Lake Chaubunagungamaug

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Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg
Lake Chaubunagungamaugg.jpg
Location Webster, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°02′30″N 71°50′30″W / 42.04167°N 71.84167°W / 42.04167; -71.84167Coordinates: 42°02′30″N 71°50′30″W / 42.04167°N 71.84167°W / 42.04167; -71.84167
Basin countries United States
Max. length 3.25 mi (5.23 km)
Max. width 1.125 mi (1.811 km)
Surface area 1,442 acres (584 ha)
Shore length1 17 mi (27 km)
Surface elevation 477 feet (145 m)
Islands 8
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Chaubunagungamaug, also known as Webster Lake, is a lake in the town of Webster, Massachusetts, United States. It is located near the Connecticut border and has a surface area of 1,442 acres (5.84 km2). Since 1921, the lake has also been known by a much longer name having 45 letters: Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg.


The lake's name comes from Nipmuc, an Algonquian language, and is often said to mean, "Fishing Place at the Boundaries -- Neutral Meeting Grounds".[1] A more fitting translation is "lake divided by islands", according to anthropologist Ives Goddard.[2]

Today, "Webster Lake" may be the name most used, but some (including many residents of Webster), take pride in reeling off the longer versions. This lake has several alternative names. Lake Chaubunagungamaug is the name of the lake as recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior,[3] and is the name appearing in the earliest local records.[2]

Algonquian-speaking peoples had several different names for the lake as recorded on old maps and historical records. However, all of these were similar in part and had almost the same translation. Among other early names were "Chabanaguncamogue" and "Chaubanagogum".[4] Early town records show the name as "Chabunagungamaug Pond", which was also the name of the local Nipmuc town (recorded in 1668 and 1674 with somewhat different spellings). This has been translated as "boundary fishing place",[5] but something close to "fishing place at the boundary" or "that which is a divided island lake" may be more accurate.[6]

A map of 1795, showing the town of Dudley, indicated the name as "Chargoggaggoggmanchoggagogg". A survey of the lake done in 1830 lists the name as "Chaubunagungamaugg", the older name. The following year, both Dudley and Oxford, which then adjoined the lake, filed maps listing the name as "Chargoggagoggmanchoggagogg".[4] Anthropologist Ives Goddard considers that 1831 name to be a cartographer's creation that corrupted the actual name while confusing this lake with nearby Manchaug Pond.[2]

Long name coined around 1921[edit]

The exaggerated name "Lake Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg" (/ˌleɪk tʃɚˈɡɒɡəɡɒɡ ˌmænˈtʃɔːɡəɡɒɡ tʃəˌbʌnəˈɡʌŋɡəmɔːɡ/),[7][8] is a 45-letter alternative name for this body of fresh water, often cited as the longest place name in the United States[9] and one of the longest in the world. Many area residents, as well as the official website of the town of Webster, consider the longer version correct.[10]

Patch using longer name of lake

The humorous translation is: "You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side, and nobody fish in the middle". Both the exaggerated name and its humorous translation were apparently invented by Laurence J. Daly, editor of The Webster Times.[1][11] According to Ives Goddard, Curator of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, Daly created this "monstrosity" around 1921.[2]

Spellings of the long name vary; in 2009, following six years of press reports, the local Chamber of Commerce agreed to have the spelling changed on its signs, but a 45-letter version of the name arrayed in a semicircle is still used.[12] Webster schools use one long form of the name in various capacities.[4][13]


Webster Lake is a 1,270-acre (5.1 km2)[14] lake with a 17-mile (27 km) shoreline in southern Massachusetts, near the Connecticut border. It is the third largest fresh body of water in Massachusetts, after slightly larger Long Pond, and the much larger Quabbin Reservoir. The average depth is 13 feet (4.0 m) and the maximum depth is 45 feet (14 m).[15]

Although the lake is natural in origin, its outlet has a dam that raises the water level by a couple feet.[16] The dam initially provided water for a mill, and subsequently the water rights to the lake were owned by Cranston Print Works; currently, the dam is owned by Webster Lake Preservation LLC.[16]

The lake is commonly divided into three smaller bodies of water: North Pond, Middle Pond, and South Pond. They are connected by narrow channels.[16]


Webster Lake has about 7–8 islands. Some have houses and are habitable; a few are extremely small and uninhabitable. They include:

  • Long Island: The largest island in Webster Lake. It has many homes and has electric power lines, underground/underwater municipal water and sewer service, and several fire hydrants. It is in the Middle Pond.
  • Goat Island: The second largest island. It has a few homes and boats. It is in the Middle Pond but isolated from the cluster of islands that include Long Island.
  • Well Island: A smaller island with one house west of Long Island in the Middle Pond.
  • Strip Island: Generally northeast of Long Island and north of Cobble Island with one house, also in the Middle Pond.
  • Cobble Island: East of Long Island, in the Middle Pond.
  • Little Island: In South Pond, right out of the no wake zone from the Middle Pond, one house.


Webster lake has two marinas:

  • Lakeview Marine: The only full service marine store and service shop on Webster Lake.
  • Point Breeze: A restaurant with a small marina. Point Breeze Marina has the only dockside gas pump on the lake.

Pop culture[edit]

In the 1950s, a plan to shorten the official name of the lake inspired a poem of doggerel verse which concludes:

"Touch not a g!" No impious hand
Shall wrest one from that noble name
Fifteen in all their glory stand
And ever shall the same.
For never shall that number down,
Tho Gogg and Magogg shout and thunder;
Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg's renown
Shall blaze, the beacon of the town,

While nations gaze and wonder.[17]

Three songs about the lake's name have been written. The first was a regional song from the 1930s. The second was recorded by Ethel Merman and Ray Bolger and released in 1954 by Decca and incorporates the tale about the lake's name according to the name's inventor, Laurence J. Daly, editor of The Webster Times. The most recent was released in 2010 by Diane Taraz.

On the show, Gilmore Girls, (Season 6, Episode 6) Kirk offers the name "Chargogagogmanchogagogcharbunagunggamog" as a potential street name for the Dragonfly Inn. He says the Nipmuc Indian name is said to mean, "You fish on your side of the lake; I'll fish on my side and no one will fish in the middle." According to Kirk, it could also mean "buffalo."[18] That episode aired on October 17, 2005.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Patenaude, Ed (June 28, 2001). "Fabrication leaves us gasping - Old twist to name of lake comes to light". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Goddard, Ives. "Time to Retire an Indian Place-Name Hoax", The New York Times (Letter to Editor; September 29, 1990).
  3. ^ "Lake Chaubunagungamaug". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2011-04-14. 
  4. ^ a b c Old Webster History, from the Webster TIMES Centennial Anniversary Issue, 1859-1959.
  5. ^ Trumbull, James Hammond. 1881. Indian Names of Places etc., In and On the Borders of Connecticut: With interpretations of Some of Them. Reprinted in facsimile 1974 under title Indian Names in Connecticut by Archon Books, Hamden, Conn.
  6. ^ Goddard, Ives. 1974. Untitled review of Trumbull in International Journal of American Linguistics Vol. 43, No. 2 (Apr., 1977), pp. 157–159, University of Chicago Press.
  7. ^ "AUDIO: Singing a Name That's Hard to Say", New York Times (November 19, 2004).
  8. ^ "OldeWebster Photo Archive" (Accessed September 16, 2015).
  9. ^ Ash, Russell (10 November 2011). Boring, Botty and Spong. RHCP. p. 68. ISBN 978-1-4090-9739-6. 
  10. ^ Town of Webster, accessed January 15, 2007.
  11. ^ Knapton, Sarah (April 22, 2009). "Longest Place Name in US Spelt Wrongly". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  12. ^ Brian Lee (2009-04-14). "Misspelling on Lake Signs to Get Overdue Correction". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 
  13. ^ Nipmuc Place Names of New England
  14. ^ "Webster Lake", Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (February 1998), via
  15. ^ "Webster Lake Cyanobacteria Investigation: Phase I", Prepared by Water Resource Services, Inc., for the Webster Lake Association (November 2014).
  16. ^ a b c "About Webster Lake", Webster Lake Association. Accessed September 6, 2015.
  17. ^ Poem by Bertha A. Joslin.
  18. ^ "Gilmore Girls 6x6 transcript". Retrieved December 4, 2013. 

External links[edit]