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Johnson's Pond, also known as Flat River Reservoir, is a recreational gem located in Kent County. Damming the south branch of the Pawtuxet River near where it is joined by the Flat River created the 659-acre lake. Exactly when it was first dammed and by whom is lost in early American history.
The Warwick, Rhode Island area gave birth to the Industrial Era, ushered in with textile mills along the rivers leading to the coast. Many, many dams have been built along the Pawtuxet since the 1700s. Most have disappeared; all have been rebuilt. Many were moved. These dams all were built for hydro power in the form of water power and, later, steam. Most logically, someone named Johnson built one of the more recent dams in the area and the pond was named after him.
Something that is not generally known about the settlement of the eastern woods is that the first settlers invariably built dams and mills on local streams to provide power to grind grain, mill lumber or perform small work with crude machinery. Both the Pawtuxet and Flat Rivers have seen this kind of early development. Located less than 13 miles upstream from the modern City of Warwick, it is known that the Flat River hosted at least two small dams for textile looming purposes, although both are long disappeared.
The Pawtuxet contains a number of dams currently, creating ponds for municipal water, recreation and in some cases, electricity. No electricity is generated at the Flat River Reservoir but municipal water and recreation are the two main uses of the current lake. In fact, Johnson's Pond, as it is known locally, is a favored upscale residential area -- a community focused on the joys of lake living. Real estate opportunities in the area are numerous for both existing and developing properties.
All types of water sports are enjoyed at Flat River Reservoir. Wakeboarding Magazine once named Johnsons Pond as the best spot in Rhode island for wakeboarding. Personal watercraft are allowed at Flat River Reservoir even though they are banned at some other local water bodies. Water skiing is popular here due to the elongated shape of the reservoir, with tubing, power boating and sailing engaged in as long as the weather is warm. As soon as the ice is safe, ice skating and ice boating season begins. Large watercraft can be launched at the local marina for a nominal fee. The marina also rents water craft.
Flat River Reservoir is a favorite among fishermen; tournaments are held here regularly and the public access boat launch at Zeke's Bridge provides a convenient spot to launch. The launch isn't suitable for large watercraft, however, as there are low bridges between the launch site and the main reservoir. Fishermen thoroughly enjoy fishing for spotted sea trout, steelhead trout, smelt, whitefish, yellow bass, pickerel and pan fish. The average depth of 18 feet and the generous bottom cover provide fine fish habitat. Efforts are underway by the State of Rhode Island to begin a stocking program to further improve recreational fishing. Ice fishing is equally popular; cold, sunny days find the ice filled with bundled sportsmen jigging a line into the dark water.
Planning a vacation on Flat River Reservoir can make the entire family happy. Vacation rentals are available in the area that can provide both for water time and for more urban entertainments. With Warwick to the east and Coventry immediately to the west, there's never a shortage of things to do. Trails in the area are popular for ATV riding, mountain biking, hiking and wildlife watching. Along the northwest shore of Johnson's Pond, the Coventry Greenway is a bike and hiking path that uses the old New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad right of way and is part of the East Coast Greenway.
Near the western shore, the George B. Parker Woodland Wildlife Preserve protects over 800 acres for the enjoyment of New England wildlife and birds. Within the preserve, many mysterious stone cairns are found, built in the wooded area by unknown prehistoric peoples.The structures are apparently related to other stone structures in New England built by an unknown extinct tribe. The City of Coventry has several preserved historic structures, including Spell Hall, the General Nathanael Greene Homestead Museum. The General was second in command under George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
The history lesson continues with a trip to Warwick. Thirteen miles east of Flat River Reservoir, this thoroughly modern city has managed to hold onto its colonial roots. Several small crossroad towns from the 1700s are incorporated into shopping districts, with museums and historic points of interest clearly marked. Those with an interest in Victorian architecture and lifestyles will thoroughly enjoy the Clouds Hill Victorian House Museum. The Warwick Museum of Art is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon and nd a visit to Goddard Memorial State Park on Narragansett Bay is a must for seaside sand and salt water swimming. The park is supplied with miles of hiking and bridal paths, picnic areas, game fields and a nine-hole golf course.
Vacation rentals can be found in Coventry, Warwick the small villages of Hope, Crompton, West Warwick and Cranston. Often, sublets are available on the shores of Johnsons Pond. New condo developments are currently under construction, often with water views. Bring the kids and the water toys. Fun waits for everyone at Flat River Reservoir.
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