by Elisabeth Fuller Mobbs
Editor's Note: Stories from the Eldridge Generation continue to come into our website. Here's one that answers the much asked question about Eldridge Lake. At last, we have the answer with conclusive proof from Elisabeth Fuller Mobbs, who grew up in Elmira and spent a very interesting day one winter walking around on frozen Eldridge Lake with her dad.
ocal rumor had it that Eldridge Lake was bottom-less. Well, my dad, Jonas Fuller decided to find out. During the winter of 1937/8 when the lake was frozen, he drew a map of the lake marking a line across it with 'X's' about 40 feet apart. Being a fisherman, he dug out a lead 'sinker' of one pound weight.
Then he rolled about 200 feet of sturdy fish line to a hand line reel and tied the sinker to the end.
"Alright, Elisabeth," he said to me, "We're going fishing. Put on warm clothes and boots. Don't tell your mother or she'll claim I've gone nutty!"
My dad and I were close for father and daughter as he'd raised me as a boy, and I enjoyed such things. He had an old Willys Knight car we put our things in and drove to Eldridge Park near the place called the outlet near the railroad line. Dad had included a six inch auger to drill through the 2 foot layer of ice, a 100 foot measuring tape and his map of the lake with the 'x's marked on it.
The first hole was about 10 feet from shore and after Dad had dug the hole, he dropped in the sinker and waited for it to hit bottom, pulled it out, stretched the line on the ice, measured it and marked 10 feet on the first 'x'. We continued slowly across the lake stopping at each checkpoint. The fish line would freeze as soon as withdrawn so it was fast moving to get it laid out and measured so he could record it.
We proceeded across the lake from "X' to 'X' moving toward the old Dance Hall on the knoll across the lake. The deepest point was just past middle towards the western side. The mark on the chart was just over 100 foot deep. I remember someone from the Elmira Star Gazette taking our picture, and it could well be tucked away in the Archives there -- if the 1972 flood didn't destroy it.
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