Off To A Slow Start

History is an exciting part of any community, and Lake Ronkonkoma is no exception. Taking pride in where we've been is a huge component to successfully understanding where we should go, how we should get there, and when we are due to arrive. Continue reading for an abridged version of Ronkonkoma's rich history. Below the narrative are videos and additional resources for more information on some of the more obscure and advanced topics.
For most of it's history, Lake Ronkonkoma was a somewhat boring place, and the story during this time is largely uninteresting and not worth repeating. For billions of years, there was nothing there. No life, no lake no nothing. Then it was formed, and for millions more years inhabited by soupy lifeforms. Then came armored fish, then dinosaurs. Again, millions upon millions of years of this. Then the cavepeople arrived. Later on the cavepeople turned into Indians, and finally some interesting things happened. This is where we will pick up the story.

Finally Some Action

While under the control of Indians, something happened at Lake Ronkonkoma that would change the history of the lake forever.
A beautiful Indian girl, Ronkonkoma, fell in love with a settler named Hugh Birdsall. On moonlit nights, Ronkonkoma would steal away into the forest and make her way to Birdsall where she would watch him from the cover of the trees.
One summer night, Ronkonkoma revealed her presence. Birdsall fell in love with Ronkonkoma immediately. Her father, however, forbade the marriage and refused his daughter to see her lover ever again.
Then, however, Ronkonkoma sent a cryptic message to her lover, saying only that she would join him in the morn. As dawn broke, a canoe came rushing toward him . Inside was his princess with a knife piercing her heart. Every year since, she claims a male victim in revenge.

The New Rage

Aside from the yearly deaths at the lake, things were boring again for a few hundred years. The Indians were driven out by Eurpoean settlers. These settlers eventually started a new nation, and eventually things like the railroads, including the Long Island Railroad, changed the country forever. People had a little extra money, and were looking for great places to escape the toil and filth of the cities for a relaxing and invigorating weekend. Lake Ronkonkoma became one of these destinations.
At the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, Lake Ronkonkoma had finally become an exciting place to be. Famous residents like Maude Adams and visiting dignitaries like Dan Sickles added to the prestige and excitment of the Lake Ronkonkoma experience. Soon pavilions went up, and people traveled in droves to occupy them. And while America discovered this new paradise, the local population prospered as they spent that extra money inside the community. Still, the best days had not come.

Tripping The Light Fantastic

Finally came the roaring 20's, and as America partied Lake Ronkonkoma partied harder than anyone. Prohibition was on, but not in Ronkonkoma, and visitors could easily obtain alcohol and a variety of exotic drugs on their way to the pavillion for another raucous evening of high-society, fancy partying. The laughter and merriment would last through the wee hours of the morning and into the next day. People would recover, then do the whole thing over again. It was a great time to be alive.
It was also a great time to live in Lake Ronkonkoma. The local economy was at is strongest, and the population flourished in a veritable land of milk and honey. Hotels, restaurants and stores all posted record sales, and more money kept coming in every summer. People still died in Lake Ronkonkoma, but somehow during this special time it all seemed worth it. To the people alive at the time, this state of affairs seemed as if it would last forever. But alas, it was not to be.

A Deep Depression

As the 20's ended, and America collectively came down off the cocaine, suddenly things weren't so great anymore. Alcohol could be obtained anywhere, and more people had cars and so could choose from among thousands of lakes to visit. So the parties stopped, the pavilions came down, and Ronkonkoma settled into a deep depression which it has remained in ever since. People still used the lake locally to swim, but mostly it was used to dump waste and garbage into. Houses went up around the lake, and these houses vented their sewage into the lake. Roads were built, and the runoff from thousands of cars seeped into the lake every day.
This has continued to the present day, and the economy of the surrounding area has mirrored the sad fate of the once-great lake. People continue to be murdered by the lake, others slowly poisoned to death. The lake is constantly being closed by inept officials that can't solve any meaningful problems. The lake continues to fester - mocking the surrounding community by reminding them of all that could have been. The time has come to change all that, to purge the lake of evil by draining it, and to revitalize the community in the process.

Video Library

Take a Tour of The Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society

With MyLITV Video Journalist Waldo Cabrera.

Historic Lake Ronkonkoma Tour

Historic video tour of Lake Ronkonkoma.

Lake Ronkonkoma in the 1950s

Video of a family outing to Lake Ronkonkoma in the 1950's

Newsday: Lake Ronkonkoma's Story

Dale Spencer shares Lake Ronkonkoma's history through the years.