Field Notes

June 8, 2021

Get to know your lake: Syracuse

A close neighbor to Indiana’s largest lake (Wawasee), Syracuse Lake is a calmer, smaller community separated by train tracks and a maze of channels.

Residents of Syracuse Lake, Indiana, speak highly of the lake’s homey feeling. It’s the perfect place for morning kayaking and saying hello to neighbors, whether they live next door or across the lake. Boating in the afternoon and evening is expected and enjoyed. (There are fewer choppy waves to navigate than on Wawasee.)

  • Make sure to visit the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails, which are ideal for hikers and bikers! Cool down after your walk or ride by choosing a scoop of your favorite flavor at Joe’s Ice Cream.
  • Although summer will always be preferred by lake-goers, Syracuse is worth visiting in every season. Adventurous residents can try ice boating. If the water freezes well, you can also go ice skating.

Here are some quick facts about the lake:

  • IS SYRACUSE LAKE A PUBLIC LAKE? Yes! The public access site is located at E Medusa St, Syracuse, IN 46567. Hoy’s Beach and Syracuse Beach are located on the western side of the lake.
  • HOW BIG IS SYRACUSE LAKE? 411 acres
  • HOW DEEP IS SYRACUSE LAKE? 34 feet (Avg depth: 13 feet)
  • BEST FISHING? Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Redear, Northern Pike

Syracuse Lake, originally called Nine Mile Lake when combined with present day Lake Wawasee, was first settled in 1832. A sawmill was built near the Turkey Creek Dam by Henry Ward and Samuel Crawson in 1833, and quickly after, the town of Syracuse blossomed. It was a stop on the Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Chicago railroad, easily drawing businesses and visitors.

Here’s a highlight from the lake’s history:

  • The Sandusky Portland Cement Factory was in operation on Syracuse Lake from 1900-1920. Workers used augers to draw marl and clay from the bottom of the lake, then created cement. The factory was eventually dismantled, but for a time, Syracuse was considered to be the county’s leading industrial town.

Water clarity data from Syracuse Lake shows much variability over the last 25 years. Overall, appears to be increasing. This could be due to many factors, but a common one is fewer nutrients in the water – which leads to fewer weeds and algae! On the other hand, when more nutrients are present in the water, more algae and weeds grow, eventually leading to decreased clarity.

This graph shows a side-by-side comparison of Wawasee and Syracuse lakes. The bottom line is that these lakes, while directly connected, are impacted uniquely by weather events, changes in ecology, and human actions!

  • The lake’s watershed extends 24,498 acres, meaning all land within that area drains into the lake.
  • It has one inflowing stream (from Lake Wawasee) and one outflowing stream.

Syracuse Lake is an exceptionally comfortable lake to visit and live on. Make sure to stay long enough to watch a sunset! You can plan a full-day excursion by visiting the Visitor Bureau’s website.

Get to know your lake

Your Lake, Your Story is your key to discovering Syracuse’s past and present, and even some of its future.

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