Owasco Lake is the sixth largest and third easternmost of the Finger Lakes located about 65 miles east-southeast of Rochester via I-90 and Routes 5 and 20. The City of Auburn is at its northernmost end and the Village of Moravia lies in the south. Both take their drinking water from the lake.
Excerpt from "Persons, Places and Things In the Finger Lakes Region" by Emerson Klees1
The name "Owasco" is derived from the Indian word "Wasco" which means "outlet" or "floating bridge." A second derivation of the name is from the Indian word "Osco" that means "crossing place."
Owasco Lake, smallest of the six major Finger Lakes, is 11.1 miles l.ong, 1.3 miles wide at its widest point, and has an average width of .9 mile. It is 177 feet deep at its deepest point, has a volume of 212 billion gallons, an has a watershed of 208 squae. miles. The lake is 710 feet above sea level. Owasco is a good trout fishing lake.
The earliest inhabitants of the region were the mound builders, or Alleghans, who preceded the Iroquois Confederacy. The Alleghans built their large fortress of Osco on the present site of Fort Hill cemetery in the City of Auburn. They built an earthen altar for the worship of the sun within the walls of the fortress and mounds for the burial of their dead outside the walls. The Alleghans were driven from the region during the thirteenth century by the Cayugas. Wasco was located at the junction of two Iroquois Indian trails, just as Auburn is located at the junction of Routes 5 and 20 today.
The Erie Canal, about ten miles north of Auburn, was completed in 1825. A canal was planned to link Auburn with the Erie Canal, and a dam was built across the outlet in 1835 as a first step in the construction of a canal. The canal was never built; however, the Syracuse and Auburn Railroad was built in 1838, and Auburn was linked by railroad to Rochester in 1841. In 1869, rail was laid from Fair Haven on Lake Ontario to Sayre, Pennsylvania, along the west shore of Owasco Lake. The line eventually became part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
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