Welcome to the historical tour of Canandaigua Lake. You are embarking on a journey in time, as well as space, and we hope you will find it pleasantly refreshing. Our tour starts at the outlet bridge at the east end of Kershaw Park; a historic site now the landing of the Canandaigua Lady.
As you cruise west, you pass along the newly refurbished (1996-97) Kershaw Park. The original shoreline of the lake is the edge of Lakeshore Drive. The land you see here is the result of filling in the lake between 1920 and 1936. Lovers of old cars may cringe thinking of the many Model T's, and other antiques, which were dumped in the lake here to anchor the earth and rocks used to make the park. In the final years of its construction, the park was a TERA and WPA project under "New Deal" legislation. After 1936 the Canandaigua Rotary Club played a major role in improving and protecting Kershaw Park. The park is named for John Kershaw, a member of the Canandaigua Board of Health, who began the project but died before its completion. The boulder wall, familiar to local people, was created in 1938. Many of the larger rocks came from Mendon or the Moore farm on the Geneva Turnpike (Rts. 5 & 20).
The bathhouse here at Kershaw Park is modeled on a "Swimming School" once located at the other end of the park near the Native American monument. The "Swimming School," completed in 1906, was the gift of Mary Clark Thompson. It was used until 1969. Its platform over the lake lasted until 1983. The new bath house opened in 1997. Mrs. Thompson also donated the Native American monument to mark a burial mound unearthed during construction of the "Swimming School."
On a warm day during boating season it is hard to think of this area as an ice field. Prior to 1920, however, the two major Canandaigua ice companies cut blocks here that were often 14-18 inches thick. The Brady and McCormack ice companies, with large ice houses near the intersection of Main Street and Lakeshore Drive, supplied the Canandaigua area with its only source of refrigeration in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Hundreds of men and teams were employed each year in the ice industry which supplied our many dairies, restaurants, and the brewery.
As you pass the breakwater near the pier, consider the past that is nearly below us. Just even with the end of the breakwater, and about 100 feet on the park side, lies the wreckage of one of our lake boats. Its exact identity is not known. Discovered in 1949, it may have been one of the scows which plied the lake and served the freight traffic. Partially hidden in the sand, the clear water of the last two years has made it easily visible from the surface. You will be passing above the wreckage of the Onnalinda later in our voyage. Several of the steamboats on Canandaigua Lake were built in a boatyard located about where Seager Marine is today.
The Canandaigua City Pier has been serving boaters, fishermen, and sightseers for 149 years. It has been reconstructed several times and once had railroad tracks extending its full length. From 1904 until 1930, local electric trolley cars also extended their service onto the pier. The pier you pass today is the result of a major renovation program begun in 1984. The original pier of 1847 cost $1000, the renovations of the 1980's cost nearly 1000 times that.
The concentration of boathouses we see today is the result of a 1903 recommendation of the "Canandaigua Society," a sort of beautification committee. Moving the boathouses made possible widening the pier by 40 feet and the construction of a promenade. Landscaping, and a village ordinance governing architecture on the pier, were also part of the actual plan of the work begun in 1909. At the turn of the Twentieth Century the pier was already becoming a recreational area.
The area just west of City Pier, where Sutter Marine and the Inn on the Lake are located, was the site of surface speed trials by British boat racer, Donald Campbell, in 1958. He was trying to break his own world water speed record of 225.63 miles per hour but was unsuccessful.
Just to the west of the Inn on the Lake are Towne Harbor Island, Holiday Harbor, and Yacht Club Cove. Holiday Harbor, and the later developments, were made possible by the dredging of canals which drained Atwater Meadow. Proposals for developing the meadows date from to at least 1910. Just around the curve of the lake the last wild portion of the meadows can still be found. When it was sold in the 1960's, Atwater Meadows was one of the last land parcels still owned by a pioneer family; in this case the Atwaters of Connecticut.
On the starboard side you are now passing Squaw Island. Much smaller than it once was, the island is often called our smallest state park. Actually, it has always been state property. It was made a State Museum Reservation in 1918 in recognition of the rare lime accretions called oncolites, or "water biscuits," which form in the water there. In 1975 Squaw Island became part of the State Nature and Historic Preservation Trust. The island came to the attention of the state through the influence of Mrs. Mary Clark Thompson on her second cousin, Dr. John M. Clarke. Dr. Clarke, son of legendary Academy principal, Dr. Noah T. Clarke, was paleontologist and later Director of the State Museum.
The monumental 10-ton granite boulder on the island was transported to its present site on the order of Mrs. Thompson in 1919. It was originally placed on the Brigham Hall grounds by Dr. Dwight R. Burrell who also gave us the monumental boulder on the Court House lawn.
The island, preserved in later years by the efforts of Clifford Murphy and Granger Green, is really a sandbar formed by the action of Sucker Brook. It has been swallowed up largely by the higher-than-natural lake level resulting from the damming of the outlet. In 1977, after trying unsuccessfully to sell the island to the county for $1.00, the Department of Environmental Conservation reinforced the shore of the island to prevent further erosion.
For more than a century, local legend has said that Squaw Island takes its name from its use by Indian women as a refuge during the 1779 Sullivan Expedition. Considering that it is still possible to wade to the Island, and that a dry path usually extended out from shore in the autumn, it is unlikely that the island was a refuge from 5000 experienced wilderness soldiers in September 1779. More likely, the first residents of Canandaigua used the island as a favorite hunting and fishing site; much as it is used today. In recent years, there has been a proposal to change the nme of the island since the word, "squaw," may have an offensive translation.
The Lady of the Lake, Canandaigua's first steamboat, was launched from the west shore of the lake, opposite Squaw Island, in 1827. The boat took its name, proposed by John Greig, a Scottish immigrant, from Sir Walter Scott's poem. She was christened by Sally Morris, granddaughter of Robert Morris, financier of the Revolution and speculator in western New York land.
Off the starboard bow is the Canandaigua Yacht Club, formed at the turn of this century in a hut on the breakwater next to the City Pier. After a few years the Yacht Club became inactive, then it was revived in 1930. From 1930-1933 it was located in Booth Cottage, four miles south of Canandaigua. A fire in 1933 forced the club to relocate on Mentieth Point. In 1935 the club moved to "Thendara" on the east side of the lake. It moved here, to the former home of Maj. F. O. Chamberlain (then the Beecher estate), in 1939. Shortly before that, a New York City physician, Dr. William Tracey, considered making the 25-room house into a private sanitarium.
Major Chamberlain was born in Cohocton, April 2, 1829. He later moved to Rushville where he managed the Rushville mill, then entered the livery business with Lyman Loomis. In 1852 Chamberlain became Postmaster of Rushville, then took over the Rushville Hotel in 1860. In September, 1861, Chamberlain joined the 8th New York Cavalry but was discharged for ill health a year later. In 1865 Major Chamberlain moved to Canandaigua and took over the management of the Webster House Hotel. He purchased the 153 acre farm, now the Yacht Club site, and moved his family here in 1873. In 1869 Chamberlain became Supervisor of the Town of Canandaigua. He later served as Under Sheriff and was Postmaster of Canandaigua for eight years. In 1890 he was elected to the Assembly. Chamberlain was also President of the Ontario County Agricultural Society and a trustee of the State Agricultural Society. He was a "conspicuous" member of the committee to permanently locate the State Fair in 1889 and was president of the Canandaigua Street Railway Company until 1892. Chamberlain died March 21, 1902.
We are now approaching the West Lake Road schoolhouse, also known as the Booth schoolhouse. The first school at this location was constructed in 1819. Dr. Charles Booth, a public spirited man who left several community legacies, was instrumental in getting the present building constructed in 1906. Booth engaged the services of carpenter Henry Weller, and landscape architect, John Handrahan. The result was a building once cited as a model rural school by Cornell University. The West Lake Road school was merged with Canandaigua when the district centralized. It held its last classes in 1969. Its final teacher was Mrs. Bessie Spike who taught there for 26 years. The Benham family, and Dr. Booth, were primarily responsible for opening the schoolhouse beach still operated by the Town of Canandaigua as a public park.
On the crest of the hill, just south of Butler Road, was Edgewater Farms, famous at the turn of the century for its covered barnyard. Operated by Frank G. Benham and Son, Edgewater Farms boasted one of the finest Guernsey herds in America. One of its cows held the official record for butterfat production (745 pounds per year). Many of the Benham's pedigreed animals were imported directly from the Isle of Guernsey.
Off the right side we are approaching the Canandaigua Water Works and pumping station. Canandaigua Lake has always provided vital water for those who live along its shore. In 1884 the Village of Canandaigua granted a franchise for a private pumping station on Main Street, near the lake. The company laid water mains on the principal streets of the village, and put a 2500 foot intake pipe into the lake south of Squaw Island. In 1895 a municipal pumping station was built here on the west shore of the lake and the Village took over its former franchise. The plant was enlarged in 1979. Today, some 48,000 people in five municipalities use the water of Canandaigua Lake. This facility now pumps on average 3.3 million gallons a day. The Town of Gorham operates another pumping station on the east shore at Deep Run.
This site was known as "Red Dock" in steamboat days. The cottage here was purchased by the City of Canandaigua in 1910 as a residence for the fireman at the Waterworks. Having a residence to provide as part of the salary allowed the City to hire a married man at the turn of the century. The first fireman was William Carlyle. The Water Commissioners, Clarence Meade, and his four associates who purchased the cottage at "Red Dock" for $1800, paid the money from their own pockets trusting that the voters would confirm their decision later--the voters did!
Coming up to starboard is Hope Point. Behind this point an abandoned road, roughly parallel to Wyffles Road, extended up to the farms along the Middle Cheshire Road. About a hundred yards up this abandoned road is Red Dock Cemetery, a typical pioneer burial ground.
The next major point, coming up to starboard, at the base of Foster Road, is Tichenor Point. Here Prof. Albert Arey of the Rochester Free Academy and Mechanics Institute (now RIT) established a natural science camp for boys in the 1890's The camp grew to include about 150 boys living in tents and many famous naturalists came to speak, including Dr. John M. Clarke. In 1891 a month of camping for girls began. Campers came from New York City, Albany, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse as well as local towns. Mrs. Arey is said to have made the tents. No textbooks were used. Campers learned geology, botany, entomology, taxidermy, and photography. They also staged talent shows and had a competitive baseball team. Said to be one of the first science camps in America, the camp moved to Keuka Lake in 1905 when descendants of the Tichenors put the land up for sale. The Rochester Boy Scout Council held its first camp here on Tichenor Point in 1912. A YMCA Camp Iola was located briefly on the point in 1910. Centuries before, Tichenor Point, named for pioneers Isaac and Jemima Tichenor of Newark, NJ, was an important camp for Native Americans. At the turn of the century it was known locally as the location of a large, and odiferous, sulphur spring where bad campers were reportedly dunked. The property on the point was subdivided and sold in 1921.
High on the bank off the starboard rail, where the Wells-Curtice Road now joins the West Lake Road, stood the Walterita Hotel, one of the many which served vacationers in the early years of the 20th Century. When the Wells-Curtice Road was put through the old hotel was cut into thirds, each becoming part of one of the cottages now closer to the lake.
Mentieth Point is now coming into view. Named for a pioneer family of Scots, the point has seen its share of summer visitors. Here the Canandaigua Yacht Club rendezvoused for a few years. Camp Madonna, a girls' camp of the Rochester Catholic Diocese, was also located here in the 1930's. The glen behind the point has been a favorite of fossil hunters for more than a century.
Barely visible through the trees on the far side of West Lake Road is "Main Top," another of the small turn-of-the century lake hotels. Supposedly, "Main Top" referred to the top of the main mast of a sailing vessel; analogous to the peak of this high building and the hill behind it. The built-up lakeshore was once the quiet beach of the "Main Top" hotel.
Foster Point, formerly called Point Rochester, is coming up to starboard. While some of the point is residential, the rest has a long history as a site for outdoor recreation. In 1919 the Rochester YWCA purchased the "Shale Glen" property on the north side of the point. In 1920 Camp Onanda was opened. It served young working women in particular. As early as 1912 the YWCA had rented cottages on this point and other places. The camp, now the name of the Canandaigua town park on the site, was named by Mary Moulthrop. It is an approximation of the Indian word for "pine, or fir tree." In its final years as a camp, Onanda had been the site of Camp Good Days and Special Times for children suffering from cancer.
In a hotly contested move, the Town of Canandaigua purchased the camp in 1989 with two million dollars from the Environmental Bond Act, and $600,000 raised locally. The YWCA sacrificed about a million dollars in potential profits by helping the Town of Canandaigua preserve most of Foster Point for public use. Camp property extends up the glen west of the lake road.
Black Point has also been known as Forresters. A cabin was built here before 1844. There the Black Point Association was formed. A kind of secret local fraternal group, the BPA was really a hunting, fishing, and social club for a group of prominent residents of Canandaigua. It was the first of several similar clubs to have "cabins" on the lake in the Nineteenth Century.
Seneca Point is just coming into view. First settled by pioneer Gamaliel Wilder in 1788- 89, the point had been the site of a large Indian orchard. It was a popular steamboat destination by the min-Nineteenth Century. Charles Castle operated a small hotel on Seneca Point in the 1870's and 1880's. It included a popular dance hall. In 1886 a group of Canandaigua entrepreneurs formed the Seneca Point Hotel Company and purchased Castle's hotel. A new year-around facility was constructed. The hotel had 65 rooms and a capacity of 200 guests. The hotel boasted an orchestra, a ballroom, billiard rooms, boat houses, stennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a shaded lawn. The hotel was later sold at foreclosure to John C. McKechnie of Canandaigua. On August 15, 1899 the Seneca Point Hotel was destroyed by fire. The property was then subdivided into cottage plots.
At the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Lee family came to Seneca Point. Rev. James Lee was the rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Canandaigua. His children included several architects who built a half-dozen cottages, most still standing, in the "north of Boston" style. His daughters ran a summer camp on the point for awhile. When architect William Lee died his family and friends built the Billy Lee Memorial Library, a Regents chartered public institution, on the point. The original library is still on the point although its contents were later moved to Bristol Springs. Many of the library books, and a published catalogue, are now at the Red Mill Museum in Naples.
Hicks Point is named for John Hicks, a recluse who lived here in the mid-Nineteenth Century. He actually lived in a cave. The property was originally purchased by Gideon Burvare who later sold it to the Hicks family.
Fox Landing (coming up) was first owned by John Fox. The land behind the point was an early vineyard.
Miller Landing takes its name from George Miller, a German immigrant who lived at the point most of his life. He began a successful vineyard and built his own wine cellar at the foot of Bopple Hill. He entertained many visitors in his day. Steep Bopple Hill was, for many years, the ultimate test of a car. Many a prospective owner ran their intended purchase up the hill.
Cook's Point was once called Holcomb's Point. The Cook family first came to the point in 1863. Here their "Elm Lodge" was built under a large tree. Robert D. Cook later added more land to the family holdings, built a year-around house, and opened vineyards planted by a German immigrant, Jake Wolters. A large peach orchard here was destroyed by disease in the 1870's. In later years, Cook's wife ran a popular resort at the house when R. D. Cook had financial problems. "Linden Lodge," final name of the Cook Point resort, was an institution for nearly half a century.
Lapham's Point, also known as Long's, "Endion," or Hunters' Point, takes its name from the fact that US Senator, and prominent Canandaigua lawyer, Elbridge Gerry Lapham built the stone house on the point. The Senator called his cottage "Glengarry." Dwight Munger, an early grape grower and banker, built an earlier cabin in the gully south of the point. Dr. Samuel P. Long, who purchased the property after Senator Lapham's death, revived the growing of fruit on the point. In 1910 Dr. Long set out 1700 fruit trees and 10,000 berry roots. He also built a large barn on the property.
"Pine Bank," coming up, was built by Gideon Granger (grandson of the Homestead builder), and was the retreat of F. F. and Mary Clark Thompson for many years. Life here was described in detail by Mrs. Thompson's nephew, Stanton Davis Kirkham, a Canandaigua author in his book, North and South. For a while, after Mrs. Thompson's death, "Pine Bank" was used as a summer residence for nurses at Thompson Hospital.
Stemple's Point was a major loading dock for South Bristol grapes. Captain George Stemple, who served three decades on four steamboats, lived here most of his life. He is reputed to have been the first licensed inland boat captain in New York.
Walton Point was long a favorite fishing spot. The Walton Club, entirely composed of lawyers, specified that the last surviving member of the club would become sole owner of the property. Walter Hubbell of Canandaigua outlived the others. The Walton cabin passed to the Fogarty family which sold the property for cottage lots after World War II.
Granger Point, now on our starboard side, was named for J. Albert Granger who owned a summer home here. Descended from the Canandaigua family of politicians and land speculators, it was his family which laid claim to the bottom of the lake and tried to halt the construction of Kershaw Park in 1931. In a landmark case (Granger v. City of Canandaigua) the state Court of Appeals ruled that, while the Grangers did have a valid deed, they had forfeited their property rights by not entering upon their property in more than 100 years. In any case, the court said, all navigable waters are the property of the state. J. Albert Granger owned the first private steam launch on the lake.
Coye Point has been called Maxwell's Point and "Windermere," meaning "windy-by-the- lake." Captain Nathan Coye lived here and he gave it the name "Windermere." Here, Anna E. Sutton of Naples performed an act of valor which earned her a medal from the Carnegie Fund Commission and a $1000 reward in 1911. On August 3, 1907 Miss Sutton rescued Anna Blake from drowning in front of the Coye cottage. Sutton was just 18 but was already known for swimming across the lake.
Woodville has always been the lake port for Naples. The Woodville Hotel, built in 1856, was first called the Holcomb Hotel but was later operated by the W. R. Standish family. At the time the current highway did not exist. The road from Naples ended at the shale cliffs until the "Maxfield Cut" opened the lake road to Bristol Springs. The hotel and freight depot at Woodville served travelers to Naples, the vineyards, and many hunters and fishermen who vacationed on the lake. When the Lehigh Valley Railroad branch to Naples cut down the steamboat traffic the hotel era at Woodville ended. In 1923 George Kistner purchased the property and sold the lakefront for cottage lots. An old cottage, "Hazel Dell," is located at the north end of Woodville.
At the south end of the hamlet is a South Bristol Town park and a state boat launch site. Ontario County considered purchasing a cottage lot adjacent to the state launch site in 1983. Because of the cost, the proposed county park was never created, however. The Town of South Bristol opened a small picnic site across the road from the state land in 1988.
As you cross the lake you may be interested in some lake lore. The first steamboat to ply the waters of Canandaigua Lake was the Lady of the Lake, launched in 1827. The boat was built by Francis Granger, John Greig, Jared Willson, and other prominent residents of Canandaigua. Business was insufficient then, and the Lady "disappeared" shortly thereafter, according to Dr. Robert G. Cook, chronicler of the lake in the 1920's and '30's. In their booklet on the lake boats, Bob and Bill Vierhile indicate that the Lady of the Lake sank near City Pier. The unknown wreck, visible today, poses a tantalizing question.
The second steamboat on the lake was the Ontario, built at Woodville in 1845 by Naples entrepreneurs. It also had financial troubles and was destroyed by fire in 1847.
Other steamboats included the Joseph Wood built in 1855; the Henry B. Gibson (later called the Naples) built in 1860; the Canandaigua built in 1865; the Ontario II built in 1867; the Onnalinda launched in 1888; the Genundewah, named for Bare Hill, and completed in 1889; and the Ogarita finished that same year. The Seneca Chief was brought to Canandaigua Lake from Lake Ontario in 1890. When the Chief was dismantled, its boiler was used on the Oriana, launched in 1896. The last real steamboat on the lake was the Onanda built in 1914. She was taken into service on the Hudson River in 1924. The Eastern Star, a gasoline powered boat, was transferred to Seneca Lake in 1932.
Several lake boats met tragic ends. Fire consumed the Ontario, Ontario II, Genundewah, and Ogarita. The Joseph Wood was crushed by ice off City Pier. The worst human tragedy took place in 1857 when four men drowned trying to use a small boat to go ashore at Middlesex Landing (Vine Valley) when rough water prevented the Joseph Wood from making the dock.
In 1935 Pilot Wally Reed tried to restart passenger service on the lake with a gasoline powered boat, the Idler. It carried only 20 passengers and was not a successful business enterprise. The modern tour boat era began with the Sandra Lee in July, 1957.
Regular schedules for the steamboats began in 1880. Eventually 66 stops were identified on the lake. On average, steamboats made about 20 stops per trip. Almost all stops were flag stops. When two boat companies were operating a different colored flag was used for each one. Then again, when a boat was running late for a train connection or a group schedule, flag stops were sometimes ignored. When there were several boats operating on the lake competition for passengers was keen. There are many stories, the records of several law suits, resulting from collisions as boats sped for a dock, passengers were almost literally snatched from the pier, or luggage went in a different direction from its owner. The standard fare at the turn of this century was $.25 for the trip that took between 2 1/2 and 5 hours. In 1907 the Canandaigua Board of Trade reported that the lake boats carried about 50,000 passengers, and 5000 tons of freight (mostly grapes), each year.
Bush Point was the site of the Finger Lakes Council Boy Scout camp from 1925-1933. Camp Tarion was accessible only by boat although a rough private road has been put through today. Scouts remember two directions at Camp Tarion, up and down.
Whiskey Point takes its name from the fact that early settlers operated a whiskey still there. Distilling was a profitable and widespread business in the early Nineteenth Century. Here, it is said, a scow sank with a full load of whiskey; perhaps distilled on the point. At the turn of the Twentieth Century, the point was said to be a place where "disreputable gangs of hoodlums congregated on Sundays." At that time, when there was an organized Prohibition Party in Ontario County, a letter to the editor of the Ontario County Times proposed a change in the name.
The high banks in this area are wild and forbidding. In the mid 1960's there was a highly controversial proposal to dynamite several acres into the lake to create cottage lots.
Passing around the northern end of South Hill, you are now approaching Vine Valley, named for the wild grape vines found there by the first settlers. The pleasant sheltered valley has a fascinating pre-Columbian history. Here, in 1922, archaeologists working for the State Education Department found evidence of a distinct period of Native-American cultural development which is now officially called the Vine Valley Culture.
John McNair became the first settler here about 1790. Later pioneer families included the Fullers, Collinses, Hickses, Spikes, and Fiskes. While life was pleasant at Boat Brook Landing, as the settlement was first called, it could also be "interesting." Early settlers told of a plentiful supply of rattlesnakes in the valley; and an obstreperous resident of the nearby hill called "Spinkster John" Smith. Stafford Cleveland, Penn Yan newspaper editor and early historian of the Yates County area, said "Spinkster John" was "conspicuous for his leadership among the rollicking rowdies of the day, at wedding hornings and also at town meetings and elections, furnishing the music for one and the votes at the other, and drinking the whiskey of both in generous portions." Smith was "six feet four barefoot," and was "a general terror to all except his friends or liberal patrons."
In later years, Vine Valley became a community center, and its "Willow Grove" became a popular place for picnics and family reunions. The old general store at Vine Valley looks much as it did when it opened in 1898. In 1984 the Town of Middlesex purchased much of the property for a public beach and park; making permanent what private generosity had made possible for thousands to enjoy for generations.
Vine Valley has always been known as a good place to fish. On May 17, 1940 the Naples Record reported that Horton McGuire, caught a whitefish weighing seven pounds, thirteen ounces, here. According to Skip Pierce's fishing guide to the lake, the whitefish is rarely seen, and a fish that large is rare for any species in the lake.
The high hill to your right (North side of Vine Valley) is Bare Hill, called Genundowa by the Seneca people. The real name of the Senecas, incidentally, is "Great Hill people." Bare Hill is their legendary origin. However, the long, high, rugged hill next south, South Hill, or Nundawaho, is the real origin of the culture of the "Great Hill people." The earliest archeological evidence of Seneca culture has been found in Clark's Gully at the south end of Nundawaho. When a 1925 amendment to the state constitution expanded our state park system, the Finger Lakes Association promoted the creation of a state park on Bare Hill. Dr. Arthur C. Parker, former State Historian, Director of the Rochester Municipal Museum, and a Seneca himself, made a counter proposal for South Hill in 1926.
No park was ever established. Bare Hill is best known for the legend of a great serpent which laid bare one side of the hill. According to the legend, a young Seneca boy brought a small, and seemingly harmless, snake home to a village on the hill. The snake rapidly grew and began to devour the people of the hill. In a dream, the Seneca boy was told to fletch an arrow with the hair of his sister and kill the snake. The young lad accomplished the feat. As the dying snake rolled down the hill it laid waste to a large swath of land. Upon reaching the lake, the dying serpent disgorged the heads of those it had eaten. Stones, called "oolytes," which resemble skulls, can still be found in the area today. To this day, little grows where the great serpent rolled down Bare Hill.
Canandaigua Lake has also had serpent stories that were not quite so legendary. On August 12, 1891 the Ontario County Times reported that "Canandaigua Lake is the home of a monster." "There is no doubt abut it," the paper said, "if we are to credit statements of men of recognized sanity."
"Reports differ as to the appearance of the monster," the Times continued, "but all agree that it is of enormous size. Manager Castle of the Seneca Point Hotel is convinced that it is 70 feet in length, but so careful an observer as R. I. Beecher, who has recently been rusticating at Glenn Cove, does not put it above 30 feet. W. L. Foster modestly...says that a lamp post does not hold a candle to it in its size."
The monster's head was described as a barrel and his appearance was usually in the early evening. While Oliver Chamberlin was lounging on the west shore he saw a dark form rise from the water. "Colonel F. A. Hickson, of Vine Valley was in town yesterday," the Times continued, "but disclaimed any knowledge of the monster. He evidently would like to have it appear that its movements are confined to the west side of the lake." Joseph Crawford, a Canandaigua clothier, also said that he had twice seen the monster. Captain Newman, of the Ogarita, refused to be interviewed but had been seen with shotguns on board. "Every evening now sees parties out gunning" for the monster, the Times reported.
The regional press had a field day with the sea serpent reports. The Geneva Gazette attributed the story to "some natives who took too much liquid bait with them on fishing excursions." The Livingston Republican blandly suspected a hoax of the type perpetrated on Silver Lake a few years earlier. The Penn Yan Democrat, possibly wishing to avoid associating the Vine Valley area with any more noxious reptiles, referred to an article some weeks before on the enormous quantities of beer consumed in Canandaigua each year.
"To a person not familiar with the capacity of the average Canandaiguan for this beverage," the Penn Yan paper editorialized, "the amount seemed unusually large, but an article which appeared in the Ontario County Times last week partially verifies the claim, by giving the result which naturally follows in cases of that kind."
"The Times asserts that Canandaigua Lake is inhabited by a monster sea serpent, and that his snakeship has been seen quite frequently...by residents of that village...These conflicting stories would indicate that the beverage alluded to afflicted some people to a greater degree than others...If this state of things continues much longer we may soon expect to hear that the snake has grown to such enormous proportions that it cannot turn around in the miniature lake in which people of that burgh take so much delight."
Just coming into view at Long Point is LeTourneau Christian Camp and conference center. It was an abandoned Depression-era farm when Dr. Harold Strathearn and Don and Howard Joss purchased the property in 1934. It was originally called Tabernacle-On- The-Lake. In 1939 industrialist R. G. LeTourneau made a major contribution to the development of the camp resulting in its name change. It is owned and operated by Interstate Evangelistic Association founded by Dr. Strathearn in 1929.
Cottage City and Crystal Beach are coming up to starboard. It has always been a historic area. The flats east of Cottage City was the site of an Indian camp in previous centuries. Development really began here with Richard M. Gage building the first cottage in 1878. By the early 1890's a great many Rochester visitors were building summer cottages here. Gage opened the Cottage City House in 1898. Lincoln Wood to the north, and Cottage City were important steamboat stops. In the Spring of 1929 the Finger Lakes Company began developing Crystal Beach at the same location. Six months later, the Great Depression brought an end to many of the developers plans.
As we approach "Thendara" around the bend, we pass Lincoln Wood landing. The Lincoln Homestead, on East Lake Road, was settled by Otis Lincoln in 1806. The landing, now a poured concrete pier, was the steamboat stop and loading dock for the whole neighborhood. Senator John Raines held many dinners and clambakes on Lincoln Wood dock prior to the building of "Thendara."
"Thendara," high on the bluff, with its distinctive boat house, was the site of the summer cottage of State Senator John Raines. Many excursions brought important visitors and local civic groups to Raines' retreat for picnics. The name, "Thendara," roughly translated from the Indian language means "the meeting place," or "rim of the forest." Senator Raines died in 1909 before his new summer home was completed. "Thendara" was used by the children and grandchildren of Senator Raines until the 1940's. From 1935-1939 it was the home of the Canandaigua Yacht Club. The historic home and boathouse have been operated as a guesthouse and restaurants for the past half century. After 1910, the boathouse served for a while as a storehouse for fruit shipments. The platform around the boathouse was built so that steamboats could load.
Constructed by Rhoda Hogan, renowned local builder, the grounds were designed by John Handrahan, landscape architect of Sonnenberg. Opened in 1910, "Thendara" had a billiard room, two bathrooms, and seven bedrooms, in addition to a 21x35 foot living room, a large dining room, three fireplaces, and three porches (two of which are 100 feet long). The running water system included sa cistern, piped spring water, and lake water pumped from a 250 foot intake.
Deep Run, the name of the creek which formed the point opposite "Thendara," is the traditional name of the county park just visible in the cove to starboard. Its shallow waters are a favorite of families with small children. In former years people drove cars into the lake here to wash them. About 150 yards from shore, however, there is an 80 foot drop- off--a favorite with SCUBA divers.
The park at Deep Run came into being partly by accident. Originally it was private land which the public was allowed to use. By the late 1960's conditions here, and at the so-called "County Park" up the road, had deteriorated. Descendants of the land owners wanted to dispose of the property but no local government wanted the expense or liability. The land title was complicated by the movement of the East Lake Road years before. The state, the county and the Town of Gorham each had a claim on part of the current park by virtue of the old road right-of-way. The location of the old road can clearly be seen in the park since a concrete bridge, hidden in the bushes, was left in place over Deep Run itself.
Where you see a line of neat cottages today, just to our right, was the original Ontario County 4-H camp at Torrey Beach in 1925. Called Camp Onoko, it moved to Point Rochester (Foster Point/Onanda Park) on the west side in 1928, and returned here in 1929. Finally, the camp moved to Bristol in 1937. The Camp on Point Rochester was the first co-educational 4-H Camp in New York State; a "closely watched" experiment. In fact, Ontario County was one of the first counties to have any kind of Extension camp.
If you look carefully at the shore here you can see a long series of stone steps. That was once called simply "County Park." Like Deep Run park, it was an accident caused by the highway right-of-way being close to the lake. Ontario County began to develop it into a formal park in 1983.
Off to starboard (about even with Turner Rd.), barely visible in the water, are a series of buoys. The markers you see are part of the Yacht Club race course laid out on the lake. However, in this spot, buoys and markers of another kind are often seen. The area where the buoys are is known as "Stoney Island," a treacherous rocky shoal when the lake is low. It has accounted for a good many boat wrecks in past years.
As we cruise north along the east shore of Canandaigua Lake the number of cottages, some now year-around homes, becomes impressive. In 1900 there were only 160 cottages on the entire lake. At that time, the west shore had 50% more than the east shore. By 1945 there were 1163 cottages along the lake shore. By that time the east shore was slightly more densely populated than the west shore. Today there are 1400 properties with lake access with an estimated 1150 structures. A 1907 publication by the Canandaigua Board of Trade reported that rental costs for a cottage at the turn of the century ranged from $15-$75 a month. Rentals today can easily exceed several thousand dollars a month.
The East Shore Cottagers Association, formed in 1932, is the annual sponsor of the "Ring of Fire" ceremony each Labor Day weekend. It is modeled on the Indian thanksgiving custom and was begun in 1952. If you haven't gotten your flares yet, stores around the lake still have plenty.
Coming up is Otetiana Point, once referred to as Rattlesnake Point. Today it bears no resemblance to the Boy Scout camp it was from 1918-1926. Canandaigua Lake was the site of two Scout camps. The other one, Camp Tarion, was on Bush Point across from Woodville. The Rochester Boy Scout Council, now called Otetiana Council, operated this camp. They began camping at YMCA Camp Iola on Tichenor Point in 1910. The camp, and the point, were named by the winner of a contest, William Leonard of Rochester. Otetiana is roughly equivalent to the real name of the Indian leader known as Red Jacket. It means "ever ready," close to the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared."
On the hill overlooking the point was a large campfire ring. Several buildings were completed and rows of tents served 150 boys. Early campers remembered the 9-hole privy in particular.
Just to starboard, lying in the depths of the cove off the north shore of Otetiana Point, lies the wreckage of the Onnalinda, the largest of the Canandaigua Lake boats. She was launched on May 18, 1888. At 142 feet in length, and 42 feet wide, she was capable of carrying 600-1000 passengers and a cargo of up to 75 tons. For most of her time on the lake, her pilot was George Stempel. The Onnalinda was dismantled in 1913. Her superstructure was sold and her engine was sold for scrap iron. Her hull, with the boiler still aboard, was supposed to be taken into deep water and sunk. However, the tow line broke nearly opposite the current Yacht Club. The remains of the Onnalinda drifted over to the east side of the lake and sank. According to former City Historian, Herbert Ellis, the house at 23 Antis Street, Canandaigua, was built with lumber from the superstructure of the Onnalinda. The ship's rudder, raised in 1956, became a beach table at the Canandaigua Yacht Club.
Her name, incidentally, was probably taken from a popular book-length romantic poem written by J. H. McNaughton in 1884. The poem told the tale of a wily Iroquois "princess" who helps her people defeat French forces under the Marquis DeNonville. Like the fabled Pocohontas, Onnalinda falls in love with an English Captain, Eben Stark, whom she meets in the forest. In the end she follows Captain Stark with her father's blessing.
"He told me of his home afar, And how he joined with France--our foe; The unholy strife he did abhor; And, wearied with the wicked war, He came to hunt the bounding doe." "He told of comrade-braves--a score, Who came with France's marshalled men, But left the ranks. They war no more-- They hunt the deer awhile, and then On Kadaracqui's peaceful shore With him they greet their homes again."
As we approach the dock, and the completion of our journey, we pass the Canandaigua Country Club and the former site of Roseland Park. At the turn of the 20th Century the Country Club site was owned by John Gartland. Mr. Gartland operated a slaughter house on the Country Club property. In later years the property passed to the Case family. They grazed sheep in the fields and supplied meat to local markets.
Golf was a "new" sport just gaining popularity in the early 1920's. Edwin G. Hayes, his son George, and George Hamlin promoted golf in Canandaigua in 1920-21. Soon, the search was on for land suitable for a real golf course. In 1922 the group formed to develop a golf course chose the Case property by the lake. On March 18, 1922 Judge Robert F. Thompson approved the Certificate of Incorporation for the Canandaigua Country Club. To help finance the purchase the Club sold 40 lots along the lake front extending to the east and south of the present club. The selling price of the lots was $600! According to Alton and Frances Farnsworth, Club Historians, one reason for the selection of the present site was its natural water hazard. When play began in 1923, sheep were also a hazard according to the official history of the club. They had to be shoved aside on the greens where their droppings interfered with putting. The original schedule of greens fees were $.25 for nine holes; $.50 for eighteen.
The old orchard on the Country Club site became Roseland Park in 1925. William Muar, of Rochester, purchased the site from Marion Case for $50. The old slaughterhouse and farmhouse were moved and incorporated into "the playground of the Finger Lakes" for 60 years. Little is left today to remind us of Roseland Park. The most obvious landmark is the row of willow trees still standing near the center of the "kiddy rides." The 1909 merry-go-round was purchased by John Tuozzolo, a partner in a Syracuse shopping mall, who moved the ride there. The rollercoaster was moved to Altoona, Pennsylvania. The park closed after a special Labor Day weekend, 1985. Roseland was auctioned off two weeks later, September 16.
As we approach the outlet bridge, and the end of our tour we have come full circle in the history of our lake boats also. Today, this is the landing place of The Canandaigua Lady. In 1865, the Canandaigua was built just east of the outlet. All good things must come to an end. Those who have always enjoyed the "Gem of the Finger Lakes," hope you enjoyed your trip around the lake and back into history.
The above publication is based on the script for a special trip on the Canandaigua Lady. Please feel free to print this and to take it with you on a Canandaigua Lady tour.
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