Men looking at Lake Massasoit following 1956 flood
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This photograph shows two men along the shore of Springfield's Lake Massasoit following the 1956 flood. The flood caused the pond to be drained for the second time since 1954, decreasing the pond water level by 4 feet from the previous height. The picture shows the destruction of what appears to be a dock on the shores of Lake Massasoit, with debris in the water and along the shoreline. There is a house on the opposite side of the lake that is seen through the trees. In 1809, Lake Massasoit was formed by the army by damming the Mill River. The purpose of the dam was to ensure a constant flow of water downstream for the Springfield Armory “Watershops.” The Springfield Armory was America’s first and last National Armory, formed in 1777 and continuing production up until 1968. The formerly named Watershops Pond has 7 miles of shoreline and covers 186 acres. From 1892-1900, the buildings of Springfield College began to come about, and the name was changed to Lake Massasoit by Springfield College officials. The name came from a local hotel, the Massasoit House, owned by Marvin Chapin, a generous benefactor of the college. In 1920, the college purchased a large area of land on the upper end of the pond, and called it the “Freshman Camp.” Since the college was formed, students, faculty and visitors have used the Pond for sailing, swimming, ice skating and fishing. However, the lake was officially closed for swimming in 1984 when the lake was said to be unhealthy.
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