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Black and white photo that has yellowed with age of the lake
Lake Matoaka in 1926

Prior to acquisition of the original charter for William & Mary in 1693, Lake Matoaka was an open watercourse of streams and wetlands known as Archer's Hope Swamp. Some time between 1700 and 1750 this original section of college property was sold to a private landowner who soon dammed the main creek (now known as College Creek) to create a mill pond making Lake Matoaka the oldest man-made lake in Virginia and one of the oldest in the New World.

Lake Matoaka surrounded by trees

The mill was located just south of the current dam on Jamestown Road. Known as Ludwell's Mill, presumably, grain shipped to College Landing could be transported upstream to the mill, with milled flour transported downstream.

Over the next two centuries, the mill went through multiple private ownership before being destroyed. It wasn't until the 1920s that the College re-acquired the mill pond and surrounding College Woods. At that time, the pond was re-named Matoaka--after Chief Powhatan's daughter who many know as Pocahontas. Lake Matoaka, circa 2000



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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.