Open Space Committee, Town of Peterborough, New Hampshire

Cunningham Pond

Cunningham Pond was named for the Cuningham family, one of the Scotch-Irish families that settled Peterborough in the mid-1700s. The family contributed several selectmen, tithingmen and war heroes to town history--as well as farmers of land to the east of the pond. At some point a second "n" appeared in the original spelling of Cuningham.

In 1993 , Liz Thomas found herself the beneficiary of what she called "a total surpass windfall." Her book, "The Hidden Life of Dogs," had landed on the best seller list where it remained for almost a year.

     When the Goyette property on Cunningham Pond came on the market, the idea of a town beach took firm hold. Up until then, it looked like Peterborough would remain one of the few towns in the region without a town swimming hole.

     Liz often talks about how gathering places help build strong community, and the new town beach in short order became a very popular one.

     Liz and Steve Thomas's gift of the land to the town came with one request: that dogs be welcomed, too. Happy canines often can be seen enjoying a swim at the boat launch area.

Photo by Annie Card

When the new railroad brought summer boarders to local farms, the pond became a favorite horse-and-buggy destination for Peterborough's very first "summer folk."  They enjoyed swimming in the clear water of the lake just as these modern visitors do.

During a storm that ended a too-brief skating season, a lone ice fisherman packs up his orange flags and heads for home. Days before, a few skaters took some turns despite less-than-ideal ice. When skating conditions hold, every weekend is a time for pick-up ice hockey when pucks are aimed through snow-boot goalposts.

Ice has played a part in the pond's history, as have summer idylls. The town's first ice dealer cut ice fem the pond and stored large blocks in sawdust to last through the summer.

Liz Thomas and a companion, Georgia, walk a shoreland pathway past ripening blueberry bushes on either side.

Photo by Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Photo by Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

Photo by Annie Card

Photo by Francie Von Mertens

Photo by Paul Sequin

Photo by Rhonda MacLeod

This Blanding's turtle was found near Cunningham Pond by neighbor and photographer Judy Black. It's an endangered species in the state and very rare this far west.  

Cunningham Pond Conservation Area

In December of 2019, as result of a well-coordinated community effort, the Monadnock Conservancy closed a deal to conserve 99 acres of land surrounding Cunningham Pond, another exciting success story.  Read the story of this effort at the Conservancy's website.  Several new trails across this land opened to the public in 2020.