The Finger Lakes in Perspective

MelRussoby Carmelo “Mel” Russo

Some of us would like to think that we live around the best, or maybe the biggest, or perhaps the deepest, or possibly the longest Finger Lake. Sometimes when we think we’re in the superlative, it’s good to review the statistics and put everything into perspective.

There are eleven Finger Lakes in all. These are listed from east to west in the table below. Seneca is the deepest at 650′, while Cayuga is the longest at 40 miles. As we review the data on these two “giant” bodies of water as  compared to the rest of the Finger Lakes, we can sense a feeling of pride since we do live near the deepest, the longest and the largest of Finger Lakes.

One should wonder why the most expensive lake properties are not located on the deepest, largest, and least crowded of the Finger Lakes. In contrast, Keuka, Canandaigua, and Skaneateles seem to carry the highest priced properties by a factor of 2x even though these lakes are relatively pint sized compared to Seneca and Cayuga. Moreover Seneca and Cayuga offer navigable access to the Barge Canal system.

On the other hand, when compared to the Great Lakes, even the largest of the Finger Lakes is dwarfed. The Great Lakes, which contain 20% of the planet’s liquid fresh water, are the largest contiguous mass of fresh water in the world.

Finger Lakes
Lake Max depth in feet Length in miles Width in miles Surface area in square miles Suface elevation in feet above sea level
Conesius 59′ 7.8 mi. 0.8 mi. 5.6 sq. mi. 818′
Hemlock 96′ 7.3 mi. 0.5 mi. 3.2 sq. mi. 905′
Canadice 91′ 3.2 mi. 0.5 mi. 1.3 sq. mi 1099′
Honeoye 35′ 4.1 mi 0.8 mi 3.5 sq. mi. 818′
Canandaigua 273′ 17.6 mi. 1.5 mi. 17.6 sq.mi. 687′
Keuka 186′ 19.6 mi. 2.2 mi. 22.3 sq.mi 709′
Seneca 650′ 34.5 mi. 3.2 mi. 73.9 sq.mi 444′
Cayuga 435′ 40 mi. 3.5 mi. 76.4 sq.mi 384′
Owasco 177′ 11.1 mi. 1.3 mi. 10.0 sq. mi. 710′
Skaneatles 287′ 15.1 mi. 1.4 mi. 14 sq. mi. 867′
Otisco 66′ 5.4 mi. 0.8 mi. 3.8 sq. Mi 784′
Great Lakes
Lake Max depth in feet Length in miles Width in miles Surface area in square miles Suface elevation in feet above sea level
Ontario 778′ 7,540 sq. mi. 246′
Erie 210′ 9,930 sq. mi. 572′
Michigan 924′ 22,400 sq. mi. 580′
Huron 750′ 23,010 sq. mi. 580′
Superior 1,333′ 31,820 sq. mi. 602′

• some of the Finger Lakes are calculated from scale
Sources: VonEngel 1961
Hubbs and Lagler 2004

© copyright Mel Russo 2015