Big Moose Lake
|Big Moose Lake|
as seen from its outlet
|Location||Webb / Long Lake, New York,
|Primary outflows||Moose River|
|Basin countries||United States|
|Max. length||3 miles (4.8 km)|
|Max. width||1 miles (1.2 km)|
|Surface area||1,265 acres (5.12 km2)|
|Average depth||23 ft (7.0 m)|
|Max. depth||85 ft (26 m)|
|Surface elevation||1,788 ft (545 m)|
Big Moose Lake, at the head of the Moose River, is a large lake about five miles (8 km) north of Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. It is a popular spot amongst tourists all year round: boating, water skiing and hiking in the summer; cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. It is home to the Big Moose Water Ski Club that consists of residents of the lake.
The lake's popularity derives from its remoteness, climate and beauty, as well as its notoriety as the location of the murder of Grace Brown in 1906. Alleged ghost sightings and subsequent media attention have added to the allure.
Geography and climate
Located in the central-western part of the Adirondack region, Big Moose Lake covers 1,265 acres (512 ha) in surface area. It is approximately three miles long and almost a mile wide (4.8x1.25 km), running in an east-west direction along its major axis. The lake ranges in depth from 30 to 70 feet (9 to 21 m) in its deepest parts. With minimal road access, the lake is not heavily populated, experiencing its peak during the summer months (June – August) when vacationers arrive at their summer homes or stay at local rustic resorts. In the summer, temperatures average from nightly lows of 45 °F (7 °C) to daytime highs of 75 °F (7 – 24 °C). In winter, the lake completely freezes over and temperatures during the day reach an average high of 20 °F (−7 °C) and an average nightly low of 5 °F (−7 °C to −15 °C).
The area was settled primarily during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by people arriving on the first railroad through the uninhabited Adirondack wilderness. Early trappers and hunters of the Adirondacks became guides there, eventually establishing permanent camps and hotels. Businessmen, in the style of the Great Camps of the Vanderbilts and Morgans, built private summer homes and brought their families. Some of these lodges still exist and the Big Moose Lake area is historically significant for its unique architecture utilizing vertical half-log construction in lodges and cabins.
Big Moose Lake was the setting of An American Tragedy, a novel by Theodore Dreiser. It is based on the true story of Chester Gillette, who was convicted and executed for the drowning of Grace Brown in the South Bay of Big Moose Lake in the first part of the 20th century. (The name Dreiser gave the lake where the murder took place was Big Bittern Lake, although he did visit Big Moose Lake and used it as a model for his fictional version.) The Academy Award winning film, A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters and Montgomery Clift, is based on the book. The murder of Grace Brown continues to gain notoriety as claims of ghost sightings around the lake occur. In 1996, the television series Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode reenacting the tragedy, focusing on two such sighting incidents. On July 11, 2006 a wreath-laying ceremony took place on South Bay in observance of the centennial of Brown's death. A small flotilla of watercraft participated.
A historical novel by Jennifer Donnelly, A Northern Light (2003), also takes its plot from the murder, but is told from the perspective of a young girl working at the Glenmore (a lodge) on the Lake. The lake and the surrounding community also play a prominent role in Robert Tucker's 2013 novel, Sasquatch Camp.
- Barlow, Jane A. (May 2004). Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks: The Story of the Lake, the Land, and the People. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-0799-7.
- Donnelly, Jennifer (2003). A Northern Light. Harcourt Children's Books. ISBN 0-15-216705-6.
- Gilborn, Craig A.; Paul Malo (2000). Adirondack Camps: Homes Away from Home, 1850–1950. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 0-8156-0626-5.
- Big Moose Lake, Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation. 2005. Last accessed September 2, 2006.
- Big Moose Lake, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Last accessed September 2, 2006.
- Average High/Low Temperatures for KGTB Weather Underground. Last accessed September 2, 2006.
- People v. Gillette Court Transcript