Owasco Lake

Owasco Lake

"The Crossing Point" or "Floating Bridge"

Physical Characteristics

  • Length: 11 miles
  • Width: 1 mile
  • Average Depth: 95 ft
  • Maximum Depth: 177 ft
  • Volume: 212 billion gallons

History and Surrounding Area

  • Wasco, a site at the northern end of the lake, was once home to one of the earliest settlements of the Cayuga tribe. 
  • In the early half of the 19th century, Owasco Lake was known for its resorts and casinos, which catered to the upper class and social elite. The Syracuse Railway ran down the west side of the lake, and passenger steamboats were used to transport vacationers from one high-profile destination to another. Today, the profile of the lake has changed with lovely private homes and quaint cottages dotting much of the shoreline.
  • The town of Moravia lies at the southern end of the lake. It is the birthplace of President Millard Fillmore and was the childhood home of John D. Rockefeller. Fillmore Glen State Park with its deep gorges and 5 waterfalls is located there.
  • The small city of Auburn is located 2.5 miles north of Owasco Lake.  Known as “History’s Hometown,” the former homes of Harriet Tubman, William Seward, Secretary of State to Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, and a leading figure in the purchase of Alaska (Seward's Folly,) and Ted Case, inventor of sound on film are all located there.

Water Facts

  • Owasco is the 6th largest of the Finger Lakes
  • The largest tributary that runs into the lake is the Owasco Inlet, which accounts for almost 55% of the surface water that enters the lake.
  • Owasco Lake supplies water to more than 70% of Cayuga County.
  • The shallow water allows warm water temperatures in the summer, which make the lake ideal for swimming and boating.
  • Emerson Park at the northern end of the lake features beaches, playgrounds, boat launches, disk golf, a dog park, historic pavilions for public events and the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse.
  • At the southern end of Owasco Lake lies the Owasco Flats, an inlet and floodplain that provides excellent birding, paddling, and nature trails.
  • The lake is home to an abundance of fish, including walleye, perch, smallmouth bass, trout, Northern Pike, and salmon.  It is also an ideal ice-fishing location during the winter months, especially at the northern end.