In the earliest days of the 1900s, Taylor Pond was a little-known and totally undeveloped gem just a couple of miles from the center of the Twin Cities.

Within a few years, ideas were being proposed to make it a major resort destination that would replace the extremely popular Lake Grove amusement area at East Auburn.

The exceptional popularity of Lake Grove was made possible by the “electrics,” which was the trolley line that carried thousands of L-A residents to that destination. It had been a successful business venture that depended upon a mode of mass transportation, and the same would be needed for development of a similar site at Taylor Pond.

None of the grandiose plans reached fruition, but there was a period when many people debated the pros and cons of a new trolley route to Taylor Pond.

L.C. Bateman, the distinguished Lewiston Evening Journal writer, addressed the issues in the June 13, 1908, edition of the newspaper. He detailed the history of Taylor Pond from the time when it was known to native Americans as “Ousegan,” meaning “place of many beavers.” He told about the legendary flat-topped “Jippy Rock” somewhere on the east shore from which the earliest inhabitants kept watch for enemies and upon which they sometimes bound and executed their captives.

The original grant of land was made to settlers named Ware and Tyler, and the name of Taylor Pond may have resulted from a slight change of spelling.

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For many years, the pond’s shoreline was the back boundary of several farms, but a few L-A citizens built cottages in the early 1900s.

Why would this largely unknown and mostly inaccessible body of water, three miles long and a mile wide, attract such attention?

“The future of Maine as a summer resort is just beginning to be comprehended by our own people,” Bateman wrote. “It is coming to be understood that Maine is to be the future summer playground of America.”

It was Lake Grove’s success that led people to voice concern about its future.

Bateman wrote, “Lake Auburn gives the water supply for 40,000 people, and to keep it pure is one of the greatest anxieties of these two cities.”

He said, “After a crowd of several hundred people have a clambake in the grove they are apt to go down to the shore and wash their hands in the water. The time is not far distant when the people of these cities will put an end to Lake Grove as a public and popular resort. They will then want some other place for the same purpose. The American people love resorts and they are going to have them. Taylor Lake will be the next great resort for the people of this vicinity.”

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And how would all of this come about?

An extension of the trolley line from East Auburn to Turner had been intended for a long time, but the route was the subject of considerable controversy. One of the most vocal proponents of an alternate route was N.B. Tracy of Auburn. He had put forth his arguments in a news story in the Journal on July 14, 1904. It was headlined, “Build Via Taylor Pond And Make It A Resort.”

Tracy said an extension from East Auburn to Turner was all wrong.

“What business is there for the road after leaving East Auburn?” Tracy asked. “None until the terminal is reached, as the track would pass through the woods almost the entire distance.”

Some people supported a route for the Turner trolley to go up Summer Street and pass by Mount Auburn Cemetery. Tracy’s route would start at the Maine Central railroad station in Auburn, go up Court Street, Hampshire Street, Gamage Avenue and Lake street, and on to Young’s Corner. In that area, he proposed a spur line could be laid to the shore of Taylor Pond, and the main line would continue west of Lake Auburn into Turner.

None of this came about, but Bateman was sure it could happen.

“The great glory and prosperity of Maine as the pleasure ground of America lies in the future, and in the bright constellation of her summer resorts Taylor Lake is bound to become one of the brightest gems,” he said.

Dave Sargent is a freelance writer and a native of Auburn. He can be reached by sending email to [email protected]


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