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Home » The Past, the Present, and the Future of Seneca Lake

The Past, the Present, and the Future of Seneca Lake

When Susan and Colleen came for a visit from Pittsburgh, Pa., they wanted to go on Captain John’s (click here) narrated boat tour of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal and Seneca Lake. We had taken this trip with Susan earlier in the summer and we enjoyed it so much that it was on our “must do again” list of things when she returned.

The boat trip is relaxing and soothing. If one goes back more than 200 years ago before the first white man came into the Waterloo and Seneca Falls Region in 1791 (click here), the native Indians used the Seneca River as their highway of travel from Seneca Lake to Cayuga Lake, to hunt and fish, and to live along the shores of this waterway. But when the first white men came, they recognized the power of the Seneca River and immediately began building saw mills and grist mills which were powered by the flowing water.

Today, the heritage of the Seneca-Cayuga Canal has been preserved as the south bank has been kept natural. No development is allowed on this side of the canal and is kept as it was in the time of the Indians. On the north side of the canal, there are many homes and marinas which house people who like to live along this beautiful waterway. During the Second World War, the United States Coast Guard even maintained a station on the Seneca-Cayuga Canal as the Navy conducted submarine research on Seneca Lake near the Sampson State Marine Park. The old Coast Guard Station is in disrepair but has been declared a historical structure, and the present owner can not change it into a modern residence.

One example of today’s present structures along Seneca Lake is the Ramada Inn at Geneva. This structure is heated and cooled by the lake water. The rooms do not have balconies or windows which can be opened as that would upset the geothermal air-conditioning system. The Inn is enjoyed by many visitors to Geneva, NY and is the chosen location for many weddings which occur on the beautiful Seneca Lake.

Captain John likes to talk about the past, present and future of Seneca Lake. The key to the future is to not overdevelop the Finger Lakes so that they can be a place of beauty for generations to  come. We thoroughly enjoyed our boat ride with Captain John, and when Captain John docks his boat, there are no tracks left on the canal or on Seneca Lake so the canal and the lake can be enjoyed again and again by everyone!

7 thoughts on “The Past, the Present, and the Future of Seneca Lake”

    1. Mary, according to Captain John, there were a series of wells drilled on the site where the Ramada stands. The water from these wells provides the necessary cooling and heating for the hotel.

  1. Jim
    I had a very enjoyable trip down the canal and on the lake. Captain John shared some very interesting facts about the finger lakes and their history.

    Thank you for arranging the trip. I look forward to visiting again.

    1. Colleen, I’m glad that you enjoyed the boat trip. Here at, we try to bring you the best of all the lakes, the water falls, gorges, wineries, and restaurants in the Finger Lakes region.

  2. The key is socially responsible development which includes development that blends. The RAMADA Inn in Geneva is one of the ugliest building on any of the Finger Lakes and the powers that be when it was built should have demanded better architecture, colors, setbacks and landscaping.

  3. We are happy to be part of this opportunity to further develope the Finger Lakes as a major tourism destination. This Monday morning we will host staff writers for the BBC. They will go on my boat for a chance to hear all the very special stories of the Seneca/ Cayuga Canal.

    By the way::: I still like to call our waterway the Seneca River.

    1. Captain John,

      Good weather and good hosting of the BBC staff writers. My very first introduction to the Finger Lakes some 43 years ago was a trip to Geneva, NY to do some Lake Trout fishing with a guide who lived near Geneva. We didn’t catch any fish but the boat ride was enjoyable! Now I like to do research on the early manufacturing that was done in the Finger Lakes as I spent my working career at IBM in Endicott, NY. It is indeed amazing to me how many of the items which we use today were first developed/manufactured in the Finger Lakes Region. I look forward to returning next year with more of my friends from Pennsylvania and perhaps you can take us through the lock at Waterloo.

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