Lake George


Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Disappearing Lake

Lake George is a geological curiosity of the Southern Tablelands region of New South Wales, Australia. What's curious about it is that, over a cycle of several years, the lake oscillates between being a 150km2 inland body of water, and a 150km2 inland grass paddock.

The Lake George basin is located 40km northeast of Canberra, and some 670m above sea level. It measures about 40km long, and 11km at the widest point. In a region typified by mountains and valleys, the basin itself is a peculiar sight; a dead flat expanse of land nestled between two abrupt elevations. On the eastern side of the basin, you have part of the Great Dividing Range, and on the western side, right up against the edge of the lake, is the 150m high escarpment known as the Lake George Range. And since the Federal Highway between Sydney and Canberra runs right between the escarpment and the lake, there's plenty of time to take it all in while you're driving along. Since the basin is emphatically lower than the surrounding geography, water runs into it, but has no way of getting out.

Oi, Bruce! Where'd all the bloody water go?

Lake George is only a lake half of the time. Despite the large surface area, it is always very shallow. The maximum recorded depth is a mere 7.3m, normally ranging between 1.5m and 4.5m. Every so often, the lake dries out completely, and because of the low depth and flat base, when it does dry out it appears to simply and suddenly vanish. The result is a lake which sometimes features boats and water skiers, and at other times features utes and grazing sheep.

There have been all manner of bizarre theories as to why the lake behaves this way -- volcanic craters, vast underground rivers, mysterious linkages to lakes on the other side of the world, that kind of hogwash. As it turns out, the height of the lake is simply a consequence of the ever-shifting relationship between precipitation and evaporation, as well as the capacity for the salty soil underneath the lake to absorb a huge amount of water.

Lake George was originally known as Weereewaa by the Aboriginals in the area. It was renamed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1820, who noted that "after dinner we drank a bumper toast to the future settlers of the shores of Lake George - which name I have given this grand and magnificent sheet of water in honour of his present majesty", which just goes to show that sometimes, the British who invaded this continent really did talk a load of self-righteous imperialistic crap.

Historically, it's thought that the western escarpment did not exist, and the basin was a flood plain which drained off normally towards the west. However, the escarpment was gradually raised by the underlying fault line, and the drainage route was cut off. Now the fault seems to be inactive, and the escarpment has eroded back considerably.

The basin is a site for ongoing archaeological research, presenting clues about prehistoric climatic and geological changes, as well as the movements and habits of the flora and fauna (anthropods included) of ages past.


Lake George is a long, narrow lake located on the eastern edge of the Adirondack State Park in Upstate New York. The lake, nicknamed the Queen of American Lakes extends 32.2 miles from the village of Lake George north to Ticonderoga, and varies between one and three miles wide. The lake connects to Lake Champlain via a narrow river called La Chute, which then drains into the Saint Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean. Several villages are located along the shore of Lake George, including Bolton Landing, Hague, and Huletts Landing. The area around the lake is known for its resorts and summer cottages.


Before European settlement, the lake was in the territory of the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois. It was then called Andiatarocte, or "there where the Lake is shut in." The lake is mentioned in the notes of Samuel de Champlain's voyages to the area, but the lake is not given a name. The first European to extensively explore the area was St. Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit missionary. He named the lake "Lac du Saint Sacrament." After four months among the Mohawk, he was killed by the natives, supposedly for bringing a plague of insects which destroyed crops in the area.

During the French and Indian War, the area around the Lake was seized by British General William Johnson, in order to control the trails used by both the French and the Iroquois for raids on English settlements. General Johnson renamed the lake after the reigning monarch at the time, King George II. After the Battle of Lake George, the British constructed a fort at the southern end of the lake, called Fort William Henry. The French countered by beginning the construction of their own fort at the northern end of the lake one month later. The fort would later become Fort Ticonderoga. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War, the French relinquished all claims to the area, and it fell within the realm of the Province of New York.

The lake shore remained largely unpopulated during the late 18th and early 19th century. Many battles took place around Lake George during the American Revolution, including the Battle of Ticonderoga and the Battles of Saratoga. After the Revolution, the lake was visited by a number of the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. During the early 19th century, artists including E. Charlton Fortune and Frank Vincent DuMond visited the lake.

Tourism and Wealth

Located at the easily accessible eastern edge of the Adirondacks, as well as being halfway between Montreal and New York City, Lake George became a popular getaway for a wide rage of people after the Civil War. By the turn of the 19th century, Lake George rivaled Newport, Rhode Island, Saratoga, and The Hamptons as summer vacation spots for the rich and famous. Large resorts, such as the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George Village and The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, were constructed for those who could afford to vacation. More affluent families, such as the Van Rensselaers, the Roosevelts, the Vanderbilts, and the Rockefellers build large estates on the road connecting Lake George Village and Bolton Landing.

The advent of airplane and car travel reduced the the number of wealthy tourists to the area, but made the area more affordable to middle-class vacationers. Many of the old estates were town down and replaced with more affordable accommodations. Those estates that survived have been remodeled in recent years, restored to their original condition and opened as hotels and resorts.


* In 1904 artist Harry Watrous created a fake sea monster, named Georgie, and put it in the lake as a practical joke. Georgie now lives in the Hague Historical Museum, with a replica in the Lake George Historical Museum.
* On October 2, 2005 the Ethan Allen, a tourist boat holding 47 passengers, capsized about a mile out from Lake George Village. The accident killed 20 senior citizens on a tour from Trenton, Michigan. It was determined that modifications to the ship caused the accident.



Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.