Water Ways

Water Ways, an exhibit of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, depicts the recreational, educational, economic and environmental history of Mount Holyoke’s Upper Lake and Lower Lake. Also featured are rarely shown books with an artistic and historic focus on water. This exhibit, done in conjunction with the Weissman Center’s series Water Matters, is on display February 1, 2005 – June 13, 2005 in the Fourth Floor Hallway of Williston Library.

“Against the Sun rising. . .is our own Prospect Hill, which hides all beyond it. Blue, distant hills lie against the southeastern sky, and in the foreground are the pond and the old red mill. Wood and broad fields stretch to the southern horizon and the brook from the pond winds and twinkles through the nearer meadows until it flows into ‘Paradise.'”
From Sarah Stow’s History of Mount Holyoke Seminary, 1887

Recreational Uses of Water

Upper and Lower lake have played a crucial part in sports and social life at Mount Holyoke. Boathouses once stood on both lakes and canoeing has always been a popular pass time. The lakes, once larger and deeper, were popular swimming locations. A covered ice skating rink, built in 1896, on the shore of lower lake, was very popular during the early 1900s. Even today, the shores of Upper and Lower Lake are popular areas for picnicking, reading books and taking walks.

Economic Uses of Water

The earliest uses of the campus lakes were for profit. Multiple mills stood on the waterfall sites and used dams to power their factories. Paper, cotton, corn, and boxes were among the products created. The “Old Red” Grist mill, which the college dismantled in 1898, was the last mill on campus. The college also used the lakes and streams for gain. In 1853 a pump house, which still stands near the Willits-Hallowell Center, was built to provide water to the Seminary building. The college also supplied its own ice for food storage needs through an ice house located on Upper Lake until the 1940s.

Educational Uses of Water

The zoology (later biology) department collected specimens and conducted research in the lakes and Stony Brook for at least one hundred years. Professors often took classes out to the lakes to wade knee-deep in the water observing insects, fish and animals and monitoring seasonal and long-term changes in the lakes.

Water Problems

Mount Holyoke has suffered from a variety of water-related problems over the years. There was a flood in 1853 and droughts in 1910 and 1941. Water Chestnut, an invasive plant species, presented a serious threat to the lakes from the 1940s through the 1980s. Factors including the Water Chestnut, sediment deposits over time, and pollution have caused the lakes to shrink in size, necessitated several dredging projects and forced a ban on swimming.

Bibliography

Archives:

Baker, Charity. “Mill Sites on the Mount Holyoke College Campus,” a paper in alumnae biographical files, 1989. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Hitchcock, Alice. Diary, alumnae biographical files, 1911. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Education Department Records. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Plant. Buildings. Boathouses. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Plant. Buildings. Grist Mill. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Plant. Buildings. Icehouse. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Plant. Buildings. Pump House. Archives and Special Collections, Mount
Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Plant. Buildings. Skating Rink. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Physical Plant. Grounds. Lakes. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke
College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Traditions, Canoe serenade. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Mount Holyoke College: Zoology Department Records, academic departments and records. Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Stow, Sarah D. History of Mount Holyoke Seminary, South Hadley, Mass., During its first half century, 1837-1887. (Springfield, Springfield printing company) 1887.

Rare Books:

Bate, John. The Mysteries of Nature and Art in four severall Parts. The first of Water-Works. The second of Fier-Works. The third of Drawing, Colouring, Limming, Paynting, Graving, and Etching. The fourth of Experiments. London: R. Bishop for Andrew Crooke, 1654. MH/Rare Books, Cutter: LA B31.

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321. Dante's Inferno, translated by the Rev. Henry Francis Cary, M.A., from the original of Dante Alighieri, and illustrated with the designs of M. Gustave Doré. MH/Rare Books, Dante: PQ4315.2.C4 1885.

Eden, Frederick. A Garden in Venice. London: Offices of “Country Life” [etc.], 1903. MH/Rare Books: SB466.I9 V45.

Lebrun, Rico, 1900-1964. Drawings for Dante’s Inferno by Rico Lebrun. Verses of the Cantos translated from the Italian by John Ciardi. Designed, with an Introduction, by Leonard Baskin. The Kanthos Press, 1963. MH/Rare Books, Dante: Unclassified.

Plunkett, H. M. (Harriette Merrick), b. 1826. Women, Plumbers, and Doctors, or, Household Sanitation. New York: D. Appleton, 1900. MH/Rare Books: TH6057.A6 P6 1900.

Walton, Izaak (1593-1683). The compleat angler, or, The contemplative man’s recreation: being a discourse on rivers, fish-ponds, fish, and fishing / written by Izaak Walton ; and Instructions how to angle for a trout or grayling in a clear stream / by Charles Cotton ; edited by George A.B. Dewar, with and essay by Edward Grey & numerous etchings by William Strang and D.Y. Cameron. London: Freemantle, 1902. MH/Rare Books: SH433.A1902b.