Chenango Lake History
A Brief History of Chenango Lake
Before it was Chenango Lake, it was Mathewson's Pond. Noah Mathewson settled in the area in the early 1800's. He and his descendants owned much of the property around the north side of the lake. At some point the name changed. Noah originally had a sawmill on the southeast corner of the lake, but later cut through the rock at the northeast corner to power another mill. The "Rock Cut' still permits water to exit the lake.
By 1875 there was a hotel, the Chenango Lake House on the north shore. In 1880 Colonel Edwin Loomis built his hotel, the Hotel Loomis, later the Colonel's Inn, on the east shore, next to the "Rock Cut". It was a popular resort until about 1930. From 1895 to 1900 there was Brennan's dance barn, known as the Lake View Hotel on the southwest corner of the lake. Set back in the woods, from the corner of Rt 31 and West Shore Road was the Woodside Hotel from about 1904 to 1912. Many people came to the hotels for meals and dances, enjoying many activities in the days before air conditioning. Many photos and more information on the hotels may be found in the book Wish You Were Here by Christine Gibson, a longtime lake resident. The book is available at the Chenango County Museum on Rexford Street in Norwich.
Around 1900 land around the lake began to be sold in building lots for summer cottages. Much of the land had been acquired by the Norwich Water Works, and it retained some control over the shoreline, and still owns the water in the lake as a backup source of water for the City of Norwich. A pipe from the lake allows water to flow into a brook that empties into the Norwich Reservoir along Rt 23.
Many cottages around the lake have been passed down in families. A few have been replaced by modern homes which can be "year round". The history of the cottages is detailed in Christine Gibson's second book, View From The Porch, also available at the Chenango County Museum.
Matthew Pond (also known as Chenango Lake, a more modern name), situated near the center of the west border, is about a mile in length and three-fourths of a mile in breadth, in its widest part, and about forty feet deep. It is principally fed by hidden springs. The natural outlet was changed many years ago by Noah Matthewson, who settled in the locality at an early day and from whom the pond derives its name. Mr. Matthewson cut a ditch through a stone embankment in the northeast part and utilized the water to propel a saw-mill, which is now owned by Clinton Guile. The scenery in this vicinity is very fine, and from the proximity of the pond to Norwich and New Berlin, it is frequently resorted to by picnic and pleasure parties from these villages for recreation during the summer months. A hotel – the Chenango House – has been erected on the pond and has been kept since the spring of 1873 by Richard M. Sholes. The pond furnishes good fishing and the surrounding woods good hunting; and the hotel accommodations have been supplemented by fine sail and row boats, a bowling alley, croquet grounds, dancing hall and bath houses.
– from History of Chenango County
Oscar Loomis was a handyman for many of the cottages around the lake in the 1920’s. He was not related to the outlaw Loomis gang of the 1800’s or Colonel Loomis of the Colonel’s Inn. He and his wife Agnes lived on the road north of the lake. He built many patios for cottages. He also made distinct stools, half circles with four legs, found in several cottages.
Agnes Loomis wrote the following poem, date unknown.
Chenango Lake, I love you----
And I prove my love is true.
I don’t go away and leave you
As other lovers do.
Some will come in early Springtime---
When they think the signs are right,
And will leave you, curse and jeer you
If your wary fish don’t bite.
Many will in Summer praise you
While your sparkling water gleams—
But when cold North winds are blowing,
They have gone to other scenes.
While they bathe and swim and row,
They will call you fair and dear.
But they go---do they forget you,
Ere your ice is shining clear.
I have you alone in Winter
And I love you then the best.
For in Summer and in Springtime
I must share you with the rest.