Where is Lake Buel located?

What’s a good source for information about Lake Buel?

The Wikipedia article is quite informative.  For a more in-depth review of the lake’s history, “Gibson’s Grove and Turner’s Landing: Lake Buel’s Century as a Summer Resort”  by Bernard Drew (Attic Revivals Press 2009) is an excellent source.

The Internet Archive has made available online an 1886 book called the Book of Berkshire that has some charming drawings and commentary, although only a few lines about Lake Buel specifically (on page 194):

Lake Buel, six miles distant, is a beautiful sheet of water, lying a few rods beyond the eastern boundary of the town, to which thousands of people go every summer. Accommodations for the public are sufficient in the way of boats, picnic grounds, horse feeding, and so on, at both ends of the lake. The name of the lake is from Samuel Buel, who, July 23, 1812, saved from drowning four of seven persons whose boat was capsized. This is one of the most frequented lake resorts in Berkshire, and several people go so far as to have small cottages for a few weeks’ residence there.

Is Lake Buel open to the public?

Yes. It is a Great Pond owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts but the land around the lake is privately owned by residents. There is a public boat launch on the northwest shore off Route 57.

Where I can learn more about the Massachusetts legislative Act that created the Lake Buel Restoration/Preservation District?

Here is a link to the State Library of Massachusetts act that created the District in 1985.

What was the reason for creating a special purpose tax District?

The District was created in order to raise taxes to be used for restoring the lake to pristine condition (i.e., to combat aquatic invasives such as the European milfoil) and preserve it for recreational enjoyment.

Do I have to pay special taxes if I own property on or near the Lake?

Yes. You are legally responsible for paying the District taxes as well as property taxes to the town in which you reside (Monterey or New Marlborough) if the deed to your property includes a right of way to the Lake or if you own waterfront property. A deeded right of way to the lake cannot be removed from your deed, nor can a right of way be added.

How big is Lake Buel? 

196 acres, and 1.25 miles long between the two furthest points. The depth at the western bowl is approximately 42 feet, and approximately 38 feet at the eastern bowl. The middle between the bowls is about 15 feet deep.

Fun fact: At its edges, the Lake can be one inch deep or less.

What fish are in the Lake? What wildlife?

See the Wildlife page of this blog.

Where does the water come from?

The Lake is largely spring fed, but it is also a catch basin for the greater Hoosic River watershed, which is why flooding occurs periodically.  When the Konkapot River swells during a storm, the level of the river rises above the normal level of the lake and backflows into the lake.

How is the level of the lake maintained?

A “water control structure” at the eastern end of the Lake and beaver dams in the outlet control the water level.  The District manages both the dams.  However, there are times during heavy storms when the water will rise beyond our control.

I am concerned about the water level.  How do I raise or lower the water control structure at the end of the lake?

You should NEVER attempt to make changes to the water control structure.  The District is responsible for managing the structure.  Contact Paula Hatch, the chairperson of the Prudential Committee, with your concerns.

How clean is the water?

Very. We’re proud that over the years, we have maintained and even improved the quality of the water.

How about milfoil?

Milfoil drawing

The Lake was invaded by Eurasian Milfoil [wikipedia] in the 1970s. This is a non-native species of lake weed that can wreak havoc on an ecosystem. The District has successfully controlled the milfoil by continuous mechanical harvesting and thereby greatly reducing phosphate loading. We have never used chemicals, as other lakes have.

How about Zebra Mussels?

A common inference made by scientists predicts that the zebra mussel will continue spreading passively, by ship and by pleasure craft, to more rivers in North America. Trailered boat traffic is the most likely vector for invasion into the North American west and eventually into Lake Buel. This spread is preventable if boaters would take time to thoroughly clean and dry their boats and associated equipment before transporting these to new bodies of water. Since no North American predator or combination of predators has been shown to significantly reduce zebra mussel numbers, such spread would most likely result in permanent establishment of zebra mussels in many North American waterways.  Lake Buel offers a perfect habitat for zebra mussels, unfortunately, so boater education and extreme diligence by all users of the Lake is necessary to help thwart the establishment of the zebra mussel in Lake Buel.

Is the Lake in Great Barrington?

The shore line is in the towns of New Marlborough and Monterey. There are some homes that are given the Great Barrington zip codes because there’s no rural delivery.

What camps are on the Lake?

Camp Half Moon is a co-ed sleep-away camp [wikipedia].

KSA is a sleep-away sports camp [wikipedia]. KSA is on land formerly owned by Camp Deerwood. For a few years in the 1950s, it was the Ted Mack camp.

From 1921 until 1970, Camp To-Ho-Ne was a boy’s camp, owned and run by Peter and Sarah Menaker. Enge Menaker ran the Guest Camp adjacent to the camp, where adults came to stay in cabins and join in meals in the lodge.

(Wikipedia has good information about the camps on the Lake. Much of that excellent article was written by Lake Buel’s Oliver Brown. Thanks, Oliver!)

How do I become a blogger for this site?

Ask!  Send an email to one of the administrators of this site. For example: Paula Hatch, Chuck Pierce, or David Weinberger.

How’s cell phone reception at the Lake?

There’s an AT&T tower that provides service to much of the Lake.

Is there really an “Indian wall”?

Yes, there is a substantial underwater stone wall across the western bowl, about fifteen feet wide, and from four to five feet below the surface (depending on the water level). It’s believed that the local native Americans built it as an irrigation system, damming off part of the Lake.

Who have been some of the famous people who have spent time at the Lake?

  • Roy Lichtenstein, summered as a child in the 1920s at Lake Buel.
  • Alan Ford, honeymooned at Littlecrest in 1945.
  • Lud Gluskin, summered on the northwest side of the lake. 
  • Walt Kuhn, maintained a summer studio on the lake from 1940 to 1942.
  • Ted Mack, ran a summer camp, 1957 to 1958.
  • Tom Waddell, who competed in the Decathalon in the 1968 Olympics, and who founded the Gay Games, was a frequent visitor until his death in 1987.
  • Jim Palmer, pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, went to Camp Half Moon

(Credits to Drew, Bernard A. (2009). Gibson’s Grove & Turner’s Landing: Lake Buel’s Century as a Summer Resort. Great Barrington, MA: Attic Revivals Press. ISBN 978-0-941583-35-0.)

How do I add a photo to the list on the front page?

The vertical list of photos on the right side is compiled automatically from photos tagged as “lake” and “buel” at Flickr.com. So, if you want your photo to show up on the front page, you have to post a photo to your account at Flickr and give it those two tags. That’s it!

Unfortunately, this means you have to have an account at Flickr. The accounts are free.

And of course please keep the photos family-friendly, respectful of other people’s privacy, and fun. Thanks!

How do I recommend a question for inclusion in the FAQ’s?

Send your request to one of the site administrators: Paula Hatch, Ginny Hyde, Chuck Pierce, or David Weinberger.  If you know the answer but want to share the information with others, that’s even better!

10 thoughts on “FAQs

  1. Great info, thanks! Regarding public access, you identify the public boat launch but also indicate that the land around the lake is private. Is there frontage available along the shoreline available for public use? Unfortunately I don’t have a boat.

    • The only public access to the Lake is via the boat access ramp along Rt 57. The are no public “beach type” areas.

  2. Pingback: The new length of the Lake | Lake Buel – A place we love

  3. I remember, that there was a public swimming area, and that the water was cold and clear. I also remember a ride they had there, that was like a one person sled and it would send you down this ramp into the water. (long before water park slides)

    • Oh, yes! We used to visit there on the annual Church of Christ (Norfolk, CT) Sunday School Picnic – arriving via dirt back roads on a “hay-ride”, hauling dozens of us kids on an old flat-bed truck loaded with fresh-cut hay. The ride you describe was the always the highlight of the outing – we called it the “Shoot-the-Chute”. You would climb the supporting structure with your “sled”, (and, if you were really lucky, the pretty girl of your choice), and ride the sled down the precipitous track into the water – WAY fun! But (as you suggest), some time in the 1950’s the safety nazis got everybody’s attention, banning not just the ride, but the hay-ride too (couldn’t figure out how to attach safety belts to either one, apparently) and that wonderful old tradition went the way of the dinosaurs – pretty sad, I’d say, THOSE WERE THE DAYS….

      • Hello,

        Thanks for the response, but no, I’d rather not “subscribe”, just already too busy to add yet another source of too-much email. I wrote my “post” because a random look at your website brought back some fond memories of my very-long-ago childhood, for which I remain most grateful – thanks, much, again.

        Roger Monty (Sacramento, CA; formerly, Norfolk, CT)

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