Chague Gene | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Richmond Pond’s book is a gem | Sports


As part of a joint project, the Richmond Pond Association and the Richmond Historical Commission produced a book called 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 softcover, this and subsequent pages are of high-quality, glossy paper that can be passed down from generation to generation.

The Gem of Richmond: A History of Richmond Pond.  (copy)

There’s something in this book for everyone, especially if you’re a local history buff. It covers the period from the Holocene glacial retreat, around 12,000 years ago, to the present day. 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 has been built, drilled, raised and rebuilt several times to get to where it is today, covering 218 acres and over 50 feet deep. Some 120 acres of what was prime farmland now includes part of the lake bottom.

It is believed that the first inhabitants of the area were Paleo-Indians, and later Mohicans. According to the book, by the late 1700s the pond would have been in a mesotrophic state (average amounts of nutrients present). As nutrients, temperature changes and oxygen levels all worked in balance, the pond became an excellent 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 – farming and the subsequent sale of surrounding farmland, the building of railway tracks near the west side of the pond, the conversion of various sections of land into camps, residence areas, beaches and a boat launch. , and the people who have been directly involved along the way.

Chapter 3 of the book deals with fish and wildlife. In the mid to late 1860s, large pike catches took place and “most of the fish were a good size”. At this time, non-native black bass (bigmouths) and white bass (white perch, perhaps) were being stocked. With more than 50 feet deep, the lake and its cold waters in some areas have allowed rainbow trout, brown trout and speckled trout to thrive there. Now there are 10 species of freshwater fish found in this pond, most of which have at one time or another been legally stocked.

But not at all. In 1979, a 20 pound, 42 1/2 inch northern pike was caught by Lois Kelly (Ken’s mother). According to Ken, this was likely the result of “private detective stockings” or “bait bucket introductions”. The book illustrates some photos of other successful anglers.

He refers to 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 at that time. Except for the wolf, lynx and cougar, all are still there. The wild turkey was extinct then, but as you know, the state reintroduced them and they are now thriving. The book lists an impressive number of migratory waterfowl that visit the pond every year.

There are chapters titled “Old Times” and “Early Settlers”. They mention, in detail, the first inhabitants (Mohicans) and how they were displaced by European colonization and what they in turn did with the land. One chapter dealt with the expansions of the pond over the years, another with the effects of the railways.

fishermen wield a pike

Lois Kelly holds the 20-pound, 42 1/2-inch northern pike she pulled from Richmond Pond. Her husband Tom Kelly assists her. Lois and Tom’s son, Ken Kelly, is the publisher of a new book on the history of Richmond Pond.


The chapter dealing with 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 pictures of people hand-sawing blocks of ice, of ice chutes used to load the blocks onto the nearby railroad, and of ice houses, including the Shaker Village Ice House.

Some eight summer camps existed on this lake at different times, starting in the 1890s and the book covers all of them. Ah! Memories of local teenagers fishing and swimming in the lake at the time, still trying to plan a plan to break into the perimeter of the girls’ camps.

The book covers the various community associations that currently exist there as well as some of its notable trading neighbors.

There’s so much more I could mention about the book, but I don’t want to give away 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 printing. 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 launch. It will run from dawn until 3 p.m. Cash prizes of $100 will be awarded to lucky anglers who catch the heaviest trout or salmon, pike, bass and bullhead. There will be free lures for all children 12 and under. The pre-registration fee is $10 and the post-registration fee is $15.

Tickets are available at: 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 launch.

Trout stocking

I was away last week and was unable to get a list of local waters stored before I left. For the latest trout stocking report, click:

Endangered Species Day is approaching

Join MassWildlife on May 20 to recognize the 432 plants and animals considered rare in Massachusetts. These rare species play an important role in maintaining the prosperity of natural communities across the Commonwealth. 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. Here’s 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 vernal pool and would like to help the NHESP keep its database up to date, submit your sightings through the Heritage Hub.

Donate to support rare species – You can make a big impact by donating directly to NHESP. You might consider donating $4.32 on May 20 to honor the 432 animals and plants on the MA Endangered Species Act list. All donated money goes to the conservation of rare animals and plants that call Massachusetts home. Your donation goes towards the equipment and services needed to give these species a fighting chance.

Massachusetts Pistol License Course

On Sunday, May 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Lee Sportsmen’s Association will sponsor a Massachusetts Pistol License Course (LTC-020), which allows participants to apply for a Massachusetts FID or LTC, as well as licenses of pistol in Connecticut, Florida, etc. This comprehensive one-day course includes information on federal and state firearms laws, safe operation and handling of firearms, basic shooting principles, maintenance and cleaning, concealed carry methods, a live-fire session on the LSA Indoor Firing Range, and much more.

The course fee is $160 payable in cash on the day of the course. State license application and processing fees are not included. Participants will receive a course certificate, application forms, other resources, and supporting documents. Participants will also receive new Walker earmuffs and goggles to keep. Club membership applications will be available during the course.

To register, visit and use the contact form; provide your full name including middle initial, date of birth, course date, course choice, address, telephone and email contact details. If you have any questions or concerns, and if you need help registering for a class, contact Robert McDermott at 413-232-7700 or email [email protected]


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