Manchaug Pond is a 380 acre great pond of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts located in the southwestern corner of Sutton and the northeastern corner of Douglas, Massachusetts.  Its 4,288 acre of watershed of residential homes and agricultural land uses,  extends into a third town, Oxford, at its northeastern corner.  As part of the Blackstone River watershed system, both Manchaug and Whitin Reservoirs serve as the headwaters of the Mumford River and contribute water flow critical to supporting aquatic and wetland habitats for the entire Mumford River.

The Name:

Monuhchogok ~ Manchage ~ Manchaug

The Nipmuc are the original people of the area, and are among the “Eastern Woodlands” or Algonquian Indians of the Eastern United States. Before the arrival of European settlers in the 1600s, the Nipmuc (or “Fresh Water People”) lived in numerous band encampments, or ‘villages’, near bodies of fresh water in a territory (called ‘Nipnet’)*

  • Roger Williams (1637) mentions the “Monashackotoogs” as Nipmucks who were confederates of the Pequots. 4 M.H. Coll., vi. 194
  • John Eliot (1647) wrote the name “Monuhchogok”. MA Archives, Indians, i., 146.
  • Daniel Gookin (1647) wrote of a village of Praying Indians in the Nipmuc Country [in Sutton near the now Whittier’s Hill on Town Farm Road], about 8 miles w. of Nipmuck (Blackstone) River. Formerly in Oxford.

Anderson, Harry. “Secrets of the Douglas Woods.” The Sutton Historical Society, Sutton, Massachusetts. July 1994, Vol. XXIV, No. 2, pages 1-7.

Ferguson, C.C. History of the Town of Sutton Massachusetts Volume II. 1952, pp. 503-509.

Goddard, Ives, Curator of Anthropology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. “Time to Retire an Indian Place-Name Hoax.” The New York Times Opinion. September 29, 1990.

*Nipmuc Indian Association of Connecticut (Online).

Newton, Jason. “Old Connecticut Path: Manchaug Pond and Waters Farm ” (Online).

At Manchaug Pond we find evidences of Indian occupation almost everywhere along its shore. The largest encampments, however, were on the north shore alongside the Manchaug Road, on Blueberry and Swenson’s Islands, on the long Waters Beach, on both sides of the outlet near the dam, and at the extreme southern shore.Mr. C. C. Ferguson
In 1647, John Eliot and Daniel Gookin first journeyed together over the Great Trail (Old Connecticut Path) and visited with the praying Indians of Manchage Pond and laid down its location in mileage from Boston, Hassanamesett and Nipnik (Blackstone) River.Mr. Harry Anderson

The Facts:

NAME:   Manchaug Pond;  Manchaug Reservoir

LOCATION:   Worcester County, Sutton/Douglas, Massachusetts, USA

SURFACE AREA:  375* – 380 acres**

ORIGINAL SURFACE AREA:   192 to 250 acres

MAXIMUM DEPTH:   37* feet

MEAN (average) DEPTH:   13 feet

CIRCUMFERENCE:   6.2 miles increased from 4.5 miles in 1836 when the dam was built to provide power to the textile industries along the Mumford River. ***

LENGTH:  8,300 feet at 349 acres to 8,900 feet at top of dam ****


WATERSHED:   Manchaug Pond is located within an unnamed tributary of the Mumford River, a tributary of the Blackstone River system.

WATERSHED AREA:    4, 288 acres in the towns of Sutton, Douglas, and Oxford.

WATERSHED LAND USES:   Mainly residential homes and agricultural uses.

DAM:   330 ft long rubble-filled earth embankment dam with a height of 28 ft. and Torrey Road at its crest.  It was originally used to provide mill power and flow regulation for the textile industries along the Mumford River.  Currently owned and operated by the Town of Sutton.

LAKE-LEVEL DRAWDOWN:   approximately 5-5.5 feet and permitted through Sutton Order of Conditions #303-0866.

The regulation of the dam and timing of the annual winter drawdown depends primarily on the amount of precipitation received. The water-level is generally lowered early October  through February. In late winter/early spring snow-melt and spring rains are captured from the watershed.

PUBLIC ACCESS STATE BOAT RAMP:   State owned by the Massachusetts Department of Fishing and Boating Access and managed since 1990 by the town of Sutton.
Located off Torrey Road, in Sutton at the southern end of the lake at 71°46′ 6.45″W 42°05’28.87″N

*Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, July 2016
**Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

*** Interface Fabrics
**** Department of the Army, New England Division, Corps of Engineers. Phase I Inspection Report National Dam Inspection Program, July 1980.

Lake Facts

Manchaug Pond ~ Lake Manchaug ~ Manchaug Lake ~ Manchaug Reservoir

Manchaug Pond is a natural inland waterbody raised by damming with a high water level listed at 380 acres by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Definitions and more information:

  • LAKE OR POND- What is the Difference ? fact sheet from the NH Department of Environmental Services
  • RESERVOIR: A man-made facility for the storage, regulation and controlled release of water.
  • GREAT POND: Any pond or lake that contained more than 10 acres in its natural state.
  • Statues and Regulations: MASS General Laws Chapter 91: Waterways and a county-by-county listing of great ponds in Massachusetts.

    The only definitive parameters we find for lakes and ponds is the legal definition of a “Great Pond” in the Massachusetts General Laws.

Who uses which name for Manchaug Pond?   Here’s the preferences of a few government agencies of the Commonwealth:

Manchaug Pond
Mass Department of Fish & Game
Office of Fishing and Boating
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Manchaug
Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Town of Sutton

Manchaug Lake
Mass DEP Waterways Program
Town of Sutton

Manchaug Reservoir
Executive Office of Environmental Affairs