Chautauqua Lake was formed during the glacial period. Before that time, it is possible that the northern end of the lake, then only a river, drained into Lake Erie as the streams north of the dividing ridge still do today. Formation of the ridge, however, blocked the river’s flow and elevated it high enough so that it joined with the southward flowing river and formed the 17-mile lake we know today.
Chautauqua Lake, lying southeast to northwest across the county at an elevation of 1,308 feet above sea level, is one of the highest navigable lakes in the nation.
The French spelled the lake’s Indian name several ways. Maps and reports by Jesuits and explorers who traveled through or near the region by the 1700s exhibit the individual versions: Tchadakoin, Tjadakoin, Chataconit, Shatacoin, Jadaxque, Jadaaqua. The Holland Land Company, on its 1804 maps, spelled it Chautaughque. The “gh” was soon dropped, but the final “que” remained until 1859 when it was changed to its present “qua”.
Chautauqua County and Lake Chautauqua are located in the westernmost part of New York State. A resort area centered around famed Chautauqua Lake. Its western border is Lake Erie.
Again, just giving a little background on our origins.