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.