Walker Reservoir East is a beautiful spot to visit year round. Good fishing in the spring and summer, gorgeous foliage in the fall, ice skating and curling in the winter and a favorite place for lunch anytime.
The pond is fed by several streams, primarily Gage's Brook that begins in Tolland and follows the highway through the Tolland County Agricultural Center property. It is also spring fed by Walker Reservoir West. The dam that created the reservoir is the designated beginning of the Tankerhoosen River.
In exploring the Tankerhoosen Valley and its history I've long been curious about why Walker East even exists. There were a number of small saw, grist and spool mills along the upper Tankerhoosen but none that would require that much water. We know that the reservoir was built by Frederick Walker, who owned much of what is today the Tankerhoosen Wildlife Management Area in the middle 1800's; but why did he build it?
I was recently loaned by Tom Mason a number of old deeds and documents given him by a family researcher he helped in the 1990's. Tom is a descendant of the Bissell family who sold the land to the DEEP a few years ago and lives on Reservoir Road. One of the papers was a contract with Frederick Walker to build the dam and create the reservoir for the three mills on the lower Tankerhoosen River.
The year was 1846 and the mill owners wanted additional control over the flow of the river. Each of the mill owners had their own dam and mill pond; the three ponds and lakes that still exist. The contract was with the Phoenix Mills, the Centreville Company (the Dobson Mills), and the Kellogg Mills, the predecessor to the Talcottville Mills.
On January 21 the mill owners agreed to pay Walker $1,250 to build a dam "across the Tankeroosen Stream at and on the ground known as the upper dam of Hunts Saw Mill." The contract goes on to detail a pond size of 35 to 45 acres, how much Walker could use the dam for his own mills, and who would maintain the dam or replace it if damaged. They also stipulate that should someone else build a mill along the Tankerhoosen they had no right to draw water from the reservoir. The dam was to be complete and "ready to receive water" by June 1.
The contract signers included Frederick Walker, N.O. Kellogg and Peter Dobson.
So that's how the Reservoir came to be built in 1846. The contract tells us there was a previous dam at the location as well as at least one more downstream for Hunt's Saw Mill. The 1853 map clearly shows the Reservoir, but the 1857 and 1869 maps show only Walker West. No written record has been found to verify the dam was breached. The next map to show Walker East is the 1890 USGS Topographical map.
The findlakes.com website says that Walker Reservoir East construction was completed in 1900 and the surface area is just under 16 acres. It appears it was rebuilt about that time. And the eastern portion of the reservoir is now overgrown with vegetation explaining the reduction in area.
Did the 1846 dam only function for a few years? What event breached it? Was it rebuilt before the end of the century? More research to be done. Love to hear from you if you have more information on the area.