; that Lake Attitash was 100 feet deep and covered several hundred acres; that the lake was fed by springs of pure water and that it lay, “as it has from time immemorial, untrammeled by the hand of man”; that 2,000,000 tons of ice could be cut from the lake annually, ice from 10 to 18 inches thick having been cut there during the ice famine winter of 1905-1906; and that the runway from the lake to the Merrimack River and the ice houses would be ready for ice on January first, 1909â€”although his description of the present conditions seemed to indicate that little progress had been made on the construction during the past three or four months.
As he calculates it, the company will be able to sell ice in Boston for less (?) than $2 per ton and make a profit of at least $1 per ton! Capt. Eldridge claims the honor of suggesting that the company go into the freight business, and, like Col. Sellers, he has the profits therefrom figured to a nicety. According to his prospectus, the company can tow freight from Haverhill and Newburyport to Boston for 240 days per year and can probably handle 800 tons of freight daily at a net profit of $1 per ton, but if it handles only 100 tons per day, the annual net earnings from that source would be $24,000.
Capt. Eldridge is an authority on charts and tides, being the publisher of Eldridge’s Charts and Tide Tables for the past 40 years; and he illustrated his lecture with his charts of the company’s property and the routes of its vessels. The Lake Attitash Company is getting a goodly amount of free advertising, which is intended to help sell its securities. It has sold 6 per cent, first mortgage gold bonds, amounting to $53,000, the total allotment being $100,000.”
1908 – Ice company buys land for saw mill
From the February 1908 issue of Cold Storage and Ice Trade Journal:
“The Lake Attitash Ice and Transportation Company has bought some woodland near its Lake Attitash property, where it has installed a portable saw mill, which will be run until it has cut enough lumber to build its ice houses, carrier railway to the Merrimack River, and other buildings needed in its ice business.
“As stated in last month’s letter, the company proposes to cut what ice it can this winter and protect it with hay and roofing material. Work on the construction of its houses, tugs and barges will be commenced in the spring. Ice was 8 inches thick on Lake Attitash on January 21.”
1931 – Camp Bauercrest established
Camp Bauercrest was founded in 1931 by four Jewish community centers north of Boston. The land occupied by the camp was purchased from Ralph Bauer, who was the mayor of Lynn at the time. (His name is incorporated into the camp name.)
President Calvin Coolidge, a friend of Mayor Bauer, frequented the camp according to a plaque on the grounds.
More history needed! If you have more historical facts (including geological history) appropriate for this page, please contact the association.