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The Lore of Sunken Island

From: Richfield Springs and Vicinity
By: W.T. Bailey
A.S. Barnes & Company
New York and Chicago, 1874
Contributed by: Harriet Geywits


CANADARAGO LAKE: This lake lies about three-fourths of a mile directly south from Richfield Springs, is five miles in extreme length, from one to one and a half miles in width. It is nearly surrounded by wood-covered hills or mountain-ranges, with intervening fields and highly cultivated farms. This is one of the most beautiful of the small lakes of the State, and abounds in a great variety of most excellent fish, that furnish abundant piscatorial sport for those who visit this place through the warm summer season. At the time of the early settlement of this region, salt-water fish were occasionally found in the waters, but this is now prevented by the numerous dams built across the stream leading to it. A small steamboat was placed upon this lake in the summer of 1872 as a pleasure-boat. The annual appropriation which our State Legislature has made for several years for the propagation of fish in the lakes of the State, is certainly a matter of important consideration.

Over 100,000 young fish have been put in this lake during the past winter, by Professor Green, of Rochester. About one-tenth of the number were trout, the balance white-fish.

A beautifully wooded Island, comprising about seven acres, and lying high above the water, rests within the bosom of this lake, its dark and cooling shades having long been a place of popular resort for pleasure parties as indicated by dates carved in the bark of trees.

A corresponding Island once stood directly to the west of this, but about the commencement of this century, it suddenly disappeared by sinking far down beneath the waters of the lake.* It is said that the tops of large trees can now be seen, still standing erect, far down in the transparent waters.

The following Indian tradition in relation to this island, has been handed down to us: " A famous healing Indian prophet once dwelt upon a beautiful island in the midst of Canadarago Lake, to whom invalids from all the Iroquois used to come, and leave their maladies. At midnight he would glide softly away in his canoe, penetrate the dark forest to the fountains, and then return to his patients with vessels full of the magic waters. By his great success he became proud and powerful; and at least he called himself the twin brother of the Great Spirit. This blasphemy kindled the anger of the Almighty, and it consumed the boaster. One morning when a bridal party went thither to receive the prophet's blessing, the island had disappeared. The Great Spirit in his wrath had thrust it with the proud prophet so deep into the earth, that the waters of the lake where it stood are unfathomable by human measurement."

*This is a veritable fact, within the recollection of our oldest citizens. It will be observed that Canadarago Lake on the West, and the Otsego Lake on the East, form the extreme sources of the Susquehanna River.