Luxton Lake/Ten Mile River - Narrowsburg, NY
Luxton Lake is a private community within the hamlet of Narrowsburg that has a rich history as a vacation area for New York City residents, going back to the early 20th Century. The long, narrow lakebed consisting of about 80 acres is nestled in the Ten Mile River (TMR) valley approximately 3 miles from where the TMR flows into the Delaware River. The lake was created in the 1800s by a hand-laid stone dam at the narrowest and flattest point of the river. The area was home to the grand boarding house the Homestead, and the Luxton Lake Clubhouse and Casino (all owned by the Heubner family). Guests at the Homestead boarding house could walk to the tavern and casino, or rent boats to go fishing for the day.
In the early 1950s, the community was subdivided and marketed as an African-American vacation community, drawing families from Harlem, Queens, and the Bronx. Big band leader Noble Sissle was one of the principals in the development of "Lucky Lake Estates." With connections to the music and sports worlds, he brought famous friends to the area. Baseball great Willie Mays had a parcel of land in the development, and his image was used in advertisements for Lucky Lake Estates. Buyers could purchase a 1/4 of land for 37 cents / day, and build a second home or retirement home. The area became known for lively jazz music in the Lucky Lakes Country Club.
In the early 1980s, the century-old stone dam began to show signs of wear and abuse, after logging trucks used it as a roadway while removing timber from the undeveloped side of the lake. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ordered that the dam be repaired or destroyed, citing risk of flooding to homes downstream along the Ten Mile River. Due to lack of time, and lack of money, the dam was demolished in the spring of 1983. The lake waters washed away, and a barren lakebed, with the Ten Mile River snaking along it's center, was all that was left behind.
The next decade or so brought blight to the area as homeowners, or inheritors of properties, abandoned many of the cabins in the Luxton Lake community. Homes, left for years unused and un-maintained, became structurally unsound, home to animal infestation, or victims of vandalism.
However, the 21st century has brought a modest revival to the area. Some cabins have been purchased and repaired, some demolished and removed to create greenspace, and some new homes have been built. In 2006, the Luxton Lake Property Owners Association took back ownership of the community grounds (where the Clubhouse once stood; it has since been demolished due to structural issues) and has planted flower gardens and built an outdoor pavilion.
Remnants of the history of the community still remain, including a concrete section of the old dam near the intersection of Luxton Lake Road and Lake Ridge Road, the flagpoles erected in the 1960s as monuments to important black Americans are centerpieces for a garden on the community grounds, and the original "model home" for the Lucky Lake Estates is available as a vacation rental (see the "Cutest Little House in Narrowsburg" under Places to Stay). On the other side of the Lake Ridge Road bridge there is a family plot for the Mapes family, with gravestones from the 1840s.
Please enjoy a self-guided tour on Luxton Lake Road. All property is privately owned.
Time Period Represented
1920 - present