“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Walden,” 1854. As summer comes to an end, we take a look at a summer retreat visited by both the philosophers and the frolicker. Thoreau’s two- year stay on the shores of Walden Pond ended Sept 6, 1847. Since then, the lake has transformed from a summer retreat to a popular swimming hole. Since the later half of the 20th century, there has been a strong conservation effort to preserve the bucolic property.
- Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite
Boston Globe Archives
July 4, 1945: More than 100 followers of the famous naturalist-philosopher Henry David Thoreau gathered beside a rock-strewn cairn and plaque on the shores of Walden Pond where Thoreau built his tiny one-room cabin. They both marked the location of the hut in which Thoreau began his historic experiment in living in 1845.
Louis Russo/Globe Staff
August 18, 1946: The bright sands, alive with sunbathers on warm summery days, made an animated scene against the cool backdrop of trees.
James L. Callahan/Globe Staff
September 15, 1946: At Lake Walden in Concord, in the wooded sections Thoreau had made famous, trailer dwellers developed a community called Walden Breezes. Located across the road from the pond, the 5-acre camp opened in the 1920s and, in its heyday, was home port to more than 80 trailers, clustered under spreading trees, with a laundry shack and snack bar. The state bought the land in 1976 and under the terms of the agreement, no new arrivals were permitted. Residents were given lifetime tenancy and the last tenant, Edna Toska, left the park in 2008 after 32 years of living by the pond.
H.T. Holbrook/ Globe Staff
August 17, 1960: Jane Martin, with her back to the camera, instructed on the science of diving as 11-year-old Harold Knight made his first attempt.
H.T. Holbrook, Globe Staff
August 17, 1960: Young swimmers appeared to be waiting for their next swimming assignment from their instructor on the deck.
Ted Dully/Globe Staff
July 8, 1977: The American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim class marched to the beach at Walden Pond.
Stan Grossfeld, Globe Staff
September 7, 1978: A lone swimmer found the water a bit chilly.
Bob Dean/Globe Staff
August 2 ,1981: An aerial view of Walden Pond that is the centerpiece of the approximately 425-acre Walden State reservation administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark.