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Otisco Lake is an eastern Finger Lake. Our Website has Otisco waterfront real estate for sale as well as Otisco lake view property and real estate between Otisco Lake and Skaneateles Lake. Otisco lake area homes and real estate for sale can also be viewed including the town of Marcellus.
Otisco Lake’s name may have been derived from the Iroquois name for the lake’s outlet, Nine Mile Creek, Us-te-ke, meaning “bitter-nut-hickory”. At least one older map, published in 1825, has the name spelled as “Ostisco”. The name may also have been derived from the word ostickney, meaning “waters much dried away”, or from the Onondaga word ostick, meaning “the water is low”.
Prior to European settlement, the lake was used by the Onondaga people for seasonal fishing and hunting, however no permanent settlements were known to exist. After the Revolutionary War, lands surrounding Otisco Lake were given to soldiers as payment for their service in the war. The first house was erected near the head of Otisco Lake by Oliver Tuttle in 1804, in what is today the Town of Otisco.
In 1869, Otisco Lake was made larger with the construction of a dam near the lake’s outlet, which enabled the lake to be used as a reservoir for the Erie Canal. The dam’s construction raised lake levels by nine feet (2.7 m), and flooded a road at the southern end of the lake. To re-build the road, a causeway was built out of hemlock logs. The causeway was damaged by storms and allowed to deteriorate before being reconstructed in 1983.
Otisco Lake has been used as a source for public drinking water for residents in the southern and western half of Onondaga County since 1908. In 1909, lake levels were increased by an additional four feet (1.2 m) when the dam was raised to increase the lake’s capacity. Today, the lake’s use as a public water supply is managed by the Onondaga County Water Authority. In 2011, Otisco Lake provided 17,280,000 US gallons (65,400,000 L) of water per day.