In a joint project, the Richmond Pond Association and the Richmond Historical Commission produced a book titled The Gem of Richmond: A History of Richmond Pond. The editor was Ken Kelly of Lenox and Richmond, the attractive cover was designed by Valeri Reynolds and Jennifer Coughlin. Many writers contributed to the book and it was published by Troy Book Makers. Although the 160-page book is paperback, it and subsequent pages are premium glossy paper, capable of being passed down from generation to generation.
There is something in this book for everyone, especially if you are a local history buff. It covers the period from the Holocene Glacial Retreat, about 12,000 years ago, to the present. Richmond Pond (formerly called South Pond) began as a 98-acre glacial pond, scraped from limestone and marble bedrock by advancing glaciers thousands of years ago. At the time, it was about 30 feet deep near the center. Over the years, a dam was built, breached, raised and rebuilt a couple of times to reach the point where it stands today, spanning 218 acres and over 50 feet deep. About 120 acres of what was prime farmland is now part of the lake bed.
It is believed that the first inhabitants of the area were the Paleoindians, and later the Mohicans. According to the book, in the late 1700s, the pond would have been in mesotrophic conditions (average amounts of nutrients present). As the nutrients, temperature change, and oxygen levels worked in balance, the pond became a great habitat for fish and wildlife. In the 1700s settlers arrived and built the first dam for industrial use, and the process of eutrophication (increased plant growth) began.
The book covers everything that happened after that: the farming and subsequent sale of surrounding farmland, the construction of nearby train tracks on the western side of the pond, the conversion of various sections of land into camps, residential areas, beaches and a boat ramp. , and the people who were directly involved along the way.
Chapter 3 of the book is about fish and wildlife. Large catches of pike occurred in the mid-to-late 1860s, and “most of the fish were of good size.” Around that time, non-native largemouth bass (bigmouth) and white bass (white perch, maybe) were stocked. More than 50 feet deep, the lake, and its cold water in some areas, allowed rainbow, brown, and brook trout to thrive. Now, there are 10 species of freshwater fish found in that pond, most of which at one time or another were legally stocked.
But not all. In 1979, Lois Kelly (Ken’s mother) caught a 20-pound, 42 1/2-inch northern pike. According to Ken, it was probably the result of “private detective stockings” or “bait bucket introductions”. The book illustrates a couple of images of other successful fishermen.
It references The History of the County of Berkshire, Massachusetts, published in 1829, which included a list of animals, fish, birds, reptiles, and plants that existed near Richmond Pond in those days. Except for the wolf, the lynx and the cougar, they are all still there. The wild turkey was gone by then, but as you know, the State has reintroduced them and they are now thriving. The book lists an impressive variety of migratory waterfowl that visit the pond annually.
There are chapters titled “Old Times” and “Early Settlers”. They mention, in quite some detail, the first inhabitants (Mohicans) and how they were displaced by European colonization and what they in turn did to the land. One chapter dealt with the expansions of the pond over the years, another the effects of the railways.
The chapter covering ice harvesting is quite interesting. Gray-haired people like me remember well the blocks of ice delivered by the ice man who put them in our “ice boxes”. That was before the Frigidaire came on the scene. There are photos of people sawing blocks of ice by hand, of ice chutes used to load the blocks onto the nearby railway, and of ice houses, one of which is the Shaker Village Ice House.
Some eight summer camps existed on that lake at different times, beginning in the 1890s, and the book covers each one. Oh! Memories of the local teenagers fishing and swimming in the lake back then, always trying to hatch a plan to penetrate the perimeter of the girls’ camps.
The book covers the various community associations that currently exist there, as well as some of its notable business neighbors.
There is much more I could mention about the book, but I don’t want to reveal all the secrets it contains. Suffice to say, it’s a good read and I highly recommend it. Ken and his team did a great job.
I understand that the book is already in its third edition. It can be purchased at Bartlett’s, Balderdash Cellars, Shaker Mill Books, Hancock Shaker Village, and The Bookstore in Lenox.
At $20, it’s a steal.
spring fishing derby
The Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club is sponsoring a spring fishing derby on Sunday, May 22, at the Stockbridge Bowl Boat Ramp. It will run from sunrise to 3 p.m. Cash prizes of $100 will be awarded to the lucky anglers who catch the heaviest trout or salmon, pike, bass and catfish. There will be free lures for all children under 12 years old. The pre-registration cost is $10 and the post-registration cost is $15.
Tickets are available from: Minkler Insurance Agency at 31 Main Street, Stockbridge or (w) 413-644-3590, (h) 413-298-4630 or contact any club member. Official Rules can be picked up at the boat ramp.
I was away last week and couldn’t get a list of the local waters supplied before I left. For the most recent stocking waters, click: Mass.gov/service-details/trout-stocking-report.
Endangered Species Day is coming up
Join MassWildlife on May 20 to recognize the 432 plants and animals that are considered rare in Massachusetts. These rare species play an important role in keeping the natural communities of the Commonwealth prosperous. MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) focuses on the conservation of rare species and their habitats throughout Massachusetts.
On Endangered Species Day, and every day of the year, you can make a difference in the conservation of rare species. That is how:
Report Rare Species – Help MassWildlife monitor rare plants and animals by telling them when you see the species. If you have information about the location of a rare species or spring pool and would like to help NHESP keep its database up to date, please submit your observations through the Heritage Hub.
Donate to Support Rare Species – You can make a big impact by donating directly to NHESP. You might consider making a $4.32 donation on May 20 to honor the 432 animals and plants on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act List. All money donated goes towards the conservation of the rare animals and plants that call Massachusetts home. Your donation goes toward the equipment and services needed to give these species a fighting chance.
Massachusetts Pistol License Course
On Sunday, May 22, from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm, the Lee Sportsmen’s Association will host a Massachusetts Handgun License Course (LTC-020), which qualifies participants to apply for an FID or LTC from Massachusetts, plus pistol licenses in Connecticut, Florida, etc. This comprehensive one-day course includes information on federal and state firearms laws, safe firearm operation and handling, shooting fundamentals, care and cleaning, concealed carry methods, a live shooting session in the field indoor shooting range LSA and much more.
The cost of the course is $160 payable in cash on the day of the course. State license application fees and processing are not included. Participants will receive a course certificate, application forms, other resources, and supporting documents. Participants will also receive new safety glasses and earmuffs for Walker, which will stay with them. Club membership applications will be available on the course.
To register, visit www.NRApistolinstructor.com and use the contact form; providing your full name, including middle initial, date of birth, course date, course selection, address, phone, and email contact information. For questions or concerns, and if you need help registering for a course, please contact Robert McDermott at 413-232-7700 or email [email protected].