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By the Shores of Solon Pond

A Journey from Boyhood Innocence to War-Weary Self-Understanding and Hope

An epic tale of heroism, sacrifice, and family devotion

Farm boy Waldo Potter strives to save his father's impoverished upstate New York acreage as drums of war beat. When his Uncle Charles takes him under his wing, Waldo must navigate family resentments and tragic twists of fate at home and at the seat of war. By the Shores of Solon Pond captures the joys and hardships of rural life and is a tribute to America's rural small town heritage, but, most of all, it is a tribute to one young man's sacrificial love for his family.

From the outset, Waldo suffers, under the yoke of his sad family, a kind of entrapment in a life of struggle and impossible challenges, caused mainly by the sloth of Waldo's father. Of all the farms in the vicinity, his is the saddest and least productive even though he has three sons and a devoted wife.

After many failures and humiliations, Waldo is quick to join the military to fight in the Civil War, getting a shocking view of the wider world and a new perspective on his family and their situation in this poignant coming-of-age story.

Important places

Solon Pond (1)


Cortland (4)


New York (9,763)


United States (64,950)

Other geographical areas

Allegheny Plateau (173)
Appalachian Mountains (1,111)