The Crooked Lake Review

Summer 2005

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Beautiful Keuka Lake

The Elmira Daily Advertiser, Saturday, 26 July, 1902

found by Elwyn VanEtten
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 famous fishermen.

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 Branchport.

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.

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