Skaneateles Lake by John D. Barrow
E. M. Grover Printer and Binder 1902
This lake has been before me nearly my whole lifetime; I have had great pleasure, solace and teaching from it and out of gratitude I ought to write its history as well as its likeness, as faithfully as I can. It has little to do with the stirring events of the world and is scarcely known in literature and song.
It has a very meagre written history and that hardly more than local, no white man had ever seen it, as far as we know, three centuries ago. A Jesuit or other Catholic missionary in the seventeenth century, saw it or heard of it, and spelled its name an pronounced it as well as he could. David Cusiek mentions a Skaneateles lake and an account of an adventure between a bear and a lion, but that may have been at another Skaneateles lake and is, at any rate, too apocryphal for history. On St. John the Baptist day, 1745, Moravian missionaries camped upon its shore near where our St. James church stands an named the spot St. John’s beach.
And it is well that I settle the meaning of the word Skaneateles as there has long been a dispute about it. It has been claimed and accepted as meaning the Beautiful Squaw, and there are yet many who cling to it. But Dr. Beauchamp has settled the matter beyond question. He is as well versed in Iroquois use as any man. He has conversed with many of the six nations and inquired of them the meaning of the word. In every case the answer has been the same and that is that it means the long water, or the long stream of water.
Those who still prefer what they think the more euphonious and poetic name, point to the outlines of the lake traced on our county maps. There may be a dim outline of a sitting figure, most grotesque where called after a squaw, beautiful or not. The form the name has, is said to be nearer the Oneida speech than the Onondaga.
Who the white man was who saw it for the first time we do not know, and perhaps never shall. There are dim traditions that Spanish gold seekers or robbers wandered as far as our county, but they have never been verified. Some Mohawk river trapper or hunter may have wandered on its shores but no word comes from him now.
To the historian this was virgin ground until Simeon DeWitt came with his surveyors and chain carriers to survey the military tract soon after the close of the Revolutionary war. He it was who made it known to settlers who soon came to it or passed it by, guided at first by an Indian trail, which passed the foot of the lake across the outlet, where our bridge now stands, and began what history there is of our lake as written by man. But for all the benefits we have from Mr. DeWitt’s labors, there has been a serious offence laid to his charge from which I would exonerate him if I could. He has long had the charge of having fastened upon our towns and hills the old Roman and Greek names that are so inappropriate and absurd. But it has also been said that he emphatically denied the charge when questioned about it. I would gladly let him have the benefit of the doubt, could I find another man to whom I could lay the ridiculous deed.
But the lake has had a long and eventful history, and it is written for him who can read in what Longfellow has called the manuscripts of God. For centuries men knew not of these manuscripts but at last they have begun to read and translate them into human speech.
Beneath our feet lie these records, and though but partially read they are enough for our wonder and our faith, and there men can read their secrets, as Gallileo and Copernicus read those of the sky above us.
These records are very long and very full, and it will take men long while to come to read them. But we can read in our town and around our lake pages two thousand feet thick from the upper Selurian, but only about half of the Devonian. We can read the evidence of lakes and seas with their deposits of salt or sand and the countless remains of marine life, beds of coral formation fifty feet thick and great limestone strata, the life and work and death work of myriad’s of once living things. We can see evidences of submersion in ruling waters and emergence and both these processes repeated. Then when the land was at last stable once above the waters, how long it was so, while water deposits were forming, like the great coal measures, and when the north pole had a tropic climate we can only guess. Our land must have assumed some form of hills and valleys, and been clothed with the verdure and forests, before the glacial periods, one or more, came with their blight, ploughing deeper our valleys, bearing boulders from the granite beds of the north and covering our land with them. Then probably our lake basin was deepened or made and its bounds set. It is not necessary for history if it is for science to describe the great ice plough moving for hundreds of miles above the hidden ground, grinding it to powder, nor the great floods that came from its melting as they swept past us to the valleys of the Mohawk and Hudson to the sea. But both ice and flood were cared for and the land lay ready for flower and forest and our lake was there. The hills and valleys became clothed with their primeval forests, spring, summer, autumn, and winter passes over them, with all the changes and the beauties that we see to-day. How many ages did they bloom and die before a man, red or white, ever saw them. Man thinks they were made for him, and they may be secondly and eventually, but for whom were they made to watch and enjoy so long ere man came into being? This is a thought for us proud men to ponder and to solve. Were they useless and unseen all that time?
Any details of our geology or paleontology are not within the course of this essay, and all has been well written by my friend Mr. E. B. Knapp, of this village.
Neither is this a history of our village or town, both these have been written by other hands. Let us try to imagine, not describe, what our lake and its shores were when the Indian knew it and when the white man found it. The shores were lined and the hills covered entire with stately forests made up of a great variety of trees, many of them of immense growth and great age. The largest and most common were the hemlocks, pines, basswoods, beeches, maples, elms, oaks, chestnuts besides a number of others not so common but equally beautiful and interesting such as the ironwood, the tulip tree, the wild cherry, the yellow birch, and in low grounds the white cedar and black ash. There were a great many lesser trees or shrubs, the dogwoods, the shadblow and many others, that would make this a botanical treaties if they were all named. Beside this were all the wood flowers of the region and climate, that as their seasons went round spread their petals to the light. Many of these have now disappeared since the clearing up of the land. There were also thirty or forty varieties of fern most of which remain but some have gone from the places that once knew them. It is not necessary here to give any full account of the fauna of the region in older or more recent times. The bear, the panther and deer used to live and be around our lake, but they disappeared with the coming of the white men. The birds that used to be abundant, in summer at least, are much fewer of late years. The blue bird is not so common, and the bobolink is rarely seen or heard. The chickadees and snowbirds are very scarce, neither hare there so many swallows or martins or swifts as there used to be. The innumerable flocks of wild pigeons come no more nor are single birds seen in our woods as they used to be. This decreasing number is known in almost every kind of bird, the wild ducks, geese, herons, loons and other water birds, and I hardly think the crow holds his own.
Our lake was once noted for its excellent varieties of fish – the lake trout, that was thought to have been land locked salmon, was very plentiful and of large size, but they are rarely caught now. They were very superior to the present white meated fish of the same name which was introduced to the lake thirty or forty years ago. There never was a great variety of fishes native to the lake, the native trout and the yellow perch being about the only ones for food or sport. The bass and the pickerel were unknown but have since been added, perhaps accounting for the almost extinction of the perch. These latter were caught in my time in immense numbers and I recollect wagon boxes being filled with them from nets let through the ice. Something might be said of the famous fishermen of the earlier days, many of whom I remember for their hardy persistence and success, but I fear they did something that accounts for the scarcity of the present day.
Men came here and thought all these things had been wrought and intended for them from the beginning. This may be so, I dare not dispute it; but men need not have been arrogant about it or grasped it with such irreverence. They might have thought what had passed over their land in by gone centuries. The best of the woods are gone, only enough are left to remind us what they once were. Let us try to same what is left and restore all that we can.
About 1795 men came to seek living or fortune and the clearings began. Was that wrong? says my neighbor. Perhaps not. I would not prevent men from getting a living or founding such a State as we have today, but I cannot help thinking that ‘a glory passed away forever from the earth”. Trees whose logs were too large and heavy to be carted to sawmills or wrought into cordwood were heaped in fallows and burnt. those that grew near the lake were felled in it to be out of the way and save the cutting up where many of them lie today. Cordwood was then worth only seventy-five cents a cord, delivered at the potash kettles. The men who did this hard work had poor pay for it. There was another event that despoiled our shores in the early day, the raising of the lake level six feet to improve the water power at the village and on the outlet. The water then rose above the old lines of shore and killed such trees as were left within in its reach. The effects of this act was seen for forty years in the array of black and decay8ng stubs and stumps at the head of the lake and at Mile Point Cove, besides the washing away of many acres where the shore was not protected by rock. Nature has remedied this somewhat and we can remedy it still more if we reverently follow her example. This writing may seem had on our pioneers, but I would not do them any injustice in spite of some fault I find with them. They were a brave and hardy lot of men and women, who took their hard life without complaint, the unpaid toil, the fierce fight with the seasons and the little they reaped from it all. Most of them came here without much or even any money. Many had to incur debt for clearing their lands, that hung over them as long g as they lived. Woe for him who had to borrow money in those days when he was lucky if he could get it for no more than ten per cent. But whatever their virtues or faults, their successes or defeats, they had the foundation of the wealth, the luxury and the security our county now enjoys.
Let us see if we can tell those who do not know what our lake is today. It is about fifteen miles long, averaging nearly a mile wide, of an area of about thirteen square miles. Its depth from the village to One Mile Point is from twenty to thirty feet, deepening fast from the latter until it is about three hundred feet at Mandana, which depth holds till nearly the head is reached. This depth is the maximum and there are places that do not reach it, but anywhere from one hundred to two hundred feet. Its waters are of the clearest and purest, as the people of Syracuse know well. I believe it has a color whose beauty is not reached in any other lake in our land. All the other lakes of our region have clear and beautifully tinted water, but each one a little different to the others. Ours has a delicate emerald tint, less pronounced than that of the great lakes, Niagara or the St. Lawrence, a tint of its own.
The Adirondack Lakes are very different herein, they varying from amber to a deep brown, but transparent, and beautiful, golden in the sunlight, but I think ours is the fairest. Lake George, perfectly transparent, is as near colorless as can be.
It does not seem necessary to attempt a description of the look of the lake and the scenery around it, for the inhabitants of the neighborhood that would be a hard task, but I would try to do something towards it, helping to inform those who do not know it at all. We know how gracefully the shores rise from the lake as far as Mandana and rise more precipitously until they pass around the head of the lake in a grand amphitheater of hills, still partially clothed with forest. Trees are standing and increasing around the village and its adjacent shores filling up gaps that once were there. Nature still plants the trees along the shore everywhere and already we see a great change in the last twenty-five years. In some places the second growth has reached the height of the old trees and in others the saplings are covering the ground. There is still a grand wood on the west shore, half way up the lake, that keep green the memory of the primeval forest. The points that were utterly barren a few years ago are now owned by men occupying cottages on them in summer who are taking care to add to what has been spared for them. The Ten Mile Point will again have a beautiful grove and a fine group still marks the end of the point as it has done since the lake was known. The point known now as Mr. Hooker’s on our first visits there had two log houses and nothing else, unless it were stones and dead mullins. It presented so dreary an appearance that we boys gave it the name of Cape Desolation; since then it has been a charming spot. Fall Brook Point is entirely changed but not spoiled, unless a fine cottage and pleasant lawns with flowers and summer houses may make us lament the loss of what nature planted there. When we first knew it, it had a noble growth of large and thrifty Beech Treed, perhaps a dozen in all, with two or three immense maples, some ironwoods, sycamores and tulip trees, besides a most wonderful grown of wild grapevines. One or two of the beeches were killed many years ago by girding them, one was set on fire at a picnic and burnt down and, I believe, they had all disappeared before the present owner of the place bought it. The same satisfaction of improvement may be had from the Nine Mile or Sycamore Point, Randall’s Point and others. There is a ravine and a brook at every point, for the brook made the point and some of theses are very interesting and beautiful, though apt to be too short of water in the summer. The gorge of Carpenter’s Brook, that made Appletree Point is one of the finest along the lake and of the most copious of streams, even supposed larger than the inlet at the head of the lake. There are two very fine falls in the course of the brook, one seventy-five or eighty feet high, its waters falling before a cavern in the slate rock under a ledge of Tully limestone. Another fall lower in the gorge is about forty feet high and almost picturesque one when in flood. There are other very noted ravines, at Ten Mile Point, Hall’s Point, Jenney’s, Collins’, Hooker’s and Gregory’s, as well many smaller brooks, but most varied in rocky architecture and in botanical interest. Of the scenery something ought to be told for those who do not know it. The region in which the lake lies is very rich in varied landscapes, its hills, valleys and what woods it has are very beautiful, and the views can be obtained , but some of the best are from near the head of the lake, from the one back of the Three Mile Point and from there anywhere down to Mandana, also from the heights around Spafford Corners and from there down to the village. Anywhere along the shores the broad level of the lake is very beautiful, but I think the finest is from Mr. Collins’ cottage on Randall’s Point. This commands splendid views down the lake and up, the latter being supplemental, with the finest view of the valley beyond Glen Haven. On all the eastern shore the sunsets of summer can be seen in all their variety and glory . There is one hill near the head of the lake, Ripley’s which ought to be famous. The panorama there spreads from the spurs of the Adirondacks, beyond Oneida Lake, to the hills of Seneca County, and from the mountains of Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, with every variety of hill, vale and wood, though our own lake is hidden. One may well be impressed with the beauty that is spread before him of our county and the setting of our own lake. We only need great artists or poets to make people understand and appreciate it. Both that kind of men have tried that a little, but they have got so far little hearing or encouragement, owing to their fault perhaps, but in a measure also to what appears the indifference for the Onondaga public, with exceptions.
But it is time this writing was coming to history, the main thing it started to do. It is wonderful in how few years the land was all taken in farms and partially cleared. It was only the log hut that rose on the farm and it is hard for us to consider what that term means. The logs were raised one on another to the height of a man, the chinks filled with mud. The floors were of split basswood logs, laid with the bark side down. The roof was mainly of bark and what the farmers did at first for doors and windows must be guessed. These huts might do in summer but who can tell what they were in winter, the green wood for fuel and the fire out through the night, the chinks through which the snow and wind came and sharp frost on floors and everything. Could we take up such quarters now after our furnace warmed houses, their electric lights and everything that makes for comfort should we think life worth living? Think too of the dark nights where even a tallow dip was a luxury. But men fought till times grew better and that is some little satisfaction to us, but till they did we must remember the constant round of indoor toil without recreation or reading and the loneliness that impaired the physique of the women and rendered unhealthy their offspring. Theirs was heroic work, for at fifty years from the time that clearing began the face of the country was very much as it is today. In some places it may have gone backward.
No need be here taken of the history of the village, that has been given elsewhere and is being given still but of the lake and the life on it is of interest and should be told. Boats were soon put on it after the Indian canoes had gone, at first dugouts, then the lake skiff which was of an admirable model for its purpose. There is a tradition still heard of two of our earliest settlers in roaming on our shore came upon a canoe said to have been of birch, which they confiscated and brought to the village, caring but little who or what were the owners. It is doubtful the it was of birch, for the white species of whose bark canoes were made as far as I know never grew here. Very expert and enduring were the early fishermen and even in the memory of men now living they would with a load row a boat from the head of the lake to the village and back again in a day. Boats were used a great deal in passing from point to point, or across the lake for business or visiting. This last custom is still kept up on the upper part of the lake. It cannot be ascertained now whether sails were used in that early time, but nothing is more likely than that they were. There appeared in a local newspaper in 1814 a poem signed by Mr. Ludlow, one of the family who resided on the spot where Mr. Samuel Roosevelt’s house now stands. The swing of the verses was caught from the best read poet of that day, Walter Scott, and they speak of the sail boats that skim over the placid waters as if they were not unusual things. Whether he took the boats from Scott, as well as the mete, may possibly be a question. But I have been told that Captain Benjamin Lee had a sail boat before 1830, and it is very probable. He made numerous soundings of the lake which he recorded on a map of his own drawn more from an idea of the beautiful squaw than from actual survey. It must be said that his soundings have since been confirmed by a fuller and closer survey. the two surveys may be compared on the walls of our village library.
Steamboats were introduced not long after Fulton’s triumph. The first one built about 1824 named the Highland Chief was before her time and soon gave up the fight. The next was the Independence, because she was launched on the fourth of July, 1831. She too was before her time and I can remember the last of her. She was then schooner rigged and used as a wood boat by a Captain Fowler, whose acquaintance I made on my first trip to the head of the lake. He then deplored the age and state of his craft, telling how she would leak. He did not mind pumping her out during daytime, but it was too much to turn out at night to do it. Her old bones were soon laid to decay on one of the beaches of the lake. There was no other steamboat on the lake until the Skaneateles commenced running July 4th, 1848.
Sailboats became slightly and noted features of our lake in the early forties. In 1841 Captain John B. Furman brought to it the Essex, named after Commodore Porter’s famous ship. He bought her at Oswego and she was drawn to the lake by canal and wagon. She was only about eighteen feet long, modeled after the ship of the early centuries with some features of a canal boat. Her sides w ere high enough above water to have a row of painted posts on them in imitation of a frigate. She was rigged with jib and mainsail. Her day was soon over but she had memorable events in it, perhaps the first one by sail to the head of the lake. Elliott had a sail to that place in her, but it was most likely that he did it on a visit later than his residence here. The next sailboat brought her was Mr. Latrobe Roosevelt’s Julia, about the same size as the Essex but of a very different model. It was a model that was soon old fashioned for speed or grace, but as a pleasure boat, seaworthy and staunch; she has had no superiors since. During her owner’s absence John Furman had care of her and could and did use her a good deal. It was in her that I made my first visit to the head of the lake in 1846. Perhaps it may be allowable here to give a short sketch of that trip to show how such things were done so long ago. The captain invited four of us to a cruise and fixed upon one Saturday night in August for the start. In the evening it seemed almost a dead calm but the captain knew there was going to b a night breeze so we embarked and raised anchor at ten o’clock. A gentle wind had taken us up the lake about three miles when it went down and we were becalmed. This was about midnight and w had a weary time waiting for the dawn. The little puffs of wind from time to tie came that enabled us to land on Five Mile Point at sunrise. There we waited and breakfasted. There was no sign of wind until the early afternoon, when a light one came from the south. We started from the shore and the wind bore us to the middle of the lake when it wend down entirely. There we lay for some hours under a blazing sun, the decks and all woodwork became so hot they were painful to touch. Then came little blows from various quarters, some of them fair for us., so we managed to tie up a the dock at Appletree Point at dark. There we lay in the boat for the night, spreading the sail over us as the best we could. There was a change in the temperature before morning with a dew like rain that made us shiver. However, we found a strong south wind blowing, but that was dead ahead. But after breakfast we started and after many a tack we reached the head not much before evening. Our experience there and our return sail need not be told here. But improvements came in boat models and faster boats were desired. So there was procured a new boat named the On, ka, hye, after a famous yacht of that day. She was owned by a club and was intended for the championship of the fleet and such she won. Then the brothers Frank and Edwin Potter, brought from New York the Jilt of the best model of that day; winning the championship from the Onkahye. In 1847 we had our first regatta in which a boat from abroad entered the contest. She was the Quaker from Aurora and was sailed by Mr. Carr, a famous boatmen of Cayuga Lake. The day was a perfect one for the trial with a very strong south wind. The interest in the race was very high and we had a fourth of July crowd in the village and along the shores. Lines of well filled carriages followed the boats along the course of the lake. All the sail boats then on the lake participated, but the Jilt won the race, the Quaker capsizing at the turning point, about three miles from the village. Our triumph gave a great impetus to the boat enthusiasm and great fun and bold exploits increased. There had been many times and scenes of merriment before this, and one of them was the impeachment and trial of one of our captains, Dr. Lord, for some insubordinance or disobedience of orders while in command of the Onkahye. On looking back all this may seem a trivial affair, but it made a good deal of merriment at the time. The doctor made the best defense he could, but he was convicted on every count, but is not all this written in the newspapers of that day. Thus we became acquainted with our lake, learned its scenery and its lore, a great pleasure with them and in memory. Picnics became popular as well a frequent and many of us still remember the quiet and bright times we had along the rocks of Cold Spring or under the beeches of Fall Brook Point.
The poor old Essex had now become antiquated and her owner, Captain Furman, became ambitious for a better and more modern boat. Then he designed and built the Growler, of a type then new and popular. She was to be safe as well as swift, her bow as what was called a shovel nose, that is retreating from the water line to the deck, and her beam was just half her length. She proved staunch enough but her speed did not equal her Captain’s expectations. She had one peculiar was of a ship, the way of taking in water over her bow and sides. Once on returning from a picnic at Cold Spring, beating homeward against a stiff norwester our crew of young ladies was so thoroughly drenched that we had to land at a friend’s house two miles from home, where they had to change their entire clothing. The water did not come over her as spray but in solid sheets. The Captain had the good luck to sell her soon after to a young boarder at Glen Haven, at which place she ran down rapidly and disappeared from the lake.
The Captain, in 1852, built a larger boat on another model but with some of the peculiar characteristics of the Growler. She was twenty-three feet long and a much better boat in every way than her predecessor. He named her the Tempest but changed that later to the Minnesota at the request of Senator Wilkinson from that State, who promised for the compliment to send her a swivel and a suit of colors, but which were never received. Then came the time of the writer of this sketch to build a boat after his own model. He had been a part owner of the Growler and was determined to have something different. In ownership with him were John and William Beauchamp. She proved in most ways a satisfactory boat but had her failing. One of these was not to obey her helm when she got too far over to leeward. In consequence of this she had several capsizes but no one was drowned. She partook of the regattas, cruises, reviews, etc., that came in her time. She and the Tempest were very good salters for that time and as they proved better than the older boats, the rivalry was very fierce between them.
About this time was built a very popular boat called the Rover at one time and the Isabella at another. She was smaller than the two above, was very crank but a very swift boat for her length and under the hand of a good sailor did beautiful work. No one would now believe the interest taken in her performances, but the desire to see her on the water was so great that the docks were lined noontimes and evenings with excited men to see them.
The Skaneateles Boat Club was then in being, Mr. Edwin, afterwards General Potter, its commodore. It had a constitution and by-laws, all necessary officers, a code of signals, all modeled on the plans of the high yacht clubs of New York city.. A club flag also we had. The club became ambitious and decided to build a boat that would eclipse all on our lake as well as on all others. This, I think, was accomplished in the Bluebell, designed and built by Mr. Charles F. Hall. She was rather crank perhaps, but her speed was something we had never seen before. She could run much closer into the wind than any boat we had ever known. We were not altogether unfit or unlearned about boaters, for many of us had sailed on other waters and we had also among us salt water sailors. Our commodore was a yachtsman in New York before he was one in Skaneateles. Then came our most brilliant and successful regattas. Boats came from the Owasco, Cayuga and Seneca lakes to compete with ours and we sent ours to compete with them. Our Bluebell won every regatta but one and that will be told later. There was built about this time the Alida, owned by Shallis and Jones. She was of about the same size as that of the Tempest, Amazon and Bluebell. Mr. Roosevelt wanted a larger and faster boat than the Julia, and he employed Mr. Hall to make the Laura after the designs by Mr. George Sterrs, the modeler of the yacht America and the steam warship Niagara. The Laura was a noble boat, more seaworthy than the Bluebell but no faster.
To record all our regattas is something far beyond the limits of this work, their incidents, the mishaps or their triumphs.. There was one in which fourteen had competed. There were some that were spoiled by calm or baffling winds and some that were exciting from boisterous gales. There were some in which the hindmost boats capsized, and there was some soreness at defeat. One of the most exciting occurred on a brisk October day with a cold northwest wind. There were two boats from Cayuga Lake, the Ashland and Island Queen. At the end the Bluebell was the first, the Ashland second and the Amazon third. the race being ended early it was proposed to have another one in the afternoon between the three winning boats of the morning. By the time we started, quite late in the afternoon, the wind had increased to a gale, and the clouds were very heavy and black. We had to sail before the wind three miles up the lake and then beat back. We needed ballast that time and the Amazon had eight men aboard with a fifty pound sand bag to each man. We went before the wind, the Ashland in the lead owing to her measurement, the Bluebell next and the Amazon last. It was a wild roll before the gale, our deck clear under water sometimes, but we arrived safely at the stake boat. Then we saw a wonder, the way the Bluebell went into the wind and it seemed to us as if we were standing still. But the Bluebell soon came to grief, for her mainboom broke into several pieces and the sail in as many folds. This was the last of her sailing that day, and it was the only race she ran that she did not win. The other boats had a struggle, and the Amazon had a busy time at every tack in shifting crews and ballast to windward while water was rolling over her gunwales into her hold and the spray striking like sleet. One of the crew told me when he landed that he had given up all hope of getting back to shore. The Amazon had a hard task to pass the Ashland with her start, but she did it by a length too late at the stake boat. Perhaps some men thought we lost much valuable time and perhaps we did, but we had great enjoyment and gained strength, skill and hardihood as well as learned lessons in the ways of winds and waters.
The cruises of our boat club ought not to be forgotten here, nor the reviews ordered by our commodore. These were very popular and the reviews especially so, for they could be observed from the village. We were ordered by signal from the flagship, and many very pretty scenes were enacted for the benefit of those who saw them. One cruise at least many not be out of place here. One fine day the commodore ordered the fleet to follow him to the head of the lake. It was a beautiful summer day, but the wind was not what we wanted. It grew worse as we sailed, dead calms alternating with light puffs from almost every quarter. Those who were favored by these got far ahead of the others. The Tempest here was the lucky one, for she arrived at Glen Haven wile the others were three miles behind, the commodore in the Bluebell the last of all. These three of us were becalmed off the Three Mile Point, and we saw a black thunder cloud rolling up from the north. We could do nothing but wait for it, it did not tarry but was soon upon us wild enough. Our Amazon spun before it with shortened sail and we met with no mishap, but Mr. Beauchamp came very near falling overboard in taking in the jib. This miss was a good deal better than a mile. The wind was violent and the rain and spray so thick that we could hardly see a rod from the boat. It only lasted a minute or two and when it cleared we saw the Island Queen capsized about half a mile astern of us and her crew sitting on her side. We also saw the Bluebell going to her assistance so we kept on our way. Captain Furman with his Tempest was snug at Glen Haven, but the other boats came to dock at Fair Haven, opposite. The crews were a very wet lot, but the landlord of the tavern there made us welcome. We heard then that when the Island Queen capsized her captain and steersman, who was a yachtsman from New York, asked his Skaneateles companion how deep it was under them and the answer was seven hundred feet. The crews of the three boats made the hotel lively. We had a big fire made in the parlor stove where we unrobed and dried our clothes by it. There were not beds enough for us all, so most of us got what sleep we had on the parlor floor which did have a carpet on it. But our slumbers below were not very sound, once they were broken by one of the capsized crew falling out of bed with a crash that seemed appalling till we knew what it was. We were also startled at dawn by one early riser who could not sleep. He might have risen and got out of doors without disturbing the rest of us, but he endeavored to get on his long boots that had been thoroughly soaked the day before and the stamping he made to get his feet to the bottom of them was long and widewaking. However the day broke fine and a good wind came, so we visited the hotel at Glen Haven and were very hospitably received by the proprietors. We had a review in the afternoon for the benefit and pleasure of the guests of the hotel, in a squally northwester, in which I had the misfortune to break my tiller, which rendered me almost helpless and I caused another capsize before the review was over. In the evening we were humored by a dance at the hotel one of the strict rules of the water cure hotel was that women, guests or patients should wear the bloomer costume. So we had the honor and felicity that evening of dancing with bloomers, and next day we sailed home with many pleasant memories. Glen Haven Hotel in one form or another has had a prominent share in lake history for more than fifty years. It has held thousands of guests there and is still a favorite summer resort, though very different from the old time water cure.
Much interesting history might be written of it – it saw many illustrious guests, and many scenes both of comedy and tragedy, but it would make of itself a much larger volume than is contemplated here. But I cannot help asking has it done or what it ought to have done to save or restore the head of the lake. The wood below the hotel had never been thinned for two miles until near the shore they were cleared for about a mile, spoiling one of the most delightful walks and roads around the lake. The really magnificent Hemlock Island has been greatly despoiled and none may know what it was but those who remember it. There is, however, great hope for that end of the lake in the beautiful cottages that have been set along the shores their influence will not likely fail.. Hunters and fishermen tracked the shores from the early days, but those who went for pleasure or sight seeing were not many then. Mr. Bishop Burnett and the painter Elliott were among the first that I know of. The first named died in Canada in 1838 and the latter left pictures in the village of the head of the lake and of Fall Brook Fall and some others dated the same year. The camping bouts may be called pleasure jaunts, but combined with them was the search of nature and her lore. After the fleet of sailboats was established there was great opportunity for camping parties and all the boys took part in them.
Fall Brook Point and Staghorn were the favorite spots, but by no means the exclusive ones. At first our impedimenta were very light, we did not know what the luxury of camping was. We expected to sleep in our open boats with what covering a sail would make and sleep was not easy nor long continued. Sometimes an adventurous seeker would sail or row and camp alone. Here may be given the record of one of the first scientific expeditions from our village. Mr. John G. Ellery happened to be staying with his father after a course of study at German schools of mines and universities.. He was an accomplished geologist and was desirous of inspecting the shores of our lake, so in the Julia with Mr. Beauchamp, Lewis B. Brainerd and myself he went to the Staghorn Point. Ellery and I preferred sleep in the boat, and the others in the point. In the boat we had a very disturbed sleep, for one of the Skaneateles south winds blew all night and our boat dragged her anchor a quarter mile away . We had to beat across the lake and back before reaching the point. But we had a very successful search and good lessons in the geology of our region. Ellery made large collections of cyaphylloids and other fossils for distribution among American academies. There is one incident of that trip that is worth recording to two of the participants at least. On a smooth, hard rock just about C. F. Hall’s Point, which was known as he Upper Basin in the early geography, Ellery, Beauchamp and I cut our names with the date 1850.
Poor Ellery died a year or two afterward in North Carolina, where he was State Geologist, of the distempers of that region. He was an estimable as well as an intelligent man, and of the highest promise.
But fifty years later Beauchamp and I stopped at the rock and added 1900 below the old date. Beauchamp’s name may last longer there than mine, for the rock on which it is marked remains firm in its bank while my rock has broken loose and lies partially in the water so that the waves dash over my name. This, I fear, is an omen of the future. Lewis Brainard survived the trip for about twenty-five years, and there is no record on the rocks of him.
I found in after years those names were well known and caused some wonder to the natives there. Many years after when I was camping with some friends on Staghorn Point a man in a boat hailed and asked if we wanted to buy some blackberries, we said yes, and took his whole supply. He then inquired who we were, and when he heard my name he called to his wife in the boat –“Lawry, here’s one of the men who cut his name on the rock.” The cyaphylloids were long known and were called petrified staghorns, whence the name of the point, but as far as the writer knows, ours of 1850 was the first geological expedition upon our lake. There have been many since with Messrs. Knapp, Beauchamp and Smith and others. There was one of much later years which was mentioned in the Skaneateles newspaper, giving the names of the members of the party, saying we were fossilizing on Appletree Point. The more recent geological trips need not be recalled in this history, though there were many interesting incidents met and many discoveries. How many pleasant memories of these earlier voyages remain with those who still survive and keep alive the memory of their friends who shared with them the ways of nature, but long since have passed away. How wonderful was the first evening view I had of the Spafford Hill, with the sunset right upon it, and its reflection in the lake. I have never since seen a more beautiful or impressive picture there.
Once three of us, about the 23d of April, just as the lake got clear of ice, got the Amazon ready for sailing and to be as early up the lake as possible started with a fair northwest wind.
We had a splendid and quick trip to Appletree Point where we landed and climbed up the glen, admiring the various cascades and rapids and sketching some of them. On our way back the north wind went down at sunset as is its custom, and we lay becalmed four miles from the village in a freezing atmosphere. Like boys we had anticipated n trouble and had not even our overcoats. What we should have done through the night had it not been for help in need may be conjectured, as we had no oars or sweeps and could not have gained a shore. But a fisherman happened along whom we persuaded to come in our boat and rest from rowing, an we took his boat and towed ours home after long, hard work.
The early spring, the middle, perhaps of May, would see some of us up there, and a little later – the first of June. I can recount one day in May when I rowed up to Appletree Point. It was a day of most unusual beauty; there was no wind and there was a soft, warm haze over everything and the water even seemed to hold it. It was too early for the dogwood bloom but the shadblow and apple blossoms were out in full glow. The trilliums, white and pink, were unusually numerous and large. The young leaves of the deciduous trees were half out and their various hues, the light brown of the soft maples and oaks, the yellow green of the hard maples and the clear, cool green of the beeches were very brilliant against the dark, winter green of the hemlocks, that had not then donned heir new leaves. It was a day just fitted for a row around the shores to the music of the brooks in the soft sunshine of May, and grateful after the long gloom and cloud of winter. Early June is perhaps the best time for a row around our shores, and near the head of the lake. If the season is late the dogwood is very thick above the Sycamore Point, and worth a long row to see. It does not show itself below that point and is not so common on the west side of the lake. Then the leaves are fullest and brightest and the brooks have not ceased to run. The water is at its highest and it covers a good deal of rough beach that is unsightly when at its lowest. It is then the best time to learn the sculpture of the rocks, their caves and buttresses, and the ferns and flowers that cling to them. You will not meet much human life there but it is not the solitude that it used to be in late October. Before steamboats became regular on the lake it was a very quiet and secluded piece of water, but it seems more romantic for that and the scenes and adventures then of more interest at least to those who met them. For three months now it is a busy scene, what with all the cottages, excursions and daily trips and is a great source of pleasure and education to thousands of people. May the steamboats increase and prosper.
But it is of the old time that this writing covers, and it would like to give the details of a hundred camps or cruises. On some of the nights we seemed to have views of the skies that we never got in the village. Once Jupiter hung low over the valley beyond Hemlock Island and of a size and lustre that seemed only to belong to the locality. Once when several of us boys were in camp on a summer evening on Staghorn Point we saw a very large bright meteor going swiftly to the southeast, directly over the middle of the lake and disappearing behind the last Spafford hill. It was the largest I ever saw and it left behind a trail of light and smaller meteors. It appeared so near and low as if it were between the hills and we thought we were the only humans to whom it gave its exhibition, and we expected to relate to the village the great sight vouchsafed to us alone. But we found it seemed just as low and near to regions as far apart as western Ohio and two hundred miles from our Atlantic Coast. The finest night sky I ever saw was from our tent on Appletree Point, though at a later period. I was awake and went out of the tent at 3 o’clock in the morning. There were all the winter stars, Orion, Sirius, and all their company, besides three planets, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, and to add another splendor there was Venus well clear of the hill and never more brilliant. My companions seemed to be so enjoying their sleep that I did not wake them. For this they scolded me and I promised to rouse them the next morning which I did, but the sky was entirely covered by clouds. I remember once rowing home at night when the Aurora Borealis was very brilliant in the north and lined across by black level bars of cloud. Sometimes our trips were not so pleasant, gales that were against us, and rains that drenched us, that rendered fires impossible, we often encountered.
Once I started out one May morning expecting to go to Five Mile Point and return in the evening. I had a fair wind that increased so by noon that there was no rowing against it. So to find shelter for the night I rowed before the gale to Glen Haven, hoping for a quiet lake next day. But the next morning the wind was just as strong and dead ahead, so I remained all day hoping the next one would give me a chance. But the same fierce gale was blowing, but I would not wait any longer and put out. Some men about a mile from the head hailed me as I passed them and told me I could not hope to reach the village. But I had a seaworthy boat and I battled the wind and wave for eight hours and arrived home after the hardest row I ever had. At times the squalls would force me backward in spite of all I could do. Once we might have told a tale of mystery to our village friends that might have become a legend of the hamlet point. We were camping on what was then known as Elm Tree Point, named from the monumental tree that stood there. The night was fine and calm and we were getting to sleep when we were startled by a loud and dismal groan. It had a very human sound but from what direction it came we could not tell. While we were wondering it was repeated, and we thought it must be from some man in distress, and tried to find its origin. But its direction we could not make out, and the darkness also prevented any exploration. It continued all night and we thought the ghost theory was as plausible as any. In the morning the mystery was solved. The great elm had been struck sometime by lightning and one of its big arms had been broken from its top but caught by its own fork in a lower arm. The night wind had caused it to swing and rub bark to bark, the two arms making in the night a weird and uncanny sound. I must here relate the end of that noble tree. That great hanging bough looked dangerous to the owner’s cattle and he thought the safest way for him was to cut down the tree. This he did and I saw it lying where it fell and it rotted away to nothing.
If this writing should be thought too much a record of my own jaunts and experience, I may be pardoned because by it may be told from actual experience some things that may illustrate the aspects of our lake and its familiar history. And I may her be allowed to tell of one memorable day, the 18th of October, not the earliest days, but perhaps of thirty years ago. The morning was of October’s best, not of the clearest but of the softest. The autumn colors were at their highest and mellowed by a warm Indian summer haze. A mile or two distant the village stores and other buildings seemed like the marble glories of Venice backed by an American autumn, casting their softened reflections in the soft blue water. Every field, wood or tree partook of the autumn color, and even the rocks on both sides of the lake seemed of another hue and all the leaves over and through them seemed to have a softer if not richer color than they had ever shown before. I rowed as far as Staghorn Point and rested there for a while taking in all the views in all their variety and beauty, up the valley beyond the head and on both sides downward almost to the village. The lake was hardly ever ruffled by a breeze and took on the soft blue of the sky. The leaves were falling fast and silently covered the grounds with a colored carpet. The glens were very silent and I met no human life on the shore during he whole day. Then I rowed across the three Mile Point and thence under the wooded rocks to Fall Brook Point, landing some time on the way. At Fall Brook came the sunset, and I saw the full and lilac tinted moon rise over the eastern hill. At dark I took boat again and rowed directly through middle of the lake nine miles to the village. The night was perfectly still and clear, the stars thick but dimmed by the moonlight. It was a strange feeling then, so surface of the water showed, with the moon and stars reflected below me. It seemed as if I were afloat in space and earth had disappeared. But I seemed to have a companion for a bird gave a call behind me soon after I left Fall Brook and repeated it many a time, apparently the dame distance behind me, until I reached within one mile of the village. It was the cry of a bird I had often heard on the shore of Long Island Sound, known there as the Old Wife (Fuligula). Many were these trips that I took alone or in company, and how memory is filled the varying pictures that nature painted there day after day and year after year of which only the greatest artists can give the least suggestions. It was always a hard thing to see the upper part of the lake in winter. The roads were long and rough if bare, and drifted full when the snows came. On the lake the winds and waves of winter forbid passage, except to the hardiest men. When the lake was only partly frozen and partly open there was no thoroughfare. The lake freezes its entire length only once in five or six years and it is then quite treacherous. So some excuse may be made for the dwellers in the snug village for not venturing on long and inclement rides but I can remember once a sleigh ride as far as Hall’s Dock. It was on the fourteenth of February, not of much antiquity, but of only sixteen years ago. It was a mild winter morning after sharp frost in the night. There was no wind and the sun shone brightly. The sleighing was fine and we arrived all right at our destination. How genial and warm the air and sunlight felt, that tempted bees out of their hives and started the brooks. We had rather a hard tramp from the hill when we left our team to the shore, through deep snow, but we felt paid when we got to the lake. That was unbroken ice covered with snow and we found it to be two feet thick. But we wee astonished at the aspect of the hills, the long valley and the glow of color over all. The summer in sunset glow was never more beautiful or tender. It told us what a smiling face winter can sometimes put on. And it tells us too what can come over lake and hills between the sublimity and gloom of our clouds and blizzards. Maybe there is room here to attempt some description of colors of the hills on that day, and particularly towards sunset. The warmth o color in the woods was something we were unprepared for, it was rich on the bare trees and boughs as on the leaves of autumn and more harmonious. The far distances pearl and opal, and even the snows had a rosy hue. But the splendor of the day was ruinous to our sleighing and we had an adventurous ride home. The memory of that effect of glow and color is yet as clear as it was that day. There were other reasons that we went up the lake not ostensibly for pleasure, but which probably produced more of that article than any other, and the chief reason was for recording with pencil or color a few of the interesting or beautiful objects or aspects there. Nearly as early as our first geological expedition William Beauchamp and I made a memorable trip in a row boat, making a hasty sketch. Then we began to take colors and easels, spending a week or more perhaps on Fall Brook, Staghorn, or other points as fancy or material moved us. Mr. Edward Reuel Smith went with me afterwards and sometimes I went alone. Our pursuit was a great wonder to the natives, suspicious some were that we might be exploring for gold or other valuable stuff than scenery. Albert L. Edwards also used to go with us and often he went alone. Fall Brook Fall was a favorite as well as a beautiful subject and many pictures we painted of it. Elliott’s picture of it at an earlier day has been mentioned above. We had many adventures, delays by weather and humorous times of intercourse with the people of the shores. Once after spending a week and making some studies it came Saturday night and we had to start for home. Mr. Smith had drawn a fine chestnut tree, had laid in all its background thinking to finish the tree at our next visit. When he got there the next week or so and went to paint it he found the tree not there. It had been felled and carted away. There are few ravines that have not had pictures taken from them. The glens keep many charming banks of rock and falls of water that have never been caught or hardly ever seen. There is plenty of material for the artist tin the places that do not change, as well as the changing aspects of days and seasons. I hope somebody may come that can catch their interest or beauty more to the satisfaction of our people than has heretofore been done.
The lake has been very free from serious accidents, no lives have ever been lost from sailboat. A few men have been drowned from bathing, falling from a dock or rowboat. Once many years ago, a man who was consumptive had been staying at the water cure at Glen Haven, but not being benefited had started home with his wife. Two men from the hotel had offered to take him and his wife to the village in a rowboat with a sail. The wind was squally and, as might have been expected, the boat capsized off the Three Mile Point. The man and his wife soon sank but the others managed to cling to the boat until they were rescued. The body of the wife was recovered, but that of the husband never was. This was the most tragic occurrence on our lake, perhaps, but there were others most sad and deplorable. A son of Mr. Gordon Porter fell from a skiff back of the village and was soon brought out of the water but could not be revived. A son of Mr. Thomas Gale was drowned through the ice and a young child of Mr. Herring of Marcellus fell from the steamboat near the head of the lake and perished in the sight of his parents and a boatload of passengers. Perhaps the loss of Mr. Jedediah Irish and his companion may be equally tragic as the case first mentioned. He was upset in a violent squall at about the center of the lake, and as he was a most expert swimmer it was thought he lost his life in trying to save his companion. It may be wrong to relate the gloomy and tragic things in this recital of what is so pleasant in our views and memories of the lake, but tragedy and comedy go almost hand and hand through our earth.
Our lake is and always has been free from floods, it never knows the swift rise of its waters and never overflows its banks, but it is subject to wild storms and great torrents from down its ravines. A thunder shower in summer may make one of these ravines a fearful scene. Once on a September night in 1855, two great thunder clouds swept over the Spafford hills and soon the two brooks that made Randalls Point awoke. Nobody saw the fight but its effects were visible in the morning. The people at Glen Haven heard it and reported that the sound was like the war of a battle with all its artillery. Randall’s Point seemed swept clean of everything like grass or soil, nothing was seen but stones and debris of wood and boughs that came from the ravines. In one of the brooks where the bed was quite wide there was proof that the torrent had been at least fifteen feet deep by the scars on the bark of the trees on the sides of the glen. It looked as if Randall’s Point could never bloom again, but nearly fifty years has cured the wounds and it will some day be a beauty spot if no more such floods come.
On one of our campings we came across William Newman who lived in a log house on Ten Mile Point. He told us of a wild night of his own. One of the hillside brooks, a purling stream generally, and dry sometimes, got in a rage bearing the water of another thunder storm on the hill. He told us he was awakened by the roar of the water and jumping out of bed found himself in water up to his knees. In front of the house was the waste of water, but he saw land out of his back window. He hustled his family through that window and went to his boat that was in another part of the shore and took them out into the lake as being the safest place. If the tale could only be told just as he said it, it would be a high merit to this writing. He thought it a thrilling time evidently and said there ought to be legal notice taken of it. I hope this may be the legal notice he sought, but he can now never know of it and the last vestige of his house has disappeared. There used to be a very pretty little point at the southern end of the Staghorn ledge, with a level and grassy floor. Behind was a ravine that only ran with water in heavy showers or swift thaws, but it once brought down an amount of earth and boulders that covered the entire point, six feet deep in some places. There was a very shapely and large elm there whose trunk was buried in greatest depth of debris. Since then poison ivy and Virginia crops have covered the rubbish so that the spot has lately been known as Ivy Point. The larger ravines are freer from these disturbances as they have more room for themselves, but every year one or more of the lesser ones adds to its point. The rocks exposed to weather became worn and soft and every spring has detached masses, some of them of great size. There was recently a heavy fall on the west shore nearly opposite Borodino Dock. There used to be a mass of rock standing in the water detached from the shore that the work of storms from ages had fashioned into a symmetrical and well proportioned vase, with its stand of pedestal rising from the water. Its south aspect had a startling likeness to a human face, the eyes, nose and mouth all there. Its top was covered with a great variety of plants, shrubs and flowers, and several species of ferns, without counting the mosses and bushes. It was of good size too, being about eight feet above high water. Two winters ago a mass of rock fell from the cliff above and almost entirely demolished it, leaving but a portion of its southern face. That portion now bears no likeness to a vase. It will be greatly missed by those who remember it, as hereafter they row along its shore.
As far as the settled or cleared part of the lake is concerned, there has been very little change in the last fifty years. The houses are nearly the same and not more numerous. Then they were held by the immediate successors of the first settlers. They were the Cuddebacks, Willetts, Pecks, Frosts, Gaylords and Lawtons on the west shore for three or four miles. The houses are the same but their occupants of other names now. On the east shore were Edwards, Pecks, Livingston, Brainerd, Foines, Shotwell, Parsons, Sessions, Bradford, Mason and others to and beyond Borodino and Spafford. As on the other shore the houses are there with new occupants. Of noted historical houses there are not many. The most famous of the early day was the Vredenburgh mansion built as early as 1805 or earlier, then the wonder of the region. Its massive timbers were often shown to wondering visitors wherever they were exposed to view. But it went up in flames about twenty years ago.
In 1838, sixty four years ago, Mr. DeZeng built his residence on the west hill facing the village, displacing one occupied by Richard Tallcott. This house, I think, has been an ornament to our lake. Its form, that on an Ionic temple, suits the spot on which it stands, now aided by the lawns and trees that surround it. Mr. DeZeng did not enjoy it long. After his death it had to be sold and it waited some time for a purchaser. Mr. Peter Whittelsey was the next occupant and during his time it was noted for a brilliant wedding and festival. It was soon after that sold to Mr. Hale, who did not keep it long but sold it to Mr. Anson Lapham who held it for many years and improved and added to it greatly. It is now in the possession of Mr. Samuel M. Roosevelt. The house next to it was built by Mrs. Lydia P. Mott and after being occupied by the Robbins family is now known as Minge Lodge.
On the eastern part of the village was erected some time in an early day the house of Dr. Samuel Porter, lately owned and altered into its present from by Mr. Henry Latrobe Roosevelt, which the sloe remaining member of his family now occupies. If any house in our midst may be called historic this one may emphatically be so. It was long the most refined and hospitable on of many that could be most warmly named in our village. The two churches, Presbyterian and Episcopal, that looked upon the lake in early time have been replaced by more expensive edifices.
There were men who took part in the pleasures of the lake whose names are already forgotten by the present generation, who ought to be remembered here, but it would take a long article to do them justice and this was not intended to be as long as it already is. The writer will try, if this life is spared to write carefully and in kind remembrance of them.
Time flies fast and to-day will soon belong to and loom dimly through the past, and it may not be wrong to anticipate history and give some aspect of our shores today. The cottages and their works have been alluded to and may be alluded to again as a record that may soon be changed. On the east shore, at the old Sycamore Point, once known in early times as Pork Point, from the fact that a sleigh load of pork went through the ice and was lost in that neighborhood, has been occupied by Mr. Charles Stearns of Syracuse, who has built a beautiful cottage and boat house upon it and made it a most charming spot. Then come cottages of Messrs. Salem, Hyde, Maslin and Eager. At Ten Mile Point, once known as Wheat Point, it has been in contemplation to build a hotel. Then came the cottages of Mssrs. Stone, Wright, Beach and Willetts. Then at what was known in early times as the Upper Basin, are Mr. C. T. Hall’s two cottages, one the well known log cabin. A little further is Oak Point, where George Barrow Camps in summer, but where he has yet built no cottage, tents being hi only cover. Then comes the Jenney farm and cottages, now occupied by his descendants. The cottage was first built by Dr. Pease of Syracuse. Then a mile or so further are the cottages of Colonels Manning and Chase, and then the Staghorn Point where Dr. Cathrop with his family have spent so many summers. Then on Randall’s Point are the cottages of Mr. George Collins, who can now be called one of the veterans of the lake, and I must here own to the warm hospitality that has for many years been extended to me by his family. On Randall’s Point Dr. Mercer of Syracuse has erected a cottage and a small hotel, besides planting trees, a foundation for an increase of beauty and pleasure for future generations. Dr. Mercer has another cottage beyond this point, and Mr. Weed and Mr. Cornell also. Then comes Mr. Samuel Allen’s and a few more and Fair Haven is reached. On the western shore, beginning at the head, the first one is Mr. Joseph Allen’s Doctor Guilford, Darby and others whose names I am not sure of and changes may have come. On the Three Mile Point the Messrs. Hooker have been mentioned before and the good work they have done. Then comes the cottage owned by the late George Weeks, then Wet’s, then Posthill’s and then the four on Pray’s Point known for many years as the Gregory’s, with on or two new owners now.
Further down the lake Mr. Mortimer Turner has a cottage and there are a few more the names of whose owners I have not yet learned. Then at old Appletree point are the cottages of Mr. Charles Carpenter and Mrs. Casper, and south of the Point a row of eight or nine more and I cannot name all the owners. The next point, Fall Brook, is now owned by Mr. Hendrick Holden who bought out Mr. Hey. He has two beautiful cottages on the west shore.
There is one house that should be mentioned from its location if not for anything else. It is the residence now of Mr. Edwards, and sixty years ago was held by John Milton Arnold and later by Mr. Jedediah Irish. The view from that house is one of the finest on the lake, looking over the broadest stretch of water and both shores to the village.
The land lies most park-like and if there only were more trees beautiful sites for building cottages and summer pleasure grounds would exist. Around Mandana, too, there are very beautiful spots. About a mile and a half below there has been spared a fine group of old trees which make a prominent landmark, and they make us wish that more such reminders of our early trees had been left on our shores. There are yet many spots that could be kept or made very desirable for cottages, such as the brook that comes into the lake at Hardscrabble, which will some day be appreciated. It is desirable to retain as much as possible the earliest names of the points and shores, for these always keep up the memory of the first owners, or of early incidents. I have endeavored in this paper to keep them, though I fear many people of a new generation will hardly recognize them. The is the Five Mile Point, so known for a long time to the villagers, but locally known as Factory Gulf afterwards for a fulling mill. It has now a hotel and is known as Edgewater. Many of the old names have given place to new ones and they in turn will yield to coming ones. This is the custom and perhaps it cannot be helped, but it is a pity that the old names should be lost, for there is something historic about them.
A great change has come over our lake of late years which in its beginning and progress caused us great anxiety. It was the possession gained by the city of Syracuse of it for a water supply. We were not unreasonable in fearing what it might mean to us and the lake. We did not know that the supply would be adequate for a large and growing city, and we thought we might see the lake so low in the autumn that it could not fill again in the spring, so that there would be ever a decreasing lake, with malarial shores and hideous mud flats. It was our duty and our care to preserve our lake from despoilment or deformity, not only for ourselves but for all the people, our neighborhood, Syracuse included. Then they frightened us by a scheme of storing the water, that they could raise it two feet above the old high water limit. This, if accomplished, would have swamped nearly all the points of the lake and covered the margin of our village. This was something we could not bear, and I think all thought of it has been abandoned. We have now had a few years experience, and find we are not much the worse. I see our lake better cared for than we ever cared for it. We se it protected from nuisances and unsightly obstructions. As time goes more care will be taken for the clearness and purity of the water and the scenery of our shores, and thousands of people in the wall crowded city will look forward to meet the summer delights of the lake, to breathe its pure air and tread its smiling shores. This is a feeling that will increase with years and population and it will help us more than we can help ourselves to preserve and increase the reputation of Skaneateles Lake. The people of Syracuse should remember to be thankful for our water and to respond accordingly. May we ever become closer and better friends.
One hundred years have now passed over our village and our lake and we can see what both have bean and done in that time. Is it of any use to make forecasts or prophecies and try and see a vision of the end of this just begun century? I will answer no, we have no clear sight or knowledge. At the end of every century these have been made, some optimistic and some the reverse. The degeneracy of times has often been the test of doleful forecasts, and such are made today. Many of the gloomiest were made a hundred years ago and we can claim their falsehood now. What wonderful advances we have seen in our country during the last decade even, and we must not here allow that it can be stopped, it has got too much impetus for that. Is it not fair to hope under Providence that our village and lake will share in the accumulating wealth and power that we see coming, when we can also see them endowed with greater beauty and influence that few of us dream of to-day? The beauty and healthfulness of our neighborhood are a capital, if used aright will bring us richest increase.
There is no use in saying we cannot prophecy, but I will try and add my voice to cheer and help all my successors to the faith in this matter and add some little work each year, or at least and earnest word that will accumulate at last a power that cannot be thwarted. May Nature under Providence be able to thwart all vandal schemes and all ignorant officiousness.
J. D. BARROW