This is an article in the Providence Sunday Journal, October 15, 1922. It has been para-phrased so that primary students can read it independently. I've tried my best to make it readable and easier to understand. If you can, please read the original version. There are some details that I left out to make it easier for younger readers. Enjoy!! S.R.
WERE PROVIDENCE'S PONDS GOOD OR BAD FOR THE CITY?
Other Communities Have Changed Their Ponds Into Beauty Spots. Providence Has Been Filling Its Ponds In And Making Them Into Building Lots And Roads. Benedict Pond Is The Last To Go
__For a city of its size, Providence has very few ponds. Other communities have taken care of their ponds, both large and small, and made them beautiful. Here, most of the ponds we had have been filled in. Only Wanskuck and Leonard ponds, both on the north side of the city, still exist today. These are both privately owned and used in manufacturing. Benedict Pond, the last one on the West Side of the city, is now (in 1922) little more than a dump and will soon be completely filled in.
__There never were any ponds on the East Side - only a swamp that was between Hope street and the middle of the Brown University campus. A stream crossed what is now Brook Street and flowed down to the river between Fox and India Points.When Brook Street was made, many huge rocks had to be removed..
__But for many years there were three large ponds on the West Side. They are well remembered by the men and women of today who were schoolboys and schoolgirls between 60 and 70 years ago (1852 -1862). They were Long Pond, Dexter Pond and Benedict Pond, and the only one that still remains, Benedict Pond, is now being filled in with trash. Three-quarters of its area has already disappeared during the dumping process, which has been going on for the last 40 years.
FIRST POND TO BE FILLED IN
__Dexter pond was the first one to be filled in. It began a short distance east of the Grace Church Cemetery. Its greatest area appears to have been between Pearl street, on the west, and Meadow street, close to Summer street, on the east, and from Pine street on the south to Hayward street on the north.
__From the Pine street side you could get to the pond by a wide pathway. At the bottom of the path was a graceful willow tree overhanging the water. It was down this hill that the more careful of the small boys coasted on their sleds during the winter. Those of the boys who wanted thrills went down the steep hill on the north side of the pond. Half way down the face of that hill a path had been worn, over which the sleds jumped for at least six feet. With a firm grip on the side of the sled the braver boys received a big jolt, and were taken quickly to the pond and carried across to Meadow street.
__Dexter pond was a favorite spot with skaters, and on moonlit nights its surface was covered with merry crowds. In summertime, there was pretty good fishing there for catfish, perch and blue-gills. The pond was fed by springs and the extra water ran out through a large stone drain. This drain reached from just west of the intersection of Pine and Pearl streets to a little east of the Friendship street schoolhouse. Here it emptied into the so-called "First Swamp". The drain was made of chip-stone and was so high and wide that the boys could easily walk across it. They used to dare each other to walk across it and many boys got their shoes wet doing it. Sometimes this would mean a spanking when they got home if their parents found out.
IN THE DAYS OF THE SWAMPS
__The First Swamp was between Blackstone street and Willard avenue. The Second Swamp took in the Plain street section, extending pretty well up to what is now Bogman street. This included the pond that is now included in the Rhode Island Hospital grounds. From there the water overflowed to the Third Swamp which was east of Eddy street. Here it was used by Butterworth's dyeing and finishing plant because of its purity, and eventually reached the Providence river at an opening known as the First Spout. Between the First Spout and the Second Spout, to the east of Willard Hill, there was a fine sandy beach where the boys went in wading and took their first swimming lessons. But there came a time in the late 1860's when the springs began to dry up. Dexter pond was filled with terrible smelling water-weeds, so the city filled it in. The first road built across the pond was part of Lockwood street between Pine and Broad streets. All sorts of trash were used to fill the pond in, so the street was not very stable. The first buildings that were put up in this area sagged in the middle because of settling and the owners tried to sue the city. They lost the suit.
LONG POND NEXT TO GO
__At about the center of the pond were two points of land that reached out toward each other and this is where several churches held their baptism every summer.
__Long pond was the favorite skating place for people on both sides of the city because it was easily reached. Mashapaug pond was too far to travel. Later, when the horse car service came in, Long Pond was crowded every winter afternoon and evening. In the summer time it was a great fishing place. There were big pickerel as well as the ordinary smaller fish being caught in good numbers. Also, many people went swimming there and were perfectly safe at either of the two points of land, for there the bottom was sandy and the water was shallow. To the south the pond was fed with cold springs, and several people drowned while trying to swim from shore to shore. One boy who lost his life was the son of Jabez Gorham. He and a friend wanted to go for one last dip in the "ol' swimmin' hole" before they left for vacation together.
__About fifty years ago (approx. 1872) the filling in of that pond was begun, and today wide streets, fine building sites and the Bucklin Playground are where it used to be. The filling in program was painfully slow, and the pond was little more than a dump. People in the neighborhood complained, so the city took over the job and covered up the old junk, refuse and ash piles with clean earth. The last of the filling was done before1891. In that year the Dexter Street sewer was built. It was still quite a while before the area was leveled by the city and the Bucklin Playground built.
BENEDICT POND NOT WELL KNOWN
__Not many people know about Benedict pond because it is close to the Providence-Cranston line. It is quite a way back from Cranston street between Anthony and Wadsworth streets. One side stretches along Huntington Avenue.
__Fed by very cold springs, it has been the scene of many drownings. Most of them were small boys who did not realize how deep the water was and how quickly the bottom sloped off. Larger boys and men sometimes got cramps and drowned while trying to swim through the cold springs that reached up to its surface. There was pretty fair fishing, but the pond was most valued for the clear, solid ice that was made and harvested upon it during the winter.
__The filling of Benedict pond has taken a long time because it is farther than the ash men and trash-haulers want to travel. Anyone who travels on Huntington avenue can see that future developers will have quite a time digging in that area.
__Benedict pond is now (in 1922) three-quarters filled in, but in a short time it will be filled in completely. The city is now making an effort to finish the job that the public has been on for the last 40 or more years.