Whenever it’s camping time for Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops in Westborough, Massachusetts, the troop leader is sure to bring this story along to read aloud as they huddle around the campfire, in order to guarantee no campers venture from their tents until sunlight:
“…There is a chief and a rival; a dusky maiden beloved of both, but soon to be wedded by the chief. There is a little skiff upon the lake paddled by the maid; a dark figure plunging into the water, and swimming silently under the surface till he can pull the unsuspecting bride down to her death … a vengeance, weird and terrible, sweeps him to his watery doom beneath the dark surface of this mouth of hell …”
Yikes! Luckily, today’s Westborough is a classic New England town with a population of about 18,000 residents, all very much alive, located at the crossroads of the Mass Pike and Rt. 495.
But until approximately 1600, Nipmuc Indians migrated to this area each year to hunt and fish near Lake Hoccomocco. The late Horace Maynard, a Westborough boy, made use of the old Indian traditions about the lake when he penned “A Legend of the Hobomak [today called Hoccomocco]” for the “Horae Collegianae,” published by undergraduates of Amherst in 1838. The story, Maynard said, was told to him “by an old Indian, the last of his tribe.”
The early English explorer John Oldham followed the trails the Nipmuc created through Westborough in 1633, and settlers in search of farm land followed soon after. By 1675, a few families had settled in the “west borough” of Marlborough.
Since the city’s incorporation in 1717 as the 100th town in Massachusetts (hence its nickname, “the Hundredth Town”) Westborough has grown beyond agriculture. The city has developed as an ideal location for business. Since the arrival of the train in 1834, Westborough has been home to a diverse base of manufacturers, including computer and telecommunications equipment made there today. The city’s service sector is robust, as well.
The town’s commuter rail station provides easy access to Boston and Worcester. The Massachusetts Turnpike, Route 9 and Route 495 transect the town and attract major development, and Westborough continues to prosper.