April 22, 2024
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Runaway Pond of Glover, Vermont

Runaway Pond Glover Vermont

The Legend of Runaway Pond of Glover, Vermont

On June 6, 1810, the origins of “Runaway Pond” began.  A group of men decided they wanted more water for Aaron Willson’s mill in Glover, VT. Their plan was to dig a trench at the northern end of Long Pond and allow some of the water to flow to the Lamoille River.

Unfortunately, they weren’t aware that the hillside was holding back the pond (which was about 100 feet in depth) was composed mostly of quicksand, with a thin layer of “hardpan” which held the water back. The men proceeded to dig the trench and the water soon started to sink through the quicksand below.

In less than two hours, the pond emptied out completely.

It was around noon time that the pond gave way and the cascade of water made its way north towards Lake Memphremagog. By late afternoon the rush of water had reached Coventry where it destroyed a bridge at a local farm. No one was injured or killed as one man ran ahead of the flood and was able to warn the mill attendant just in time. The flood was not only water, but trees, branches, dirt, and rocks which gave the man time to get ahead of the entire disaster.

The pathway of the flood for the whole distance from Long Pond to Lake Memphremagog appeared as if swept with a broom of destruction. For many miles the entire forest was torn up by the roots, and the trees were carried along by the current. At every bend in the stream and on all the land which was not deeply flooded the trees were left piled up, sometimes to the height of thirty or forty feet. The water in Lake Memphremagog rose about a foot. According to eyewitness Joseph Owen of Barton, the fish in the lake were all swept up the Black River. At Coventry Falls, near to 5 tons of fish were caught.

Photo above courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Here are some key facts about Runaway Pond in Glover, Vermont

  • Runaway Pond was a small body of water located in a steep valley near Glover. It was held in place by a natural dam of glacial till.
  • In 1810, the natural earthen dam failed due to erosion and spring flooding. This caused the pond's water to rush suddenly downhill.
  • Approximately 130 million cubic feet of water swept down the valley in just a few hours, causing catastrophic flooding along the path to the village of Glover below.
  • The raging floodwaters destroyed roads, bridges, homes, barns, mills, and killed several people plus hundreds of sheep and cattle.
  • It was one of the worst inland floods in American history at the time. The site where Runaway Pond was located is now just a small marshy area.
  • The flood path cut by the water draining from Runaway Pond is still visible today from the air and satellite images as an elongated scar-like feature carved into the terrain.
  • The Runaway Pond disaster led to one of the first systematic dam engineering efforts to prevent future failures of artificial dams in the United States.

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