Lake Placid at a Glance
Lake Placid fills a natural geologic basin draining the McKenzie Mountains to the west, Whiteface Mountain to the north and Mount Whitney to the east. The lake is divided into two lobes, "East Lake" and "West Lake," by a peninsula at the lake’s southern end and three islands—Buck, Moose and Hawk. Sunset and Shelter Straits separate the peninsula from Buck Island and Buck from Moose, respectively. The natural water level of Lake Placid is increased about six feet by a concrete spillway feeding Outlet Brook at southern end of West Lake. Two smaller outlets on East Lake also eventually flow into Outlet Brook.
Elevation: 1,858 feet
Area: 2,173 acres
Length: ~4 miles
Width: ~1.5 miles
Maximum Depth: 151 feet
Industry, Settlement and Commerce on the Lake
Long before the establishment of North Elba Township in the mid-19th Century, Native Americans settled along the shores of Lake Placid to take advantage of the lake’s abundant fishery and hunting grounds. Little trace, beyond a dugout canoe discovered along the western shoreline of the Brewster Peninsula remains to reveal the size or identity of native colonies.
Apart from the sporadic explorers and survey parties, the North Elba region surrounding Lake Placid was not fully established until the mid 1800s, with the 1850 US Census tabulating the population of North Elba at 210 persons.
In the antebellum north industry drew early populations to the lake, a far cry from the recreational opportunities that abound today. Lake Placid was revered more for its hydraulic power potential than its scenic beauty, but today people flock to Lake Placid to enjoy its pristine waters, shorefront and spectacular vistas.