Prior to the development of the reservoir, only one family lived in the basin who farmed land along East Creek. In the late 1800’s, the Chittenden Power Company began surveying the basin for the site of a new hydroelectric power plant and impoundment. Numerous creeks naturally fed in to the bowl-shaped valley, which made it an ideal site for a lake.
Chittenden Power acquired the land from the family and began construction of a dam in 1900. At the construction’s peak, 200 workers, mostly immigrants from Italy and Sweden, were working on-site. Originally scheduled to take three months to build, the erection of the dam took nine months as it was hampered by a brutally cold winter, financial problems and a change in ownership. The dam and spillway were not fully completed until 1909 and the nearby hydroelectric power station was not opened until 1914.
Today, Chittenden Lake provides not only hydroelectric power for the region, but recreational opportunities. Vermont Fish and Wildlife Service maintain a boat launch and parking area on its southern fringes. Nearby is Leffert’s Pond, a small, 49-acre impoundment that is the centerpiece for a large wetland, allowing for ample kayaking, canoeing and fishing opportunities.