History of Highland Lake

The area we know as Highland Lake was once part of a large tract of land stretching from the Merrimac River to the Kennebec River called the ‘Lygonia Grant’ that was chartered by the English government to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason. In 1629, these two men split the land and our particular area went to Sir Gorges. He called the land the County of Somerset. In the 1720’s a Mr. William Huston Jr. of the Pleasant Hill section of Falmouth saw a crowded sky full of ducks flying in this direction and followed them about five miles over some hills and discovered a body of fresh water. He liked the area so much that on May 2nd, 1739 he bought 200 acres around what he called ‘Duck Pond’ and built a cabin near a bubbling spring. A short time later he and his wife built a frame house that is still standing on what is now known as Mast Road (located opposite Huston road) in Falmouth.

The first settlers of the southern end of the lake were Jane and Duncan McIntosh. Until about 1900 everyone who settled in the area called it Duck Pond, and the settled area at the south end of the pond outlet was known as Duck Pond Village. At some point after that the name disappeared as it became known as Highland Lake in the listing of villages at the United States Department of the Interior, in the United States Geological Survey, as well as a publication of the board of Geographic names. Nothing is on file in regards to the name change. The USGS maps of 1898 show the lake as Duck Pond but the 1913 and 1916 maps show it as Highland Lake.

The new name likely was endorsed by the Scottish families who were settling into the area to work at the wooden ware factory and sawmill that operated where our current dam is today. The outlet to the lake provided power to the factory and mill via a water wheel first, and later a steam engine house in 1886. Early maps show the area known as ‘little Scotland’. The post office in the village changed its name from Duck Pond to Highland Lake Post Office in 1900. The late Fred Gowen from Duck Pond road claimed it was Sadie Woodbury who made the name change as she wanted something more elegant. Her family ran the store and the post office located approximately where Highland Variety on route 302 is now. A school house was located near the current dam and Westbrook city records show a name change for the school happening in 1901.

In 1902 the ‘Highland Lake Cemetery Association’ was created and a church was moved from Duck Pond Road to where the Highland Lake church is now located on route 302. The Grange hall (located at the intersection of Duck Pond/route 302/Hardy road) that was established in 1875 formally changed its name from the Westbrook Grange – Patrons of Husbandry #87 to the Highland Lake Grange in 1934.

Condensed from the Westbrook Firefighters - Prides Corner Hose Company Yearbook authored by Michael Sanphy and Ken Moody dated 1999.

1911 highland lake map.pdf

History after about 1900 is only oral, and unrecorded.

If you have historical knowledge, documents, deeds, or photographs specifically about the area around Highland Lake and Little Duck Pond, contact the President of the HLA at president@highlandlakemaine.org.