SHADOW LAKE AND “SHADOWLANDS”
“Shadowland” was a day resort on Shadow Lake. It was similar to many others in the area and featured a large swimming beach, store, with a pavilion over the water.
According to, At the Edge of Megalopolis, Shadow Lake was a “fair sheet of water hidden among the hills,” when surveyor Theophilus Satchwell discovered it in the 1600’s. It was known as Satchwell Pond while the area was claimed by Haverhill. The lake aquired its native American name of Hitty-Titty Pond when Salem became a town. Douglas Weed in his Images of America – Salem says that the name was changed to Shadow Lake in 1913. I am guessing that the change had something to do with the “Shadowland” recreation area which was developed on its shore. Shadow Lake lent itself to better marketing for cottages and a lake resort than did Hitty-Titty, primordial name or not. Shadowland included a store, a beautiful beach and a large dance-hall which hung out over the water on piers. People have been asking me for more history of Shadow Lake and I was so happy to find these beautiful photographs of the pond. Shadow Lake, like Canobie Lake is shared, as is their history, with our good neighbors in Salem.
The photograph above was probably taken in the 1930’s. At that time, it was Gurry’s Store with a lunch counter and is also housed the Canobie Lake Post Office. I don’t know why the post office moved from Mason’s Store across the railroad tracks? This place looked a heck of a lot different when I went there with my father in the 1960’s. It had been modernized with that mid-century modern, 1950’s look. I still remember sitting at the counter with my Dad as he talked with people like George Armstrong and George Merrill; Windham people and the Salem Contractors contingent. Breakfast cooked right in front of you in a compact space. Gurry’s used to be located at the corner of Route 28 and Shadow Lake Road.
The Robin’s Nest Tourist Camp was established by Mooney Robinson. It was another tourist operation that opened as a result of automobile travel and the improvements to Route 28 in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It was soon one of the main routes to the lakes and mountains. Later the business was expanded. Rural Oasis states, “A well-known place that should not be forgotten (because it was the watering hole of the local establishment including Maurice Armstrong and George Dinsmore Sr.) was Mooney Robinson’s on Route 28 where the Robin’s Nest Motel is today. Mooney Robinson’s Restaurant and Beer Parlor was the official business name. It opened in 1928, closed in 1944, and was the most colorful places in town. It was a popular rendezvous for local people to discuss politics and other subjects. The restaurant had the first beer license. As the liquor flowed, so did the stories. From all reports no place came even near to replacing it.” My father tells a story of his father and Maurice Armstrong at Moody
Robinson’s place. After a few drinks an argument broke out over who was the fastest runner. The drinking continued and the argument got more and more heated. Finally, there was no more place for debate, it had to be settled, man to man in the street. The whole establishment including George and Maurice headed outside and an unofficial track was established down Route 28. The two slightly tipsy Windham Olympians then raced up Route 28, shouting at one another as they went. Who won? I would like to believe that it was my grandfather, George Dinsmore, however, no one has breathed a word since of who was victorious, or even if either one of them made it back to Mooney’s. My grandmother was a saint! Hey wait a minute, there’s an idea here, maybe the Dinsmore and Armstrong families should establish the “Mooney Robinson Memorial, Three Sheets to the Wind 1K Race.” I’m joking, I’m really joking, but that sure would make an interesting race and level the field, wouldn’t it!?
After Robinson sold, a Middle Eastern restaurant operated out of the place for awhile. Later the LaChance family purchased the property and constructed motel rooms. Of course, The Robin’s Nest, is now the Manor Motel.
I am sure you will be just dumbstruck, as I was, by this beautiful photograph of The J.B. Cover Co. Store. As most of your know, this was a very popular and successful store for many years under management of a variety of owners. The store had a prime location. It sat just across the street from the Canobie Lake Station of the Boston and Maine Railroad. It was also located at the Junction of Route 28 and Route 111. It served the tourist communities on Canobie Lake, Cobbett’s Pond and Shadow Lake. It was also the location of the Canobie Lake, N.H. Post Office.
Canobie Lake Station opened on November 9, 1885, with Albert Alexander as the staion agent. He then started construction on a store nearby. The Caobie Lake Post Office was established her on February 26, 1886, with Alexander as the the postmaster.
Bob Mason Sr. purchased the property and is seen is the photographs of his store. The many signs advertise groceries, camper’s supplies and Mason’s ice cream. A directional sign in the background advertises Hadley’s beach, Armstrong’s Beach, the Lakeview Golf Course, and the Windham Auto Inn.
Clif’s Place is a store and gas station that sprang up on Route 28 to serve the growing number of “auto tourists.” In another photograph of this location, Charles A. Dow Sr. was the proprietor and he offered camping grounds for auto tourists, overlooking Seavey Pond. This building is now a church. Courtesy of Penobscot Marine Museum.
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?