Canandaigua Lake

From Academic Kids

Canandaigua Lake, also called Lake Canandaigua, is the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, in the U.S. state of New York. It is the "Chosen Spot" for the Iroquois. At the northern end is the city of Canandaigua and the southern end is near the town of Naples, embedded in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine country.

Canandaigua Lake is 15 1/2 miles (25 km) long, 1 1/2 miles (2.4 km) wide, and has a shore line of about 36 miles (58 km). Near the northern end is Squaw Island. About fifty percent of the surrounding land is in forest, but most of the remainder is under agriculture.

Squaw Island is an 11,000 year old island located at the north end of the lake. It is known to be New York State's smallest Fish and Wildlife Management Area and one of the two known islands in the eleven Finger Lakes. Legend states that the island was used to hide the Seneca women and children during the Sullivan Expedition against the Six Nations of the Iroquois in 1779. The island is one of the unique and few places on earth that makes water biscuits, an extremely rare form of carbonate of lime deposits on pebbles (conglomerate). It is a feathery light rock which is calcified from algae filtered by sand and pond scum. The rock is hard in the water but crumbles if allowed to dry out. The island has been eroding rapidly from the forces of ice, wind, water currents and development changing the wave patterns. In 1977, New York State Department of Environmental Conversation installed a cedar log buffer around the island to help preserve it. Its size was approximately two acres (8,000 m²) in 1853, it shrunk by 75% in 162 years, then to one quarter acre (1,000 m²) in 1971. Today only 55 feet by 145 feet of the island remains. A newly formed group called the Squaw Island Preservation Society has raised citizen support to protect the island and its unique place in science after state officials said they would no longer maintain it. Work on the preservation was completed in Summer 2001.

Physical characteristics of the lake are:

  • 16.57 square miles (43 km²) of surface area
  • 15.8 miles (25 km) long
  • 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide
  • 276 feet (84 m) deep
  • 688 feet (210 m) above sea level
  • 35.9 miles (58 km) of shoreline
  • 34.7 (97%) private
  • 1.2 (3%) public
  • 429 billion US gallons (1.6 km³) capacity

The Steamboat Era on Canandaigua Lake

The steamboat era in New York State started in 1807 when Robert Fulton ran his steam-powered "Clairmont" on the Hudson River. The first steamboat in the Finger Lakes region was the "Enterprise" which was launched in 1825. Canandaigua Lake's steamboat era ran from 1827 with the launching of the "Lady of the Lake" and ended in 1935 when the "Idler" discontinued passenger service. There were fourteen major boats that provided commercial service on Canandaigua Lake.


The Native Americans and white settlers signed the Pickering Treaty just north of the lake. This granted the white colonists permission to settle the Great Lakes Basin. This parchment that is in the Memorial Museum has the names of famous Indian chiefs. They are Red Jacket, Cornplanter, Handsome Lake, Farmer's Brother and Fish Carrier.

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