Morgan Lake was constructed in 1868 by George Morgan, a businessman and politician who was Mayor of the city of Poughkeepsie from 1869 to 1870 and a New York State Senator from 1870 to 1871. Mr. Morgan hoped that his man-made lake would be the answer to Poughkeepsie's "water question" - which nearby water source would support a growing urban population the longest. Knowing its size, it is no surprise that the city voted against using Morgan Lake as a long-term supply of drinking water and voted in favor of using the Hudson River instead, which continues to supply the city of Poughkeepsie with drinking water today.
Morgan Lake's water found its way into businesses and family homes throughout Dutchess County starting in 1871 when Senator Morgan founded the Morgan Lake Ice Company. Hundreds of ice notices were printed during the winter months in the Poughkeepsie Eagle News along with many articles describing the ice harvests from the time of the Company's founding to the mid-1930s.
Morgan Lake has a long history as a place for sport and recreation. In 1947, the Tri-State Speed Skating Championships were held at Morgan Lake, where Olympian Ray Blum, among others, competed. On August 13, 1955, Joseph Yellen and his son Don Yellen opened the Morgan Lake Amusement Park. The Amusement Park included small rides, snack stands, and paddle boats.
Morgan Lake became a city of Poughkeepsie park in 1972; Albert R. Mauri was the project architect. An "abstract" wooden playground installed near the parking lot was once a popular spot for children to play. The park has been known to be a lively site, particularly during the annual, weekend-long kids fishing derby "Get Hooked on Fishing" organized by Ken and Cheryl Rose. This free event began in 1987 and Dutchess County residents and tourists participated in its 25th and last year in May 2012.
Morgan Lake has been described as an "eyesore" in recent years due to a high volume of litter and lack of maintenance. However, through the city of Poughkeepsie Adopt-A-Park program, Poughkeepsie native Joclyn Wallace hopes to change this by organizing monthly clean up events for volunteers to remove the litter, as well as new, family events that focus on building community and a connection to the outdoors.
Copyright January 2013. Site created and maintained by Joclyn M. Wallace, City of Poughkeepsie Adopt-A-Park Program Volunteer.