Wenham Lake is a serene lake, carved by glaciers millions of years ago and currently sustaining more than 80,000 Massachusetts residents every day. It lies just mere minutes from our Tea House. Wenham Lake is not only beautiful but has an interesting history that we love to share with visitors.
Today the Wenham Lake is classified a reservoir with the surrounding land owned by both the Town of Beverly and the Town of Hamilton-Wenham Land Trust. Being a reservoir, there are restrictions on what can be built around the lake thus protecting the beauty of the surrounding area. Let’s take a look back at the unique history of Wenham Lake.
Discovery of the Lake – It is believed that Native American tribes lived around the lake and used it as their tribal lands. The Agawam tribe lived off the land until they were decimated by disease and ceded it to the colonists. It was originally a part of Salem, Massachusetts until it became the distinct community of Wenham in 1643.
Early Fishing Industry – Since 1906 fishing has not been allowed at Wenham Lake, but prior to that year it was known as a “great fishing hole”. General Thomas Gage and Daniel Webster traveled to Wenham to enjoy the water and fishing. Many species of fish could be found in it including: large and small mouth bass, red perch, yellow perch, white perch, pickerel, catfish and black bass.
The Ice Business -For over 100 years Wenham Lake’s claim to fame was its ice business. The ice was said to be crystal clear and was enjoyed even by the royalty of England. Wenham Lake ice in particular became world-famous for its clarity, and graced the tables of the aristocracy of plush London society.
Recent years – Due to coal use and fly ash used in the 1950s and 1960s, Wenham Lake Watershed Association discovered significant contamination in 2001. Since that time the lake has been dredged and has been monitored for its health regularly.
Next time you drive by Wenham Lake and see the sun reflecting off the water, remember it’s origins and appreciate its beauty.