HOME  l  KEUKA FUN FACTS  l  WINE LORE  l  AREA EVENTS  l  PHOTO GALLERY  l ENTERTAINMENT  l  AREA LINKS  l  CONTACT US
Website by Empire Graphics, Copyright 2006 - 20009                                                  Comments or Questions: bob@keukalake.com
"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.
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.
On August 27, 1873 while fishing with
his mother on Keuka Lake 7year old
Harry Morse leaned over the side of
their small rowboat to peer into the
depths of the lake. As his nose touched
the water an eight pound trout mistook
it for a morsel and clamped on.  The
boy jerked back in agony, pulling the
fish into the boat, where it was quickly
dispatched by his mother.  Harry spent
his life on the lake, later becoming the
respected captain of the steamboat
“The Mary Bell”.  He carried the scars
as proof of his fish tale until his death.
In 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 further spread the word.
Keuka Lake has the distinction of
being the only lake in the country
that flows both North and South.  
Water entering from Coldbrook
flows North to Penn Yan.  Water
entering from Guyanoga Creek in
Branchport flows South through
the West branch of the "Y", then
heads North to Outlet Creek in
Penn Yan.
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".  Philemon Baldwin
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 always rise to the surface and
the wind will carry them to shore."
In 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 sceptics 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 said "Good; if ye have faith ye need no further evidence."
The "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 Japan.