Findley Lake is a 300 acre lake with the extreme depth of only 38 feet. Located in the western most county (Chautauqua), 3/4 of a mile from the Pennsylvania state line on the new interstate 86 (Rte. 17). This lake was formed by the damming of two ponds and a flowing stream in 1815. The purpose of the dam was to allow timbering on the watershed and floating of the logs to a mill. At one time a horizontal water wheel furnished power for both a saw mill and a grist mill. Today a new vertical waterwheel has been constructed near the site of the original. Today’s wheel presently has no purpose except as a tourist attraction. Plans call for the possibility of a small power generator to furnish landscape lighting in the near future.
The two pond areas of the original area today have a depth of about 38 feet. Most of the lake is less than 12 feet deep and supports many boats of all styles. A boat launch is owned by the Findley Lake Property Owners and is available weekdays during the summer months. This control minimizes the influx of out of state vessels on the weekend. After Labor Day the launch ramp is always accessible. With no limits to boat or motor size, the lake is sometimes used to an extreme. With over 500 vessels tied to the shoreline docks it is apparent that overuse is possible.
In 1949 the Findley Lake Property Owners was formed and the purchase of the area where the dam is located was the first order of business. The dam is basically the main street in the hamlet with the lake level control maintained by the Property Owners Association. The lake is lowered approximately 34 inches in the fall and refilled in April and early May. This lowering of water helps to protect dock structures and some shoreline is out of the water and we do notice some freezing of the aquatic plants.
Since 1986 our lake has been in the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program (CSLAP) in cooperation with the New York State Federation of Lake Associations and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. It is with this extensive data and the recent Watershed Management Program with both NYSFOLA and NYSDEC that we look to the future to have a cleaner more useable lake for boating and swimming.