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Historical Society In Laconia, New Hampshire Helps Preserve Lake Winnipesaukee

By Paul Rowe

Bob Lawton and his son Tim founded the Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society in 1985. After years of living on (and scuba diving in) the lake, they opened this outstanding facility dedicated to the rich history of Lake Winnipesaukee. Their dream was fully realized in June 2004 when the Museum opened.

The Lake Winnipesaukee Historical Society's mission is to preserve the history of Lake Winnipesaukee and the towns that circle its shores. This mission is accomplished in large part through the summer hours at the Lake Winnipesaukee Museum.

The museum features many fascinating exhibits such as "Souvenirs From the Past," a collection of souvenirs, paperweights, postcards, and more from the 1870s up through the 1980s. "The Steamboat Era" is another favorite exhibit for museum goers. Steamboats were on the lake from 1833 to 1939, when the old Mount Washington Steamer burned at the Weirs. At this popular exhibit, one can view photographs and artifacts from a variety of old steamboats, a working model of the old Mount, and a special collection of photographs showing the launching of the new Mount in 1940.

Memorabilia, trophies, and photos from the 1950s depict water ski tricks, tournaments, and national competitions at the "Water Skiing on Winnipesaukee and the Weirs Ski Club" exhibit, while "Summer Camps on Lake Winnipesaukee" celebrates the role that summer camps have played in the rich history of the lake.

Seasonal boys and girls camps played a significant role in the history and heritage of Lake Winnipesaukee. At one time, over 100 such camps were on or around the lake and were typically run by educators or others interested in the physical and moral health of youth. Today, about twenty-four camps are in operation.

The Museum's property is itself an historic landmark and represents an era that drastically changed the way Americans spent their summer vacations¬¬: a perfect example of the tradition of hospitality vital to the area's history and economy since the 1800s.

Lake Winnipesaukee, otherwise known as "Beautiful Water of the High Place," has always been held in high esteem since primitive man first came to its scenic shores. Known as Winnipisseoke, or Winnipiseogee Pond, and dozens of others very similar, the present Winnipesaukee name was made official by the New Hampshire legislature of 1933.

Several underwater wrecks have been uncovered from the depths of the lake. The lake itself is a sight to behold. When gazing upon it, one can't help but wonder how it came to fruition, and how it shaped the communities that we know today. One way to get in touch with this remarkable past is to visit the Museum.

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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