September 29, 1888 – New Hampshire Sentinel

Sand Dam Past and Present  September 29, 1888 – New Hampshire Sentinel
“While workmen were repairing the sand dam, so called, for the Blanket Mills, one of them, B F. Harris, wandering about the shore of the pond, found in a secluded place in the bushes an open grave, not a hole in the ground, but a well-made grave, which had the appearance of having been made some time. All kinds of rumors were afloat, some of them believing that a murder was premeditated, others that it was made during the time of the liquor raids as a place to hide goods; be that as it may, it gave evidence of having been dug with care and for a purpose.”


Obviously, it didn’t take very much to start those types of rumors and chances are slim that we will ever learn what the grave had been intended for.  Today, one hundred and twenty-two years later another rumor evolves around Sand Dam.  It’s not just a curiosity rumor like that of 1888, but it’s a serious one that has damaged its reputation.  Fortunately, there are logical explanations for the rumors that Sand Dam is polluted based on the color of the water. The reality is that Sand Dam is not a spring fed lake. Rockwood Brook, which is a tributary to the South Branch of Ashuelot River flows through Sand Dam. A man-made dam holds back the water thus creating a small pond.  No matter how hard we may wish it to be, it will never become crystal clear.  The brownish appearance of the water is caused mostly by Mother Nature’s plant life and undergrowth.  Sometime after the State Wetlands laws came into play with it’s strict guidelines and permits, the cleaning of debris from the bottom of the pond ceased and it hasn’t been drawn down for that purpose ever since. 


The pond was extensively tested after the EPA cleaned the dump and the tests came back negative for chemicals.  It is also tested each year in accordance with state regulations, but sometimes, just like many other lakes and ponds; we may find elevated levels of E-coli. Geese cause the majority of bacteria in the water quality and if people feed them they won’t go away and neither will the problem.  Another contributing factor is rainfall.  It’s so heartbreaking that a small group of people ignoring these facts can spread such a deadly disease into the life of an area that was once the center of fun and activity for this town.