Saturday, May 9, 2020

Hatches Lake, Chenango Canal, and a place called Camp's Pond

The summer folks who gather around our many lakes and reservoirs have started to arrive and camp cleaning and summer dinning are evident in the area near the ponds, lakes and reservoirs. From Leland's Ponds in the east to Hatch Lake in the west the Town of Eaton still sparkles in the summer sun!

The history of these bodies of water are an interesting reminder of what was accomplished by men who did not have earth moving equipment... only rudimentary tools and horses.  Some of these are a marvel when you think about the years they were engineered and the success of the idea of a canal feeder and its feeders materialized.  One such pond, which was just that a pond, was expanded to be one of the most beautiful summer get-a-ways for the old days it was called Camp's Pond and today we call it Hatch's Lake.  Have been a bit under the weather this week but figured you might enjoy a trip into history!

Camps’ Pond

Today’s Hatch’s Lake, in the corner of the Town of Eaton, once fed the historic Chenango Canal but dates its original name, Camp’s Pond, back to the late 1790s.

Dr. Abner Camp was an early resident of what he named Camp’s Hill, a man of great humor and interest in the local community.  Tales of his adventures hunting and with his efforts to stop the local Native Americans from peering into his cabin at all hours still exist in the area.  He once set about to scare the local intruders by threatening to raise a company of men to run them off after they threatened a war party to get even with him.  He won when he and two other men shouted about like a troop of men and put a bullet over the head of a sleeping old Indian, scaring him almost to death.  The man ran away back to his village thinking a whole troop of men was after him.

Camp’s Pond gave way to Hatch’s Pond when Peter Hatch took the property over in the early 1800s.  By 1833, and the opening of the Chenango Canal, the pond was enlarged as part of the feeder system of canal reservoirs and is today named Hatch Lake. 

At one point, the lake’s outlet at the southwestern end was dammed so that the water would no longer flow to the south over the Tioughnioga River and instead would flow to another man-made reservoir, Bradley Brook Reservoir.

Today, the level of the lake and its outlet are controlled and summer camps dot the shores, a great fisherman’s paradise.  This part of the Chenango Canal’s feeder system still feeds the Erie Canal far to the north, at its end starts a man-made reservoir called Bradley Brook. Bradley Brook Reservoir, constructed also in 1835 and '36, covers an area of 134 acres.

Here is a great story from Hammond's History of Madison County I have added here for your enjoyment

    The following incident of the lake neighborhood, still fresh in the memory of many, is related to us: --- Many years ago, two young children of Oliver Wescott --- Elizabeth and Stephen --- were playing upon the shore of the inlet near their father's house, when they conceived the idea of taking a ride upon the lake in their mother's washtub, which stood nearby. Launching their improvised boat upon the water, the two got in, and instinctively, or by chance, seated themselves on opposite sides, which just balanced the craft. A breeze blowing, and, aided by the paddle of a little hand on either side, they were soon out upon the waters. The frantic distress of the mother may be imagined, when, missing her children, she looked and saw, far out from the shore, the speck of a washtub and two little upright heads above its rim, the wee excursionists, of course, as unconcerned as if rocking in a cradle on the floor of their mother's kitchen. 

The lake is more than half a mile wide at the point where the tiny voyagers embarked, and they were far towards the opposite shore, whence they were drifting fast, when discovered. Here was opportunity for a scene and a tragedy; but the discretion of the mother bade her avoid attracting the attention of the children, lest they should make some movement to lose their balance; instead, she made her way swiftly through brush and briers, around the west end of the lake, (where the stage road now runs,) and reached a point near the present residence of Mr. Mann, in time to receive her truants all unharmed! 

Since they were safe, she --- no doubt with all motherly tenderness, as that was her nature --- administered a timely lesson of warning against all future temptations and attractions that the water might hold forth. The boy Stephen, however, was never cured of his love for adventure upon the "deep," and at the age of fifteen went to sea. Since that time he has sailed in nearly every quarter of the globe; and now, in middle age, he is a denizen of the southern hemisphere, spending much of his time in the Sandwich Islands. His letters home tell of his marriage in Honolulu, to a Hawaiian, Lillian, the adopted daughters of King Kamahamaha III, a devoted Christian girl. She died recently. The little girl, Elizabeth, is now the wife of Mr. Henry Patridge, and resides in view of the lake, which sometimes reminds her of the perilous adventure of her early childhood.


  1. Very interesting, Mary. Thanks!!!

  2. always loved these stories - I try to picture those times.