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The Flooding and Burning
of the Hunnewell Homestead
at Pleasant Ridge


Bob and Gerry Hunnewell

Excerpted from

Pleasant Ridge Plantation
"The Way Life Used to Be"
By Robert E. Hunnewell

Copyright © 2002
Published by the Author

Chapter Six
Silas Hunnewell (My Grandfather)

(p. 95-100)

Used by permission

Bob Hunnewell was born in 1920 and grew up on the Pleasant Ridge farm that had been in his family since the early 1800's. This homestead had to be burned before being flooded as Wyman Lake filled behind the new dam in 1930.

Bob married Geraldine Doyle in 1940 and they have three children: Gene, Bea, and Essie. He served in the Navy during WWII as a diesel engineer and worked for many years at the Quimby Mill in Bingham.

Bob has served the town of Bingham in several positions, including his tenure as First Selectman from 1982 to 1998. He and Gerry spend summers at their home on Main Street in Bingham and winters at their home in Florida.

  In 1928 Gramps was 82 years old. This is the year that they started construction on building a hydro dam on the Kennebec River...I was only 10 years old at the time, but remember it well!

This letter was sent to Dad on July 6, 1929.
The letter reads:

A few of the buildings on the Hunnewell Farm

Floyd E. Hunnewell, Esq.
P. O. Box Bingham, Maine
(Pleasant Ridge Plantation)

Dear Mr. Hunnewell:

In order to comply with the stipulations contained in your conveyance to the Central Securities Corporation, dated on our about November 28, 1925, it is the purpose of this letter to notify you of the intention to flow the premises described in the above mentioned conveyance, and also for the purpose of complying with the one year's notice provided for in the above mentioned conveyance in connection with the removal of lumber, wood and buildings from said premises.

Very truly yours,



During the start of the flooding of the lake it was my job to measure the amount that the water rose each day. The main reason was that one of the requirements when Dad sold was that he would remove the building before the water rose.

Dad was quite stubborn and he and the head engineer of the Dam didn't get along very good so he was not too cooperative to him as he was always coming up and asking when Dad was going to burn the building. This irked Dad to no end so his answer was "ahead of the water" and would walk off from him and say no more.

We had to keep a close eye on how fast the water rose so as not to get caught by the flooding, but at the same time he wanted to irritate the engineer all he could. There was one fellow Dad liked so he told Dad "Don't worry, I will keep you posted." As the water rose Dad would burn whatever building was to be flooded out and this continued until all that was left was the house and shed, which was higher than the rest of the buildings. When the stable was burned, under it was a small cellar hole and Dad said that this was the location of the first cabin my great-grandfather had built when he settled the land many years before, but he himself had never seen the exact location. This was back in 1812 when Dad's grandfather (John Hunnewell) came up from Embden where he had raised part of the family and all came here except the oldest boy who stayed in Embden and died there. Only recently did I find his grave.

When the time came to burn the house it was done at night and when we went back the next morning there was water in the cellar hole, so he kept his word and disposed of the buildings ahead of the water...but not by much. During this time he had built a new house up on the hill south of the old homestead and is the present home today that is owned by my sister Rena Gray and family.

This picture is the night we burned the house just before the water reached the farm.
  In 1929, the year they were still building Wyman Dam, my grandmother, Hannah, died and in 1930, the year they flooded the Kennebec River my grandfather, Silas, died.

Tree tops are still visible as the water in Wyman Lake rises in August of 1930.

Milford Baker Photos.

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