CAROGA LAKE - This year marks another anniversary, the 100th year since three ponds were dammed to form Peck's Lake.
The reservoir that was built to help power early 20th-century industry later grew into a recreational jewel.
The Peck family arrived in the America in 1638 and has lived in the area since the early 1800s. The history of the body of water that bears the family's name goes back all the way to prehistoric times.
The Leader-Herald/Edward J. Hunt
Peck’s Lake Resort co-owner Alby Peck snaps a photo of Ayden Harrington, 5 of Canajoharie, the latest —and youngest — inductee to the boat house’s Wall of Fame on Monday.
Granted exclusive rights to manage the lake, the surrounding properties, the boathouse and the marina through a 999-year lease negotiated and signed 111 years ago by his uncle, Albert T. Peck III, also known as Alby, and his cousin, C. Wellington Peck, run the Peck's Lake resort and marina. Boasting clear water, campsites and cottages, plentiful fishing and room for boating and water skiing, the lake draws vacationers from nearby and afar.
Tom Harper, of Portsmouth, Maine, closed out the hot Fourth of July weekend Monday with a day of boating on the lake. After treating himself and his family to ice cream at the resort's snack bar, Harper said, "We make it a point to come here every year."
The resort offers campsites and cottages. Campsites start at $20 per night and cottages start at $205 per night. Fishing and boat privileges are available at an additional cost.
Attracting guests from outside the area isn't unusual, Alby Peck said.
"We've had people this year from New Jersey, North Carolina, Long Island and Michigan. There's also a family that summers here and spends the winter in Switzerland," he said.
Harper says the friendly people are one of the big factors drawing people to the man-made lake.
Fishing in the two-mile wide and five-mile long lake is another attraction. According to the Peck's Lake website, due to the resort's location, the lake is largely unaffected by acid rain and it is stocked yearly with a variety of fish, including northern pike, walleye, rainbow and brown trout, pickerel, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, rockbass, crappies, yellow perch, bluegills and bullheads.
Ayden Harrington, 5, visiting the lake with his parents, Stacey and George Harrington of Canajoharie, experienced some good fishing by reeling in a 1.7-pound largemouth bass and landed himself on the fishing Wall of Fame, a collection of pictures in the boathouse showing off some of the best catches of the year.
Alby noted the horse-drawn buggy parked near the spillway not far from the boathouse. He said some Amish men from Ephratah come to the lake regularly to fish for rockbass in a rented rowboat. Their horse is housed in the large, red barn during their visit, he said, much like in the early days of the resort.
As recalled in the family history, in 1889, Peck's Park began providing private hunting and fishing for visitors that came either by the horse-drawn stage service from Gloversville or with their own horses, which were cared for in the livery.
Then came the new century. With it came the demand for electricity and The Mohawk Hydro-Electric Company, the forerunner to Niagara Mohawk and, ultimately, National Grid, wanted to construct a hydroelectric station in Ephratah and needed a reservoir to guarantee a sufficient water supply. Peck's Pond was only a few miles upstream, so it made a logical choice to dam. The power company approached Albert T. Peck, who by this time owned much of the land surrounding the pond, and proposed the dam, which would raise the pond's level by 20 feet, covering much of the land owned by Peck. The power company would take control of the land needed for the reservoir and the dams and, in return, Peck would retain control of the new lake and the surrounding area for a term of 999 years.
The resort was passed down from "Uncle" Albert to his brother's sons and then down to brothers Alby and John, and Alby's cousins, brothers Larry and C. Wellington Peck. Today, all four live on the lake, with Alby and Wellington running the day-to-day operations.
Alby wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love all the personal contact," he said, speaking of the visitors to the resort.
However, there are fewer visitors this year, he said.
"Last year was slower than before. This year is slower than last year," Alby Peck said. "People are afraid of spending money, afraid of going on a long vacation and losing their job while they are gone."
"People are staying for a shorter time," he added. "Still, a short stay is better than having no one here at all."
Alby is looking to the future, though. His daughter, Tammy Warner, and Wellington's son, Geoff Peck, work at the resort. He is hopeful that business will eventually pick up. The one thing he does not want is change, at least not too much of it.
"We may modernize a bit," he said. "But people like it as it is. They like it and that's why they come. I wouldn't change that."