Sullivan County (where Swinging Bridge Lake is located) was created by an Act of Legislature on March 27, l809. Prior to that, it was known as the Hardenburg Tract, a Patent granted by the Crown in 1704. Sullivan County was named for the Revolutionary hero, General John Sullivan, who along with General Clinton battled the Indians who lived in this area. The Swinging Bridge Reservoir was first developed in 1926 by one of the predecessors of Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC, the current owner and operator of the reservoir. The name of the lake came from a walking bridge which was strung across the Mongaup River. The wooden planks of the bridge were held in place by two steel cables. Anyone with enough courage to walk across would indeed swing and sway. Hence its name!
The Swinging Bridge Reservoir is located in the southern part of Sullivan County. The reservoir borders on four Townships, namely Bethel, Forestburgh, Lumberland, and Thompson. Swinging Bridge was originally developed to harness the potential hydroelectric power of the Mongaup River. The dam forming the Swinging Bridge Reservoir was placed across the Mongaup River 12 miles above its mouth. The dam is 975 feet long and 135 feet high. There is a concrete spillway about 750 feet north of the dam. The dam spillway is 1065 feet above sea level. Five-foot flash boards designed to release when two feet of water pass over them have been placed on half the spillway. The other half carries five motor driven gates which can be operated to pass freshets. There are generating facilities at Swinging Bridge of 13,800 kilowatts. The outflow of the Swinging Bridge Reservoir goes into the Mongaup Falls Reservoir, which in turn flows into the Rio Reservoir which in turn discharges into the Mongaup River, eventually reaching the Delaware River. Swinging Bridge Reservoir is about 9 miles long and relatively narrow; the average width is about half a mile.
The maximum conservation pool is at an elevation of 1,070 feet above sea level, which is at the top of the flashboards.The reservoir is normally held about 5 feet below the full pool elevation, or 1065 feet through the months of May to November, then lowered to 1050 through the winter to provide storage for the heavy spring runoff. At 1065 feet the reservoir contains 28,000 acre-feet of storage and a surface area of 889 acres and has about 18 miles of shoreline. The maximum depth of the lake is about 120 feet, and the average depth is about 38 feet. Yet many a boater has found to his chagrin, that there are areas where sandbars, stone walls, and boulders can be found just 6 inches under the surface. Another propeller lost!
There are five municipal wastewater collection and treatment systems in the Swinging Bridge watershed, Liberty, Swan Lake, Kauneonga Lake, Loomis and Sackett Lake.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has stocked Swinging Bridge Lake with fish periodically. There are many varieties of fish caught in the lake, such as trout, bass, pickerel, blue gills, carp perch, catfish, walleye, large mouth bass, crappies and more.
The area surrounding Swinging Bridge Reservoir is teeming with wildlife. You can always spot deer, whole families of turkeys, turkey buzzards, fox, rabbits, a great variety of songbirds, blue herons, black bears, even beaver have been spotted swimming along the edge of the lake. But foremost, Swinging Bridge Reservoir has become nesting grounds of the American bald eagle and it is a sight to behold, watching these majestic birds soaring the skies over the lake. Because of these beautiful eagles, parts of the reservoir and its shorelines have become protected by the DEC and no further construction of homes is permitted in those areas.
LEBANON LAKE, CLIFF LAKE, HULL POND & TORONTO RESERVOIR
The above lakes are adjoining to Swinging Bridge Lake, and once comprised part of the property known as the Chapin Estates. The estate was nearly 15,000 acres in size and is now owned by Woodstone Development.
Lebanon is the largest of the adjoining lakes and encompasses 297 acres in size, and is one of the best pickerel fishing lakes in the area. The lodge building on Lebanon Lake still stands surrounded by natural beauty and was built by Mr. Chapin in 1898. The lodge is now used as a club house and administrative headquarters by Orange and Rockland Utility.
Hull Pond is 54 acres in size and used to be stocked and with lake trout. Cliff Lake is 58 acres in size and is one of the best bass fishing lakes in the area. Toronto Reservoir feeds into Swinging Bridge on occasion through a one mile long pipeline when lake levels on Swinging Bridge are low.