Just In Time For Fall In The Berkshires, The Legend Of Pontoosuc Lake
This is the first legend I heard about when I first moved here years ago that had to do with Pontoosuc Lake. First of all, a lot of folks here and beyond might not know that the lake was referred to as Moonkeek-Shoonkeek by the Mahican natives first encountered by settlers. Native Americans also called it a"field for winter deer,"
The Indian maiden, Moonkeek, was deeply in love with her cousin Shon-keek. She was the daughter of the elderly chief, Nobigasha. Both moonkeek and her cousin Shonkeek grew up together, and always had a strong bond between them, they always knew they were meant to be together. They would spend their days filling their baskets with flowers and berries, racing, swimming in the clear waters of the lake, or riding in birch-bark canoes.
Despite the fact that Shonkeek was the son of the chief's brother, in their hearts, they knew they were meant to be together forever. It was forbidden for the two to marry since they were cousins and the omen that surrounded the two is that it was said that evil always came upon a tribe that permitted the marriage of cousins.
Moon-keek and Shonkeek secretly continued to meet. In the wings stood a deceitful brave Nock-a-wan-do, who wanted to claim Moon-keek as his own, he would frequently spy on the lovers and then go back and tell his secret observations to the chief.
Shonkeet and Moonkeet eventually learned of a tribe far off to the Northeast that would welcome them. They put together a plan and decided to meet on the island of Pontoosuc Lake, fleeing their nearby village to begin a new life together.
Moonkeek and Shonkeek were very happy at the knowledge that they would soon be together. The night of their secret rendezvous, Moonkeek swiftly paddled her canoe to the island. Shon-keet followed.
Seeing this happen before his eyes, Nockawando fired a flint-pointed arrow through his paddling rival's back, piercing his heart. Moon-keek saw her lover fall into the lake. Jumping into her canoe, she quickly paddled towards Shonkeek's canoe. She was startled to see the spirit of Shonkeek, still strongly paddling toward her.
As she reached out to the fading presence, she plunged into the depths of the lake and both disappeared without a trace. Witnessing the scene, Nock-a-wan-do fled in terror.
The bodies of the dead lovers were never recovered. It is said that Moonkeek found her lover, and they rest forever in each other's arms.
Remember this next time you visit Pontoosuc Lake, It is believed to be an omen of great fortune to glimpse the spirit lovers, eternally paddling together on Pontoosuc Lake.
The legend says, that still, on moonless nights, if you look with the eyes of your heart, you can sometimes see two ghost canoes silently racing through the water, meeting again on the island's shore.