Beautiful Keuka Lake
The Elmira Daily Advertiser, Saturday, 26 July, 1902
Some Facts of the Popular Summer Resort of Central, N. Y.
First of a Series of Letters Descriptive of Its Cottages and Hotels
—Elmira Natural Feeder to This Attractive Resort
—As a Grape Country.
The man who has traveled knows that North America has as much beautiful
scenery as any other continent on the globe, and those who have seen this
country and others declare that the natural scenery of the United States
is really grander than that of foreign countries. There is much in Mexico
and British Columbia which is grand—but nowhere can one find anything
more magnificent than the gorgeous Yellowstone Canyon of the National
park, or the Grand Canyon of the Colorados.
Among all the states of the union the Empire state ranks first in the
blessings which nature has bestowed. There is more in this great state
of land and water scenery to attract than can be found anywhere on the
globe in the same number of square miles. As New York State ranks first
in population and wealth, so it leads in natural scenic advantages. In
the matter of waterways the two great lakes of the pentagonal chain, Erie
and Ontario, bound its western and northern border. Then Champlain and
George, famous in history and story are on the eastern border. In the
interior Chautauqua furnishes attraction to the western end of the state.
Seven lakes are nestled among the hills of Central New York which are
accessible to Elmira and surrounding points. Canandaigua and Oneida lakes
have but few visitors from Elmira. Then there is the smaller pentagonal
chain, comprising Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles lakes.
Of these, Seneca is the largest, Cayuga next, then Keuka, which is first
in the chain, as well as the leader in all prominent points which go to
make up important business and resort conditions. While there is much
that could be said of other lake resorts, the object of this article is
to note the various points which are contributing factors to the success
of Lake Keuka which, considering the number of square miles covered, is
better known to fame all over the world than any other spot of similar
size. Its reputation abroad has been attained through the wines made from
grapes grown on its banks, and this subject will be referred to later.
The lake is to be considered first as a resort for health and pleasure
and later as a producer in the great markets of the world. Its name was
given by the Indians. Keuka, means crooked. The only unfortunate part
of it is that Cayuga is so often confused with it, from similarity of
sound, that it would be well to coin a new name which might more truly
represent this body of water. The lake is not exactly crooked. It is shaped
almost like a tripod, or perhaps the capital letter Y would better represent
it. At its base is located the thriving little town of Hammondsport. Eight
miles up[,] the lake divides; the left arm extends northward seven miles
to Branchport. The right arm to the east of north 14 miles to Penn Yan.
The inlet of the lake is at Branchport, the outlet at Penn Yan. At no
place except just at the dividing line is the lake over two miles wide
and the general average is probably a little under a mile. During the
entire length the banks slope back and merge into steep hillsides, which
serve a double purpose: They make the finest vineyards in the world and
the hills protects the lake from the treachery of sudden and violent wind
storms, which are so dangerous on many other lakes. This point alone is
one of the strongest in favor of Keuka lake, because it is seldom, if
ever, that any one meets with disaster in rowing or sailing boats.
For all the practical purposes of the summer resident for health or recreation
Keuka is an ideal spot. The land scenery from the water is delightful.
The shores are heavily dotted with timber growth and now and then a beautiful
point juts out into the water with a beach which is all that one could
expect or desire on a lake of its size. The lake is easily accessible
from all directions, much more so than any other body of water in the
interior. On the Penn Yan end the Northern Central railroad and the Pennsylvania
division of the New York Central road bring the tourist. On the Hammondsport
end is the Bath & Hammondsport railroad, which connects it with Bath,
where the main line of the Lackawanna and the Rochester branch of the
Erie land passengers from either direction, who are quickly brought to
the lake front.
On the lake itself there are more steamers plying regularly than on any
other interior lakes, and, as a matter of fact, there is no body of water
of its size in the state which has better steamboat facilities. The "Mary
Belle," "Holmes" and "Halsey" are in regular commission, with the "Urbana"
held in reserve. At least five regular trips are made in each direction
every day, so that one can go or come at convenient hours. As to scenery
there is no spot in the 55 miles of lakefront which is not attractive.
The banks slope back rapidly into the hills, whose steep sides next the
lake are almost a continuous stretch of vineyards. Here and there a beautiful
grove is seen and nestled along the bank on the various points are attractive
cottages. The general effect to the tourist who views it from the steamboats
is most pleasant, while to the cottages or visitor who lingers on its
shores there is a subtle charm which brings him back year after year.
A more detailed description of the lake front will convey some idea of
the actual conditions. Beginning at Hammondsport and going along the north
shore, there is nothing to note for about two miles—as the lowland
of the valley offers no desirable spot for cottages. The first place is
a pretty point which juts out into the lake, and is about two miles up.
This point has a fine cottage on it. Then comes "Fair Oaks," the first
boat landing. Near this place are several nice spots for cottages not
yet occupied, with woods and a fine beach. About a mile further up is
a nice point, just below "Tanglewood," where there is a dock. There are
several cottages between these two places. Just above is a neat cottage
in a beautiful grove, owned by the Hammondsport club, and beyond this
is another pretty cottage. Several nice houses are located between here
and the next point, in one of which lives "Billy" Robbins, one of Keuka's
Corning Landing is the next regular landing. Here are several fine cottages,
all owned by residents of Corning. Harry Parcell has the first; then come
in consecutive order, William Townley, William Clark, C. H. Voorhees and
Colonel Henry Tuthill. Mr. Tuthill has a neat naptha launch and several
small boats. His boat house is large and easily noticeable from the red
paint which adorns it. The entire property is well kept and Mr. Tuthill
spends the entire summer there, dividing his time between improving his
property and pleasure riding in his handsome little launch.
Next comes a cottage owned by F. M. Miller of Rochester, with a landing
known as Miller's Dock. Mr. Miller has just added a small naptha launch
to his outfit and spends the entire season on the lake.
The next point, six miles distant from Hammondsport, is the handsomest
point on the lake, known as "The Elms," and owned by J. Monroe Shoemaker
of Elmira, who has spared neither pains nor expense in improving his property.
A large cottage nestles among the huge elms with which the point is covered,
and all the conveniences of city life are here. A large reservoir located
on the hillside is filled with water by a steam pump and conveyed to the
house in pipes. There are two boat houses on the point, one for row boats
and the other for housing the "Dilma," the largest and finest naptha launch
on the lake. It will carry 20 people and is often seen on the lake. Joining
the "Elms" is the house of Mr. Silvernail, who is a year-around resident.
Then comes Grove Spring, where is located the leading and largest hotel
on the lake. The natural surroundings here are beautiful and only need
development to make the place on of the most attractive in the country.
It is not a generally known fact, but nevertheless true, that Grove Spring
is an ideal place for persons troubled with hay fever or asthma. It is
also free from mosquitos and malaria. For many years the hotel at Grove
Spring has not been entirely successful on account of bad management.
A. W. Dieter of Brooklyn, a man who has spent a life time in hotel business,
has taken the hotel this year and is meeting with marked success. Mr.
Dieter proposes to restore the reputation and popularity possessed years
ago by this house, and if one may judge from the evidence of the guests
at the hotel this season, he will be successful beyond even his own expectations.
[All paragraphing added to this point.]
Near the Grove Spring hotel is located the Lake Keuka Club house, owned
by a number of prominent business men in Elmira.
Next comes "Care Naught," the cottage of Charles M. Drake, the president
of the Bath & Hammondsport railroad and the Lake Keuka Navigation company,
whose family spend their summers there.
About three miles further up comes Keuka Landing. This is a village of
cottages and the hotel of J. M. Washburn. Keuka is located directly opposite
Bluff Point the dividing line of the two branches of the lake. Mr. Washburn
is a popular landlord and his house is filled with guests during the entire
season. The cottages at Keuka are all neat and attractive and many of
them have fancy names, such as "Helvetia House," "Grand View," etc. Cottages
are scattered along the bank beyond Keuka. About half a mile up is "Queen
City," owned by Mrs. C. R. Gerity of Elmira. Some distance beyond is Central
Point, where there are five cottages — "Crystal City," "Ultimatum"
and three not named. A small naptha launch is owned here.
The next landing is North Crosby, and then comes Willow Grove, which
is the last on this side of the lake before coming to Penn Yan. Scattered
along the entire distance are many cottages, but there are still some
desirable spots which would make ideal locations.
Leaving Penn Yan and coming down the western shore, the first place which
attracts the eye is Keuka College, where there are a large number of cottages,
which are in close proximity to the shore. During the month of August
this is a lively place, but not in the light of a resort. Many persons
are interested in meetings held here during the month of August and come
there, living in the cottages they own. As this place is connected by
trolley with Penn Yan, the lake boats are not usually patronized and landings
are only made there during the season of the meetings.
The prospect of the western shore is in many ways the handsomest on the
lake. The greater part of the bank is heavily wooded and many handsome
cottages may be seen peeping out from among the trees. The first cottages
below Keuka College are owned by George F. Hopkins, H. K. Armstrong and
W. H. Patterson of Penn Yan. A gentleman of Bayonne, N. J. comes next,
then William T. Morris of Penn Yan. This is a handsome cottage, known
as "Silver Springs," and is directly opposite North Crosby. Then comes
"Dunnings," the first landing. Below this, "Utopia," owned by Mrs. Dr.
Summers; then cottages owned by Dr. Hall and Mrs. Parsons. "Kill Care,"
owned by J. H. Butler, and "Mikado," by J. H. Sullivan.
A little way below comes the cottage of J. J. Bush of Elmira, and next
is Maple Point, owned by Edward B. H. Gleason of the Gleason Sanitarium.
Mr. Gleason has one of the handsomest spots on that side of the lake.
The cottage itself is a marvel of beauty and the boat landing is covered
by a neat pavilion, which makes it the handsomest dock on the lake. Maple
Point is supplied with a naptha launch and small boats. Beyond this comes
"Sub Rosa," owned by Walter Shepard. Just here a large vineyard comes
down to the lake and extends far up the hill, which is owned by Mrs. Dr.
H. D. Wey of Elmira. It is noticeable because beyond this toward Penn
Yan, the shore is thickly wooded for a mile or more.
The next cottage is "Heart's Content," owned by T. O. Hammond of Rochester.
"Idlewild," "Bitter Sweet," Ogoyaga" and cottages owned by Paul Johnson,
W. P. Wagner, J. S. Sprague, and Charles Hoyt. For some distance beyond
there are no cottages, owing to the steep banks. Right near Bluff Point
is a new cottage, now being built, high up in a most sightly location.
Turning the point and going up the eastern shore of the west branch the
cottages are only farm houses, owned and occupied all year round. The
banks are high and not adapted to building on the shore. Every farm is
really a vineyard. About a mile and a half up Mrs. M. J. Finch of Elmira
has a cottage where she spends the entire summer. Near the upper end is
On the western shore there is nothing which would interest the summer
tourist till within a mile of Bluff Point, where is located the most elaborate
place on the lake, owned by Mr. Drake of Corning, who has expended much
money in providing a most delightful summer home. The house is supplied
with all modern city water conveniences. A large boat house provides a
shelter for the "Madge," known as the fastest launch on the lake. It is
a steam launch and can throw dust in the eyes of any other boat on the
lake. On the same property is a large cottage which belongs to another
member of the family. Some distance below are several cottages, one of
which belongs to W. H. Dean of Prattsburg. Then comes Catawba landing,
or, better known as Gibson's. Here is located Gibson's hotel and several
cottages. This spot is directly opposite Keuka. For about three miles
the banks are too steep for cottages, among them being "Kathleen Villa."
For some little distance below the banks are again too steep for cottages.
At the first point below Urbana is a cottage with fine grounds, which
for many years has been owned by Dr. Boriche of Philadelphia, who spent
every summer there till his death, which occurred last fall. His family
are occupying the place this year. While not the handsomest place, it
is really one of the most unique on the lake and very attractive. The
next and last place on the western shore is Snug Harbor, owned and occupied
by Mrs. Simeon. B. Rathbun of Elmira. There are two cottages on this point
owned by Mrs. Rathbun, one of which is rented every season. This completes
the circuit of the lake.
While the effort has been made to mention all the cottages, some may
have been overlooked. Certain it is that the shores of Lake Keuka are
more thickly populated than any other interior late in the Empire state.
This fact alone would make it worthy of note, but there are may other
features of greater importance which, taken together, have already made
its name familiar to thousands who have never visited its shores.