Lake Ronkonkoma, 1917

Huntoon families of Sayville on an outing to Lake Ronkonkoma. (Image from the Clock Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

Lake Ronkonkoma was once a resort town, until the area experienced a population explosion in the mid-twentieth century. Remnants of old resorts and hotels can still be found around the lake’s shores, and many summer cottages and bungalows from that period remain, now converted to year-round residential use.

The area’s lake is the largest lake on Long Island. Because it is a groundwater lake–one not fed by streams and with no outlet–its water surface reflects the current level of the local water table. The lake is relatively deep (about 65 feet) and is a kettle hole lake.

The lake is also the subject of a number of urban legends, mainly rooted in the area’s rich Native American heritage, including the legend of Princess Ronkonkoma, the lady of the lake who supposedly drowned in the lake herself and calls young men out to the middle of the lake to drown them. Not an urban legend is the fact that Lake Ronkonkoma was considered a sacred lake by Native Americans.