Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake

"A Place of Stone"

Physical Characteristics

  • Length: 35 miles
  • Width: 3 miles
  • Max Depth: 630 ft- the deepest lake!
  • Average Depth: 291 ft
  • Volume: 4.2 trillion gallons


  • Like on many of the other Finger Lakes, steamboats and barges were used to transport goods and people in the 1800s. Many of those barges are now at the bottom of Seneca Lake at the southern end and are being preserved for scuba diving.
  • In WWII, the Navy, and Air Force used Seneca Lake to train soldiers at the Sampson Training Station, which has since been converted into Sampson State Park.
  • Some areas of the lake have been used as testing sites for submarines.
  • There are many legends surrounding the lake, including stories of secret passageways between lakes, sea serpents, and "Lake Drums."  Lake Drums are distant booms that have been heard across the lake since the time of the Iroquois, and can still be heard today.  To this day, no one knows what causes them.

Water Facts

  • Seneca Lake accounts for more than 50% of water found in the entire Finger Lakes Region.
  • On average, because of its length and extreme depth, Seneca Lake completely freezes once a century. The last reported date was 1912.  During the freeze, people claimed that they skated 35 miles, from Geneva (the northern tip) to Watkins Glen (the southern tip).
  • It is possible to begin a circumnavigation of the globe from Seneca Lake. The canal system connects the lake to the Atlantic Ocean!
  • The large size of the lake moderates the temperature, and makes the surrounding land ideal for growing grapes.  Because of this, Seneca Lake has 40 wineries and vineyards- more than any other of the Finger Lakes.  These wineries attract more than 600,000 visitors annually.
  • Seneca Lake is the host of the National Lake Trout Derby, and is considered the lake trout capital of the world.
  • The lake floor extends 200 ft below sea level!