12. Swimming at Blawenburg Beach

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

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This original oil painting of Van Zandt Pond was painted by Katy Seitz, a neighbor on Mountain View Road for many years. She is 101 years old and lives on Cape Cod. It was likely painted in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Where is Blawenburg Beach?

If you ask most people in Blawenburg, especially those who have lived in the village only a few years (maybe 30 or so), if they ever went to Blawenburg Beach, they will probably laugh and say something like, “What? A beach? Where? You’ve got to be kidding!” But there is a pond in the western part of the village that has often been called Blawenburg Beach because it was a popular swimming hole in the 50s and 60s.

As reported in Blog 11, a pond was created on the Van Zandt farm in one day during Soil Conservation and Machinery Field Day on May 6, 1950. This event drew 8,000 people to see the latest farming equipment and techniques. The creation of the one-acre pond was done using special equipment to excavate and compact the soil on the north side of Route 518 where the land slopes down toward Rock Brook.

It was a demonstration project, so people gathered to see just how quickly this machinery could build the pond. Large scoops and dozers dug through the red shale and loam and piled it on the downslope on the north end of the pond. Compactors were used to compress the dirt and create an earthen dam to retain the water. It worked as expected and by the end of the day a pond was created, a pond that still exists today in modified form almost 70 years later.

The pond has gone by several names. Officially, it was called Van Zandt Pond; locally, it was often known as Blawenburg Pond or the Pond; and humorously, it was called Blawenburg Beach. Sand was brought in to create a beach atmosphere, and it was used as a swimming hole in the summer and a skating rink in the coldest winter months.