Squam Lake: Holy Ground in the Lakes Region

Squam Lake, NHAn excursion on Squam Lake brings to mind the lines of 19th century poet, Christina Rossetti. “Tread softly! All the earth is holy ground.” The lake hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. So says Jim Hall, who has lived on or near Squam all his life. Jim attributes the preservation of Squam and the surrounding area to local families, the Squam Lakes Association, and the surrounding towns’ protective zoning. People who, according to Jim, are from “the old school and have a great respect for the lake.”

The towns of Holderness, Sandwich, Ashland, Center Harbor, and Moultonborough border Squam Lake. Big and Little Squam are spring fed and connected by a channel. Big Squam is New Hampshire’s second largest lake with 61 miles of shoreline and 6,791 acres. It was first known as Keeseenunknipee, which means “the goose lake on the highlands.” After several other variations, “Asquam” was finally shortened to “Squam” in the 1800s.

Squam Lake, NH
Squam Lake, NH

The non-profit Squam Lakes Association in Holderness has been one of the guardians of the lake for many years. The SLA was founded in 1904 and ever since has dedicated itself to protecting Squam’s water quality and encouraging preservation through conservation, youth, and outreach programs. The association owns islands and areas open to the public for low impact recreation and camping. Access to the lake for kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and boats with 25-horsepower or less is located at the SLA facility. Visitors can consult the website for information.

Real estate on Squam is extremely desirable, in part due to the building laws implemented to protect Squam’s unspoiled beauty. A natural buffer of native vegetation must be maintained within 50 feet of the lake. The idea is “see but not be seen.” SLA’s guidelines specify that limbs and shorefront vegetation should be selectively thinned “so that you can see the lake from selected vantage points but also screen your buildings and yard as much as possible from viewers on the lake.”

If you want to know about the happenings on Squam, Jim Hall is the person to ask. As he put it, “I’ve been in it, over it, through it, and on it all my life.” Jim’s grandfather, Joe Taylor, was one of the last men to captain the mail boat streamers that carried mail and passengers to the islands on Squam. In the late 1940s, Jim’s father purchased property on Big Squam at Livernore Cove next to Finisterre Point and that’s where Jim grew up learning to swim and fish. He lived on Livernore Cove for 25 years with his wife, Laura, and children, Michelle and Craig. Jim has a great love for all the New Hampshire lakes, forests, and wildlife, having worked for the State as a biologist, followed by 16 years with New Hampshire Fish and Game. But Squam is special to him and represents a lifetime of memories.

According to Jim, there are many points of interest the public can enjoy with or without a boat. There are spots where you can drop your anchor for the day without a fee. The SLA allows day use of its Mooney and Bowman Islands. Chorcora Island, also known as Church Island, holds non-denominational church services and has become an enchanting venue for wedding ceremonies. For those without a boat, Jim suggests a hike up Rattlesnake Mountain. “It’s an easy hike and the view of Squam justifies putting it on your bucket list.” Red Hill, Mount Morgan, and Mount Percival are other climbs that afford fantastic views.

Jim also suggests a visit to the Squam River covered bridge. This bridge replaced a steel and concrete one that was condemned by the state. After the condemnation, a steel bridge was proposed but the citizens of Ashland decided they would prefer a covered bridge. The town placed $35,000 in a fund for the new bridge and the balance was raised by the Ashland Historical Society and spirited citizens through bake sales, dinners, and direct contributions. Milton Graton and Sons of Ashland constructed the bridge. Yankee Magazine called Arnold Graton “the man who saves covered bridges.” Of all the bridges Graton has worked on, the Squam River Bridge holds a special place in his heart.

Squam Lake, NHSquam Lake is host to one of the most unique lodging experiences in New England. Since 1897, Rockywold-Deephaven Camp in Holderness has been offering simple, rustic vacations. Their 60 cottages are tucked in amid the pines. Each has its own fireplace, screened-in porch, private dock, and antique ice box where ice from Squam is delivered daily.

Other attractions worth visiting include Walter’s Basin Restaurant, the Common Man Restaurant, and the Sandwich Fair. The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is an area favorite. It offers boat tours on Squam, including a spectacular fall foliage tour. The center itself is an extraordinary walk through the woods where you see NH wildlife in its natural setting.Squam Lake, NH

Jim has many stories about the wildlife he has encountered over the years. He talked about a blue heron rookery on one of the private islands where he counted over a hundred nests. “You figure, two adults for each nest and the chicks, that’s a lot of herons…a noisy, squawking rookery.” There was also a family of bald eagles on one of the islands. Jim said you could cruise by and see the activity around the nest. He noted that the nest was abandoned a year ago and a new one was built on another island.

And then, of course, there are the loons made famous by the movie On Golden Pond. With mention of the 1981 film, Jim let out what may be little known secrets. Walter, the infamous fish, was “dreamed up for the movie. At the time, there were no rainbow trout in the lake to speak of. Fish and Game divers hooked a fish on the line for the movie people.” He added that the lake is now well stocked with trout but is really a bass lake. As far as the movie’s “Purgatory Cove,” it was “just a ‘no name’ rocky inlet on Big Squam.”

Being a lifelong fisherman, it was no surprise that Jim’s favorite memory centers on fishing – “hornpoutting” to be exact. He recalls many a night renting a rowboat with his father to legally fish after dark for bullheads. “We used hand lines and hooks, a fading art, to pull in hornpouts like crazy. The legal limit was 40 back then.” His description of lanterns flashing on and off around the lake as other fishermen joined in the catch invoked a magical scene.

Squam Lake, NH

Then came the obvious question. “Where’s the best fishing spot on the lake?” For the first time, Jim became vague in his answer. “You can drop a line wherever there’s a rocky reef and make a catch.” For a man who has treated Squam Lake as “holy ground” his whole life, it seems some things are too sacred to share.

This article was written by Mary O’Neill.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on pinterest
Hikers overlooking the lake in New Hampshire, voted "Best State to Live in America" in 2020.

Squam Lake — a Lakes Region Treasure

This past summer, I was invited for lunch and a nice boat ride around Squam …

Read More →
Shop Local New Hampshire

Small Business Saturday in New Hampshire!

We have many things to be thankful for here in New Hampshire, plenty of natural …

Read More →
Couple downsizing to smaller home

Does Downsizing Your Home in Lakes Region Make Sense?

There are many things to consider when planning to sell your home to downsize into …

Read More →
Newfound Lake, New Hampshire

Newfound Lake is the 8th clearest lake in US

Newfound Lake is the 8th clearest lake in the United States New Hampshire has a …

Read More →
Echo Lake New Hampshire

New Hampshire Rankings are Impressive!

New Hampshire has always been fortunate to land in many of the country’s top 10 …

Read More →
Lakeside at Paugus Bay

Impressive New Construction in the Lakes Region

For new construction sales in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, 2022 has shown very impressive results. …

Read More →
Inflation and housing prices

How Inflation Impacts Lakes Region Housing Prices

I was out with a friend this week on Squam Lake, and we were talking …

Read More →
Picture of author in the Grand Canyon

Is Lake Region Real Estate Drying Up Like The Southwest?

I just returned from a trip to Nevada, Arizona, and Utah this past week. Put …

Read More →
Brook Hill at Meredith: New luxury homes in Meredith, NH

Brisk Sales at Brook Hill in Meredith

Meredith— Sales at Brook Hill, a new luxury townhouse community in Meredith, have been exceptional …

Read More →

Impressive Sales at Lakeside at Paugus Bay

Laconia— Sales at Lakeside at Paugus Bay, a new luxury waterfront condominium community on Lake …

Read More →

Four Decades of Change in Lakes Region Real Estate

We were talking in the office the other day regarding how much the real estate …

Read More →
Supply and demand graph, real estate housing

The driving forces in the demand for NH housing

It is no secret that our country has seen some incredible growth in the real …

Read More →
Holderness, NH

Holderness Bridges Big Squam and Little Squam

Holderness is a lakeside community in the foothills of the white mountains on New Hampshire’s …

Read More →
high inflation

Energy & Ukraine Crisis Compared to 1970s Inflation

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has emerged as a black swan event rattling the world during …

Read More →
Tilton, NH

Tilton — The Gateway to New Hampshire’s Lakes Region

Tilton, New Hampshire, is considered the gateway to New Hampshire’s beautiful Lakes Region because of …

Read More →
Map of USA: How Real Estate Trends affect the Lakes Region

How Real Estate Trends Affect the Lakes Region

New Hampshire’s Lakes Region & New Hampshire Can you believe a new analysis from Zillow …

Read More →
Laconia NH

Laconia, NH — A City on the Rise

The 17,000 resident “City on the Lakes” is nestled on the shores of three of …

Read More →
Two ice sailing enthusiasts on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Waterfront Sales Activity and Real Estate News

Here’s an update on the waterfront sales activity that we experienced over the past two …

Read More →
Tuftonboro, NH

Tuftonboro — “The Diamond in The Heart of New Hampshire”

Located just west of Wolfeboro, Tuftonboro is called “The Diamond in the Heart of New …

Read More →
Aerial view of Lake Winnisquam and Sanbornton, New Hampshire

The Rural Character of Sanbornton, New Hampshire

Sanbornton embodies all that one expects to find in an old New England town. This …

Read More →
Castle in The Clouds is one of Moultonborough's largest attractions.

Moultonborough’s 66 Miles of Shorefront Captivates

By landmass Moultonborough, NH is the largest lakefront community in the Lakes Region with 59.7 …

Read More →
Kevin Shaw - Roche Realty Group

Kevin Shaw of Roche Realty Group is Top Producer for 2021

Laconia— Frank Roche, president of Roche Realty Group with offices in Meredith and Laconia, recently …

Read More →
Wolfeboro, NH — The Oldest Summer Resort Town In America

Wolfeboro, NH — The Oldest Summer Resort Town In America

Wolfeboro: a Brief History Nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains and on the …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group Reports Record of $170 Million in Sales

Meredith- Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc, with offices in Meredith and Laconia, has …

Read More →
Meredith NH

Gilford and Meredith NH – How Do They Compare?

There are 25 towns and cities comprising the Lakes Region. This week I thought I …

Read More →

EM Heath, LLC Acquires 1084 Union Ave in Laconia

The future of Ace Hardware EM Heath LLC in Laconia became solidified this past week …

Read More →
Roche Realty Group Sells Landmark Commercial Building in Gilford, NH

Roche Realty Group Sells Landmark Gilford Commercial Building

Gilford- One of the most visible, historic landmark commercial properties in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region …

Read More →
New Commercial Constructioin in Lakes Region

Commercial Sales Increasing in the Lakes Region

Recently I’ve been outlining the sales activity for residential, waterfront, and multi-family apartments in the …

Read More →
Laconia NH Commercial Building Sale

New Owner for 8,447 Sqft. Commercial Building in Laconia

Laconia— Exciting news for the downtown Laconia district. Another substantial commercial building, including approximately 8,447 …

Read More →

Strong Demand for Multi-Family Apartments in NH’s Lakes Region

Last week I was driving through Loudon Road in Concord in the busy heights area, …

Read More →
NH Lake

Area Lakes Show Considerable Appreciation

Below you will find data and insight into what’s happening in sales activity on 8 …

Read More →
inflation in shopping center / grocery store

More Inflation Concerns

More Inflation Concerns I submitted an article a while ago titled “Is Our Current Inflation …

Read More →
Alpenrose Village Retail Center located at Rte. 11 B / Rte. 3 in Weirs Beach, Laconia

Roche Realty Group Sells Alpenrose Village Retail Center

Laconia, NH – Tom Drouin of Roche Realty Group in Meredith represented both the seller and the …

Read More →
As the Real Estate Season Turns

As the Real Estate Season Turns

“There’s hope for buyers on the horizon, with more real estate opportunity to come.” This …

Read More →

10 Things to Consider if You’re Buying in a Seller’s Market

Anyone looking to buy a home today knows they are in a seller’s market, which …

Read More →

Third Quarter Update – Lakes Region Real Estate Activity

I’ve pulled up some data to provide all of you with some current insight on …

Read More →
Home Maintenance - Person repairing wall in house

Home maintenance the difference between sold and stuck

Be honest… is your home in need of some repairs? Because the truthful answer to …

Read More →
Coins stacked up indicting inflation

Is our Current Inflation “Transitory?”

The Federal Reserve officials have described the current period of high inflation as “transitory.” In …

Read More →
ABBA Tribute performing at the Lakeport Opera House

Meet you at the Lakeport Opera House

Last Saturday, Nancy and I were invited to the Lakeport Opera House to take in …

Read More →
Picture of

The New Hampshire Advantage

All of us who live in New Hampshire’s beautiful Lakes Region certainly have lots to …

Read More →

Just like vacation seasons, vacation homes come and go

When you think about it, all homes are actually seasonal properties. Whether it’s a primary …

Read More →

Hunt for lower prices like a lone wolf

If you ever watched Saturday morning cartoons back in the day, you may recall Looney …

Read More →
Birds eye view of Lakes Region New Hampshire

Lakes Region Real Estate Market 6-Month Comparison

We are halfway through 2021 already, and as we head down the second-half stretch, I’ve …

Read More →
The "Village Store" in Gilford, NH

The “Village Store” in Gilford Has New Owners

Gilford— The “Village Store” in scenic Gilford Village, a Lakes Region landmark since 1836, was …

Read More →
Lakes Region NH - aerial view of Lake Winnipesaukee NH

Lakes Region Waterfront Sales Comparisons

I thought I would look at the real estate activity on the Lakes Region’s four …

Read More →
Island Living on Lake Winnipesaukee in NH - aerial view of Welch Island, Lake Winnipesaukee

Island Living on Lake Winnipesaukee

The thunder of motorcycles has arrived in the Lakes Region. After a long year of …

Read More →
summer fun in nh - swimming in the river

Summertime Adventures Around the Lakes Region

Memorial Day weekend has arrived, and all of us are excited to kick off the …

Read More →
Are we in a real estate bubble?

Are We in A Real Estate Bubble?

Back in April, the red hot search on Google™ was “when is the housing market …

Read More →

Roche Realty Group Sells Artie’s Subs & Pizza

Moultonborough, NH – Brian and Kara Dillard of Barrington, New Hampshire, have recently purchased Artie’s …

Read More →
Laconia, NH - City on the Lakes

Laconia— City on the Lakes

The 17,000 resident, “City on the Lakes,” is nestled on the shores of three of …

Read More →

Leave a Comment