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Cayuga Lake

The Cayuga lake Scenic Byway is a fantastic way to explore the features and community of Cayuga Lake.

History of Cayuga Lake

Steamboats on the Southern end of Cayuga Lake, Walton

Carved by glaciers, Cayuga Lake is the longest and second deepest of the Finger Lakes, at 38.2 miles long and 435 feet deep at its deepest point. It reaches 53 feet below sea level, and along with Seneca Lake, it is among the deepest lakes in North America.

Over 350 million years ago, during the Devonian period, the whole Finger Lakes area was under a shallow saltwater sea. Over time, sediments from mountains to the east filled in the sea, eventually forming the typical shale, siltstone and sandstone rock found in this area. The skeletal remains of sea creatures formed layers of limestone, and deposits from the seawater created the thick salt layers now mined from below the lake. Cayuga Lake as we know it was formed during the next recorded chapter of local geological history — the Ice Age. Prior to the start of Ice Age two million years ago, what is now Cayuga Lake was a valley with a north flowing river running through it. A series of ice sheets flowing southward from Hudson Bay, and then receding, carved out the Finger Lakes. These glaciers were often on the magnificent scale of over a mile high.

Resource Preservation

Steamboats on Cayuga Lake

Steamboats on Cayuga Lake

The Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway is a fantastic way to explore the features and community of Cayuga Lake. Our community also feels the importance of protecting and preserving the wealth of nature and the culture we are so fortunate to live in and around. On this page we will be adding links to organizations and places where you can experience preservation at work in and around Cayuga Lake. Please get involved—together we can help keep the beauty of the Finger Lakes intact for generations to come.

Native American Canoe

Native American Canoe

Museum of the Earth
museumoftheearth.org

The History Center in Tompkins County
thehistorycenter.net

Women’s Rights National Historical Park
nps.gov/wori

Carol Sisler’s Cayuga Lake: Past Present and Future is also a wonderful reference for detailed information on the places you travel, available at The History Center in Tompkins County and other fine bookshops.