Skaneateles Lake Collection

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Skaneateles Lake Collection
Fair Haven, Skaneateles Lake, NY Postcard - Image Source

Collection Facts

Dates of Original:
c. 1870s - 2012

Historical Context

Named for the Iroquoian word for “long lake,” Skaneateles Lake is one of the eleven Finger Lakes in Central New York. Formed as a glacial valley, Skaneateles Lake is long and narrow, with a north-south orientation. Owing to the high ridges on its east and west shores, Skaneateles Lake has some of the cleanest water in the entire country--as such it provides both drinking water and recreation for Syracuse and the surrounding region Several small hamlets dot the southern end of the lake, while the Village of Skaneateles sits on the northern shore.

The area has been a popular tourist destination and vacation spot for over a century, with visitors being drawn to its clean waters and tranquil views. During the late nineteenth century, the Glen Haven Hotel, situated at the southern end of the lake, offered its guests "water cure" treatments, under the proprietorship of Dr. W.C. Thomas. These included half baths, dips in the cold lake, healthy eating with no coffee, tea or liquid; and drinking large amounts of water to cleanse the system. Across the lake in Fair Haven, an establishment offered alcoholic beverages. Patrons of the water cure that were tired of its restricted diet could row across the lake for a little liquid relief.

Scope of Collection

The Skaneateles Lake Collection documents various locations surrounding the Finger Lake through postcards, newspaper clippings, photographs, and a stereographic card. Items in the collection depict the ways through which the natural landscape offers a backdrop for recreation, leisure, and healthy living from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. Newspaper clippings relating to the nearby Bear Swamp State Forest highlight the tension between environmental preservation and land use in the Skaneateles watershed.