About Indian Lake


Indian Lake didn't exist 200 years ago. It began as North Pond and was roughly 40 acres in size. In the early 1800s, plans for the creation of a canal stretching from Worcester to Providence, RI were developed. Construction of the Blackstone Canal began in 1825, and opened for use in the fall of 1828. It was created to increase trade between the two cities, allowing Worcester to increase its economic status. To control water flow though the canal, a dam was built at the outlet of North Pond, turning it into a reservoir. As a result, North Pond grew to more than four times its size, now totaling 193 acres. The rising water created Sears Island, which had previously been a hill on the shoreline [1]. The advent railroads soon rendered the canal impractical and it ceased use as a commercial trade. The dam stayed, leaving behind the area now known as Indian lake.

Commercial Use

The earliest documented commercial use of the lake was as a power source for the watermills that lined its outlet, Mill Brook [1]. These mills provided power for some of Worcester's factories. Indian Lake also served as the home of the Walker Coal and Ice Company. Harvesting 15,000 tons or more of ice every year, the Walker Coal and Ice Company provided employment for many of Worcester's residents [2]. After 90 years on Indian Lake, a warehouse fire shut down the company, as the development of electric refrigeration had made ice harvesting obsolete.

Recent History

In the 1970's, a highway was designed intending to connect Worcester to local cities and towns. The original blueprints had the highway cut straight across Indian Lake, atop a gravel causeway. This proposal was not well received by the residents because of the environmental damage it would cause to the lake, both from construction and eventually passing vehicles. The original plan also called for the demolition of the West Boylston Street School. A revised path, now Route 190, was proposed by a concerned citizen, which both saved the school and skirted around the lake. Additionally, the new plan saved the city a considerable sum, as there was no longer a need for the thousands of tons of gravel the causeway would've needed [3].

Present Day

Presently Indian Lake has no real commercial significance for the surrounding community. In the past it was home to a yacht club that has since shut down. The lake still serves as a popular venue for recreation for the city of Worcester. In addition to the waterfront properties owned by the residents of the lake, there are two public access beaches and a small park with a boat ramp. In the summer, due to its ease of access and usability, it plays host to many swimmers, boaters, fishers, and, beach goers. This in fact provides the motivation and rationale for this survey - preserving the beauty of the lake and maintaining its functionality as a recreation destination.

Developed as Part of a WPI Sponsored Project
In Affiliation with The Indian Lake Watershed Association
Worcester, MA 2013