Seneca Lake (New York)

Seneca Lake is the largest of the glacial Finger Lakes of the U.S. state of New York, and the deepest lake entirely within the state. It is promoted as being the lake trout capital of the world, and is host of the National Lake Trout Derby. Because of its depth and relative ease of access, the US Navy uses Seneca Lake to perform test and evaluation of equipment ranging from single element transducers to complex sonar arrays and systems.[1] The lake takes its name from the Seneca nation of Native Americans. At the north end of Seneca Lake is the city of Geneva, New York, home of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, a division of Cornell University. At the south end of the lake is the village of Watkins Glen, New York, famed for auto racing and waterfalls.

Due to Seneca Lake's unique macroclimate it is home to over 50 wineries, many of them farm wineries and is the location of the Seneca Lake AVA. (See Seneca Lake wine trail).

Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen, NY
Aerial view from the southern part of Seneca Lake.
Seneca Lake is located in New York Adirondack Park
Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake
Location within New York
Seneca Lake is located in the United States
Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake (the United States)
LocationSchuyler, Seneca, Yates, and Ontario counties, New York, United States
GroupFinger Lakes
Coordinates42°39′20″N 76°53′51″W / 42.65556°N 76.89750°WCoordinates: 42°39′20″N 76°53′51″W / 42.65556°N 76.89750°W
TypeGround Moraine
Primary inflowsCatharine Creek, Keuka Lake Outlet, underwater sources
Primary outflowsSeneca River/ Cayuga-Seneca Canal
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length38 mi (61 km)
Surface area66.9 sq mi (173 km2)
Average depth291 ft (89 m)
Max. depth618 ft (188 m)
Water volume16 km3 (3.8 cu mi)
Shore length175.4 miles (121.3 km)
Surface elevation445 ft (136 m)
SettlementsWatkins Glen, Geneva
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.


Seneca Lake from Watkins Glen July 2017
Seneca Lake from Watkins Glen

At 38 miles (61 km) long, it is the second longest of the Finger Lakes and has the largest volume, estimated at 3.81 cubic miles (15.9 km3), roughly half of the water in all the Finger Lakes. It has an average depth of 291 feet (89 m),[2] a maximum depth of 618 feet (188 m), and a surface area of 66.9 square miles (173 km2).

Map showing Seneca Lake and the other Finger Lakes in relation to Lake Ontario and upstate New York

For comparison, Scotland's famous Loch Ness is 22.5 miles (36.2 km) long, 1.7 miles (2.7 km) wide, has a surface area of 21.8 square miles (56 km2), an average depth of 433 feet (132 m), a maximum depth of 744.6 feet (227.0 m), and total volume of 1.8 cubic miles (7.5 km3) of water.

Seneca's two main inlets are Catharine Creek at the southern end and the Keuka Lake Outlet. Seneca Lake lets out into the Seneca River/ Cayuga-Seneca Canal, which joins Seneca and Cayuga Lakes at their northern ends.

It is fed by underground springs and replenished at a rate of 328,000 gallons (1240 m³) per minute. These springs keep the water moving in a circular motion, giving it little chance to freeze over. Because of Seneca Lake's great depth its temperature remains a near-constant 39 °F (4 °C).[3] In summer the top 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) warms to 70–80 °F (21–27 °C).


Seneca lake has a typical aquatic population for large deep lakes in the northeast, with coldwater fish such as lake trout and Atlantic salmon inhabiting the deeper waters, and warmwater fish such as smallmouth bass and yellow perch inhabiting the shallower areas. The lake is also home to a robust population of "sawbellies," the local term for alewife shad.


Seneca lake Geneva
Looking south on Seneca Lake in the city of Geneva, New York

Seneca Lake was formed at least two million years ago by glacial carving of streams and valleys. Originally it was a part of a series of rivers that flowed northward. Around this time many continental glaciers moved into the area and started the Pleistocene glaciation also known as the Ice Age. It is presumed that the Finger Lakes were created by many advances and retreats of massive glaciers that were up to 2 miles wide.[4]

Over 200 years ago, there were Iroquois villages on Seneca Lake's surrounding hillsides. During the American Revolutionary War, their villages, including Kanadaseaga ("Seneca Castle"), were wiped out during the 1779 Sullivan Expedition by Continental troops under order by General George Washington (in retaliation of the Wyoming Massacre ) to invade their homeland, destroy their dwellings and crops, and end their threat to the patriots. They destroyed nearly 50 Seneca and Cayuga villages. Today roadside signs trace Sullivan's route along the east side of Seneca Lake where the burning of villages and crops occurred.

After the war, the Iroquois were forced to cede their land when Britain was defeated. Their millions of acres were sold and some lands in this area were granted to veterans of the army in payment for their military service. A slow stream of European-American settlers began to arrive circa 1790. Initially the settlers were without a market nearby or a way to get their crops to market. The settlers' isolation ended in 1825 with the opening of the Erie Canal.

The canal linked the Finger Lakes Region to the outside world. Steamships, barges and ferries quickly became Seneca Lake's ambassadors of commerce and trade. The former, short Crooked Lake Canal linked Seneca Lake to Keuka Lake.

Numerous canal barges sank during operations and rest on the bottom of the lake. A collection of barges at the southwest end of the lake, near the village of Watkins Glen, is being preserved and made accessible for scuba diving by the Finger Lakes Underwater Preserve Association.


The lake is a popular fishing destination from all around. Fish species present in the lake include lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, pickerel, and yellow perch.[5]

Painted rocks

The painted rocks located at the southern end of the lake on the eastern cliff face depict an American flag, Tee-pee, and several Native Americans. The older paintings, located on the bottom of the cliff, were said to have been drawn in 1779 after the Senecas escaped men from John Sullivan's campaign. However, this account is questioned by historian Barbara Bell, arguing that it is unlikely that the Senecas would have returned to paint the paintings having just escaped from Sullivan's men. She suggests instead that these paintings may have been made much later, for tourists on Seneca Lake boat tours.[6]

It is known that the more visible and prominent paintings of the Native Americans, American flag, and Tee-pee were added in 1929 during the Sullivan Sesquicentennial. There are two mistakes in these 1929 additions: firstly the Native Americans in the Seneca Region used longhouses and not Tee-pees, and secondly the flag is displayed pointing to the left which is never to be done on a horizontal surface.

Seneca Guns

Seneca Lake is also the site of strange and currently unexplained cannon-like booms and shakes that are heard and felt in the surrounding area. They are known locally as the Seneca Guns, Lake Drums, or Lake Guns, and these types of phenomena are known elsewhere as skyquakes. The term Lake Guns originated in the short story "The Lake Gun" by James Fenimore Cooper in 1851.[7] There is no explanation that takes into account sounds the Iroquois heard before Cooper's time; it is possible sonic booms have been mistaken for natural sounds in modern days.[8]

Sampson Navy and Air Force bases

The east side of Seneca Lake was once home to a military training ground called Sampson Naval Base, primarily used during World War II. It became Sampson Air Force Base during the Korean War and was used for basic training. After Sampson AFB closed, the airfield remained as Seneca Army Airfield but was closed in 2000.[9] The training grounds of Sampson have since been converted to a civilian picnic area called Sampson State Park.

There is still a Naval facility at Seneca Lake, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Sonar test facility. A scale model of the sonar section of the nuclear submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) was tested during the development of this ship, which was launched in June, 1995.

Water quality buoy

There is a YSI EMM-2500 Buoy Platform located in the north end of Seneca Lake roughly in the center. Its coordinates are: latitude: 42°41'49.99"N, longitude: 76°55'29.93"W. The buoy has cellular modem communications and measures wind speed and direction, relative humidity, air temperature, barometric pressure, light intensity, and the water's depth and temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and chlorophyll-a levels.[10]

The buoy was initially deployed in June 2006. The water depth where it is located is about 200 feet (61 m).[11]

Seneca Harbor and wine
Seneca Harbor wine center


Seneca Lake vineyards
Vineyards in the Seneca Lake AVA

Viticulture and winemaking in the area date back to the 19th century, with the foundation of the Seneca Lake Wine Company in 1866 marking the first major winery in the area. The modern era of wine production began in the 1970s with the establishment of several wineries and the passage of the New York Farm Winery Act of 1976.[12] The region was established as an American Viticultural Area in 1988.[13]

Seneca Lake Wine Trail hosts many events on and around the lake, annually. With more than 30 wineries currently located on the shores of Seneca Lake, the winter 'Deck the Halls' event is a great time at the lake with participating wineries showcasing their vintages and pairing these wines with distinctive, tasty treats. Wineries also provide participants with an ornament at each stop to commemorate the event.


The Elmira & Seneca Lake Railway opened for operation on June 19, 1900 from Horseheads, New York to Seneca Lake.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Paleontological Research Institution". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  5. ^ Sportsman's Connection (Firm) (1 January 2011), Western Adirondacks New York fishing map guide: includes lakes & streams for the following counties: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chemung, Cortland, Erie, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Ontario, Orleans, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates., Sportsman's Connection, ISBN 978-1-885010-63-6, OCLC 986498446
  6. ^ Bell, Barbara. "Painted Rocks." Schuyler County New York: History and Families. Turner Publishing Co., 2005: 30–31.
  7. ^ Lake Guns
  8. ^ "Earthquake Booms, Seneca Guns, and Other Sounds". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  9. ^ [1] Archived 17 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: New York State: Rochester area
  10. ^ "Seneca Lake water quality buoy". (old site).
  11. ^ "Seneca Lake water quality buoy".
  12. ^ "Seneca Lake Wine Trail". Finger Lakes Wine Country. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  13. ^ "Cayuga Lake wins own wine region". The Ithaca Journal. 6 May 1988. The new Cayuga Lake wine region was established inside the existing Fingers Lake wine region and includes parts of Seneca, Tompkins, and Cayuga counties located adjacent to Cayuga Lake between Seneca and Owasco Lakes.

External links

Dexter Horton

Dexter Horton (1825 – 1904) was the founder of the first bank in the city of Seattle. Before his founding of the Bank of Dexter Horton in 1870 financial transactions were conducted by merchants.

Dexter Horton was born in 1825 in Seneca Lake, New York. He was raised on a farm his family acquired in the state of Illinois. As a young man he traveled to Oregon with others who were living in his area. Having lived in Oregon for a time he relocated to Seattle. After working as a mill hand for Henry Yesler he opened a general store. This business succeeded. A part of the business was making loans and accepting deposits from customers. In 1870 Dexter Horton opened up the first business dedicated to serving as a bank. It was one of the corporate ancestors of Seattle First National Bank, which eventually merged into the Bank of America.

According to Seattle lore, decades after the battle 1856 Battle of Seattle, Seattle's future fire chief Gardner Kellogg was excavating his house and found a shell from the USS Decatur that had buried itself without exploding. He stuck it under a tree stump that he was trying to burn out and went off to lunch; Dexter Horton stopped by to warm the seat of his pants at the fire, and as it exploded, nearly became the last casualty of the battle of Seattle.Horton was married to Hannah Eliza Shoudy, sister of John Alden Shoudy, in 1844, and they had three children but two died early. After her death, he married Caroline E. Parsons (d. 1878) on September 29, 1873, and they had one daughter. He then married Arabella C. Agard (1827-1914) on September 14, 1882.

Edward Partridge

Edward Partridge Sr. (August 27, 1793 – May 27, 1840) was one of the earliest converts to the Latter Day Saint movement and served as its first Bishop of the Church.

Ganondagan State Historic Site

Ganondagan State Historic Site, (pronounced ga·NON·da·gan) also known as Boughton Hill, is a Native American historic site in Ontario County, New York in the United States. Location of the largest Seneca village of the 17th century, the site is in the present-day Town of Victor, southwest of the Village of Victor. The village was also referred to in various spellings as Gannagaro, Canagora, Gandagora, and Gandagaro.It consists of two areas: the 245-acre (99 ha) Boughton Hill portion, the area of longhouses and burials, has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. It has been identified as the location of the Jesuit Mission of St. Jacques (or St. James), which was mentioned in the Jesuit Relations. The Fort Hill portion was the location of a fortified granary and consists of 33 acres (13 ha); it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The complex is operated by the state of New York.

Hector, New York

Hector is a town in the northeastern corner of Schuyler County, New York, United States. The population was 4,854 at the 2000 census. The town is named after Hector Ely, who at the time was the firstborn son of the town founders. Hector is west of Ithaca, New York.

Hyrum Smith

Hyrum Smith (February 9, 1800 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the original church of the Latter Day Saint movement. He was the older brother of the movement's founder, Joseph Smith, and was killed with his brother at Carthage Jail where they were being held awaiting trial.


Inergy, L.P. (NYSE: NRGY) is an American supplier of propane based in Kansas City, Missouri that claims to be the fourth-largest propane retailer in the United States. Serving 800,000 customers in 28 states. It is also a major salt miner via its U.S. Salt LLC subsidiary with its salt caverns later being used for natural gas storage.

It was founded in 1998 by its current president and CEO John J. Sherman after he sold his start up propane marketing company LPG Services Group to Dynegy. As of November 2010, the company had acquired 89 businesses – mostly regional and local propane distributors.It operates 28 states and employs approximately 3,000 associates and has 700,000 customers. .In August 2010 it acquired its parent Inergy Holdings which had also traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol NRGP in a deal valued at $2 billion with the resulting company being reported to be worth $6 billion. Prior to the acquisition both companies shared the same offices in Kansas City.

List of largest lakes of the United States by area

The following is a list of the largest 100 lakes of the United States by normal surface area. The top twenty lakes in size are as listed by the National Atlas of the United States, a publication of the United States Department of the Interior. The area given is the normal or average area of the lake. The area of some lakes fluctuates substantially. For those lakes partially in Canada or Mexico the area given for the lake is the total area, not just the part of the lake in the United States. Of the top 100 lakes, 55 are man-made and 45 are natural. Three lakes in the top 100 are primarily salt water.

List of place names of Native American origin in New York

This is a list of Native American place names in the U.S. state of New York.

Adirondack Mountains

Allegany (town), New York

Apalachin, New York

Asharoken, New York

Ashokan Reservoir

Canandaigua (city), New York

Canarsie, Brooklyn

Cassadaga, New York

Chautauqua Lake

Cheektowaga (town), New York

Claverack Creek

Commack, New York

Conesus Lake

Conesus, New York

Copake, New York

Copiague, New York

Cossayuna Lake

Coxsackie, New York

Coxsackie (village), New York

Cutchogue, New York

Erie (disambiguation)

Esopus, New York

Hannawa Falls, New York

Hoosic River

Kerhonkson, New York

Keuka Lake

Kesieway Creek - Kah-se-way

Kinderhook Creek

Lake Erie

Mahopac, New York

Mamaroneck (village), New York

Mamaroneck, New York

Manhasset, New York

Manhattan - probably from , which seems to reflect Munsee Delaware [ˈeːnta mənaˈhahteːnk], "where one gathers bows" (with -/aht/-, "bow").

Massapequa, New York

Mattituck, New York

Merrick, New York

Montauk, New York

Napanoch, New York

Napeague, New York

Neversink River

Niagara Falls

Niskayuna, New York

Nissequogue River

Noyack, New York

Nyack, New York

Oatka Creek

Oneida, New York

Onondaga, New York

Oswego County, New York

Oswego River (New York)

Otisco Lake

Otisco, New York

Owasco Lake


Patchogue River

Patchogue, New York

Peconic, New York

Pepacton Reservoir

Poospatuck Reservation

Potic Creek

Poughkeepsie, New York

Queechy Lake

Quogue, New York

Quiogue, New York


Sacandaga River

Sagaponack, New York

Saranac River

Saratoga Springs, New York

Schodack, New York

Seneca Lake (New York)

Seneca, New York

Setauket-East Setauket, New York

Shandaken, New York

Shekomeko, New York

Skaneateles (village), New York

Susquehanna River

Taghkanic Creek

Taughannock Falls State Park

Ticonderoga, New York

Tioughnioga River

Tonawanda Creek

Tuckahoe (village), New York

Tuckahoe, Suffolk County, New York

Waccabuc, New York

Walloomsac River

Wappinger, New York

Wassaic, New York

Wawarsing, New York

Wyandanch, New York

Wykagyl (New Rochelle)

Wyoming County, New York

Yaphank, New York

Montour Falls, New York

Montour Falls is a village located in Schuyler County, New York, United States. A population of 1,711 was reported by the US Census of 2010. A waterfall at the end of West Main Street gives the village its name. The name "Montour" is derived from Queen Catharine Montour, a prominent Native American woman of Seneca Indian heritage who lived at the village site in the 18th century.

The boundaries defining the Village of Montour Falls occur mostly within the Town of Montour, but a small part lies within the Town of Dix. The village is located approximately twenty miles north of Elmira, New York and three miles south of Watkins Glen, New York. The New York State Academy of Fire Science is located in the village.

Montour family

The Montour family was a family of Native American and French descent which was prominent in colonial New York and Pennsylvania before and during the American Revolution. Because of the Iroquois practice of reckoning descent through the female line the family is known as "Montour" after the matriarch.

Ovid (town), New York

Ovid is a town in Seneca County, New York, United States. The population was 2,311 at the 2010 census. The town is named after the Roman poet Ovid, a name assigned by a clerk interested in the classics.

The Town of Ovid contains a village also called Ovid, one of the county seats of Seneca County. The town is in the southern part of the county, extending between Seneca Lake to the west and Cayuga Lake to the east, and southeast of Geneva, New York.

Ovid (village), New York

Ovid is a village in and one of the two county seats of Seneca County, New York, United States. The population was 602 at the 2010 census. The town was named by a clerk interested in the classics (see Ovid).

The Village of Ovid is within the Town of Ovid, but a small portion is in the Town of Romulus, and is southeast of Geneva, New York.

Recruit training

Recruit training, more commonly known as basic training or colloquially boot camp, refers to the initial instruction of new military personnel. Recruit training is a physically and psychologically intensive process, which resocializes its subjects for the demands of military employment.

Romulus, New York

Romulus is a town in Seneca County, New York, United States. The population was 4,316 at the 2010 census. The town is named after the mythical founder of Rome, Romulus, a name assigned by a clerk with an interest in the classics.

The Town of Romulus is in the central part of the county, northwest of Ithaca, New York.

The town has a hamlet (and census-designated place), also called Romulus. Government offices for the town are located in nearby Willard.Romulus is home of the rare Seneca white deer, one of the largest populations of white deer in the world. They are located on the grounds of the former Seneca Army Depot. It is now a private wildlife refuge and conservation center which offers scenic tours.

Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake or Lake Seneca may refer to:

Seneca Lake (New York), one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York

Seneca Lake AVA, New York wine region

Lake Seneca, Ohio, an unincorporated community

Seneca Lake (Ohio), another name for Senecaville Lake

Ziba Peterson

Ziba Peterson (died 1849) was an early American Latter Day Saint best known as one of the four initial missionaries sent by Joseph Smith in 1830 to preach to Native Americans in Indian Territory. This mission brought in several influential converts and introduced the church to Kirtland, Ohio and Jackson County, Missouri, which would become religiously significant to Mormonism.


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