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Big Moose Lake
Big Moose Lake NY USA.JPG
Big Moose Lake, as seen from its outlet
Location Webb and Long Lake,
New York
Coordinates 43°49′01″N 74°51′17″W / 43.81694°N 74.85472°W / 43.81694; -74.85472Coordinates: 43°49′01″N 74°51′17″W / 43.81694°N 74.85472°W / 43.81694; -74.85472
Type Glacial
Primary outflows Moose River
Basin countries United States
Max. length 3 mi (4.8 km)
Max. width 1 mi (1.6 km)
Surface area 1,242 acres (5.03 km2)
Average depth 23 ft (7.0 m)
Max. depth 85 ft (26 m)
Surface elevation 1,824 ft (556 m)
Islands Echo Island
Settlements Big Moose

Big Moose Lake, at the head of the Moose River, is a large lake about five miles (8 km) north of Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. The lake is part of Herkimer and Hamilton counties, covering portions of the towns of Webb and Long Lake. Located southwest of the lake is the hamlet of Big Moose.

The lake's popularity derives from its remoteness, climate and beauty

Geography and climate

Located in the central-western part of the Adirondack region, Big Moose Lake covers 1,242 acres (5.03 km2) in surface area. It is approximately three miles (4.8 km) long and almost one mile (1.6 km) wide, running in an east-west direction along its major axis. The lake ranges in depth from 30 to 70 feet (9 to 21 m) in its deepest parts, with an average depth of 23 feet (7 m).

In the summer, temperatures average from nightly lows of 45 °F (7 °C) to daytime highs of 75 °F (24 °C). In winter, the lake completely freezes over and temperatures during the day reach an average high of 20 °F (−7 °C) and an average nightly low of 5 °F (−15 °C).

Communities and recreation

Located southwest of the lake is the hamlet of Big Moose; other nearby communities include Eagle Bay, Inlet, Old Forge, and Thendara. With minimal road access, the lake's shore is not heavily populated, experiencing its peak during the summer months when vacationers arrive at their summer homes or stay at local resorts.

The lake and its surrounding region are a popular spot for tourists year-round; boating, water-skiing and hiking are available in the summer, and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling take place in the winter. It is home to the Big Moose Water Ski Club that consists of residents of the region.

The 50,100-acre (203 km2) Pigeon Lake Wilderness Area lies just east of the lake.


Big Moose Lake NY USA Architecture
Vertical, half-log (palisade) architecture at Covewood Lodge

The lake's region was settled primarily during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by people arriving on the first railroad through the uninhabited Adirondack wilderness. Early trappers and hunters of the Adirondacks became guides there, eventually establishing permanent camps and hotels. Businessmen, in the style of the Great Camps of the Vanderbilts and Morgans, built private summer homes and brought their families. Some of these lodges still exist and the Big Moose Lake area is historically significant for its unique architecture utilizing vertical half-log construction in lodges and cabins.

The Glenmore, from a 1907 Postcard.

Big Moose Lake was the setting of An American Tragedy, a novel by Theodore Dreiser. It is based on the true story of Chester Gillette, who was convicted and executed for the drowning of Grace Brown in the South Bay of Big Moose Lake in the first part of the 20th century. (The name Dreiser gave the lake where the murder took place was Big Bittern Lake, although he did visit Big Moose Lake and used it as a model for his fictional version.) The Academy Award-winning film, A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters and Montgomery Clift, is based on the book. The murder of Grace Brown continues to gain notoriety as claims of ghost sightings around the lake occur. In 1996, the television series Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode reenacting the tragedy, focusing on two such reported sightings. On July 11, 2006 a wreath-laying ceremony took place on South Bay in observance of the centennial of Brown's death. A small flotilla of watercraft participated.

A historical novel by Jennifer Donnelly, A Northern Light (2003), also takes its plot from the murder, but is told from the perspective of a young girl working at the Glenmore (a lodge) on the lake. The lake and the surrounding community also play a prominent role in Robert Tucker's 2013 novel, Sasquatch Camp.

Buildings of the palisade architectural style (built from vertically positioned half-logs) can be found in the area.

Historic Places

The following places are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:


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