"Keuka" is the name the Seneca people gave to the
lake, roughly translated to mean "Canoe Landing".
Early settlers named her "The Crooked
Lake". In the late 1800's the wine industry began
to flourish and the vintners felt that Crooked Lake
was not a very elegant name to be associated
with fine wines. The name of the lake was
officially changed to Keuka in 1887.
Keuka Lake has the distinction of
being the only lake in the country
that flows both North and South.
Water entering from Coldbrook Inlet in Hammondsport
flows North to Penn Yan.
Water entering from Guyanoga Creek Inlet in
Branchport flows South through the
West branch of the "Y", then heads North to
Outlet Creek in Penn Yan.
American composer and bandleader Hoagy Carmichael
was the pianist and vocalist at the Keuka Hotel in
1926 and 1927. Local legend has it that it was here
that he wrote his hit melody "Stardust" on a hotel
napkin one lonely night.
the late 1800's the Adirondack Region had become the
most popular tourist destination in New York. Each
spring droves of tourists from New York City headed
to the North Country lakes where they were greeted
and fed upon by clouds of hungry mosquitoes. In
1892 a group of businessmen in Hammondsport
attempted to redirect the seasonal crowds to Keuka
Lake by announcing that they had imported a large
colony of brown fruit bats which had devoured all of
the area's mosquitoes. A stamp was produced
proclaiming that Hammondsport was "The town with no
mosquitoes". These were distributed locally with
instructions to attach them to all outgoing mail in
an effort to spread the word.
Penn Yan was originally inhabited by an equal mix of
equally stubborn settlers from Pennsylvania
and New England. Having no official name it was
referred to as "Unionville". In 1810 the two groups
met repeatedly to decide upon a name that would
appease both factions. Suggestions included
"Morrisville" and "Pandemonium", to
reflect their inability to resolve the issue. A
final meeting was held,
proceeded by "passing around a cask of whiskey".
spoke: "Gentlemen, if we cannot untie this knot we
must cut it, - I
propose 'Penn Yan' - Penn for you Pennsylvanians,
Yan for you
Yankees." A final round from the cask sealed the
deal. The Village of Penn Yan was officially
incorporated on August 29, 1833.
During the "Moon of the Strawberry Harvest" (June),
a Seneca man was crossing the lake with his wife and
child when a sudden storm capsized their canoe. The
woman and child were lost to the depths. The Seneca
cursed the lake - "You have taken my family and I
curse you always to be hungry. You hunger for
bodies, but they will rise to the surface and the
wind will carry them to shore."
1790 Jemima Wilkinson, the self proclaimed "Publick
Universal Friend" and first woman in America to
found a religious sect arrived with 25 followers -
"The Universal Friends". She called their
settlement on Outlet Creek "Hopeton". She later
purchased a tract near Branchport "and we shall
call this place "The City of Jerusalem." The sect
grew to 260 devoted followers. Jemima's call to the
cloth began at age 24, when she "died" after a brief
illness. She stunned mourners by rising from her
coffin announcing "I return to you, my brothers and
sisters, a second Redeemer".
The fiery preacher offered to appease skeptics by
repeating Christ's feat of walking on water. Her
followers gathered at the shore of the lake as
Jemima arrived in her elaborate green carriage.
Following a rousing sermon on the subject of faith
she queried "Do ye have faith? Do you think I can
do this thing? " The crowd responded "We believe!
We believe!" As she returned to her carriage Jemima
"Good; if ye have faith ye need no further evidence."
"rickshaw" was developed in the Keuka Lake suburb
of North Urbana, not in Japan. In 1869
Jonathan Goble, an American missionary in Yokohama
wrote home to area wagonmaker, Frank Pollay, asking
Pollay to design and build "a two-wheeled,
human-powered carriage" for Goble’s invalid wife.
The request was fullfilled and delivered, making
the Rickshaw the first American vehicle exported to
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