CLA Pond Representative: Laurie Fitch
Around 1800 when Woodstock and southern Greenwood were being settled, the area surrounding the Alder River Ponds remained a wilderness. North Alder, South Alder & Round Alder were originally much smaller, separate ponds connected only by streams. The outlet of South Alder flowed west past the sand bar. At the western end of the channel it was joined by the outlet of Round Alder. The joining of the two brooks formed a large brook which flowed west joining with Alder River flowing out of North Alder. At this time, North Alder was contained north of the islands. South of the islands was a large meadow which the Estes Family used to mow for hay. Round Alder was round in those days and was contained in the area between the Big Island, Greenwood Road and Woodsum's Camp. At South Alder the water level was north of the present town beach. After the area had been settled for a few years, the pond names gradually got shortened down to North, South & Round Ponds.
In 1819 Samuel B. Locke built the first dam on the upper Alder River, Locke also built a saw mill, shingle mill & a grist mill below the dam. The early settlers referred to this place as Locke's Mills. Over a period of many years, the dam was continually rebuilt and enlarged. By 1915 the water level was about where it is today. The mill received it's first steam engine in 1869, but continued to operate on water-power, pulling the pond levels way down every summer. When the pond levels dropped too low for water power, the gate at the dam was closed and the steam engine would be fired up. The gate would remain closed until the pond levels were extremely high and the gate would be opened to start the water wheel in motion again.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s there were three hotels and a boarding house that catered to the summer boarders and sportsmen. The Mount Abram Hotel was located on Alder River at Locke's Mills. The Dudley Cottage was a summer hotel located at the northern end of North Pond. The Broadview Hotel was located on Howe Hill. The Mid Mountain Farm was a boarding house on Bird Hill. All of the above establishments ran stages to the railroad station at Locke's Mills.
The first two cottages were built in 1890. The Woodsurn Brothers built their cottage on the west shore of Round Pond. Reuben Rand built his cottage on the Little Island in South Pond. Henry Pearson built Camp Comfort on the east shore of North Pond around 1892. The period from 1900 to 1920 saw the majority of the early shore cottages being built. Gib Coffin bought a cottage on Twitchell Pond and had it moved to the west shore of Round Pond and named it Camp Pine Cone. Other early Round Pond cottages include: Edwards Cottage on the Big Island, Camp Evergreen on the west shore, Camp Echo &Outside Inn off the Marshall Road. Other early South Pond cottages include: Rowe and Packard Cottages on the Big Island and the Cushman Cottage at the sand bar. Another early cottage built on North Pond was the Island Cottage built by the Peverly Family. Three of the original cottages are now gone. Camp Comfort on North Pond was torn down in 1948. The Island Cottage on North Pond burned in 1959. The Outside Inn on Round Pond burned about 20 years ago.
By the early 1900s the mill was still operating on water power in the spring and early summer. It was becoming a real aggravation for the cottage owners to arrive for their summer vacation only to discover the ponds had shrunk. Their docks were left high and dry, water lines out of the water and their boats on a mud flat. The old wooden boats had to be launched in the spring and left to swell up. The campers were arriving to find their boats high and dry with wide open cracks. These boats could not be used for another two or three weeks or until the boards had re-swelled. At this time many of the cottage owners were friendly with the Tebbets Family who owned the mill. This group of original cottage owners worked out an agreement with the Tebbets Family to keep the water levels up during the summer. This agreement lasted until around 1964 when it was challenged by Lee Abbott. Mr. Abbott wanted low water so he could have more beach for his business, Abbott's Anchorage. Abbott found to his dismay, he stood alone against all of the cottage owners.