Kinderhook Lake, New York, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - New York - Capital-Saratoga -

In the early 1900’s, travelers rode the train for hours to play along the shores of Kinderhook Lake. Getting to the lake in New York’s Berkshires requires much less effort today, but its lure is just as strong as it was then. Kinderhook Lake in the Capital-Saratoga region calls visitors and residents alike to enjoy the clean, clear water, abundant fish and rich history of Columbia County.

In 1609 Henry Hudson made his way up the Hudson River. He saw a group of Mohican Indian children playing on the shore and named the spot Kinderhoeck or “Children’s Corner.” Several communities sprouted in the area, including Niverville originally known as Kinderhook Station. The first house in Niverville was built in 1707 by Louren Lourenson Van Alen. Seeing the need for lumber for additional buildings, in 1710 Van Alen built a sawmill on the Valatie Kill, a stream at the outlet of Kinderhook Lake. An iron forge followed in 1786, and in 1810 John Niver built a gristmill and earthen dam raising water levels on Kinderhook Lake. Niver and his cousin John M. emigrated from Germany in the 1800’s and in 1848 built Niver Mansion which still stands today. Niverville was named after the cousins.

Electric Park opened in 1901 on the shores of Kinderhook Lake. Admission to the park was free for roundtrip ticket holders (40 cents) on the Albany and Hudson Railway. All other visitors paid ten cents for admission to the park. The Albany and Hudson Railway Company owned Electric Park and the third rail was actually used to power the park’s lights and some of the attractions. There were two Ferris wheels – a steam powered one outside the park that visitors could ride for five cents and an electric one inside the park included with park admission.

A carousel on an island in Kinderhook Lake lured visitors to the lake. A bridge led to the island and there was also a bridge that crossed the lake. Young men escorted their dates to the middle of the bridge then made it sway from side to side eliciting squeals of mock terror and delight. Squeals could also be heard coming from the wooden slide known as the “chute to chute,” which could be traveled by floating carts in the summer and toboggans in the winter. The roller coaster rose over the surface of the lake. The supports for the coaster were sunk through holes in the frozen lake and can still be seen sticking out of the water today. In the winter ice was cut from the lake and stored in the park’s icehouse for summer use. Electric Park included a dance hall, vaudeville theater shooting gallery, bowling alley and restaurant. It was in a “dry part” of the county, however, and residents joked that fathers would drop their families at the park and “go fishing for beer.” There were six saloons around Kinderhook Lake and rented boats carried people to “rest areas” on islands in the lake.

The biggest attraction in all of Electric Park, however, was the lake itself. Visitors could rent wooden platforms to erect tents and spend the day sunbathing, swimming or fishing. Electric Park closed during World War I. It never really came back to its former popularity, but the lake is more popular than ever. Some Electric Park buildings became homes and over the years private residences and vacation rentals were tucked in among the tree lined shore. The Kinderhook Lake Improvement Association (KLIA) was formed in the 1930’s to keep the lake clean and stock it with fish. Its role expanded in 1949 when the dam built in the 1700’s failed dropping Kinderhook Lake to its original water levels. Members of KLIA came together in 1953 to create the Kinderhook Lake Corporation (KLC) with the goal of purchasing the bottom of the lake and rebuilding the dam. KLC manages the lake and water levels today which fluctuate slightly depending on spring rains and snowmelt. KLIA maintains a public boat launch for car top boats and a private launch for property owners. The lake is full of pan fish and white perch, and there is great largemouth bass fishing.

Nearby the communities of Kinderhook, Valatie, Chatham and Niverville have any amenities a visitor might need. All the villages also have rich histories with buildings and visual reminders from the Dutch settlers that founded them. Driving or strolling down the charming streets is a fantastic way to spend a day, and there are shops, restaurants and historic inns. For visitors that want to extend their stay, there is real estate available for sale. The Omi International Arts Center is a short drive from Kinderhook Lake. Established in 1998 the Fields Sculpture Park occupies 100 of the Arts Center’s 300 acres and has a variety of outdoor sculpture. There is also a visitor center and gallery.

With its interesting history, cool water and abundant fish, Kinderhook Lake is the perfect place to make memories. Add the rolling hills and legendary Catskills and Kinderhook Lake becomes a place to return to again and again.

Things to do at Kinderhook Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Camping

Fish species found at Kinderhook Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • White Perch

Kinderhook Lake Photo Gallery

Kinderhook Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Kinderhook Lake Corporation

Surface Area: 375 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 285 feet

Average Depth: 8 feet

Maximum Depth: 32 feet

Completion Year: 1953

Drainage Area: 41 sq. miles

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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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