Otsego Lake (New York)

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Otsego Lake
Lake Otsego - tree lawn (569771960).jpg
Location Otsego County, New York,
United States
Coordinates 42°45′23″N 74°53′46″W / 42.7564°N 74.8961°W / 42.7564; -74.8961Coordinates: 42°45′23″N 74°53′46″W / 42.7564°N 74.8961°W / 42.7564; -74.8961
Primary outflows Susquehanna River
Catchment area 74 sq mi (190 km2)[1]
Basin countries United States
Max. length 7.8 miles (12.6 km)
Surface area 4,046 acres (16.37 km2)
Average depth 82 feet (25 m)
Max. depth 167 feet (51 m)
Surface elevation 1,191 feet (363 m)[2]
Settlements Cooperstown, New York

Otsego Lake is a 4,046-acre (16.37 km2) lake located in Otsego County, New York[2] and is the source of the Susquehanna River.[1] The Village of Cooperstown is located at the lake's southern end. Glimmerglass State Park is located on the lake's northeastern shore, and includes Hyde Hall, a large mansion constructed in 1817 that overlooks the lake. Glimmerglass Opera is located on the western shore.

The name Otsego is from a Mohawk or Oneida word meaning "place of the rock", referring to the large boulder near the lake's outlet,[3] today known as "Council Rock".


Otsego Lake is 7.8 miles (12.6 km) long with a surface area of 4,046 acres (16.37 km2). Its average depth is 82 feet (25 m), with a maximum depth of 167 feet (51 m). Portions of the lake are within the towns of Springfield, Middlefield and Otsego.[4]

It is geologically related to the Finger Lakes but is not counted among them. One difference is that Otsego Lake is situated at a higher elevation (1,191 feet [363 m])[2] than the Finger Lakes (approximately 400 feet [122 m]).

Council Rock[edit]

Council Rock, Otsego Lake

Located near the shore of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown is Council Rock, a large boulder whose top is above the water's surface and can be seen from shore. At low water, the oval rock rises approximately 4.5 feet (1.4 m) above the water, and is about nine feet (2.7 m) long by six feet (1.8 m) wide. It is believed to have been a meeting place for Native Americans prior to the American Revolutionary War.[5]

A small parcel of land near Council Rock was presented to the Village of Cooperstown in 1957, on the condition that it remain open to the public as a park. The park, today known as Council Rock Park, also includes a set of concrete steps leading to a lake-level terrace that was built in 1937.[6]

Sunken Island[edit]

Sunken Island is a submerged sandy plot located near the western shore of Otsego Lake, approximately seven miles (11 km) from Cooperstown. It is the supposed remains of an island described in the writings of James Fenimore Cooper upon which a structure once stood. Today Sunken Island is several feet below the surface of the lake and is cordoned off to prevent boats from running aground.

Appearances in literature[edit]

The lake was known to James Fenimore Cooper as Glimmerglass and was a principal feature in his novels The Pioneers and The Deerslayer, in which local landmarks such as Council Rock and Sunken Island are mentioned.

Otsego Lake is also referenced in The Secret of Mirror Bay, a novel in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Biological Field Station - About Otsego Lake". Oneonta.edu. SUNY Oneonta. 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Otsego Lake". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ Beauchamp, William Martin (1907). Aboriginal Place Names of New York (New York State Museum Bulletin, Volume 108). New York State Education Department. p. 174. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  4. ^ NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. "Otsego Lake". Dec.ny.gov. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  5. ^ Halsey, Francis Whiting (1901). "Indian Villages in the Upper Valley". The Old New York Frontier: Its Wars with Indians and Tories, Its Missionary Schools, Pioneers, and Land Titles, 1614-1800. C. Scribner's Sons. pp. 21–23. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  6. ^ MacDougall, Hugh Cooke (1989). "Council Rock Park". Cooper's Otsego County: A Bicentennial Guide of Sites in Otsego County Associated with the Life and Fiction of James Fenimore Cooper, 1789-1851. Cooperstown, NY: New York State Historical Association. p. 94. Retrieved August 30, 2015.