History of Harveys Lake

Harveys Lake is located in Luzerne County and is the largest natural lake in Pennsylvania. The lake was discovered by Benjamin Harvey during the Revolutionary War in 1781. Harvey was one of the earliest settlers of Wyoming Valley and a member of the Sons Of Liberty. Upon returning from Fort Niagara, where he was a British prisoner of war, Harvey inadvertently stumbled upon the six-hundred-sixty-acre lake that now bears his name. This beautiful glacial lake with its clear spring water is home to many native Pennsylvania fish and aquatic life. The lake's deepest part is estimated to be over 100 feet.

The earliest resident of the lake was Matthew Scouten in the early 1790s. But the earliest settlers were the Worthingtons, who settled in the Sunset section around 1806. Early settlers engaged in lumbering and farming as a livelihood.

As early as 1853, the lake was a popular summer resort for residents of the valley. The construction of the Lake House Hotel was followed by the Rhoads Hotel, Lake Grove Hotel and the Grand Hotel Oneonta. The Oneonta took the lake into the 1900s with its elaborate furnishings and beautifully carved interiors. Patrons from near and far visited the Oneonta. President Theodore Roosevelt was a guest of the hotel in August 1912.

The construction of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1891 created the picnic grounds which eventually became Hanson's Amusement Park. For the better part of the 1900s, the park provided rides, amusements, boat rides and dances for its many visitors. By the 1960s many top national and local acts performed at the park. During this same time period, other areas of the lake such as Warden Place and Sandy Beach flourished with recreational and summer activities. Steamboat rides also proved to be a great pastime from 1900 to the 1920s. In the days prior to and after the World Wars, Harveys Lake attracted thousands of summer visitors enjoying numerous water activities. Nevertheless, by the early and mid 1960s the lake began developing some environmental problems. In 1968 the lake was incorporated into Harveys Lake Borough, and by the early 1970s a sewer system was being constructed.

Presently the Borough is overwhelmingly residential, but still provides residents and visitors with many fun-filled summer days and nights. Boating, fishing and swimming will continue to provide present and future generations with much joy and excitement.

The Borough of Harveys Lake officially came into existence on January 1, 1968. The first Mayor of Harveys Lake was H. Herman Kern and the first Council President was Francis D. Fisher. The officials of the Borough, faced with a multitude of tasks necessary to establish the new Borough's government, also had to legislate laws to provide for the health, safety and general welfare of its residents. One of their first acts was to order this codification of ordinances, of which the initial chapters were written and prepared by the publisher under the supervision of the Borough Solicitor, Ben R. Jones III, Esq.