HARVEYS LAKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — For years, people have spent their summers on Harveys Lake. But have you have wondered what lies beneath?
As one man found out, there’s a lot of local history preserved at the bottom. His discoveries give us a snapshot of what life was like on the lake decades, even centuries, ago.
Charlie Reilly’s boat house is a treasure trove of things he found scuba diving in Harveys Lake, each of them a piece of history.
“They stopped making these bottles in the early 1900s. They would have a cork inside with this little metal tab that sticks out and you would pound the tab in and then drink from the bottle,” Reilly said.
He got into scuba diving after he bought property on the lake and started collecting the treasures he would find on the bottom. He’s found everything from 1950s water skis to Civil War-era artillery.
Each watch, tool and bottle tell a story.
“I was just sitting on the dock, looking at this bottle and wondering who had this bottle, you know, 90-odd years ago and what did they think when they threw it in? Or where did they go and what was in it? Why did they have it? So it’s kind of neat to wonder,” Reilly said.
When he started posting some of his finds on Facebook people loved it. The items evoke nostalgia and curiosity. He says people have even reached out to him for help finding things they thought were lost forever.
“They say ‘hey are you the bottle guy I lost my sunglasses’. One gentleman sunk his rowboat just from heavy rain so I went down and got his rowboat for him,” Reilly said.
He’s also found several caves which could support a theory about the lake’s origin.
“Some people say that there’s actually aquafers from I think Seneca Lake and they believe that it feeds onto the ground and into Harveys Lake and that some of these caves might be entry points. But nobody really knows for sure,” Reilly said.
He could be on the verge of uncovering another mystery in the lake: a legendary sunken steamboat at least 80 feet deep. Reilly says his real goal is to share it with his kids one day.
“I really look forward to the day that I can take he as well as my daughter hopefully diving with me, that’s my biggest excitement that I look forward to,” Reilly said.
Charlie says one of his oldest finds is a “v coin” from the 1800s. He says he has no desire to sell any of it. He wants to build some shelves to display his growing collection.