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Welcome:  Beyond Walden: The Hidden History of America's Kettle Lakes and Ponds.


  • Explore -- Small lakes by State - Interest - Lake - Chapter - General
  • About -- Beyond Walden and the small lake initiative project.
  • News -- Flashes from the Small Lake News.
  • Contact -- For more information, media interviews, and talks.
  • Blog -- A summer road trip from Walden to Wobegon.
  • Extra -- Stuff for serious lake enthusiasts.

Author Robert M. Thorson , June 2009, courtesy of Pete Morenus, UConn.

Lakes are a beloved part of the American landscape, and kettles are the most common type.  Formed by the meltdown of blocks of glacier ice, they span the northern United States from the foggy ponds of Atlantic Islands to the sunbaked potholes of the High Plains, reaching their greatest concentrations in the upper Midwest. Together, they constitute a blue galaxy of very ordinary lakes that are a significant, but little appreciated, part of America’s cultural and environmental heritage. 

I wrote Beyond Walden to enhance the enjoyment and conservation of small lakes everywhere, especially for readers who spend time at shoreline cottages, camps, and cabins from Maine to Montana. I created the website to give readers extra materials -- especially color photos -- and to help draw interest toward the book.

Each page has a banner of photos at the top with a caption at the bottom. Between them are links, photos, a review comment in green, and a quote from the text in brown. If you get lost, just click "Book Home" at the bottom and you'll arrive back here.


Boston Globe: "Robert M. Thorson’s account mixes hands-on geology, boyhood reminiscence, and a good dash of Thoreau."

Beyond Walden: “Everyone's favorite lake can be imagined a personal Lake Wobegon, symbolizing the disconnect between life as it is -- the alienation of factory, office, and freeway-- and life as it should be -- a community of nature-loving people enjoying themselves amid crystaline lakes and scented forests.” [page 5] 


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PHOTO BANNER: Dust jacket design by Natalie Slocum, based on a photo taken by Galen Rowell near the headwaters of the Theron River, Northwest Territories, Canada, in the wilderness west of Hudson Bay. When I first saw her design, I realized that she had chosen the "textbook" kettle, because the same photo was in the introductory geology textbook I was using at the time. Detail of carved oak-leaf motif on a stone building somewhere at the University of Connecticut. (Author photo courtesy of Peter Bowden.)