Seneca Lake is the largest
of the glacial Finger
Lakes of the U.S. state of
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, Seneca Lake
has been a testing site for submarines.The lake takes its name from
nation of Native Americans
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 40 wineries
, many of them farm
and is the location of the Seneca Lake AVA
. (See Seneca Lake wine trail
At long, It is the second longest of the Finger Lakes and has the
largest volume, estimated at 4.2 trillion US gallons (16 km³),
roughly half of the water in all the Finger Lakes. It has a maximum
depth of , and a mean depth of . It has a surface area of .
main inlets are Catharine Creek at the southern end and the
Lake Outlet. Seneca Lake outlets into the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, which joins Seneca
Lakes at their northern ends.
It is fed by underground springs and replenished at a rate of
328,000 gallons (29,520 m³) per minute. These springs keep the
water moving in a constant circular motion, giving it little chance
to freeze over. Because of Seneca Lake's great depth, it remains a
constant . During the summer months however, the top does warm up
to a pleasant .
Seneca lake is haven to some of the most prized Lake trout
in the world because of its great
depths and low boating traffic. However, in recent years,
populations of shallow water fish such as bass have dwindled
considerably due to infestations of Carp
Over 200 years ago, there were Iroquois
villages on Seneca Lake’s surrounding hillsides. During the Revolutionary War, their villages,
including Kanadaseaga ("Seneca Castle") were wiped out during the
Sullivan Expedition by troops
that invaded their homeland to punish them for assisting the
Today roadside signs trace Sullivan and Clinton’s
route along the east side of Seneca Lake where the burning of
villages and crops occurred.
After the war, the land of the Iroquois was parceled out to
veterans of the army in payment for their military service. A slow
stream of white 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 abruptly ended, though, in the
1820s with the opening of the Erie
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
There are numerous canal barges resting on the bottom of the lake.
collection of barges on 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 painted rocks, located at the southern end of the lake on the
eastern cliff face, depict an American
, Tee-pee, and several Native Americans. As the story goes,
back in the late 1700s when General John
Sullivan was avenging the Wyoming and Cherry-Valley Massacres,
he chased a group of renegade Native Americans, up
from present day Athens, Pennsylvania (then known as Tioga Point) through the valley, to
a point somewhere along the cliffs.
The Indians escaped down
a narrow footpath to canoes that they had hidden earlier in the
underbrush. They used these canoes to paddle across the lake to
safety. Later they came back and painted these paintings in
commemoration of their escape. The paintings found along the bottom
of the cliff are the originals, the American Flag and the Tee-pee
were added in 1929 during the Sullivan Sesquicentennial.
The painted rocks may not be authentic Native-American paintings as
the Seneca Indians
lived in longhouses
not the Tipi
by Western Native-American tribes. Historian Barbara Bell suggests
that the paintings may have been made for tourists on Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake is also the site of a strange and as-yet-unexplained
phenomenon known as the Guns of the
, mysterious cannon-like booms heard in the surrounding
area. Some might speculate that they come from the north eastern
museum, Rose Hill Mansion
This phenomenon has also, and more often than not, been called the
Drums Along the Seneca, and they are usually heard on the evenings
of hot summer nights. Many believe that these are giant air bubbles
from deep in the lake bursting on the surface, while others equate
it with Indian folklore. They have been heard coming from both the
north and south ends and the "drums" reverberate throughout the
"valley" of the lake.
There have been reports of a creature at least long creating
unexplained waves. These waves have been spotted when no boats are
present, therefore proving that it is not a wake. This creature has
been nicknamed, "Charlie".
Toxic waste was dumped in the lake in the 1950s by the U.S.
Government. The Government now refuses to clean the waste.
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.
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
Sonar test facility.
Where a scale model of the sonar section of the nuclear submarine
was tested during
the development of this ship.
Water quality buoy
There is a Youth Services
EMM-2500 Buoy Platform located in the north end
of Seneca Lake roughly in the center. Its coordinates
are: latitude: 42°49.13', longitude:
76°57.61'. The buoy has cellular
communications and measures wind speed and direction,
relative humidity, air temperature, barometric pressure, light intensity
, and the water's depth and
temperature, conductivity, turbidity
The buoy was initially deployed in June 2006. The water depth where
it is located is about .
- Bell, Barbara. "Painted Rocks." Schuyler County New York:
History and Families. Turner Publishing Co., 2005: 30-31.
- Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: New York
State: Rochester area
- (old site).