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Beebe Lake (Ithaca, New York)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eastern part of Beebe Lake, with Bradfield Hall visible in the background
Eastern part of Beebe Lake, with Bradfield Hall visible in the background

Beebe Lake is a reservoir in Ithaca, New York, located on the campus of Cornell University.[1]


1922 hockey game
Toboggan slide


Beebe Lake was once a forested swamp.[2] A pond was formed when Ezra Cornell constructed a dam on Fall Creek in 1838, above Triphammer Falls, to provide power to the mills owned by Jeremiah S. Beebe.[3] Cornell constructed a tunnel 200 feet long and 15 feet high to channel the water, raising the water level 18 feet.[2][4] In 1898, the dam was raised an additional ten feet, turning the pond into a proper lake.[2]

The lake is dredged approximately once a decade in order to prevent it from returning to its original wetland state.[3]

Winter recreation

Beebe Lake became a major local destination for winter recreation starting in the 1890s.[5] The space was maintained by the Cornell Athletic Association but open to the public for ice skating.[5] Ithaca Street Railway trolleys would announce that the ice was open for skating by displaying a white banner with red ball. Trolley passengers with skates rode for half price.[5] In the Spring when the ice melted, sometimes local children would break of chunks of ice with poles, and ride the ice rafts downstream.[5]

A toboggan slide was a popular attraction on Beebe Lake for the first half of the 20th Century. The first one was erected around 1900 and made of wood; it was replaced by a steel slide in the 1920s.[5] Although dangerous and costly to operate, it remained enormously popular, until Cornell removed the slide in 1949.[5]

In the early 20th Century, Cornell fraternities held ice castle building competitions, creating intricate structures with decorated pillars.[5]

The lake was also Cornell's primary venue for ice hockey matches during the first decades of the sport.[5] However, the ice would sometimes melt just before a scheduled contest, making it an unreliable venue. In 1957 Lynah Rink was constructed, freeing the hockey team from the unpredictability of the climate.[5]

In recent decades, the lake remains a popular spot for paddling by organizations such as the Cornell Outing Club.[6]


  1. ^ "Beebe Lake". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Beebe Lake History". Cornell Botanic Gardens. Cornell Botanic Gardens. Archived from the original on 16 May 2021. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  3. ^ a b Bowers, Bill; McNulty-Bowers, Eileen (2010). Explorer's Guide: 50 Hikes in Central New York's Leatherstocking Country. Woodstock, Vermont: The Countryman Press. p. 280. ISBN 9781581577495.
  4. ^ Bishop, Morris (2014). "II. Ezra Cornell". A History of Cornell. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801455377.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dieckmann, Jane (9 February 2018). "A frozen paradise: Ithaca's rich history of winter activities". Archived from the original on 2 February 2022. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  6. ^ "Cornell Outing Club: About Us". Cornell Outing Club. Cornell Outing Club. Retrieved 2 February 2022.

This page was last edited on 26 February 2022, at 09:34
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