The Curse of Lake Ronkonkoma

There’s nothing like a great urban legend, a hair raising story worthy of being told around a campfire. A story so harrowing that it demands its own movie! We’ve all heard more than our fair share of these tales and legends.

I’ve always heard a local tale about South Holston Lake that lies on both sides of the Virginia-Tennessee border in Bristol, VA/TN. It is a manmade freshwater lake that was built when the TVA built the dam several decades ago. In the valley (what is now at the bottom of the lake) they moved out all of the residents but supposedly forgot to remove all of the graves from the area. When they flooded the area to create the lake, it is rumored that several days later people began to see coffins floating on top of the water and dead and decayed bodies popping up, bones being found along the shore. That’s a creepy story that people still believe to this very day. Is it true? I have no idea. But it sure does make for the background of an interesting urban legend.

Have you heard of the curse of Lake Ronkonkoma? Lake Ronkonkoma (say that 3 times fast) is located on Long Island, New York. It’s a freshwater lake that was carved out during the last ice age and was vital to Native American tribes going back centuries. Well, this urban legend is a bit of a Romeo and Juliette kind of story with an angry curse that still lingers to this day.

As the story goes, two tribes lived along the shores of the lake. The tribes had a visceral hate for each other and had been at war off and on for ages. Despite the rivalry and bitter hatred, the princess of one tribe met and fell in love with the prince from the other. It was a passionate young love, both being teenagers. They kept their romance a secret for as long as they could. Eventually, members of both tribes found out about the affair and the chiefs forbade the lovers from seeing each other ever again!

Just like with Romeo and Juliette, the two could not keep away from each other. One evening they each secretly left their villages and met by the lake. They got into a hollowed out canoe and paddled to the middle of the lake in order to spend some time alone. But that’s when things got dangerous. A vicious wind whipped up out of nowhere and dark clouds came rushing in. In the midst of a violent storm the lovers were tossed about. The water opened up and swallowed them both and pulled them down to the depths of the lake. Their bodies were never found, but onlookers saw exactly what happened.

The leaders of each tribe took the story back to their respective villages. From that point on it was a cautionary tale to keep the tribes from intermingling. The gods were angry at their union and the angry lake swallowed them up for their sins! But the story doesn’t end there. To this very day, every year someone dies on the lake, and in every instance it is someone who is in a loving relationship. It is said that the princess is still angry and bitter and pulls someone down to the depths with her, still jealous of anyone in love.

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