About the Lake.
||Headwater Lake - No other lakes send water into Geneva Lake.
Its main water source is the many natural springs about the lake area.
||Geneva Lake empties into the White River, which in turn goes into
the Fox, then the Illinois River and finally into the Mississippi.
||greatest = 2.1 miles, least = 0.5 miles (the "narrows")
||8.6 square miles (5504 acres)
||average = 63 feet, maximum = 144 feet located off
Conference Point near Williams Bay
|Click to enlarge.
About 10,000 years ago climate change caused the retreat of an enormous
glacier that covered much of the northern portion of this continent. One
lobe of that glacier had carved out a broad valley in what is now southern Wisconsin.
As the glacier melted back it left large deposits of soil and rock that it had scraped
off the surface on its advance. It also produced a huge amount of water
that formed rivers and, in the deeper basins, lakes. At that time Geneva,
Delavan and Como Lakes were probably all part of the same glacial outflow
system, but soil deposits and receding water levels eventually formed them into
As the climate warmed, humans gradually moved back into the area.
By 1000 A.D. an agriculture-based group known as the Oneota populated much of
southern Wisconsin. By 1600 most of the Oneota had been driven out by
migrating hunter and warrior tribes. By the time European settlers first
discovered the lake in 1831, the Potawatami tribe had established a substantial
village on the west end of the lake in what is now Fontana and another smaller one in what is now the City of Lake
|Click to enlarge
Geneva Lake is one of a
very few developed lakes in America that has a public path along the shore
for the entire distance around the lake. An Indian treaty signed in 1833 guarantees public access to the Lake Shore Path in perpetuity.
The Lake Shore Path is approximately 23 miles long. In Victorian times, grand promenades were featured in elaborate landscape designs. Today, path conditions range from easy to rugged, and there are designated public access areas to guide walkers to the lake.
Lake remained in its natural state until early settlers built a simple dam
on the eastern end of the lake at the White River outlet in 1836. In
the 1840's a more substantial dam was constructed which raised the water
level in the lake about 6 feet. Subsequent floods and droughts raised
concern regarding the inconsistent lake level, so in 1894 the dam and
adjacent property were purchased by the newly formed Lake Geneva Water Power
and Lake Level Protection Company. Control gates were constructed
which kept the water level within narrow limits. Around 1944 the
company was converted to the non-profit Geneva Lake Level Corporation.
In 2003 the dam and gateway were renovated with the communities around the
lake sharing the cost.