Windham Life and Times – April 6, 2017

Eastern Illustrating Company

Whip-O-Will Pond A.K.A. Seavey Pond in Windham NH. Courtesy of Penobscot Marine Museum.

WHIP-O-WILL POND, WINDHAM NH

The first group of photographs that I’ll be presenting, from the Eastern Illustrating Company collection, are associated with Route 28. In the 1920’s, Route 28 was a main, tourist and commercial, north-south highway in the Boston area. (Competing with Route 3 which crossed the New Hampshire border in Nashua.) Route 28 travels over 81 miles connecting Salem on the Massachusetts border with Ossipee in the White Mountain Region.  It passes through the city of Manchester on its way.

In Massachusetts, Route 28 runs 152 miles through Boston on its way to the Cape. Route 28 was established in 1922 as a result of the  phenomenal growth in automobile usage by the general public. The New England states adopted a region wide road marking system, with primary routes assigned a number between 1 and 99 marked with black numerals on yellow bands. Painted on poles along the roads. Most of these new, interstate, automobile roads followed the path of the old turnpikes that had been established in the early 19th century.

These early turnpikes grew up as a result of private enterprise. Private corporations would sell shares in order to raise money, with which they would build roads. The idea was to build as straight and smooth a road as possible and then to charge a toll every mile or so in order to make money on their investment. Private corporations built over 80 turnpikes with 500 miles of toll roads between 1796 and 1830.  There were two major turnpikes in Windham. The Mammoth Road which ran from Manchester to Lowell and the Londonderry Turnpike which ran from the Salem Border north to Concord. Much of Route 28 followed the old Londonderry Turnpike and then connected at the Massachusetts border with the Essex Turnpike that ended near Boston. For more information see The Turnpikes of New England and Evolution of the same through New England by James Wood and available free on google books.

As Route 28 was paved for automobile traffic, and as Americans had more leisure time and disposable income, there began a whole industry catering to automobile tourists. The Eastern Illustrating Company photographs, beautifully capture that emerging industry on Route 28 in Windham. While the area did have attractions such as Canobie Lake, Cobbett’s Pond and Rockingham Park, most of the traffic was passing through Windham to get to the Lakes Region and the White Mountains. So the industry that grew up along Route 28 was gas stations, overnight tourist cottages, restaurants and lunch counters,  as well as stores.

So, do any of you recognize this scene of Whip-O-Will Pond in Windham? How about you folks that live in Lamplighter Village? This view is of a beautiful, tranquil pond. The dam in the foreground really gives the spot away. It is Seavey Pond in Windham. before anything  was built on its shores.

Rural Oasis states that, “On Flatrock Brook, which flows from Derry through the northerly part of Windham, George Seavey built his mill east of the turnpike.  He dammed the brook north of the mill for the water supply necessary to run it. The pond he created is known as Seavey Pond and covers about ten acres.”

“Now the mill is gone. Today many residents of Windham could not even tell you where Seavey Pond is. Very little of the pond is visible from the highway; one must leave it to see the water. Since the construction of I-93 few people travel Route 28…The original colony on the lake was started by Gordon Costley and was known as Aqua Vista Cabins.” So here is the mystery; why is Seavey Pond shown as Whip-O-Will Pond on the Eastern Illustrating Company’s photograph?

 

 

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