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Located on the top of West Shawangunk Ridge in the Catskill Mountains, Yankee Lake is located in Sullivan County, New York. Yankee Lake has a rich and colorful history that has survived to make Yankee Lake a thriving area for residents and vacationing visitors. Yankee Lake is located four miles west of the nearest town Wurtsboro, but the shoreline of Yankee Lake is occupied by a small village of the same name, Yankee Lake.
Around 1650, the Iroquois Nation moved to the area surrounding Yankee Lake after defeating the local tribes and taking over their land. With the great fishing opportunities from Yankee Lake in nearby streams and plentiful wildlife for hunting in the densely wooded areas, Yankee Lake was a great home to the Iroquois. Numerous artifacts from the Native Americans have been found in the area.
According to local legend, around 1800 a Yankee named Ellsworth hunted and fished in this area but kept his favorite fishing and hunting spots a great secret. A Dutch hunting party came upon Ellsworth's hidden canoe, and correctly guessed that this was Ellsworth's great hunting and fishing area and hence the name "Yankee's Pond", years later to be renamed "Yankee Lake."
Around the 1820's, the Delaware Hudson Canal Company originated to ship coal from Pennsylvania to New York City. It was then that Yankee Lake was first dammed to create an ample water supply for the canal system. A small stream called Pinekill was dammed to create a much larger Yankee Lake which flooded a large area whose remnants can be seen today as a petrified forest that has been preserved by water and weathering over the years.
On August 7, 1905 Yankee Lake was purchased by the newly formed Yankee Lake Company, Inc. when the Delaware Hudson Canal abandoned their interest in the area. In 1908, the New York Supreme Court ordered the Yankee Lake Company to lower the water level to the elevation that is in effect still today. The Yankee Lake Company restocked Yankee Lake with pickerel and perch, built a new access road to the area, and divided the land into lots or campsites each with 100 feet of lake front access. Those who purchased the parcels of land gained stock into the Yankee Lake Company. With the age of automobiles, Yankee Lake became only a short drive to escape from the heat of New York City and New Jersey. By 1911, the area boasted that a population of 3,000 made Yankee Lake their favorite getaway. In the 1940's, a separate group called the Yankee Lake Association founded the Clubhouse as a place for social gathering, festivities, and a place where teenagers could hang out. In the late 1990's, the Yankee Lake Company dissolved, and The Yankee Lake Association merged with a new group called The Yankee Lake Preservation Alliance to form today's Yankee Lake Preservation Association, Inc.
Yankee Lake has maintained its reputation as a great fishing area for hundreds of years. The Yankee Lake Preservation Association annually stocks bass, perch, and other species into Yankee Lake. To ensure the tranquility of Yankee Lake, non-motor boats are only allowed on the lake as well as canoes, rowboats, paddleboats, sailboats, kayaks, and windsurf boards. Because Yankee Lake is a privately owned lake, access to the lake is allowed only for property owners and their guests or renters.
Boredom is never a factor at Yankee Lake. Sullivan County boasts that their number one industry is tourism and that if you are adventuresome, there is enough to do that you could try a new activity each weekend for a year and still have something new to do. All within a short drive from Yankee Lake, you could golf at PGA-caliber courses, shop at outlets or antique shops, visit a year-round harness horse racing track, take flying lessons or soaring lessons at local airports, or visit the historical Fort Delaware, as well as the many trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, ATV riding and snowmobiling.
Vacation rental homes are available on Yankee Lake, so bring your family for a relaxing lake vacation in the Catskills.
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