Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island
Lake Ronkonkoma - pronounced Ron-kon-ko-ma (short a sound)
The Lake: Long Island's largest freshwater lake was created by a retreating glacier. Over the years it has been the subject of many legends. One had it that the lake was bottomless, another that there were secret underwater connections to L.I. Sound or Great South Bay.
Beginnings: Smithtown founder Richard Smith's original holdings included the headwaters of the Nissequogue River east to a ''freshwater pond called Raconkamuck,'' which translates as ''the boundary fishing place'' in the Algonquian language. What is now known as Lake Ronkonkoma served as a boundary between lands occupied by four Indian communities: Nissequogues, Setaukets, Secatogues and Unkechaugs. It is now owned by the Town of Islip under the terms of the Nichols Patent, while land around it is controlled by three governments - Smithtown, Islip and Brookhaven. That's because different Indian communities gave separate deeds to the land under their control.
Turning Points: The Smithtown side of the lake was settled by the 1740s, but it was not until the late 1890s that the area gained widespread public attention. That's when boarding houses and hotels were erected to accommodate a growing number of tourists drawn by claims that the lake's waters had special healing powers. By the 1920s, beach pavilions had sprung up. The Long Island Rail Road, which was completed to nearby Lakeland in 1842 (the depot was moved to Ronkonkoma in 1883), helped transform what had been a sleepy farming hamlet.