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Lake Shaftsbury

posted Mar 2, 2015, 5:23 AM by Ben Leslie   [ updated Dec 19, 2015, 6:00 AM ]


In the 1800’s our lovely Lake Shaftsbury was known as Vermont Healing Springs. Mineral waters from the wet meadows were bought and sold for their healing properties. The meadow was later flooded and created a pond which powered a lumber mill to transport logs harvested from the surrounding forest.

Eventually, the mill pond gave way, and in 1913 The Lake Shaftsbury Corporation built a larger dam of earth and concrete thereby containing the waters of the marshland and springs to create a sizeable lake. They built Lake Shaftsbury Inn and cabins along the shores to attract people there during the summer.  Like many other Vermont lakes, there was once an ice house on Lake Shaftsbury. Sawdust was used to help store the ice which was later sold to summer tourists.

During the 1920’s the John James family purchased the land and cabins and developed it into a summer resort. The cabins received electricity from the dam and water from a spring house built over the remaining Healing Springs.  Cabins could accommodate four to eight people and cost $15.00 to $25.00/week to rent. Campers would order milk, cheese, butter and eggs from nearby farms, while grocery men from the surrounding towns delivered other necessary supplies. The establishment later became Camp Avalon, a girl’s summer camp.

The State of Vermont purchased 100 acres of lake and forestland in 1974 to create Shaftsbury State Park and preserve the unique character of this natural treasure.

 In the 1990’s Mr. Gordon Shaw provided swim lessons to local youngsters on Lake Shaftsbury’s shore. A naturalist program took place at the park on a weekly basis staffed by volunteers sharing their love of our world. Whispering Pines Girl Scout Camp served hundreds of girls from Pownal, Bennington, Shaftsbury, Arlington and Manchester for over a decade. Lake Shaftsbury State Park received several awards since its creation, the most recent one was in 2010 when it was designated Park of the Year.

Shaftsbury Historical Society February 2015


1889 Beer’s Atlas Map

                                                                                                                    1920 advertisement for Lake Shaftsbury

                                                                                                                          Healings Springs Nature Trail                                                                                            Agency of Environmental Conservation

                                                                                                                     Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation 2/1990




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