This post was contributed by Erin Clauss, who has been working as a processing archivist in Special Collections since August 2016. Erin graduated from UVM in 2016 with a degree in history and classical civilization. In September, she will start a graduate program in library science and history at Simmons College.
As my time working in Special Collections is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking about which projects have been the most rewarding to me, both professionally and personally. One that most certainly falls into the latter category is our collection of records from the Lake Mansfield Trout Club, a private fishing club in Stowe, Vermont. I am very familiar with Lake Mansfield as several generations of my family have frequented this spot. When I learned that Special Collections housed a collection of records and photographs from the Lake Mansfield Trout Club I excitedly requested to work with them and in the process I learned more about the history of the club.
The Lake Mansfield Trout Club sits nestled in the shadow of Mount Mansfield. The man-made lake provides a spot for trout fishing, while the surrounding mountains supply a beautiful backdrop. The idea for a dam and subsequent lake and fishing club originated with Orlo Luce. According to the legend, Orlo Luce and Mark Lovejoy went fishing one day at Miller Brook, later known as Nebraska Brook. Seeing a young bull grazing, Lovejoy questioned if it was wise to approach, but Luce paid him no mind. Shortly after, the bull charged Luce and drove him up a tree. Laughing, Lovejoy left Luce to his own devices and fell asleep under a tree. As Orlo sat in the tree waiting for the bull to give up, he apparently got to thinking how nice it would be to build a dam and lake in that spot for trout fishing.
This idea percolated for a decade or so, until in July, 1899 Luce and Lovejoy hosted a promotional party on the spot they wanted to build a dam. They invited local men who agreed to form a corporation and fishing club. It was official by September of that year. They leased land from brothers Charles and Frank Burt and bought additional land from Plummer Pratt and the “Culver farm.” Stocks were purchased at $50 each to finance the dam, which ended up costing $6752 and was completed in October, 1901. The dam was accompanied first by a horse barn which was then converted into the clubhouse. The new lake was stocked with trout and was ready for fishing five years later.
The Club has undergone transformations in the years since, including draining the lake in 1924 and again in 1946 in order to improve the dam as well as several renovations of the clubhouse. For members, it remains today a haven for “trout fishing, swimming, boating, walking, hiking, and serenity” as well as simply soaking in the beauty of Vermont in the summer. The first verse of “The Trout Club Song,” sung by the Lake Mansfield Trout Club Choral Society, sums it up best:
There’s a haven in the Mountains
Nestled ‘mongst the trees,
Where we are always happy
With hearts as light as breeze;
Where friendship is the password
And fish bite when they choose.
Our old Lake Mansfield Trout Club
Will chase away the blues.
The Lake Mansfield Trout Club Records contain financial, business, and membership records, historical accounts, descriptions of the buildings and grounds, photographs, and various other records documenting the club, its members, and their guests.