Haven in the Mountains: The Lake Mansfield Trout Club

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.

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10 Responses to Haven in the Mountains: The Lake Mansfield Trout Club

  1. Dale Drinkwater says:

    I have been coming to the Mansfield Trout Club for many years and what I love about this beautiful place is that not much has changed here over time. To spend time with families at the dinner table sharing the wonderful food they serve and sitting in a rocking chair and watch the trout surface for flies and watch the sun pass over the mountain.
    Then to finish off the day reading a book in the library with a Fall fire going and the smell of wood smoke is a beautiful memory. Hopefully there will be many more years to enjoy this hidden gem!

  2. Tom Greeley says:

    The most wonderful place in the world. My blood pressure immediately drops as soon as I arrive. Amazing people who are members.

  3. Becky Mann McConnell says:

    Just found this blog as I was looking for the address and phone number to share with friends we are bringing to LMTC. I am a 3rd generation family member of the Mann family. Our first member, Dr Wilbur S Mann, was my grandfather. I do look forward to the day when I can say I am the LMTC member, lol! The club is my little piece of heaven on earth. In 60 years I have seen changes, renovations, staff. When I was young, my grandmother would only allow my sister and I to be at the club after lunch for a swim and snack,
    never eating a meal or staying over night. I think I was in my early 20’s, married, before I was allowed to stay over-night. When I first brought my oldest child to LMTC at 18 months old, I was a wreck, worrying that he might disturb someone. Don’t think I slept much that weekend. Now, my grandchildren look forward to our family weekend every summer, and noone minds being “unplugged” there is so much that keeps us all busy – fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboards, cards, books, napping, rocking chairs. I am so grateful that I have LMTC in my life and am able to share it with my growing family and friends.

  4. Kenneth R. MacLeod says:

    Thank you for this lovely piece & the memories that flooded in. My father was a member & our family would spend 2 weeks at the club about every other August in the 60’s 7 70’s. Fishing was really not my main focus. I hiked every inch of the mountain trails! To this day, LMTC is to me the most beautiful place on Earth! My last visit was 1977, just Dad & I, on the cusp of my leaving for the Army.

  5. Elsa Ravaris says:

    LMTC has been my favorite place in the whole world for the past 17 years! It is great to hear how much other people love it as well. Thank you for writing this!

  6. John Maiolo says:

    I was there once around 1987 a friends grandfather invited us up from Massachusetts it was one of the best weekends of my life..

  7. James Herschel says:

    I worked at the LMTC during the summer of 1957, when I was 17. Washed dishes, cleaned a zillion trout, mowed the lawn, cleaned rowboats, carried bags, whatever, all for $22.50 a week, with one day off every two weeks. Loved it. Learned to play cribbage by watching summer long resident, Uncle Arthur (Bigelow), in the evenings. Les and Alice Billings, who also ran the Ski Barn in Waitsfield, were the proprietors then.

  8. Jim Herschel says:

    I worked at the LMTC during the summer of 1957, when I was 17. Washed dishes, cleaned a zillion trout, mowed the lawn, cleaned the row boats, slept in a dorm with the other help (of both sexes), all for meals, $22.50 a week, and one day off every two weeks. Loved it! Les and Alice Billings who also ran the Ski Barn in Waitsfield were the proprietors then.

  9. Tobie Flint Smith says:

    My grandfather, the Rev. Homer A. Flint, was a long time member and retired from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to Stowe so that he could be near the Club. My sister, brother, and I spent many hours at the club when we visited our grandparents. This was in the era of no heat, no modern toilets, but good food. Swimming to the float, hiking the trails, and learning to canoe were always part of our summer vacations and greatly enjoyed.

  10. Fred Smith says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog, prepared by my granddaughter Erin Clauss.
    Along with our family we have enjoyed membership in LMTC for many years,
    and shared good times with previous generations!
    Smith Family

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