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Regional History

The region known as the Finger Lakes consist of 11 long, narrow, roughly parallel lakes, oriented north-south as fingers of a pair of outstretched hands. The southern ends have high walls, cut by steep gorges. Cayuga and its sister lake to the west, Seneca, are among the deepest in North America and have bottoms below sea level. These lakes all formed two million years ago during the “Ice Age”.  Ithaca is located at the south end of Cayuga Lake, the longest and the second deepest of the Finger Lakes. Cayuga is 38.1 miles long and 435 feet deep (53 feet below sea level) at its deepest spot. 


Local History

Sheldrake-on-Cayuga located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region has been a vacation destination by travelers for more than 125 years.  The climatic advantages and mineral spring water available in Sheldrake were highly prized by travelers escaping the oppression of urban areas during the summer months.  Upon arrival, visitors were amazed by the natural beauty, yachting opportunities and amusements of the modern accommodations at Sheldrake House and Cayuga Lake House (aka Sheldrake Springs House and Sanitarium), including a 9-hole golf course, bowling alley, tennis courts and Hotel Orchestra.

Cayuga Lake House aka Sheldrake Springs
Sheldrake House with Additional Lodge
Cayuga Lake House Golf Course
Sheldrake House

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Travel History

Travel to Sheldrake was straightforward from New York City, Brooklyn, Jersey City, Newark, Philadelphia Rochester and Buffalo, via The Lehigh Valley Railroad.  There was train service direct to Interlaken, a few miles from Sheldrake.  The other popular mode of travel to Sheldrake was via steamer ferry service to Sheldrake Point daily.  The Frontenac, Mohawk and Iroquois were all famous steamer ferries on Cayuga Lake during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In the early 20th century, motoring became very popular with tourists visiting Sheldrake.  The roads were described as “unparalleled” and a “motorist’s dream”.

Cayuga Lake Road Drive
Sheldrake Point Steamer Landing
Steamer Frontenac
Rail Schedules to Sheldrake

Click image to enlarge.

Additional Information

Owners, Kim and Chris Stamberger, are avid collectors of memorabilia and postcards from the early era of tourism in the Finger Lakes and especially the Sheldrake area.  The postcards pictured here are from her collection. 


Be sure to look through the copy of “Sheldrake-on-Cayuga / A Postcard History” during your stay to see these postcards as well as many others dating back more than 125 years.  Copies of the book are available for purchase upon request.

Click image to enlarge.

Yachting on Cayuga Lake
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