Hemlock Lake

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Hemlock Lake
Hemlock lake.jpg
View north from boat launch in the evening.
Location Livingston / Ontario counties, New York, United States
Group Finger Lakes
Coordinates 42°43′07″N 77°36′32″W / 42.71861°N 77.60889°W / 42.71861; -77.60889Coordinates: 42°43′07″N 77°36′32″W / 42.71861°N 77.60889°W / 42.71861; -77.60889
Type Ground Moraine
Basin countries United States
Max. length 7 mi (12 km)
Max. width 0.5 mi (1 km)
Surface area 1,800 acres (730 ha)
Average depth 45 ft (14 m)
Max. depth 91 ft (28 m)
Surface elevation 906 ft (276 m)[1]

Hemlock Lake is one of the minor Finger Lakes. It is mostly located in Livingston County, New York, south of Rochester, with a portion overlapping into Ontario County. Hemlock is a translation of the Indian name.[2]

Hemlock Lake is seven miles (12 km) long, and approximately a half-mile wide along most of its uniform north-south length. It has a surface area of 1,800 acres (7 km2), and maximum and mean depths of 91 feet (28 m) and 45 feet (14 m) respectively. Because the lake is a water source to Rochester, shore development is restricted and size limits pertain to boats and outboard motors.

A feature of the lake is its land-locked salmon. In addition, the lake contains rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, chain pickerel, brown bullhead, yellow perch, walleye, and black crappie.[3][4]


The Seneca Indian Tribe came to hunt and fish around the south end of the lake up until the late 1770s. In September of 1779 General John Sullivan and his army drove the natives away from the lake for good.

In the 1790s Hemlock Lake received its first white settlers. Most of these settlers were involved in the lumber industry and built their homes out of wooden slabs by the outlet which is located at the north end of the lake. For a time this place was known as "Slab City". The lake was used to float logs to Slab city in the summer months as well as to haul logs on the ice in the winter time.

Over the years Hemlock Lake became populated with over one hundred cottages and five hotels. There were Five large boats that sailed the lake in the 1800s including its first steam boat "The Seth Green". The lake was a popular summer vacation destination for the wealthy, many of whom came from Rochester NY.[5]

In 1873 The City of Rochester decided the primary source of water for the city should come from Hemlock Lake (due to the abundance and purity of the water). In 1876 the gravity fed pipeline connecting Hemlock Lake to The City Rochester was opened. Shortly after this the city began buying up large acreages around the lake which included many cottages and hotels. Property owners who refused to sell to the city became the subject of eminent domain. Including the land around Hemlock's sister lake (Canadice Lake) the city owned over 5,000 acres of land, 3,900 acres of which are forested.

In 2010 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) purchased both Hemlock and Canadice Lakes from The City of Rochester for $13.7 million .[6][7] The State has pledged to keep the lakes forever wild. Public access to the lake is permitted and encouraged however boats are restricted to 17 feet in length and to outboard motors 10 horse-power or less.[8]


  1. ^ "Geographic Names Information System". Retrieved 22 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 154. 
  3. ^ "Hemlock Lake Information". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Hemlock Lake Fishing". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "History of Hemlock Lake". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Hemlock Lake - NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "News Release - City, State Preserve Pristine Reservoirs". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Hemlock-Canadice State Forest (Livingston-Ontario State Reforestation Area #1)". Retrieved 14 November 2013. 

"History of Hemlock" (book) by D.B. Waite

The Democrat and Chronicle Sunday Magazine, November 21, 1993

The Democrat and Chronicle Sunday Magazine, August 8, 2010

External links[edit]

"History of Hemlock" (book) by D.B. Waite The Democrat and Chronicle Sunday Magazine, November 21, 1993 The Democrat and Chronicle Sunday Magazine, August 8, 2010