A Short History of Lake Horace

catch of the day

Originally Weare Reservoir was constructed for the Public Service Co. of New Hampshire. This body of water was used to keep Glenn Lake in Goffstown full in the dry summer months which supplied the power for the Gregg’s Falls power plant. This hydro-electric plant was built into the dam itself and has operated very efficiently for years. Our lake covers 380 acres flowing over meadows and woodlands and is fed by the Piscataquog River out of Piscataquog Reservoir at Deering Center, another storage area for Public Service Co. waters. Dudley Brook out of Pleasant Pond in Henniker, Putney Brook from the Craney Hill area in Weare, and the Johnson Brook which flows in just to the right of Lake Shore Village Resort also feed our lake. There are also several other small brooks which mander through farmlands into these streams as well as scores of springs from the meadows under the lake. Deering Reservoir is mostly spring fed too; these many springs are the reason for the purity of the water in Lake Horace. I remember the construction of the dam, a far cry from the methods of today with modern machinery and the cement trucks which deliver premixed concrete to any construction site. At that time Italian workers pushed wheelbarrows of heavy concrete along a ramp, dumping them into chutes which carried the mixture into the forms shaping the dam. This ramp was a maze of wooden trestle –work barely wide enough for the men to walk pushing a heavy wheelbarrow. As I walked along this walkway with my father sightseeing ( at 8 years old) I though it was awful high!

The largest area of the flowage area was owned by two families, Horace Chase and Benjamin Bartlett. There were several other small owners around the shoreline too. The Chase land was mostly meadows which were hayed for the Chase Farm. The Bartlett land was a 190 acre pasture, partly woodland meadow, about 90 acres now under water and the rest of it incorporated into the Lake Shore Village development. The Bartlett land was reached by an old wood road extending through the woods and down a steep hill alongside the Fred Colburn farm.  Benjamin Bartlett used oxen to haul the meadow hay up to his barns just over the Deering line from our present home. This was used for cattle and a large flock of sheep. The same road is now used for the Colburn Cottage Road and parts of it extend past several of the cottages. There is an interesting catch of the dayepisode about the start of the Weare Reservoir project which was told to me by my father. At that time I was too young to fully appreciate it. In order to approve the building of the dam an article was placed in the town warrant to be voted on at the March meeting. This article read as follows: to see how much money the town will vote to raise toward the construction of a reservoir to be located above the so called “ Box Shop Pond” ( Drewry Brothers Toy Shop). It seems that Chase and several of the small owners  wished to sell their land while many others, especially the farmers away from the village were against it. The article required the town to furnish a sizable sum for the road changes and the dam construction. It was voted $10,000 dollars with the Public Service Co. contributing $20,000. Many could see no benefit to the town, they felt Public Service Co. should pay all costs as they were to benefit the most. Of course there were several woodworking shops which would be helped

a little as all of the depended on water power to operate. But these small shops had operated for years on the natural flow of the river. The way this bill was passed is interesting. As often happens with argumentative articles a voice vote was called for and put off this article until more important ones could be taken care of. This brought this particular article into the evening and many of the opposing farmers had to go home to do their “chores”. Cows had to be milked at regular times. When the vote came up the article was easily approved as those who opposed it were not there. We had politicians back in those days too! This was in 1910 and the dam finished in 1913. The first filling of the lake took several weeks before the water ran over the dam. Back at the time land could be flowed over without cutting timber or wood, so the water covered small trees and bushes, and reached to a depth of twenty or thirty feet on the larger trees. A year later these trees died and became a maze of standing skeletons. We used to cross over the cove in a boat from what is now our beach pulling ourselves from tree to tree as there wasn’t room to use oars. Once out of the cove over the former meadow it was clear sailing. Towards the upper end of the lake a large barn stood for several years before it crumbled away, the gable end floating , caught between elm trees which grew on either side of the barn doors. This made an excellent hideaway for fish, especially catfish which we caught even in the daytime because of the deep water at this point. As the years went by the roots rotted and all the softwoods floated to the surface of the lake, choking  off the small coves with a mass of logs and stumps sometimes extending thirty feet on top of the water from the shoreline.

by the cabinThis made for tough fishing along the shore! It was also a perfect screen for pickerel lurking in the shadows, ready to snap up a minnow which sometimes had a hook attached! This condition is what we found where our beach is now and along the shore if numbers three, fours and ten cottages . Probably more ten thirty cords of stumps and logs were hauled out with our tractor, sawed up and burned when they became dry enough. During the first twenty-five years there was very little interest in building on the shore because in the summer months Public Service Co. often drew down the lake ten or fifteen feet, depending on how dry the summers were. However the Poore family from Goffstown built on a small island on the west shore just this side of the public beach, and the same family owns it today. Likewise Grover Peaslee had one at the upper end of the lake where in summer only the original river ran by due to the drawdown of the water. This all changed after 1938, the year the disastrous hurricane Diane devastated much of the east coast of the United States. The dam at the Piscataquog  Reservoir in Deering overflowed due to the torrential rains, washing out the dirt part of the dam which dumped another 326 acres of water twenty feet deep on top of our lake. Actually the concrete part of our dam held, but the road washed out first, then the west wing gave away and Weare Reservoir was no more. Through the years the Public Service Co. had begun to rely on coal and oil for power, so they deeded  all flowing rights to the State rather than stand the cost of rebuilding the dam. The lake was rebuilt with a much stronger dam a few feet higher. The Water Resource Board guaranteed a constant water level so from that time on land sold along the shore and cottages were built .

catch of the dayIt is interesting to note that lots in those days were only fifty dollars each. As the lake became more popular Horace Chase gave the town land which is now Chase Park and the people in town voted to change the name of Weare Reservoir to Lake Horace. I fished the lake for many years, seizing every rainy day when outside farm work couldn’t be done to tramp the shoreline and drop a hook into any likely spot for a fish. Just after a few years with the first flowage of the lake it teemed with fish due to the abundant feed developed from flowing virgin land. As I grew older we used a boat and neighbors and schoolmates fished along with me and my father. One year I tallied the fish we caught and the figure was over 1200! The lake abounded with pickerel, catfish. perch, river chubs, minnows, “suckers”, and “flatsides”. The second time the land was flowed over good fishing came back slower. As of now bass seems to be more prevalent, having escaped from Deering Lake down our river. Ice fishing is usually very good with large pickerel and perch caught. It was fishing these fishing trips of mine that I began to think of cottage along the shoreline, and I dreamed of a whole village of them where people could come for a real vacation in the country away from what I considered too stressful living. Our farm did not border the lake, but as the years went by I watched for the opportunity to buy the Bartlett Pasture, eighty acres of forest and some open land with the Johnson Brook running through it. This brook originates from our two ponds at our home on the main road. The land came up for sale in 1948 in the settlement of the Abigail Bartlett Estate, formerly Benjamin Bartlett farm (her brother).

My wife and I bought it that same year in June. At that time we were running our poultry farm supplying hatching eggs to hatcheries South, but we used our farm help whenever We could find a dew hours away from the business to cut out our roads and burn brush. Harry Varnum from Francestown spent more than a hundred hours with his bulldozer on the roads and shaping the shoreline. At that time we didn’t have to ask the State if we could destroy a poison ivy plant or move a rock where a cottage should be situated! I was very fortunate to find a carpenter from Hillsboro whom I hired for several years. Merrill Bennet, with several of his boys. He taught his sons the carpenter trade while building for me. During the winter of 1948-49 he worked in my shop building kitchen cabinets, counters, beds, and bureaus for the cottages  we hoped to start in the spring. Outside we off pine and hemlock logs from the pasture area, hauled them to Artie Duston’s sawmill, and brought back the sawed lumber to be stacked for drying. Most of the cottages were built from lumber harvested from the Bartlett pasture. I decided to have log siding for the outside walls, but I didn’t like the seven-eight inch commercial board with very little curve sold at that time. I told Duston the curve I would like which could be made from pine two-by-six inch stock, and drew up a plan for a knife which Page Belting Machine Shop in Concord made. This knife fitted a tongue and groove machine Artie already had in his lumber mill. All the cottages have this type log siding and the advantages of this thicker stock can now be realized as they have kept so well through the years. It was also better insulation for the summer weather. Cottages one, two and three were built in 1949, and one and two were rented a few weeks that first year.

fishingThe Public Service Co. built the power line that year, and have added lines whenever I needed them through the years. Cottages four, five and six were built the next year, and from that time on one or two were added every year until we had twenty in all. A “rec” hall was constructed for housing the laundry  and a place for parties and square dancing. For several years we operated the business from our home, but in 1961 we built the office at the beach and moved down every May into September. This project has always been family oriented. Our son cut lumber, burned brush, painted , and did carpenter work. My wife and daughters did much of the cleaning when guest changed at the weekend. For several years we used wooden boats, built by my carpenter from our own lumber, and used with Johnson Outboard motors. In those summers the young people often toured the lake together and were known as “Colburn’s Navy”! Benny also built a much larger boat, able to use a 40 H.P. motor, and I pulled skiers with this boat successfully for many summers. These wooden boats were heavy, and every year required painting and caulking. When the aluminum boats became popular we changed over to them, still using Johnson Outboards which had upped their horsepower to four, making it easier for the kids to break the shear pins! One source of great satisfaction was that the cottages were always well accepted. The majority of our guests have come from “word of mouth” advertising, We did advertise at times, especially the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, but seldom had to advertise the summer months. Of course there have been some critics, but for the most part we have always been lucky to have a nice clientele. I can find no regrets in my memory.  

- Chester W. Colburn 1987

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Clubhouse, Indoor Pool, Jacuzzi & Other Amenities

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Our cabins are cozy, fully furnished and well maintained.  All have views of the lake and outside decks as well as a private dock, a charcoal grill and cable TV. Contact us for current offerings as well as offseason rates and dates:

Lake Shore Village Resort
120 Cottage Road - Weare, NH 03281
Phone: (603) 529-1880
Fax: (603) 529-1881

2 night minimum on weekends, 3 night minimum on holiday weekends, All rentals subject to an 9% rooms and meals tax. Sorry, we are unable to accomodate pets in our facilities.

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