Studying the relationships of this lake and river with their human communities through time
SPAP Report No.W-3
SUNRISE OVER THE POINT (Photo taken from across The River, at Echo Lodge Cabins, by Jill Bernardo, Summer 2000)
The Point is the westward-aiming triangle of land at the westernmost end of the south shore, in the lower basin of Panther Pond in Raymond Maine. The Point divides the end of Panther Pond (to the north) from the beginning of Panther Run / River (to the south). [Panther Run ends in Jordan Bay of Sebago Lake.] (See Map)
EXCERPT FROM THE 1792 PLAN OF RAYMOND
Rt 302 / (when it traveled along Main Street, before the bypass nearer to Sebago Lake)
Rt 121 / (when it did not travel along Main Street, before the 302 bypass near the Lake)
Being in The Cottage on The Point is like standing on the “bridge” of a large westbound ship: Water is on both sides of you and ahead of you. Seasonal-living in The Cottage surely is a natural delight, but it also is an environmental challenge. So, The House, a quarter-mile inland on the same road, became our current answer to year-round living in Raymond, after a fortuitous coincidence of circumstances suddenly made that possible in 1997-8.
Property-for-sale is an extremely rare event on South Shore Road. Cottages-on-the-water here tend to stay in the same families that built them, continuing to be the regular summer-reunion sites for far-flung kinfolk. Branches of any one family ask to rent any other family’s under-utilized premises, but really yearn to buy. Year-round-living opportunities are ever-rarer, as public awareness increases about land-&-lake pollution problems, with ever-stricter laws enacted to mitigate them. Cottage-lots here are not miniscule, but in many cases they are not large enough for optimum compliance with “setback” codes, so “Grandfathered Seasonal Only” is now the norm, with somewhat-limited facilities prevailing still (just as the Spartan Summer Setup of older days expected them to be: No frills! / Back To Nature!).
Over a century ago, back in the 1890s, my maternal grandparents, Fred A & Alice Wyer Hamblen, started summer-vacationing on the south shore of Panther Pond. Usually they stayed at Pine Grove Farm run by the Hayden family (now King’s Grant condominium), but sometimes at one or the other of two of the first few private cottages here. The Hamblens (eventually including my mother, Ruth Hamblen Morrison) were walkers, and especially liked strolling to the then-wild western end of the south shore, to what is now called The Point.
The Plan of Raymond dated 17 March 1792 shows that both the entire south shore of Panther Pond and the adjacent part of Panther Run / River then were assigned to Jeremiah Hayden (see map). His descendants still own the easternmost end of the south shore, and it was from an heir-or-assign of the Hayden family that my Hamblen grandparents bought the wild land of The Point on the westernmost end. They built The Cottage in the mid-1920s on a relatively-high terrace, and by 1940 they had stonewalled-up all of the lowland-tip of The Point to protect it from erosion.
I’m told that before a dam on Panther Run / River at Mill Street raised the water level of Panther Pond, there was no direct boat access between The Pond and The River. Today’s sandbar off the very tip of The Point was then a thick swamp. Canoes had to be carried from one side to the other over the widest-&-highest “stern” of The Point. Today you still can see the hint of the otherwise-useless portage-path there, which my mother always called The Indian Path – much to the delight of my three daughters. They respectfully appreciate that, although my wife & I intend passing-on The Point to them, all of us are & have been “only passing-through” in the pleasure of using it. Long before us* came the Archaic-Period Indians with their dugout canoes, then the Wabanaki Algonquians carried birchbark canoes there, etc.
My grandfather Hamblen was head actuary for Portland-based Union Mutual Life Insurance Company. Born in 1870, he had retired soon after my own birth in 1935, and The Point was the workshop for his hobbies of landscaping & drafting (mechanical-drawing). He had designed his own Victorian-style home in the Deering Center area of Portland in the 1890s, so drafting plans for The Cottage in the 1920s two-story simple-summer-style was easy fun for him. Landscaping the many terraces & building endless stonewalls was his healthy exercise. Just being At Camp was / is soul-refreshing.
Camp (as we call The Point & The Cottage collectively – and the experience of living there), from the start, always has been a place for us all to work on the maintenance of building-&-grounds, as well as to go to for relaxation. It’s a really compulsive Puritan-Ethic thing (that much I knew), but how very typical of a major cultural trend my own family’s Camp Experience was I did not know until I read an early draft of a sociological study stating so in the late-1980s. Our story was other-people’s story in details as well as in generalities! Character-building and Nature-worship work together.
That study, by Judith Huggins Balfe, has evolved from a conference paper to a 1995 published article [“The Inheritance of Summer Houses and Cultural Identity”, The American Sociologist, 26:4:29-40] to a 1999 published book [Passing ItOn: The Inheritance and Use of Summer Houses , Montclair NJ: Pocomo Press, ISBN 1-57087-486-7] with its 1999 accompanying guidebook [How To Pass It On: The Ownership and Use of Summer Houses, ISBN 1-57087-488-3; Ken Huggins is joint author of the guidebook with Judith Huggins Balfe – who is the sole author of both book and article]
Camp is an identity-discovering place like few others, and becomes a centering Sacred Place because of that. Camp is the Home Port, wherever else the family or any member thereof may sail. (And now for us to have year-round The House just up-road from The Cottage makes the Camp Feeling an even more powerful satisfaction.) The fact that generations and individuals in our family have shared / do share personal variations on the common theme of Special Place is both a fortunate and a fragile state of affairs. I hope that it will last long, not only for us now, but for those to come, and especially for the sake of those who started the privilege of Camp for us. The photo below states my case better than any further words can do, by reminding us all of Camp’s Magic Moments for young and old alike.
LOOKING AT LOONS (My grandfather Fred A Hamblen, 66, and myself Alvin Hamblen Morrison, 1+,at The Point. Photo taken by my father Alvin Alward Morrison MD, Summer 1936
Loons from The Pond like to swim past The Point into The River to fish. Loon antics and calls always are interesting, day or night. The true music of thrushes was first pointed out to me at Camp by my birder-grandmother, and I always happily share my delight in it with the family. Absolutely unforgetable was the pair of owls flying across the face of a low full moon, which we saw from our canoe one warm still evening. A chipmunk with full cheek-pouches swimming across The River and two moose swimming across The Pond are other pleasant Camp memories. I also remember fondly the first time as a child that I sat alone on the tip of The Point and watched the fantastic number of stars light up, and the many times together that we have sat there and watched for shooting-stars. Dreams? No – some of the reality of Camp!
*LONG BEFORE US…
Soon after my father died suddenly in 1985, I found in the pocket of his Camp-only work-jacket a pretty piece of the long-distant past: the inch-&-an-eighth-long, white-quartz, Small-Stemmed Projectile-Point pictured here. It dates from c 5500 years ago, in the Late Archaic Period of Native American Prehistory, like so many other artifacts in the Panther Pond area. I assume that my Dad found this SSPPoint somewhere at The Point, but forgot to tell me about it. Alas, it must keep its secrets now – regarding both its original loss and its recent find. The added mystery of the untold-about finding makes it all the more meaningful to me humanistically, even though scientifically it is worthless-out-of-context.
It is ironic that my grandfather, despite his constant grounds-work, never found any artifacts at The Point, and neither have I. However, almost within shouting distance of the very tip of The Point, both on The Pond and on The River, other searchers have found not just stone artifacts but Archaic-Period Indian sites.
(See also SPAP Reports No.MSM-F.3 Panther Pond Prehistory and No.MSM-F.4 Panther Run Iron Tomahawk for further information about archaeological findings in the Panther Pond & River area – plus other related SPAP Reports on Indian history of the Lakes Region of Maine.)