Upper Waterford, Vermont               




                                                                          Waterford Page               Caledonia-Co                      VT_History      


Upper Waterford - A Village Lost To Progress

From a book by Gordon E. Hopper

(I have since learned that Mr Hopper was from  Framingham, MA and had ancestral roots in Upper Waterford, hence his interest in writing the book. He appears to have been born in St Johnsbury, VT in March 1918 and died in Framingham, Ma in November 1997.)

Copyright© All Rights Reserved.

Acquisition Of Properties By the Electric Power Company

As one travels today on State Highway Number 18 about five miles northwest of Littleton, New Hampshire, the Samuel C. Moore Station is seen, a major hydro-electric facility, its large dam and the beautiful Moore Reservoir, all owned by the New England Power Company. The area occupied by the large reservoir was once the location of the small Vermont village called Upper Waterford. Its homes, farms, roads, a school, a church and two cemeteries were removed prior to the construction of a huge dam across the Connecticut River. The flooding of the reservoir has caused the village to disappear.

Upper Waterford was scheduled for destruction as early as 1906 when Carl A. Ross purchased land from Niles G. Johnson. In 1907, land and flowage rights were purchased from Nathan Kinne and Nathan Pike and in 1909, land was also purchased from the First Littleton Bridge Corporation, Jesse Carleton and Hiram M. Parks. George D. Carleton sold land to Ross in 1910. These properties, known as the "Ross Rights" were eventually purchased by the New England Power Company. The village began to decline when the railroads came, putting an end to teaming and staging which had been the mainstays of the village. It was partly deserted and by 1926, the Connecticut River Development Company had bought most of the houses and land bordering the river. A large number of properties located in Upper Waterford were purchased during 1927 by Earle Philbrook, Edgar G. Paine and Alvah M. Smith for the Connecticut River Development Company. Between 1926 and 1953, properties to be flooded were purchased from George A. Stoddard, Annie J. Carleton, Ellen Johnson, Alvah M. Smith, Charles E. Carpenter, Town of Waterford, State of Vermont, Roger M. Lovell, James J. Phelan, Katherine Sanger Henry, Edgar G. Paine, Earle W. Philbrook, Harold B. Ellis, Henry J. Choquette, William E. Dodge, Vermont Congregational Conference & Domestic Missionary Society, Inc., Flora B. Wallace, C.C. Priest, Harley E. Pike, Mabel C. Harris, C.I. Harvey, W.A. Astley, J.S. Meader and Leon Johnson.

According to Frederick Brown, a New England Power Company field accountant when the dam was constructed, land at Upper Waterford had been surveyed earlier by Stone & Webster, who then owned the property. This company intended to develop the property into a source of water power. Although actual survey work had been done by Charles Breed, the early development of water power never took place because Stone & Webster eventually divested themselves of the property. In December of 1928, plans were announced by the power company of their intent to construct dams across the Connecticut River between Monroe, New Hampshire and Barnet, Vermont and between Waterford, Vermont and Littleton, New Hampshire. Upper Waterford was located in the area of this proposed basin. The two projects were called the 15 Mile Falls upper and lower developments. The lower development was completed in 1930 and following the end of World War 2, New England power requirements called for the construction of a second hydroelectric power station.

As early as 1929, Arthur F. Stone of St. Johnsbury, VT detailed in his series of books entitled "The Vermont of Today" that the development above 15 Mile Falls would be a larger project than the Comerford dam then under construction at Barnet, VT. The upper reservoir would impound 73 billion gallons of water and it would form a 12-mile long lake. All the buildings then standing in Upper Waterford would be engulfed, Stone stated.

The completion of the Comerford Dam in 1930 inundated the hamlet of Copenhagen said to have a sawmill, a school, and a couple of house. Nothing is known as to the origin of the name.

Construction of the Dam and the Reservoir

Starting in 1954, everything at the site which was located below 809 feet above sea level was removed, including two cemeteries that were relocated, houses and barns were taken down, wooded areas were cut down and burned, a portion of a major highway was relocated, and a number of roads throughout the village were discontinued and abandoned. Ownership of the roads and highways reverted to the power company which owned the land abutting them. In New Hampshire, Mulligan Pond (not to be confused with Mulligan Pond near Northwood NH),  which was located in the Pattenville section of Littleton, went under the waters of the reservoir. A cemetery and a schoolhouse were removed before the water reached them. A portion of Route 18 was flooded and is now under the surface of the water. It was kept in use while the waters were rising and, when flooded, was closed forever. 

There was one casualty while the dam was under construction. A man was killed although he was not working on the actual construction of the dam. He was welding on a power shovel when its gasoline tank exploded, striking him in the chest. This, and the burns he received, resulted in his death.

A retaining wall was built at the construction site in 1953. Fill material and grading work were added during 1954 and a dam was erected across the river between part of Littleton, NH and Upper Waterford, VT between 1954 and 1956. The area occupied by Upper Waterford and Pattenville was flooded and is now underneath part of the Moore Reservoir. The $41,000,000 Samuel C. Moore station was dedicated on June 20, 1957 in memory of a power generation pioneer. With the construction of the large dam, the original riverbed was raised by 180 feet and several boat launchings and picnic areas constructed by the power company are maintained on both sides of the reservoir. The power station is capable of generating 200,000 kilowatts of electric power and is the largest conventional hydroelectric plant in New England. Its reservoir occupies 3,400 acres. The station is unmanned and is operated by remote control from the Windsor, VT station as are the Comerford and McIndoes Falls dams. It is monitored at the power company's central dispatching center at Milbury, Massachusetts.

The first photograph shows the completed dam from downstream. The second photograph shows the original level of the river with the old toll bridge abutment visible. The third photograph is looking from upstream of the dam which is under construction. The fourth photograph is looking from Route 18 on the Littleton side and is looking towards the site of Upper Waterford village. The fifth photo is based on a current view of the area where Upper Waterford was located. Some landmarks have been indicated. Click on the photograph to see an enlarged view.

SamuelMooreDam01.jpg (174963 bytes)    SamuelMooreDam06.jpg (206936 bytes)    SamuelMooreDam09.jpg (277787 bytes)    SamuelMooreDam05.jpg (180116 bytes)   

The Old Village

In the late 1800's, the upper village contained a Union Church, a hotel, store, saw mill, tannery, blacksmith shop, and about 30 houses. The first saw mill at Upper Waterford was built by Solomon Pomeroy and was located below Mrs. Hibbard's brick house. The first hotel was built by Warner Call and was located nearly opposite the store. The first post office was believed to have been in a store for many years. It was established in 1807 and continued until February 28, 1935 when the town was being dismantled.

According to the 1875 Beers Atlas of Essex County, the intersection of High, Main, and Bridge streets formed a crossroad in the upper village with Bridge Street leading to the toll bridge. Main Street ran between Lower Waterford and the town of Concord, passing through Upper Waterford. High Street ran from Main Street toward St. Johnsbury. A set of weighing scales located in the crossroad in the upper village are thought to have been owned by H.M. Parks.

Residents, or property owners on High Street during 1875 included Nathan Pike, P. Johnson, N. Stoddard and N.W. Millen. In addition to the hotel and barn on Main Street that was owned by T.R. Streeter, there were two other nearby residences and a cemetery. It was located just west of the J. Caswell property and the N.G. Johnson residence was located near the shore of the Connecticut River. East of the crossroad on Main Street were the homes of W. Moffett, Mrs. Woods, E.C. Parks, S. Morse, R. Gaskill, E.M. Wheeler, C. Green, the Furby brothers, Julia W. Joslyn, W.G. Cushman, Miss M. Hibbard, M. Walker and Miss B. Allen. In addition to these residences, there was a blacksmith shop, a store, a postoffice, E.M. Wheeler's harness shop, the Union church, a school and a farm owned by S.P. Moulton with buildings on both sides of Main Street.

A road near the Moulton property provided the entrance to a tannery owned by G. and J. Ide. This was a large building along with two smaller buildings and an engine house. The tannery was located near a pond and two legs of Hall's Brook. A house and barn belonging to C.F. Gregory was located in a fork at the eastern end of Main Street. A short length of one side of the fork led to the residence of A. Caswell. while the section going to Concord contained the Gregory. Ide and Moulton starch factory, the Gregory and Ide saw mill, and the home of F.A. Cross. The two mills were located at the point where Hall's Brook emerged from a pond. Hall's Brook crossed Main Street and emptied into the Connecticut River near the toll bridge. Trout Brook crossed the Main Street property owned by R. Gaskell and it ran close to the blacksmith shop. It then crossed Main Street near the church and it crossed Bridge Street, crossing properties owned by T.R. and S. Streeter before emptying into the river. Residents or property owners on Bridge Street in 1875 included S. Streeter. J. Ide. Mrs. A. Ide and T. Bickford. Esq. The Pike family cemetery was located off Bridge Street near the Bickford property.

The first photograph is the Beers 1875 map showing buildings in Upper Waterford. The second photograph is the 1932 topographical map with lines showing the current level of the reservoir. The remaining photographs are of the village of Upper Waterford. Click on the photograph to see an enlarged view.

Beers1875Map.jpg (225629 bytes)    UpperWaterford1932Map.jpg (330666 bytes)    UpperWaterford01.jpg (138319 bytes)    UpperWaterford02.jpg (150021 bytes)    UpperWaterford03.jpg (133716 bytes)    UpperWaterford06.jpg (126919 bytes)    WaterfordSchool01.jpg (140566 bytes)



A school for the instruction of young ladies will be opened by Miss E. M. Bonney at Upper Waterford Village inthe building formerly occupied as a Masonic Hall on the 2nd Monday of September 1838, and will continue twelve weeks.

TUITION    For instruction in the English branches, $3.00 per quarter.
                    For instruction in the French language, $1.00 in addition per quarter.
                    For instruction in drawing and painting, $2.00 per quarter.
                    For instruction in music (on the piano forte), $8.00 per quarter.
 BOARD  In respectable families, from $1.25 to $1.50 per week.

No pains will be spared to advance the moral and social, as well as the scientific advancement of the pupils and from her former experience and success as a teacher, and from the very superior advantages for instruction in the branches above mentioned, which she herself has recently enjoyed, it is believed by the friends of the institution that this school under the charge of Miss Bonney, with the aid of a competent assistant, will afford advantages to young ladies not surpassed by any in the country.

Upper Waterford, Aug. 13, 1838.

The Pike-Streeter Tavern

In 1823, Nathan and Dennis Pike converted their small farmhouse located at the crossroad in the village into a tavern by building onto and over it without tearing it down. The building was used for public gatherings, dances, religious and political meetings. The Pike's ran the tavern for many years before it was taken over by Jeff Hosmer. In 1864, it was sold to Timothy Streeter who closed it up in 1874. As a hotel, its patronage included stage coach drivers and passengers, freight wagon drivers and teamsters, drovers, drummers, private travelers, summer boarders, local barflies and those who needed a public hall. Balls and parties, meetings, funerals and court sessions were held in the old tavern and for a short time, part of it served as the towns library as a convenience for residents in that part of Waterford. The librarian was Caroline Streeter. The building was used as a private home until 1926 when it was bought by the Connecticut River Development Company. Construction men working on the Comerford dam used it as a rooming house until it was destroyed by fire of unknown origin on January 1, 1930.

An excellent description of the interior of the Pike-Streeter tavern written by Eugenia Powers appeared in the 1978 Waterford annual town report.

StreeterTavern01.jpg (120645 bytes)

Click on the photograph to see an enlarged view.


Flooding the Upper Waterford area required the relocation of  some 300 graves from the old Upper Waterford and the Pike Family cemeteries during 1953. It was also necessary to move the graves in a cemetery located in the Pattenville section of Littleton to an area adjacent to the North Littleton Cemetery. A new cemetery was built in Waterford near the intersection of State Highway Number 18 and Town Highway 43 (now known as Riverside Road), to replace the two that went under the reservoir waters. The Pike Cemetery was a private cemetery for members of the Pike family, early settlers of Waterford. It was located at the rear of the Upper Waterford church in a quiet grove and according to Patricia Powers of Lower Waterford, it was accessed from the road that led to the river bridge. The Upper Waterford Cemetery was located on Main Street, the road which ran between Upper and Lower Waterford. It was fairly large and well filled. Both cemeteries were officially condemned and each lot of land was purchased by the power company.

Corbin and Palmer, morticians at Burlington, VT, were awarded a contract for the removal of bodies and their re-interment in the new cemetery. College and pre-medical students working on the project boarded locally in order to be near their work. G. Julian Butler of St. Johnsbury is known to have worked on the Pattenville, NH relocation. This work was done by the Desrochers & Sayles funeral home of St. Johnsbury. Each lot was dug by hand and the remains were placed in individual boxes. Carl E. Moulton was in charge of relocating the monuments and Town Clerk Ernest W. Powers issued permits for the disinterment and re-interment, a procedure that is mandatory. J. Brigham Nute of the power company, who worked on the cemetery relocation phase of the project, stated that the company located descendants of those buried, got permission to move the bodies and paid them for the lots. If descendants were not located, the company deposited the money intended for payments in an account to be used for cemetery work.

In July 1978, Holman Young of the New England Power Company, recalled that an iron coffin was uncovered while the Upper Waterford Cemetery was being moved. Its cover was riveted closed. The occupant had been a man living in California when he died. The coffin had been shipped east by railroad two years after the golden spike had been driven in the first transcontinental railroad. A few of the granite bases were so badly weatherbeaten after 150 years, that they were not usable again and they were left in place. Roads leading to both cemeteries were closed and marked with signs.

The Pike family cemetery, thought to be the oldest one in Waterford was established by the family of Nathan Pike, early settlers in the town. One monument moved from its former central position in the family burial plot bears the name of Nathan Pike. An inscription on this stone reads in part, "Died Aug. 6, 1829 at the age of 57 years. He was a royal arch Mason and much respected in the lodge. He was an early settler of Vermont and has contributed much towards converting the wilderness into a fruitful field." Several of the other monuments are difficult to read as time has worn the inscriptions.

A large monument, now in the new cemetery, marks the grave of Dr. Richard F. Rowell, one of the first practitioners of medicine. in the early town of Waterford. Dr. Rowell died in 1878 at the age of 85 years, his wife died in 1855 at the age of 51 years. Other monuments scattered through the new cemetery apparently are those of several of his 12 sons and daughters.

In addition to the section of the new cemetery in which the graves from the Pike family burial ground are located, there are numerous monuments to other members of the family in the other section indicating that a number of the succeeding generations were buried in the old Upper Waterford Cemetery. The old family home was located on one of the roads to be flooded and it was abandoned.

Most of the early monuments were marble or granite in the slab type with rounded tops. Many of the stones had been knocked over and practically every one that was more than 20 years old had been attacked by a fungus growth, a moss-like substance (probably lichens), which thrived on the stone and hastened the weathering of inscriptions. Several families took advantage of the cemetery being relocated and provided new monuments for the burial plots. Workmen took elaborate precautions to avoid damaging the memorial stones. They used a truck propelled crane to move stones, bases and grave markers from the old cemetery to their new locations. An official of the town, together with a representative of the power company, supervised each detail of the work.

The first photograph shows the Old Pike Cemetery. The remaining photographs show the Upper Waterford Cemetery. Click on the photograph to see an enlarged view.

OldPikeCemetery.jpg (261991 bytes)    UpperWaterfordCemetery01.jpg (147243 bytes)    UpperWaterfordCemetery02.jpg (124060 bytes)    UpperWaterfordCemetery03.jpg (137603 bytes)    UpperWaterfordCemetery04.jpg (115180 bytes)

Bridge Across the Connecticut River At Upper Waterford

A charter was granted to the First Littleton Bridge Corp. for the construction of a bridge across the river at Upper Waterford in 1802. The 265-foot long bridge was built in 1803 when teaming was at its peak. One end of the bridge was built in Waterford on property owned by Nathan Pike. In 1820, he leased an acre of his land on the river bank to the First Littleton Bridge Company for the site of a toll house. In exchange, he reserved for himself and his descendants the right to free use of the toll bridge.

On May 7, 1890, there was a tremendous jam of ice and 60-foot long logs took away part of the old covered bridge. It was replaced by a single span steel bridge and used for nearly 40 years when a fence was put across the road at each end of the steel bridge signifying that its period of usefulness was at an end. In 1899, the bridge company took the toll house by condemnation proceedings in order to own the property. The steel bridge was closed on December 30, 1934 and was destroyed by a flood at some time after that. It went downstream about half a mile and was sold to the Dolgin salvage yard in St. Johnsbury. Workers cut up the steel sections and removed the bridge from the river as junk.

One day (date now unknown but thought to be about 1925), a truck loaded with what appear to be yellow birch logs was crossing the bridge when the flooring gave way. The photographs show the result. It is not known just how long the bridge was out of service. The first photograph shows the bridge looking from the Vermont side. The second photograph shows the damage to the bridge. The third and fourth photographs shows the truck.  The fifth and sixth photographs show the bridge from the Vermont and New Hampshire sides.

TruckAccident04.jpg (123312 bytes)    TruckAccident03.jpg (122866 bytes)    TruckAccident01.jpg (136051 bytes)    TruckAccident02.jpg (113204 bytes)    LittletonBridge02.jpg (132463 bytes)    LittletonBridge03.jpg (95419 bytes)

Click on the photograph to see an enlarged view.

The Union Church

The Union Congregational Church was the last building to remain standing at Upper Waterford. It was destroyed by fire before the gates of the Moore dam were closed and the basin filled with water. The church was formally organized on November 6, 1896 and was "for everybody", that is, non-denominational. There were morning and afternoon Sunday worship services and a Sunday School which met after the afternoon service. After 1917, the ministers were mostly Methodists from Littleton who were willing to take on a second parish.

The church building was repaired in 1904 along with a major repair job and a rededication in 1918. It is believed that a small pipe organ was installed at that time. A letter from the Conference which still owned the church property and filed with the Registry of Deeds in 1947 relates to selling the property to the Connecticut River Development Company. It discusses the disbanding and disposal of movable items of church property.

After not being used for several years, the church had fallen into disrepair and showed signs of vandalism. The sale was completed in 1954 when a missing deed to the 13th school district in 1829 was found. It is believed that the building was erected by Luther Pike in 1819 as a meetinghouse. It included an auditorium upstairs and desks in the downstairs school room were arranged in tiers on raised platforms. Sessions of the Waterford Academy were known to have been held in the building during 1830. A pump-type organ was taken to be used by the Congregational church at East St. Johnsbury and it is believed that the church pews may have gone to the Methodist church at Lyndonville.

The first photograph is of the Union Church. The second photograph shows the Union Church as the last remaining building in Upper Waterford.

UnionChurch01.jpg (83798 bytes)    UpperWaterford99.jpg (140332 bytes)

Click on the photograph to see an enlarged view.

The Last Days

Dorothy and Arthur Morrison of Lower Waterford recalled that during the 1930's there was still a gasoline filling station in the village and that a general store was owned by George Wallace. The store and the Modern Woodmen's Hall were near the crossroad. The church, the Leon Johnson home and the Pike home were on the eastern end of Main Street. The cemetery, the George Wallace home and the Lyman Priest home were located on the western end of Main Street. According to the Morrison's, only eight persons were still living in Upper Waterford when construction work started on the dam. They were identified by Dr. Robert E. Pike of Eatontown, New Jersey as Harley and Ida Pike, Leon Johnson, Lyman, Ray and Eva Priest and a Mr. and Mrs. Walter Crow who worked for Harley. The last ones to leave the village were Harley Pike and Leon Johnson. According to Holman Young, a field representative for the power company while the dam was being built, Harley Pike always carried a sturdy cane and when he wished to be heard at a town meeting, he would gain attention by rapping the cane on the floor. He was a Selectman for 18 years.

Pike was described mildly as being one of the "old stock." A picture of him is shown in the book "Tall Trees, Tough Men," written in 1967 by his nephew, Dr. Robert Pike. Harley Pike worked on the upper Connecticut River in 1892 as a member of a wood chopping crew. He is known to have been a fireman on the White Mountain Division of the Boston & Maine railroad in 1903 and in 1966, at the age of 91 years, he lived at Littleton.

Although Dr. Pike was raised at Upper Waterford by his uncle, Harley Pike, he lived away from the family farm most of his life. Patricia E. Powers who still resides at Lower Waterford, lived in Upper Waterford when she was a child. She attended the Upper Waterford school and is believed to be the only former resident of the upper village to remain in the area.

Many of the construction workers at the lower development lived in buildings in Upper Waterford that were owned by the power company. During the early 1930's, there were a lot of residents in the village and as fast as the houses deteriorated beyond use, the power company tore them down.

As late as 1930, a school was still operating in the upper village, as well as a store and the Union Congregational Church. The actual dismantling of the town started around 1935 after the workers had left the few remaining houses.

The post office was discontinued on February 28, 1935. The Star Route continued to deliver and pick up mail at H.E. Pike's residence until all the homes had been vacated. Photographs taken for the power company on May 27. 1954, show the church as being the last building to remain standing in the village.

Assistance was provided to Mr. Hopper by Patricia Powers, Dorothy Morrison and Arthur Morrison of Waterford and by New England Power Company personnel members Armand J. Millette, senior environmental engineer; Holman Young, Frederick Brown and Herbert B. Glick.

Note: I have been informed that Mr. Hopper is now deceased.