Star Lake Handbook

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A Short History of Star Lake

Star Lake was not always called Star Lake!  The earliest indication that we can find that it was even known, to other than Native Americans, was its identification as “Big Lake” in an 1865 New Topographical Atlas of St. Lawrence County, New York from actual surveys by S. N. and D. G. Beers and Assistants.  In 1876, Edwin R. Wallace’s A Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks described a trip from Harrisville to Pitcairn and Fine; then up the East Branch of the Oswegatchie to Cranberry Lake.  No mention was made of this most pristine lake in the Adirondacks!  Theory has it that the many bays visually formed points to a star; and thus evolved the modern name “Star Lake.” 

The picture is a satellite view of Star Lake and the surrounding hamlet.  For an interesting “tour” of the area, go to and search for “Star Lake, NY”.  Use the zoom and move features to “travel” around the lake in high resolution and great detail.

In 1885, Star Lake was identified as “Point Lake” on S. R. Stoddard’s “Map of the Adirondack Wilderness.”   Finally, in Wallace’s 1894 Descriptive Guide, we find Star Lake! “... Star Lake in form, purity and brightness is one of the fairest of all the galaxy of gems adorning the Adirondack wilderness.  On earlier maps it appears as “Point Lake” having thus been designated from its curiously scalloped shores.  It has, but recently, received its more appropriate name.  Its waters are crystal, objects being discernable at great depth.  It is apparently one vast spring having no visible inlet or outlet.  This many-armed islet-adorned and hill-enriched little loch, fringed here and there with golden sand presents a lake picture of peculiar and entrancing loveliness.” 

And with “PR” like this, Star Lake began to emerge as a resort area.  Remnants of the old Star Lake Hotel can still be seen in the Post Office Bay.  The area became known as the “Catskills of the North” as many from downstate spent their vacations here at the numerous “resort” hotels on the lake.  Many of our cottages are “century” cottages and many of the owners are third and fourth generation descendents of early Star Lakers.  When grandchildren visit, some are even the fifth and sixth generation to swim in the “crystal waters” of Star Lake! 

Statistics on Star Lake are from the NYSDEC Region 6 Morphometric Atlas.  The aerial picture is an old post card photo taken from Maple Mountain, looking east.




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