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Seneca Lake Wedding Resources (more information)

Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake, one of western New York's glacial Finger Lakes, is the largest finger lake. It is promoted as being the lake trout capital of the world, and is host of the National Lake Trout Derby. Because of its depth, Seneca Lake has been a testing site for submarines. The lake takes its name from the Seneca nation of Native Americans. At the north end of Seneca Lake is the city of Geneva, New York, home of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, a division of Cornell University. At the south end of the lake is the village of Watkins Glen, New York, famed for auto racing and waterfalls.

Due to Seneca Lake's unique microclimate it is home to over 40 wineries, many of them farm wineries and is the location of the Seneca Lake AVA.

Seneca lake is haven to some of the most prized Lake trout in the world because of its great depths and low boating traffic.


Over 200 years ago, there were Iroquois villages on Seneca Lake’s surrounding hillsides. During the Revolutionary War, their villages, including Kanadaseaga ("Seneca Castle") were wiped out during the Sullivan Expedition by troops that invaded their homeland to punish them for assisting the British. Today roadside signs trace Sullivan and Clinton’s route along the east side of Seneca Lake where the burning of villages and crops occurred.

After the war, the land of the Iroquois was parceled out to veterans of the army in payment for their military service. A slow stream of white settlers began to arrive circa 1790. Initially the settlers were without a market nearby or a way to get their crops to market. The settlers’ isolation abruptly ended, though, in the 1820s with the opening of the Erie Canal.

The Canal linked the Finger Lakes Region to the outside world. Steamships, barges and ferries quickly became Seneca Lake’s ambassadors of commerce and trade. The former, short Crooked Lake Canal linked Seneca Lake to Keuka Lake.

There are numerous canal barges resting on the bottom of the lake. A collection of barges on the southwest end of the lake, near the village of Watkins Glen, is being preserved and made accessible for scuba diving by the Finger Lakes Underwater Preserve Association.

The painted rocks, located at the southern end of the lake on the eastern cliff face, depict an American Flag, Tee-pee, and several Native Americans. As the story goes, back in the late 1700s when General John Sullivan was avenging the Wyoming and Cherry-Valley Massacres, he chased a group of renegade Native Americans, up from present day Athens, Pennsylvania (then known as Tioga Point) through the valley, to a point somewhere along the cliffs. The Indians escaped down a narrow footpath to canoes that they had hidden earlier in the underbrush. They used these canoes to paddle across the lake to safety. Later they came back and painted these paintings in commemoration of their escape. The paintings found along the bottom of the cliff are the originals, the American Flag and the Tee-pee were added in 1929 during the Sullivan Sesquicentennial.

The painted rocks may not be authentic Native-American paintings as the Seneca Indians lived in longhouses not the Tipi used by Western Native-American tribes. Historian Barbara Bell suggests that the paintings may have been made for tourists on Seneca Lake boat tours.

Seneca Lake is also the site of a strange and as-yet-unexplained phenomenon known as the Guns of the Seneca, mysterious cannon-like booms heard in the surrounding area. Some might speculate that they come from the north eastern museum known as Rose hill mansion.

This phenomenon has also, and more often than not, been called the Drums Along the Seneca, and they are usually heard on the evenings of hot summer nights. Many believe that these are giant air bubbles from deep in the lake bursting on the surface, while others equate it with Indian folklore. They have been heard coming from both the north and south ends and the "drums" reverberate throughout the "valley" of the lake.

There have been reports of a creature at least 30 feet long creating unexplained waves. These waves have been spotted when no boats are present, therefore proving that it is not a wake. This creature has been nicknamed, "Charlie". As one resisident was quoted saying, "There is a real big guy in there!"

The east side of Seneca Lake was once home to a military training ground called Sampson Naval Base, primarily used during World War II. It became Sampson Air Force Base during the Korean War and was used for basic training. After Sampson AFB closed, the airfield remained as Geneva AAF but was closed in 2000. The training grounds of Sampson have since been converted to a civilian picnic area called Sampson State Park.

There is still a Naval facility at Seneca Lake, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Sonar test facility. Where a scale model of the sonar section of the nuclear submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) was tested during the development of this ship.

Points of Interest

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Sampson State Park
atkins Glen State Park
Seneca Lake State Park


Amberg Wine Cellars
Anthony Road Wine Company
Atwater Estate Vineyards
Belhurst Winery
Bet the Farm NY
Cascata Winery
Castel Grisch Winery and Restaurant
Caywood Vineyards
Chateau Lafayette Reneau
Earle Estates Meadery
Four Chimneys Organic Winery
Fox Run Vineayards and Cafe
Fulkerson Winery
Glenora Wine Cellars
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Winery
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard
Heron Hill Winery
Miles Wine Cellars
Lakewood Vineyards
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
Nagy's New Land Vineyard and Winery
Passion Feet Vineyard and Wine Barn
Prejean Winery
Rogue's Hollow Winery
Seneca Harbor Wine Center
Shaw Vineyard
Stny Lonesome Wine Cellars
Three Brothers Wineries and Estates
Torrey RidgeWinery
Ventosa Vineyards
Wagner Vineyards
White Springs Winery

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