The 1938 hurricane struck without warning on Spetember 21, 1938. The storm roarded up the coast from Cape Hatteras with winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts in excess of 175. As the storm progressed communications were disrupted so that communities in its track were not alerted to it’s arrival. At 4:30 pm there were reports of a slight wind; by 5:00 the winds and gusts had increased so vigorously that workers on their way home from work feared for their safety. Soon trees were crashing down across the roadways. Besides the major tree damage, chimneys were toppled, shingles blown from houses, buildings were crushed, and windows were broken. Whatever was in the path of the wind was blown around with a fury. By daylight on the next morning the damage was inspected. Carpenters, bricklayers, masons, and road workers were in demand to repair the damage. Hudson residents were left without telephones and electricity for days.
Huge trees were uprooted, some were snapped off like match sticks. Much of the fine old standing pine timber in Hudson was blown down. A Town Timber Committee was formed by local folks in an effort to salvage the uprooted trees. Named to this committee were Robert Hardy, Albert Kashulines, and Charles Parker. The committee met with representatives of the state and federal governments to work out a plan for storing the logs in water to prevent insect damage to the wood. Robinson Pond was inspected and approved for this purpose. Owners of the land, John Robinson and Charles Parker, were paid one dollar for its use.
Salvaged logs were trucked to this site on Robinson Road from Pelham, Litchfield, parts of Nashua, and Hudson. Records were kept listing the owners of the logs, the grade of the logs, and a count. Logs were measured and stamped. In the winter the logs were put on scoots and drawn out onto the ice by tractors and rolled off onto the ice; to remain until the ice melted. The logs remained in the water for two summers. It was estimated that 5 million board feet of lumber were stored here in Robinson Pond.
In the winter of 1939, Bean and Simmonds of Jaffrey, NH owners and operators of a box shop purchased the logs. Removal of the logs began in 1940. Two portable steam mills were set up on the “point” at Robinson Pond. This “point” is now part of the Town Recreation Area and often referred to as Sawdust Island. The logs were sawed three inches thick and trucked to a nearby field, stacked for drying, and later trucked to Jaffrey. Bean and Simmonds re sawed them and used them to make ammunition boxes for use in world War II. Not all logs were removed from the pond. Occasionally, even to this day, logs drift to shore or pop-op at the pond.
This photo, from the Historical Society Collection, shows logs stacked on the shore of what is now the swimming area for the Town Recreation Area. The pond is frozen and logs are waiting to be skooted onto the ice. Across the pond is the open field of what is now 72 Robinson Road.
If you would like to hear more about The Great Hurricane of 1938 please join with The Historical Society on September 22, 2016 at 7:00pm at the Hills House on Derry Road. Our guest speaker will be Shira Gladstone site manager for Historic New England.