Excerpt from Persons, Places and Things IN the Finger Lakes Region
by Emerson Klees
The name “Skaneateles” is derived from the Indian word “Skan-e-a-dice,” which means “long lake”. At 350-feet deep, it is the third deepest Finger Lake and serves a watershed of seventy-three square miles.
The lake has an AA water purity rating and is the public water supply for Syracuse and some of its suburbs. Although it is the clearest of the major Finger Lakes, it has the smallest number of plant species and is the least productive for wildlife.
One early regional industry was the production of potash by burning trees from cleared land. The potash was hauled by wagon to be marketed in Albany. When the Syracuse and Auburn Railroad was built, local venture capitalists built a connecting wooden railroad in 1836, which was replaced by a steam railroad in 1867.
Skaneateles and nearby Marcellus were once the centers of the teasel industry of the United States. Teasel has a large, prickly bur with hook-shaped bristles that were used to raise the nap on woven cloth. It drew fine wool fibers from cloth, leaving a smooth surface. The New England clothing mills were the biggest customers for teasel. Teasel had a ninety-year run in Skaneateles until 1930, when equipment was developed to perform its function mechanically.