The Origins of Andover Lake
By Scott Yeomans
Copyright Scott Yeomans, 1998
While it's not clear exactly whos idea building a lake was, it is certain that Charles White was the driving force that convinced others that this project should be undertaken as it would make everyone rich. He talked Judge Edward Yeomans into paying for part of an initial survey of the area. They hired Harry Dagget, who had grown up in town, to do this work, part of which was to be the determination of a proposed high water line.
On April 12, 1926 Mark Bass, Charles White, and Judge Edward Yeomans applied for a certificate of incorporation under the name of "Andover Lake Corporation." The purpose of this new company would be "to acquire land and water rights for the purpose of developing pleasure resorts, constructing roads, drives, dams, buildings and whatever structures may be necessary and convenient." The application was granted 4 days later and the subscribers held their first corporate meeting on May 24, 1926 at which meeting they elected the following directors: Mark Bass, Judge Edward Yeomans, Charles White, Frank Fenton, Madison Woodward, Royal Webster and George Stanley. The other original stockholders were: R. L. Russel, H. A. Alvord, John Gasper Sr. and Erskine Hyde. The directors organized and elected the following officers at their first meeting on June 3, 1926: President, Mr. Bass; Vice-President, Mr. White; Treasurer, Judge Yeomans; Assit.-Treasurer, Madison Woodward; Secretary, Mr. Webster.
While the formal organization of the corporation was proceeding, options were being purchased for the land in and around Cheney Hollow, as the area was still called then. Agreements were entered into with: John Babek, who then owned the Cheney Hollow Farm; Mrs. Edgar White, Frank Phillips, Mark Bass, Leonard Merritt and Charles Friederich Sr. Soon after, lands owned by William Le Valley and William Cunningham were added to the list.
A public stock offering was held at the town hall on June 19, 1926. The stock sold briskly, infusing the treasury with enough capital that the directors felt they could proceed with the project. The land options were exercised with approximately 600 acres being purchased. A loan was then obtained and bidding on the construction of the dam was begun. The D. P. Ahern company of Willimantic, the Acato Smith company and the Manchester Construction company, both of Manchester, prepared and submitted bids to do this work. The contract was awarded to the Manchester construction company on July 21, 1926. The cost for the entire dam work was about $23,000.
Wallace Hilliard, engineer to the corporation, drew up plans for and supervised construction of the dam. The concrete core is 550 feet long, 3 feet thick at the bass and two feet thick at the top. At its highest point the core is 15 feet tall. Creating this core required 8 rail cars of cement and 900 cubic yards of gravel. As completed, the dam stood 17 feet high, 550 feet in length, seventy-two feet wide at the base and sixteen feet wide at the top. The earthen portion of the dam required 11,000 cubic yards of material. The dam was constructed so as to allow for a drive to be built across the top of it. The spill way had notches for the girders that would bridge it for the road. The original spill way was forty feet wide and 4 feet high. A two feet diameter sluiceway consisting of 70 feet of iron pipe goes through the dam. This pipe had a solid bronze gate on the lake side of the dam and rests on a solid concrete base, four feet wide and 6 feet high. The pipe itself was then incased in concrete. The earth that encases the core was brought in by truck load and rolled down layer by layer. The material was somewhat moist when put down and is said to have been almost impenetrable once it dried out. The dam face on the lake side was fitted up with 500 square feet of stone work to protect the earth work from the constant action of the water.
The gate on the sluiceway was closed on April 30, 1927 at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Along with damming the brook, the corporation had to clear the timber that was in the waters way. Because of the extent of the area involved and the swampy nature of much of the land, this proved to be a difficult and time consuming task. Logging began at once on the drier sections, but they had to wait for the swampy areas to freeze over before they were accessible. Logs were cut and hauled out by horses, the brush was burned in place. A desperate effort was made to get all of the logs out and brush burned before the spring thaw, but the workers were unsuccessful and substantial amounts of wood had to be towed out by row boat as the water rose. A saw mill set up first on the western shore where most of the logs were sawed into ties for the railroad. It was then moved to the eastern shore where it turned the remaining logs into lumber. In total the corporation had taken about 2,500 ties and 5,000 additional board feet of lumber, or a total of 140,000 board feet of lumber from the lake bed.
There was also the necessity to replace two sections of town road that found themselves underwater. The southern section of road was replaced with 2,800 feet of new road which required several fills and one bridge (Lake Rd. at Basola Rd.). On the eastern side of the lake, 1,700 feet of new road was needed to replace that which is now under water. Once these new road sections met with the satisfaction of the selectmen, the town and the corporation exchanged deeds to the respective land occupied by the new and old road sections. The town also agreed to use all monies collected in taxes on the property that the corporation then or formally owned for a period of five years on improving the roads leading to and surrounding the lake property.
To view photographs of the dam under construction
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