Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - Pennsylvania - Northeastern Mountains -

Also known as:  Harvey's Lake

With a surface area of 658 acres, Harveys Lake is Pennsylvania’s largest natural lake by total volume of water. Located in the Northeastern Mountain Region of Pennsylvania, Harveys Lake was named for its discoverer, Benjamin Harvey. An early settler of the Wyoming Valley and member of the Sons of Liberty, Harvey was captured and taken prisoner by British and Native American forces near Wilkes-Barre. Imprisoned in Fort Niagara, Harvey was released the following spring and located the lake while making his way back to his settlement. Harvey never lived at the lake that bears his name but generations of settlers, vacationers and visitors have enjoyed the spring-fed lake.

Settlers moved into the Endless Mountain area around the lake before 1800, engaging in farming and logging. Several early residents attempted a variety of enterprises around Harveys Lake; logging was the most productive. The Harveys Creek outlet supported several small dams for milling and sawing lumber. A small town grew up along the creek, appropriately named Outlet Mills. Ice was cut for commercial use on the lake until 1935. Some saw the lake’s proximity to Wilkes-Barre as advantageous to picnickers and soon built resort hotels. The Lehigh Valley Railroad built a spur to the north end of the lake and logs were skidded across the ice for loading. Eventually, the railroad built a picnic area on the shore to attract paying passengers to the lake. By 1890, the lakeshore was filled with resorts, hotels, boarding houses and summer cottages. Steamships plied the waters, taking guests to picnic grounds and around the lake. Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Hotel Oneonta in 1912.

With the new century, new amusements were created to attract visitors. A swimming beach was built at Harveys Lake at great expense, with sand shipped in by train. A dance pavilion was built and carousel installed. Trolley lines and buses brought visitors from Wilkes-Barre and Dallas to spend the day. The shoreline filled every available space with eating establishments, photography studios, bath houses and cottages. The old Lehigh Valley Railroad Picnic Ground was sold to a developer who built an amusement park. The Roaring Twenties saw Harveys Lake transformed into more adult entertainment venues, with world-famous jazz, vaudeville and variety acts taking center stage. The Big Band era arrived, as did speakeasies and the occasional home-built still to supply the nightspots during Prohibition.

Time and World War II took their toll on Harveys Lake. The grand old hotels succumbed to fire and weren’t rebuilt. The amusement park limped along until the 1960s until it, too was closed; the roller coasters dismantled and shipped to better venues. The trolleys and railroad eventually stopped service; the steamships were by then long gone. Private cottages and homes replaced the hotels and rooming houses. Even the swimming beach passed into private hands.

Improved roads and increased development made the trip to Harveys Lake as simple as the daily commute. Now, the lakeshore has turned into an upscale address for the well-to-do. The entire lake is privately held, except for the State Boat Dock on the southwest shore. There is no longer a public beach. Two marinas, one with an attached campground, provide water access to the lake for boaters. There are still a few choice guest houses and vacation rentals available. Real estate in the area can often be found. The lake has become its own borough, complete with sewer systems. Water quality has improved and the crystal-clear waters are as inviting as they were the day Benjamin Harvey topped the ridge and sighted the lake over 200 years ago.

The new permanent residents of Harveys Lake enjoy their private paradise. The un-crowded waters sport all sorts of watercraft on summer days. Water skiing is allowed, but there is a 45 mph speed limit on weekends. Children enjoy tubing whle the older teens enjoy wakeboarding. Sailing is a favorite activity and sailboat races are held regularly. The local yacht club offers sailing lessons and boaters often sail to local waterfront restaurants for an informal get-together.

Fishermen visit Harveys Lake often to try their luck at catching the brown trout, smallmouth bass, pickerel, walleye, smelt, bluegills and sunfish. The lake is stocked regularly and special rules are in place for trout fishing to encourage optimum growth. Several tournaments are held each year, including an annual pickerel tournament. Winter sees ice fishermen on the lake as soon as the ice is thick enough. Ice skating and ice-boating are popular sports.

Visitors can find many activities in the area to round out a summer vacation. The Endless Mountains are beautiful; the many creeks and the bigger Susquehanna River wind through the valleys next to the narrow mountain roads. The entire area is a photographer’s dream. Parts of the old rail bed to Harveys Lake have been converted to trails for cycling and walking, or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. The Wilkes-Barre Triathlon holds the swimming portion of their annual event at Harvey’s Lake.

Two State Parks are located within fifteen miles of Harveys Lake; Frances Slocum State Park and Ricketts Glen State Park. At Ricketts Glen, the Glen Natural Area — a National Natural Landmark — boasts a series of free-flowing waterfalls. The 22 named waterfalls in the area can be viewed from the Falls Trail. Northwest of Harveys Lake, the Tunkhannock area provides many visitor-friendly venues for the tourist’s enjoyment. Children especially enjoy the trout hatchery and fee-fishing ponds. They’re guaranteed to catch something here! The Endless Mountains Nature Center is open summers for nature exhibits, seminars and children’s activities. The North East Pennsylvania Bluegrass Festival brings music lovers every summer to enjoy the many varieties of this historic form of music.

Less than seven miles south of Harveys Lake, the highway to Wilkes-Barre provides all of the necessary shopping and business needs a traveler might want. Fourteen miles from the lake, Wilkes-Barre provides the city environment some crave, with nightlife, restaurants and all types of shopping. There are, of course, several golf courses and movie theaters. The new Wilkes-Barre River Common park hosts events, festivals and gardens for the enjoyment of the public. The nearby city of Scranton has several can’t-miss attractions for the adventurous and the history buff. The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour is a great way to spend a rainy day and the National Historic Site Steamtown offers a Technology Museum and History Museum. These modern buildings explore the people, history, technology and lore of steam railroading. Rail excursions are available based on a published schedule. There is a popular downhill ski facility at the edge of town.

The Endless Mountains provide endless enjoyment to residents and visitors alike. Don’t miss a chance to visit this beautiful place. Come for a week or an entire summer. You’ll never run out of things to see and do around Harveys Lake.

Things to do at Harveys Lake PA

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Amusement Park
  • Movie Theater
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Harveys Lake PA

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Brown Trout
  • Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Smelt
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Harveys Lake PA Photo Gallery

Harveys Lake PA Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 658 acres

Shoreline Length: 8 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,255 feet

Average Depth: 36 feet

Maximum Depth: 96 feet

Water Volume: 23,835 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 3.06 yrs

Lake Area-Population: 2,888

Drainage Area: 6 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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