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'Maug Days

Spending time in the past, the present, and the future of the glorious Lake Waramaug



Photographs by Visko Hatfield and Vi Owens

Passing glistening water, gloriously restored historic homes, and multi-million-dollar mansions under construction, it’s hard to fathom that a few decades ago, Lake Waramaug was choked with algae, thick as green paint, its shorelines sparsely dotted mostly with simple summer cottages and boat houses. “Hands down, it’s the nicest lake in Connecticut.” says homeowner Doug Hamilton, driving in his convertible along the slim, serpentine roads that hug Litchfield County’s Lake Waramaug. 

Even in recent years, as many lakes have been banned for swimming and watersports on sweltering summer days because of toxic algae blooms, Waramaug has remained a gleaming exception, due to the diligence of two organizations: the Lake Waramaug Task Force, formed in 1975, and the Lake Waramaug Association, honoring its 100th anniversary this summer.

“There’s so much to celebrate,” says association board member Richard Kleinberg, whose children mark the third generation of his family that’s grown up here. The nonprofit group is looking to increase its membership, and plans a centennial picnic on July 22 from 5:30 to 9, where all are welcome. Other commemorative events include creating an online lake history archive, planting 100 trees, and saving 100 acres around the lake. “There’s never been a more important time than now to preserve our land,” says Kleinberg. “Development is happening at an unprecedented rate, and we need to protect this unique natural setting.”

(Pictured Susie Payne and Richard Kleinberg––board members of the Lake Waramaug Association.)

Meanwhile, the Task Force continues its fascinating work to curb the growth of algae and weeds. “To think this used to be a dying lake, it’s something, how far we’ve come,” says Tom McGowan, the task force’s executive director, touring a new hatchery on Arrow Point that’s raising zooplankton – microscopic organisms that eat algae. He explains that the state made a disastrous mistake in the 1970’s when they released alewives into the lake, which they had thought would make for bigger and more sport fish, such as bass. Instead, the alewives ate the zooplankton - natural predators of algae - and the algae “went wild.”

“The hatchery, brainchild of “our genius guy,” limnologist Dr. Robert Kortmann, began last spring raising and releasing zooplankton into the lake, and water clarity has already improved significantly,” McGowan says. With an annual budget of $250,000, funded by local, state and Federal governments as well as private donations, the task force has done a dizzying array of other things to keep the lake fresh, including: releasing 3,000 brown trout every year to eat alewives; sending scuba divers down to hand-pull harmful invasive weeds; and reducing the amount of phosphorous flowing into the lake from local farms and household cleaning products.

Perhaps most effective of all has been the layer air system, which produces a bubbling, cauldron-looking effect in spots around the lake, something local kids call “monster water.” It’s a network of 6,000 feet of piping along the lake’s bottom, connected to four aerators that, in summation, mitigate algae.

(Pictured on the right, Doug Hamilton in his wife's electric boat.)

The Roxbury writer Ann Leary says she was so impressed by the work of the task force, she based one of her characters on its members. The setting for The Children, released in paperback in June, is on a fictional Lake Waramaug, and she and her husband, the actor Denis Leary, bought a house on the lake for inspiration. They purchased the one-acre property six years ago for $1.1 million, renovated it, and sold it for $2 million last year. “I’m sort of obsessed with Lake Waramaug,” Leary says. “The old gentlemen rowing along silently every morning, the people fishing in summer, ice fishing in winter, the sunrises, sunsets; it’s all so enchanting.”

The 680-acre Lake Waramaug, named after the Indian chief in 1725, is the second largest in the state after nearby Bantam Lake, and surrounded by the towns of Washington, Warren and Kent. At various times, there have been nine inns around its border; all but one, Hopkins Inn, have been torn down and/or converted to private homes. It used to be mostly summer residents, but now people want fully heated, year-round homes, with motorboats. They love its beauty and the two private clubs on the lake.

And while it may seem exclusive, there are still opportunities for visitors to access the lake. The Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent has 72 sites on 95 acres, and rents kayaks, canoes and paddle boards, and the boat launch at the Washington Town Beach issues a limited number of permits to trailered motor boats, depending on availability. 

There’s also a little-known oasis at the southwest end of the lake called Mount Bushnell State Park, where Chief Waramaug spent his summers. It’s 214 acres of preserved land, with no signs or designated parking areas, only mystical caves and rock formations, majestic trees and songbirds. (For directions, Google it.) Looking out across the glassy clear water, McGowan clasps his hands and smiles. “I think the chief would be pleased.” 


LAKE LITANY
By Alex Burns

Candlewood Lake
5,000 acres, maximum depth 89 feet
Boating with boat dock, fishing, park, playground, picnic tables, concession stand, many public beaches. 

Bantam Lake
1,000 acres, maximum depth 26 feet
Two beaches, swimming, fishing, camping, boating, sailing. Bantam Lake Ski Club is a waterski organization. Sunfish regatta is held here every summer; Bantam Lake Yacht Club; races every Sunday afternoon;  French Cup Race over Labor Day; “around the lake” race on July 4. 

Lake Waramaug
650 acres, depth 43 feet
Camping, lake fishing, car-top boating, picnicking, Kent public beach, boat rentals (canoe/kayak). 

Tyler Lake
190 acres, depth 23 feet
State boat launch

Mount Tom Pond
Boating (non-motor), fishing, hiking (stone lookout tower at summit) , picnicking, scuba diving, public beach.

Hatch Pond
Hiking, public fishing, public boat launch

North Spectacle Lake Pond
Only accessible to lakeside property owners 

South Spectacle Lake Pond
Fishing, kayaking, canoeing. No motorboats 

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September 2017

 The Litchfield Historical Society and the Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy invite you for a book talk and reception on Sunday, September 24 at 3 p.m. with Roger D. Stone, author of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society and Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Litchfield Historical Society
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

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CT Largest Agricultural Fair has pretty much everything! Performances by Brothers Osborne, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Military appreciation Day with USO Show, new this year a Lumberjack...

Cost: Free-$35 (not including rides)

Where:
24 Townhouse Road
Durham, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06059
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

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The WCSU Alumni Association will host The Neil Wagner Golf Outing with a 10 a.m. shotgun start at the Richter Park Golf Club, 100 Aunt Hack Road in Danbury. Proceeds from the annual event will...

Cost: $175

Where:
Richter Park Golf Club
100 Aunt Hack Road
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

Painter Stanley Lewis will discuss his work at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. The event will...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Westside Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we welcome Mark Scarbrough, a scholar on 19th Century American literature, as he leads a five week session exploring literature, politics and culture in the United States through the...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

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Author, Filmmaker and Educator, Tom Shachtman, will offer a visual presentation followed by a signing on his recently published book, How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors Diplomats, Luis...

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

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For over 30 years, Green Chimneys has been opening its doors to the community for Little Folk Farm Day, welcoming scores of young people to explore our bustling Brewster campus. Play groups,...

Cost: infants under 2 - Free; Adults - Free; Children 2 & older -@ $10

Where:
Green Chimneys
400 Doansburg Rd.
Brewster, NY  10509
View map »


Sponsor: Green Chimneys
Telephone: 845-279-2995 ext 307
Contact Name: Gail Dickerman
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The White Hart Speaker Series is presented in collaboration with Oblong Books & Music & Scoville Memorial Library ADMISSION IS FREE.  THE PURCHASE OF A BOOK AT THE EVENT SUPPORTS...

Cost: Free

Where:
White Hart Inn
15 Under Mountain Road
Salisbury, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Bridge Healing Arts Center Hosts an open house for practitioners of the healing arts to explore Connecticut’s first synergistic wellness community. Providers will now be able to refer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-710-5504
Contact Name: Vera Halina
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

WCSU will present the "Best Darn Jazz Club in Danbury" at 8 p.m. in the Colonial Corner in the Student Center on the university's Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission...

Cost: Free

Where:
WCSU Midtown Campus
181 White Street
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Little Free Library Stewards Rose Buckens and Jo Ann Jaacks will host a combined indoor tag sale fundraiser and informational gathering at St. Michael’s Community House, 23 South Street, just...

Cost: Free

Where:
St. Michael's Community House
23 South Street
Just off the Litchfield Green
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Little Free Library at StoneHill
Telephone: 203-770-4156
Contact Name: Rose Buckens
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society’s Saturday morning walking tours are exploring new sites in town. Each tour lasts about an hour—make sure to bring a bottle of water and wear...

Cost: Free for members; $5 non-members

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan
Website »

More information

This festival aims to serve as a creative outlet to residents of greater New Milford by providing them with the opportunity to show their work on the big screen, all while raising money for a...

Cost: varies but mostly free

Where:
Bank Street Theater
46 Bank St
New Milford, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Sports and recreation are universal experiences. Whether we make it to the big leagues or never leave our backyards, these activities play important roles in our lives. They help us form...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Litchfield Historical Society is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit Thoughts, Words, and Deeds: Exploring the Litchfield Female Academy, on view April 22 through November 27, 2017...

Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield History Museum
7 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Megan Olver
Website »

More information

The Smithy Loft Gallery is pleased to announce a new exhibit featuring infrared photography by Litchfield, CT photographer, Wendy Costa, and contemporary drawings and paintings by Stony Creek, CT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loft Gallery @ The Smithy Store
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy Store
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

 The Mattatuck Museum presents “The Valley Girls” with an exhibit running from September 10 – November 12, 2017.  A special reception will be held on Sunday, September...

Cost: Fee for Admission

Where:
Mattatuck Museum
144 West Main St
Waterbury, CT
View map »


Sponsor: Mattatuck Museum
Telephone: 203-753-0381
Contact Name: Mally DeSomma
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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