DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

December 5, 2013

Column: Scobie Pond yields an authentic dugout canoe

During my life I’ve visited a lot of interesting places ranging from Vietnam to Turkey but regretfully there are many places I’ll likely never get to see, such as Greenland or Camp David. While I have traveled a lot in Old Nutfield there are still a few local places I have never seen. One example of a personally unvisited spot is Scobie Pond in Londonderry.

That sheet of water was originally called Wallace’s Pond after the family that first farmed the area. Among the members of that family were John and Anna Wallace, who in 1721 became the first couple to get married in Old Nutfield. There was also the celebrated Ocean Born Mary Wallace. In 1733, the pond was owned by linen weaver John Scobie, whose family would hold the property until the 19th century. During the rest of that century the area was allowed to grow wild, inhabited only by hundreds of free-range sheep. The town maps of 1856 and 1892 record no houses anywhere near Scobie Pond. Due to lack of use, Londonderry discontinued Scobie Pond Road -- between Wood Avenue and Brewster Road -- in 1932. Until fairly recently, the pond was officially known as Scobie’s Pond but during the 20th century the federal government ordered the removal of about 250,000 apostrophes on U.S. maps. Only six places were spared, one being Martha’s Vineyard.

In the early 20th century, the only ones who would visit the area were fishermen who considered Scobie Pond to be an angler’s paradise. The opening day of fishing season would find the shore lined with sportsmen. In 1933, the Beaver Fish and Game Club of Derry decided to “improve” the pond by killing off the so-called junk fish and replacing them with trout and salmon. To make the project more manageable, the 77-acre pond was reduced to one-third that size by selective damming and then pumping its water into Beaver Brook. After weeks of work an estimated 100 million gallons of water had been removed from the pond and its water-level brought down by 30 inches.

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