A Short History of Deering Pond

Various glacial actions carved a basin into ancient bedrock. About 14,000 years ago, meltwater from the last retreating glacier lined this basin with “rock flour”, a fine-grained silt made from the glaciers grinding away at the bedrock and suspended in the runoff. As the water collected in the basin, the silt settled, forming a layer over 50 feet deep. This basin still collects flowage from the surrounding ridges forming a pond. 

Over time, water level decreased and plants colonized the area. Acidic minerals in the glacial till both encouraged growth of acid-loving plants and slowed decay of organic matter. Thus began the ongoing formation of a spongy peat bog along the shoreline, and the resultant tannin-rich water formed by the settled, acidic silt and slowly decaying organic matter. In centuries to come, the pond will evolve to a peat bog. 

A 324 acre lot was granted to John Lydston in 1744 for his services in the Indian wars, including braking his thigh in the War of 1693. Subsequently inherited by the Deering Family of Old Kittery, family members settled about 1 mile northwest of the pond, thus becoming the Deering Area, containing Deering Ridge and Deering Pond. Evidence suggests that this land was occasionally logged, probably used as pastureland, and that the largest mast pines in the State were cut west of the pond; the stumps were still visible 150 years ago.

A railroad was built through a boggy area of the pond in 1871, separating the pond from 2 other parts; these parts formed an unusual wetland, now protected by the Trust. A flat car used to haul construction materials was left there overnight and sank into the bog, where it now sits about 14’ deep under the Rail Trail. Various local families came to own the land, and was eventually bought by Mrs. Ira Russel, who donated it to the former Nasson College; known as The Russel Environmental Study Tract, it served as a wildlife preserve and outdoor laboratory. In 1983, Nasson closed, the land was sold at auction to the Hall Educational Foundation, which sold much of a large strip along Deering Neighborhood Road to PATCO, a local construction company, which built houses there. The remaining land was donated to the Trust.

1. The Natural History of Deering Pond, by Dr. G. S. Johnston, August, 1973

2. Hall Environmental Reserve, Property Description, Sanford/Springvale Mousam Way Land Trust, website: https://mousamwaylandtrust.org/2017/05/23/hall-environmental-reserve/ 

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