Cranberry Lake

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This article is about the lake in New York. For various lakes in Nova Scotia, see Cranberry Lake (Nova Scotia).
Cranberry Lake
Cranberry Lake, Black Duck Hole, Wanakena, NY.jpg
Black Duck Hole, Cranberry Lake
Location St. Lawrence County,
New York, US
Coordinates 44°10′20″N 074°49′26″W / 44.17222°N 74.82389°W / 44.17222; -74.82389Coordinates: 44°10′20″N 074°49′26″W / 44.17222°N 74.82389°W / 44.17222; -74.82389
Primary inflows Oswegatchie River
(east branch)
Primary outflows Oswegatchie River
(east branch)
Basin countries United States
Max. length 8.6 mi (13.8 km)
Max. width 3.8 mi (6.1 km)
Surface area 6,975 acres (2,823 ha)
Average depth 6 ft (1.8 m)
Max. depth 38 ft (12 m)
Shore length1 55 mi (89 km)
Surface elevation 1,480 ft (450 m)
Islands Joe Indian Island, Buck Island
Settlements Cranberry Lake, Wanakena
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Cranberry Lake is a lake on the east branch of the Oswegatchie River in the Adirondack Park in New York in the United States. It is the third largest lake in the Adirondack Park (after Lake George and the Great Sacandaga Lake. About 75 percent of the shoreline is owned by State of New York; the 118,000-acre (480 km2) Five Ponds Wilderness Area abuts its south shore, and the Cranberry Lake Wild Forest covers much of its remaining shoreline.


Most of the lake is in the eastern end of the Town of Clifton, but a small part of the east side of the lake is in the Town of Piercefield and a small part of the west side of the lake is in the Town of Fine. The lake is entirely in the south part of Saint Lawrence County, New York.

On a north arm of the lake is the community of Cranberry Lake. On a western arm of the lake in the Town of Fine, is the community of Wanakena, among other things also location of the SUNY-ESF Ranger School.

Several islands are within the lake, the largest being Joe Indian Island and Buck Island. The Cranberry Lake Biological Station, also part of SUNY-ESF, is located on Barber Point.

View from Bear Mountain lookout over Cranberry Lake

Recreation and points of interest[edit]

A peninsula jutting into the lake from the north contains Bear Mountain and state camping facilities. One end of the Bear Mountain Trail leaves from campsite loop 3. The other end, a trail head with plenty of good parking, is located much closer to the campground entrance. The hike is fairly rigorous, but from start to the top it is only about 1-mile (1.6 km). The lookout spot near the top provides a great view to the south and south west, mainly of Joe Indian and Buck islands.

There are several private camps on the lake's southern shore, including an island called, "Chair Rock Island". A large rock on Barber Point near the Biological Station bears an engraved memorial for international fly casting champion of the late 1800s, Reuben Wood, designer of the Reub Wood fishing flies.[1] There also exists a large camp setting called Wildcliffe Lodge (formerly "Hoppies" and then "Verns") that used to have an inn, bar and restaurant. The dining room was actually the former one room log cabin of hermit "Philo Scott"(While he appeared to be a hermit, he married Cordelia Stevens in 1856 and had eight children between 1858 and 1879.),[2] of Big Deer Pond. It is now closed. Chair Rock Lodge was another popular dining and lodging establishment on the South Shore. It, too, is closed. The Indian Mountain Club was also on the South Shore. "Sports" from downstate enjoyed dining, lodging and outdoor pursuits such as hunting,fishing, and shooting. A large garden provided fresh veggies.Remnants or the garden still exist on private property abutting the Five Ponds Wilderness.


The lake was named for the extensive cranberry bogs that it once contained. In 1865, the state authorized the building of a dam on the east branch of the Oswegatchie that doubled the lake's surface area and killed thousands of trees, the stumps of which still remain in some areas. In 1902, the Rich Brothers Lumber Company purchased 16,000 acres (65 km2) on the southwestern shore of Cranberry Lake, and constructed a lumber mill. Housing for the millworkers was built in part from lumber salvaged from the company's abandoned Pennsylvania lumber operation. There were up to 1500 workers at the Rich Bros. mill and associated industries.[citation needed]

A logging railroad was constructed connecting Wanakena to the Carthage & Adirondack Railroad at Benson Mines, starting operation in 1905. The railroad allowed tourists easy access to the area. In 1913, a second railroad called the Grasse River Railroad was built by the Emporium Lumber Company, connecting Cranberry Lake to the New York Central Railroad at Childwold Station near Conifer, NY.[citation needed]

The Rich Bros. Lumber Co. donated 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) in the vicinity of Cranberry Lake to the New York State Ranger School in 1912. Businessman Charles Lathrop Pack donated 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of what today is the Cranberry Lake Biological Station to the New York State College of Forestry in 1923. Six years later, in 1929, the International Paper Company donated 500 acres (2.0 km2) to the Ranger School.[3] By 1940, the state had purchased most of the remaining lands of the former lumber companies.[4]


  1. ^ "Reub Wood". Accessed: May 20, 2012.
  2. ^ <Philo Scott is Nadine Gilmore's grandfather and the information is from family and public genealogy)
  3. ^ Reznikoff, Charles, ed. 1957. Louis Marshall: Champion of Liberty. Selected Papers and Correspondence. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, p. 1123
  4. ^ Google books: Smeby, Susan Thomas, Cranberry Lake and Wanakena, Arcadia Publishing, 2002 ISBN 0-7385-0969-8

External links[edit]