Oneida Lake

Yuk, November is so gloomy in New York State. November and February are the worst months– everything is brown and gray, cloudy and muddy. Our brilliant fall foliage that clothed our October is gone now. I miss the sunshine.

So I rifled through some of my photo archives. I realized that I never wrote anything much about our visit to see Oneida Lake, in September. It was a chilly day, but the sun was shining and the blue water was very cheery.

Frenchman's Island from Field

Boats Looking East

Oneida Lake is New York’s largest inland lake, and it sits in a shallow pit in the center of the state. The lake is about 20 miles long or so, and only about 20 feet deep. In the winter, the lake freezes and people enjoy all sorts of recreation on the thick ice.

Many small and large parks dot the rim of the lake. Some have some docks where you can walk out to the lake somewhat and get a good view of the area.

Looking West

Dock Use

On the Dock Oneida Lake

Of course, you have to contend with the seagulls. It’s their lake, too, I guess.

Dirty Bench

Oneida Lake was formed after the ancient Glacial Lake Iroquois melted. Lake Iroquois is the name given to a very large body of water– melted glacial ice– that filled the areas of Lake Ontario all the way over toward what is now Rome, NY. The history and geology of New York State is very interesting. And I wrote a post about the mysterious Frenchman of Frenchman’s Island that you can read here.

Atlantic salmon and eel used to be abundant in the lake. I don’t know when these fish disappeared from the lake. I grew up by Oneida Lake and all I remember catching is the sunfish, haha. There are bass and muskelunge (I believe) there as well; but to my knowledge there is no salmon anymore.

Oneida Lake is a stormy lake. Wind whips across the shallow surface, kicking up angry waves, and squalls form over the lake very quickly. I remember boating across the lake as a child– one very warm summer day, we started in Brewerton and boated across the lake to Sylvan Beach. Halfway there, dark clouds formed, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped, and the waves threatened to capsize us. It was very frightening.

As a schoolkid, I’d heard stories of people discovering ancient Iroquois and Huron Indian artifacts by the lake. The north section of the lake was the area of the famed expedition by Samuel de Champlain, allegedly the first European to see the lake. Brewerton has a fine little museum, the Blockhouse, also called Fort Brewerton, with many Indian arrowheads and other artifacts. I used to visit the museum frequently, but now it is closed most of the time.

Fort Brewerton

My son didn’t find any arrowheads, but he did find a crayfish claw.

Crayfish Claw

I hope to take the kids to the lake in the winter, for them to see the ice fishing and snowmobiling activities that go on here. They’ve never walked on a frozen lake!

About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (1)

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  1. akaGaGa says:

    Aarghhh. I remember sunshine … and mild days. It was twenty here this morning!

    Lovely photos. They remind me that November doesn’t last forever.