Walden Pond

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For Walden Pond located in Lynn, Massachusetts, see Lynn Woods Reservation.
Walden Pond
Walden Pond.jpg
Location Concord, Massachusetts
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Type kettlehole
Basin countries United States
Surface area 61 acres (25 ha)
Max. depth 102 ft (31 m)[1] or 107 ft (33 m)[2]
Shore length1 1.7 miles (2.7 km)
Walden Pond
Nearest city Concord, Massachusetts
Area 250 acres (100 ha)
NRHP Reference # 66000790[3]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NHL December 29, 1962
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Walden Pond is a lake in Concord, Massachusetts in the United States. A famous example of a kettle hole, it was formed by retreating glaciers 10,000–12,000 years ago.[4] The pond is protected as part of Walden Pond State Reservation, a 335-acre (136 ha) state park and recreation site managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.[1] The reservation was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 for its association with the writer Henry David Thoreau (1817–62), whose two years living in a cabin on its shore provided the foundation for his most famous work, Walden; or, Life in the Woods.


The Walden Pond Reservation is located south of Massachusetts Route 2 and (mostly) west of Massachusetts Route 126 in Concord and Lincoln, Massachusetts. The reservation is 335 acres (136 ha) in size,[5] and its principal feature is Walden Pond, a 64.5-acre (26.1 ha) body of water. A short way north of the pond the site of Thoreau's cabin is marked by a series of granite posts. Portions of the pond's shore are beach, while other parts descend steeply to the water from trails that ring the pond. There are three buildings at the main beach area at the southeastern shore of the pond. The reservation's parking area is located across Route 126, and a ramped footpath descends from that roadway to the pond.[6]


The writer, transcendentalist, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau lived on the northern shore of the pond for two years starting in the summer of 1845. His account of the experience was recorded in Walden; or, Life in the Woods, and made the pond famous. The land at that end was owned by Thoreau's friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who let Thoreau use it for his experiment.[4] Thoreau is credited with encouraging a respect for nature at an environmentally degraded site.[7] The Concord Museum contains the bed, chair, and desk from Thoreau's cabin.

Boston's "Ice King," Frederic Tudor, harvested ice yearly on Walden Pond for export to the Caribbean, Europe, and India. In his journal, Thoreau philosophized upon the wintry sight of Tudor's ice harvesters: "The sweltering inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans, of Madras and Bombay and Calcutta, drink at my well ... The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges."

An amusement park with swings, concession stands and an event hall, located at the western end of the pond, burned down in 1902 and was never rebuilt.[4]

Walden in winter

Descendants of Emerson and other families deeded the land around the pond to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1922.[4] In 1961, the Middlesex County Commissioners, then managing the land, proposed leveling a significant portion of the preserve for a parking lot and other "improvements." An acre of woodland had been leveled for access to the public beach when the Commissioners were sued to stop the destruction of the existing environment. Judge David A. Rose, sitting in the Massachusetts Superior Court, ruled that Walden’s deed donating the property to the Commonwealth required preservation of the land and barred further development.[8] The decision received national recognition, and Judge Rose received hundreds of letters from school children across the country thanking him for saving the land. Walden Pond became part of the state parks system in 1975.

In 1977, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts installed a porous pavement parking area at Walden Pond as a special Technology Transfer demonstration project, following methodology generated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1972. The porous pavement still looks good and works well decades later, despite more freeze-thaw cycling than most other parts of the world.[9]

Recording artist Don Henley initiated The Walden Woods Project in 1990 to prevent the area around Walden Pond from being developed.[10][11]

Activities and amenities

In addition to being a popular swimming destination in the summer, Walden Pond State Reservation provides opportunities for boating, hiking, picnicking, and fishing.[1]


Walden Pond inspired the naming of the American film company Walden Media and is a frequent subject of professional and amateur photographers.[12][13][14]

C-SPAN broadcast an episode of its American Writers series from the shores of Walden Pond in 2001.[15]


The pond and reservation are located to the south of state highway MA-2 / MA-2A. Highway MA-126 passes through the reservation. The Fitchburg Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail passes west of the pond; however, the nearest actual station is in Concord center, 1.4 miles northwest of the reservation.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Walden Pond State Reservation". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  2. As measured by Thoreau; the actual depth is variable as the pond rises and falls over a range of at least five feet (also according to Thoreau; see Walden).
  3. Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Walden Pond State Reservation" (PDF). MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. June 2007. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  5. "2012 Acreage Listing" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  6. "NHL nomination for Walden Pond" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-02-28. 
  7. Austin Meredith. "A History of the Uses of Walden Pond". American Transcendentalism Web. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  8. Sullivan, Ronald (May 5, 1995). "David A. Rose, 89; Massachusetts Judge Headed Rights Panel". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-28. 
  9. "Porous Pavement". Miller Microcomputer Services. 1997. Retrieved August 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. "Walden Woods Project Timeline". The Walden Woods Project. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  11. "Walden Pond". Notes from the Field tv. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  12. Smari. "Walden: A Year". The Walden Project. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  13. Terry Ballard. "Walden Pond". Pbase. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  14. Kathy. "Walden Pond Exhibit". Concord Consortium. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  15. "Emerson and Thoreau". American Writers. C-SPAN. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 

External links