Resource for Historians, Educators, Students and Visitors since 1997
New York State's beautiful, spring-fed glacial lake is sometimes referred to as the Queen of American Lakes. Lake George is renowned for its natural beauty and the important role it played in early American history.
The lake stretches north/south approximately 32 miles in length. Its crystal clear waters, bordered by steep mountainsides, vary in width from 1-3 miles in width. The lake is considered part of the Lake Champlain Basin because it drains north into Lake Champlain down a number of waterfalls through a short and narrow stream known as La Chute at Ticonderoga, New York.
The lake was long considered an important passageway through the mountain wilderness. The Iroquoian natives referred to the lake as Andiatarocté or the shut-in lake, while the early French missionary Isaac Jogues, the first European to travel the lake, named it Lac du Saint-Sacrement (Lake of the Holy Sacrament). The lake may have been discovered by Samuel de Champlain during his North American explorations of 1609.
Lake George figured prominently during the early conflicts on the North American continent. It was the scene of major military actions during the French and Indian (Seven Years) War and the American Revolution. Important forts were constructed on each end of the waterway during the French and Indian War. Fort William Henry on the southern end and Fort Carillon, later known as Fort Ticonderoga, on the northern end of the lake, each were the site of major battles during this bloody conflict.
Once the colonial wars ended, the lake became a recreational haven, drawing tourists from everywhere to travel the beautiful lake in steamships and vacation on its mountainous, heavily wooded shores. Lake George remains a major recreational locale for tourists.
* Sarah N. Randolph, "The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson" (Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, 1871) 201
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