Looking to provide waterfront owners the opportunity to make off-season improvements to docks and bulkheads, Red Mill Pond has been temporarily undammed to allow its water level to go down.
Observant motorists and residents will have noticed the pond’s water level has been muck-exposing-low for weeks now. The pond is owned by brothers Christian and Jamin Hudson.
In an email Jan. 12, Christian confirmed the pond’s water level was temporarily lowered this winter at the request of residents so they could do maintenance and repairs to bulkheads and docks. He said letters were sent to all the surrounding homeowner associations about the water-level lowering, but he’s sure there’s a bunch of owners who didn’t get the memo.
“We usually get calls when we do it, but this year it’s actually been surprisingly quiet,” said Christian in an email Jan. 12.
A centuries-old, man-made, 150-acre body of water located northwest of Lewes, Red Mill pond stretches north and south – one end is visible from Route 1, across the road from Shaffer’s Service; the other end off Sweetbriar Road is a popular fishing spot. The pond is surrounded on all sides by different housing communities. The water level on the Route 1 end isn’t immediately noticeable because of phragmites blocking the view. The fishing spot now is nothing more than acres of muck and a small creek.
The Cape Gazette, in its print edition and online, has shared the history of the pond a number of times over the years. Most recently, shortly before his death in late 2019, local historian Harrison Howeth wrote a blog post on the Gazette’s website using information he had gleaned from old newspaper clippings.
In his post, Howeth explains that a dam was built on the Cool Spring Branch of the Broadkill River during colonial days. In some form or another, there was a grist mill at the dam until the early 1930s.
After the property changed ownership a few times, Christian’s grandfather Joe Hudson and his business partner Stanley Thompson purchased the pond in 1974 from Cool Spring Power & Water Company’s John S. Thatcher. Christian and his brother now own the pond.
There are few details missing, but Christian said Howeth’s history is correct.
“The story we received from our grandfather is a little more colorful, though, as Thatcher was a colorful character,” he said.
The lowering of the water level is temporary, and if everything goes as expected, it will be back to normal in time for surrounding communities to enjoy it this summer.
The dam boards will be put back in early February, and the water will rise back up to normal levels with the spring rains, said Christian.