Published on October 7, 2013 by Amy
Lake Chaubunagungamaug, also known as Webster Lake, is a lake in the town of Webster, Massachusetts, United States. It is located near the Connecticut border and has a surface area of 1,442 acres (5.84 km2).
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The lake’s name comes from Nipmuc, an Algonquian language, and is said to mean, “Fishing Place at the Boundaries — Neutral Meeting Grounds”. This is different from the humorous translation, “You fish on your side, I fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle”, thought to have been invented by the late Laurence J. Daly, editor of The Webster Times.
Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (/ˌleɪk tʃəˈɡɒɡəɡɒɡ ˌmænˈtʃɔːɡəɡɒɡ tʃəˌbʌnəˈɡʌŋɡəmɔːɡ/), a 45-letter alternative name for this body of fresh water, is often cited as the longest place name in the United States and one of the longest in the world. It is not spelled correctly on the sign bordering Connecticut.
Today, “Webster Lake” may be the name most used, but some (including many residents of Webster), take pride in reeling off the longer versions.
This lake has several alternative names. Lake Chaubunagungamaug is the name of the lake as recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior, however, many area residents, as well as the official website of the town of Webster, consider the longer version correct.
Algonquian-speaking peoples had several different names for the lake as recorded on old maps and historical records. However, all of these were similar in part and had almost the same translation. Among other early names were “Chabanaguncamogue” and “Chaubanagogum”. Early town records show the name as “Chabunagungamaug Pond”, also the name of the local Nipmuc town (recorded in 1668 and 1674 with somewhat different spellings). This has been translated as ‘boundary fishing place’, but something close to “fishing place at the boundary” or “that which is a divided island lake” may be more accurate.
A map of 1795, showing the town of Dudley, indicated the name as “Chargoggaggoggmancogmanhoggagogg”. A survey of the lake done in 1830 lists the name as “Chaubunagungmamgnamaugg”, the older name. The following year, both Dudley and Oxford, which then adjoined the lake, filed maps listing the name as “Chargoggagoggmanchoggagogg”.
“Manchaug” is derived from the “Monuhchogogoks”, a group of Nipmuc that lived by the lakeshore. Spellings of the long name vary, even on official signs near the lake; in 2009, following six years of press reports, the local Chamber of Commerce agreed to have the spelling corrected on its signs, where a 45-letter version of the name arrayed in a semicircle was used. It did not correspond to any of the two dozen variants in the GNIS. Webster schools use one long form of the name in various capacities.
Three songs about the lake’s name have been written. The first was a regional song from the 1930s. The second was recorded by Ethel Merman and Ray Bolger and released in 1954 by Decca and incorporates the tale about the lake’s name according to Daly. The most recent was released in 2010 by Diane Taraz.
In the 1950s, a plan to shorten the official name of the lake inspired a poem of doggerel verse which concludes:
Webster Lake is a 1,270-acre (5.1 km2) http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/habitat/maps/ponds/pdf/dfwwebst.pdf lake with a 17-mile (27 km) shoreline in southern Massachusetts, near the Connecticut border. It is the SECOND largest fresh body of water in Massachusetts. The largest fresh body of water is Long Pond at 1721 acres in Lakeville, Massachusetts. The average depth is 13 feet (4.0 m) and the maximum depth is 45 feet (14 m).
Although the lake is natural in origin, its outlet has a dam that raises the water level by a couple feet. The dam is owned by Cranston Print Works, which controls the water level.
The lake is commonly divided into three smaller bodies of water: North Pond, Middle Pond, and South Pond. They are connected by narrow channels.
Webster Lake has about 7–8 islands. Some have houses and are habitable; a few are extremely small and uninhabitable. They include:
Webster lake has two marinas:
Webster Lake has two waterfront restaurants open to the public:
Waterfront Mary’s is on the Middle Pond, near the narrows that lead to the North Pond. Customers can beach their personal water crafts or dock their boats; the restaurant has food, drinks, and a patio with great views of the largest section of the lake.
Point Breeze Restaurant is on the Middle Pond, next to Point Breeze Marina. Customers can dock pontoon boats and take a staircase to the restaurant. They have occasional live music and hold wedding functions.