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Thursday, January 22, 2015

    One more beautiful day to add to our cold January.  It was a tad warmer today - actually pretty darned nice until the clouds came over us shortly after noon.  The temperature actually got into the 20's above zero.  Back below the zero mark tonight, I'm afraid, but no significant weather until this weekend.
    Every day when I take my walk up Jamie and Marie's driveway I think, "I should have brought the camera."  Today I remembered!  Between huffing and puffing my way up the hill, I stopped to take some shots of the snow.  It made the trip much easier - I usually try to do it without stopping.  Most days I can do that ok, but if I've missed a day or two, then it's much harder and I sometimes have to stop and let my muscles relax.  So take the walk with me up the hill and back down.  (Slides)
    We have just posted the new Schedule of Events for the 2015 season.  Joe's Pond Association members note the spring meeting is earlier than usual, and that's because the pavilion has an early rental.  Other events are pretty much the same as usual, and we're all looking forward to being able to open things up and get going as soon as spring arrives.  That's way too far in the future to think about right now, but some of you still may want to mark your calendars so you can at least plan ahead for your summer activities.
    I've been searching old newspapers for Joe's Pond news items in the newly digitized newspaper collections and I've been fascinated that almost all the cottages built very early here were given names.  I knew a lot of them had names, but I never realized they dated back quite as far as they do.  Quite a number have retained the original names - but others have been lost over time.  Some were pretty complicated, like "Madawaska" and the Dole family's "Alsunelha;" some were kind of silly, like M. V. Dow's "Uneda-Rest" and the Kellogg's "Camp Tokumto."  Then there were the more obvious, R. C. Sulloway's "Harmony Lodge," Dr. Farmer's "Outlook," and C. H. Richardson's "Island Rest," which was of course the big island that earlier had been called "Tara," and later "Priest's Island," and now "Toll Island."  That's only a small sampling, and some, like the Petty's "The Shack," may have had a ring of truth.  Some of the early "cottages" were pretty crude by today's standards, but the were nearly all rather quickly made into wonderful retreats for their owners, and many provided a fairly good source of income from rentals - not unlike many of the places on the pond today.  At one point, around 1916, it was noted in the St. Johnsbury Caledonian that nearly all the cottages on the pond were full, many people staying for the season, others coming from St. Johnsbury for weekends, and there was something going on nearly every day.  Organizations, schools, churches and individuals held meetings, picnics, "outings," and field days, coming usually by train early in the morning from St. Johnsbury or Danville and returning in the evening.  The roads were not very good, and what few automobiles there were often got bogged down in mud if there was a heavy rain.  These were the latest models in 1914.  The automobile was virtually useless in the winter, and owners just put them away and got out the horse and sleigh.  Those skinny tires were not designed for either mud or snow.  By the time the automobile appeared, plank roads were a thing of the past, but in the very early days, either logs or planks were commonly used for roads, but they didn't last very long, so eventually roads were somewhat graded using dirt.  It was not uncommon on early roads to have water bars across them, and these made for a very rough ride.  Sometimes carriages or wagons were damaged if the bars were too deep or the horses were going too fast.  Eventually they learned to crown the roads to help shed water, and used stones instead of logs or planks in marshes.
    It must have been quite a sight seeing the train stop at the crossing near where our pavilion is now to let passengers off or take them on; and it was not unusual for two or three hundred people to congregate at Lake Side Park for picnics and swimming.  At one outing, there were 500 attending.  There was a small store and a pavilion, and swings and hammocks in the shelter of the trees at the park, and boats to rent.  There were at least three steam boats giving rides around the pond - the first mentioned in 1892 was owned by Carl Gray, and in 1897 Capt. J. S. Thompson of Lyndonville launched his; in 1899, J. S. Sanborn launched the "Minneola."  These would carry 12 or more passengers.  Who knew!?

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