Skip to main content

Walden Pond State Reservation

Walden Pond State Reservation

Henry David Thoreau lived at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847 and his experience there provided the material for the book Walden, which is credited with helping to inspire awareness and respect for the natural environment.

Henry David Thoreau’s sojourn at Walden started a long tradition of people coming to the pond and its surrounding woods for recreation and inspiration. Henry David Thoreau was a 27-year-old former schoolteacher when he went to live at Walden Pond in the summer of 1845. His friend and fellow Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who had recently purchased 14 acres of woodlot on the northwestern shore of Walden Pond, agreed to let the young writer conduct his "experiment in simplicity" there. Near the end of March 1845, Thoreau borrowed an axe and began cutting and hewing the timber for a small, one-room house. With help from friends, he raised and roofed the simple building and, on July 4, 1845, he moved in.

Thoreau's timeless account of his life at Walden would not be published until 1854. In 1945, the centennial of Thoreau's move to Walden Pond, Roland Wells Robbins, an amateur archaeologist and Thoreau enthusiast, dug for three months before discovering and excavating the stones that formed the foundation of the chimney. In July 1947, the Thoreau Society, founded in 1941, dedicated the inscribed fieldstone that marks the hearth site today. The site also houses a replica of Thoreau's one room house.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.