A Brief History
This natural area, maintained by Pond Mountain Trust (PMT), is the enduring legacy of the late Myra H. Hopson (1882-1970). Established by Miss Hopson in 1966, the Trust administers nearly 800 acres which incorporates Fuller Pond, one of Connecticut’s deepest glacial lakes, as well as Pond Mountain (elevation 1,332’) with views into Macedonia State Park and the Catskill Mountains in the distance.
Myra’s father, John Hopson Jr. (1854-1912), acquired most of the land that comprises Pond Mountain Natural Area between 1897 and 1905. John grew up in Kent and was the son of the last Ironmaster of the Kent Iron Company. The Hopsons lived on North Main Street in a shingled Victorian home (today the site of the Kent Hills Condominium complex).
John Hopson Jr. worked with his father at the Kent Iron Company for a period before founding with a cousin the Hopson and Chapin Manufacturing Company. Among other things, Hopson and Chapin made cast iron radiators found in many houses from that era. Located along Hamilton Street in New London, Connecticut the factory building still stands and was placed on CT’s Register of Historic Places in 2002.
According to his journal, John along with his wife, Mary Haxtun, and their five daughters (Helen, Myra, Anne, Elinor, and Alice) moved into the Farmhouse on July 2, 1906. They brought with them three horses (Molly Mack, Jim, and Rob Roy) as well as two dogs (Skookum and Thrall).
The property afforded a place for the Hopson family to congregate and entertain. John built a cabin overlooking the lake, which still stands. He also added a boathouse on the south side which acted as the headquarters for his “Eel Weir Association.” Fundamentally a social affair, their annual meeting in 1908 included United States Senator from Connecticut Frank Brandegee and soon to be Connecticut Governor George Lilley as well as many prominent local names including George Bull, Peter Skiff, and Charles Gaylord. Their meeting included annual reports, a signing of the ode “The Green Grass Grows All Around,” and the election of officers followed by chowder at 11am and a concert back at the Farmhouse.
Myra inherited the property upon her mother’s passing in 1916. She shared her father’s love of nature, the outdoors, and animals. She used the property to keep a herd of Guernsey cattle and to raise Belgian draft horses. She also kept riding horses and loved to ride the wood roads and trails on the property. A special favorite about which she often reminisced was a big Morgan gelding named Marco Polo.
Myra understood and embraced ecology as well as the value of land preservation well before they became commonplace concepts. She became interested in the early activities of the Connecticut Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and with the help of TNC founder Dr. Richard Goodwin of Connecticut College and others she came up with the notion of a private land trust. Today, Pond Mountain Natural Area is one of the most treasured places in Kent.
In Miss Hopson’s own words:
It is my interest and wish that all the property which I own and have owned in Kent be preserved in its natural state in perpetuity, that all land, woods and water be kept inviolate from exploitation as free as possible from all human interference: but that this property be enjoyed for its scientific, educational, and cultural values as I and my family, my friends and appreciative people have enjoyed…