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Occom Pond, Then & Now

Mar 05, 2018 03:24PM ● By Victoria Pipas
If you live in the Upper Valley, you have probably attended a winter event or participated in a winter sport at Occum Pond in Hanover, New Hampshire. The myriad of facilities there offers a winter wonderland of activities including sledding, ice-skating, pond hockey, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. But whether you’ve enjoyed playing there or are a member of the Dartmouth College community, you might not be aware of the history of this charming spot.

Occom Pond is named after the Reverend Samson Occom, born in 1723, who was a member of the Mohegan Nation. He trained as a Presbyterian cleric near New London, Connecticut, having previously studied under the well-known Eleazar Wheelock at Wheelock’s Congregational “Lattin School.” Occom traveled around New England and even Britain, preaching, teaching, and converting pupils. However, he often faced discrimination as a Native American minister and was rarely paid the same as Anglo-American ministers. Furthermore, he was exploited by Wheelock, who used funds that the two had raised together to establish a college in New Hampshire—not for Native Americans, as originally promised, but for Englishmen.

In the early 1800s, Dartmouth College Professor T.W.D. Worthen initiated the creation of Occom Pond as we know it today. The topography of the landscape was marshy, a feature that can still be experienced at the south end of the pond. 

The high ridge overlooking the pond and the river on either side was once a cow pasture but now features cross-country running and skiing trails. Bordering the northern edge of the pond is Hanover Country Club’s golf course. 

On the north side of the pond, you’ll also find the Dartmouth Outing Club, which was constructed in 1929. For decades, there was a restaurant run by students on these premises. 

Now, the building hosts college events, education classes, and private functions. On the lower level of the building, you can find the DOC’s rental equipment, accessible to members of the public as well. You can rent ice skates, Nordic skis of both the skate and classic varieties, and snowshoes. More information on rentals and trail conditions can be found here.

What is your family’s favorite outdoor activity or event at Occom Pond and its constituent facilities? Please comment below to share your experience with other readers.


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