High Tide, 1899

“Skaneateles Lake has other functions than that of furnishing the city of Syracuse with the wherewithal to bathe and drink, but you would hardly  think so if you talk with the mariners who plow its waters or with husbandmen who live along its shores.

“Much less if you talk with persons who are interested in the stream that proceeds northward from the lake. Most of these can tell the average Syracusan facts about high water and low water, about per capita consumption, evaporation and riparian rights that he has never dreamed of, and some of them will confide in him their conviction that for the sin of using the water which Providence intended for the use of fishes, boats and paper mills, the inhabitants of Syracuse are about to be overtaken with the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Not so the McAndrews, who listens to the song of steam in the hold of the Glen Haven. The Glen Haven is the largest liner on Skaneateles Lake; the engineer knows not only every dock and its height above high water and the first name of every cottager, but just how the lake has acted every year since long before Syracuse stopped drinking out of Onondaga Creek. Although he is also the stoker of the Glen Haven, this man is not bared to the waist, but clad in a linen shirt with a turn-down collar, and a black and white striped alpaca coat. He will show you in five minutes, if you have the got the luck to make his acquaintance, that evaporation reduces the water of Skaneateles Lake much more than Syracuse does, and that low water occurred some time before there was any Water Commission.

“That is only a small part of the interesting scientific things the engineer has to tell. The most interesting fruit of his scientific turn of mind is this: Every morning at 10 o’clock there is a high tide in Skaneateles and every evening there is a low tide. When the Glen Haven was in the dock one season and the engineer was putting a new Defender curve to her keel, or something of the sort, he noticed that the water was higher sometimes and sometimes lower, and he began his observations which have resulted in his knowledge of tides. The tide runs six or seven inches high every day, without regard to the wind or the thirst of Syracuse. The engineer does not know what causes it. He simply knows that it is there. Lunar influence is the cause of some tides but not of this one, for the moon does not follow the course of the lake.

“‘Do you see that side hill?’ asked a cottager when the engineer had gone back to his engine. ‘Well, there’s no more tide in Skaneateles Lake than there is in that side hill. Not a bit.’

“The engineer, however, like Galileo, is courteous, but sticks to his conviction.”

— “The McAndrews of Skaneateles Lake: He Says There’s a Ten O’Clock Tide Every Day” in the Syracuse Daily Standard, section entitled “The Summer Resorts at Our Doorstep,” July 1899


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