The village of Penn Yan surrounds the northern tip of the east branch of Keuka Lake. The early settlement was unofficially called Union, but the residents were not happy with that name. The settlers from Pennsylvania wanted a name that reminded them of their native state and those from New England wanted a Yankee-sounding name. A comprise was made—Penn for the Pennsylvanians and Yan for the Yankees. Penn Yan has been the county seat of Yates County since 1824, when the county was chartered.
The opening of the Crooked Lake Canal in 1833 had a positive impact on the economy of the region. Many mills sprang up along the canal, including paper mills, plaster mills, potash mills, and tanneries. The first railroads came to the area in 1850 with the construction of the Canandaigua and Corning Railroad.
Penn Yan became a grape-growing center to rival Hammondsport, but her neighbor to the south continued to be the winemaking center. Late in the 1800s as many as ten train-loads of grapes steamed out of Penn Yan on the Northern Central and Fall Brook railroads, carrying the label "Keuka". The "Keuka" brand was known for quality.
Keuka College, an independent four-year, coeducational college at a scenic lakefront location, is situated in nearby Keuka Park. Penn Yan is also the home of Birkett Mills, one of the largest producers of buckwheat products in the world.
Penn Yan has two village lakefront parks, Indian Pines Park west of the village and Red Jacket Park south of the village. The Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, a Yates County linear park, extends for six miles from Penn Yan to Dresden. Keuka Lake State Park is six miles west of Penn Yan.
Keuka Lake is called the "Lady of the Lakes" because of its natural beauty. The Indian name Keuka means "canoe landing" but it was called Crooked Lake by the early white settlers. It is unique among the Finger Lakes in two ways: it is Y-shaped with a scenic bluff over seven hundred feet above lake level between the two branches of the Y, and it is the only Finger Lake that outlets into another Finger Lake, into Seneca Lake at Dresden.
The inlet is at Hammondsport at the southern end of the twenty mile long lake, and the outlet is at Penn Yan at the northern end of the east branch of the Y. Branchport is at the northern end of the west branch, the branch with the deepest point in the lake, 187 feet. Its average width is three-quarters of a mile, and it is two miles wide at its widest point - the widewaters area just south of the bluff. The shore line of the lake is just under sixty miles long. Keuka Lake is one of the cleanest of the finger lakes, and is rated an excellent sport fishing lake.
Excerpt from "Persons, Places and Things In the Finger Lakes Region" by: Emerson Klees
Chamber Of Commerce
- Torrey Ridge Winery- Penn Yan, NY
- Anthony Road Wine Company- Penn Yan, NY
- Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars,
- Hammondsport, NY
- Earle Estates Meadery- Himrod, NY
- Hermann J. Wiemer Winery- Dundee, NY
- Hunt Country Vineyards- Branchport, NY
- Keuka Spring Vineyards- Penn Yan, NY
- McGregor Vineyard- Dundee, NY
- Prejean Winery- Penn Yan, NY
- Rooster Hill Vineyards- Penn Yan, NY
- Woodbury Vineyards- Penn Yan, NY
- Barrington Cellars/Buzzard Crest Vineyards,
- Penn Yan, NY
- Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars,
- Hammondsport, NY
- Fox Run Vineyards- Penn Yan, NY
- Glenora Wine Cellars- Dundee, NY
- Heron Hill Winery- Hammondsport, NY
- Keuka Overlook Winery- Dundee, NY
- Lakewood Vineyards- Watkins Glen, NY
- Ravines Wine Cellars- Hammondsport, NY
- Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY
- Curtiss Museum, Hammondsport, NY
- The Finger Lakes Boating Museum, Penn Yan, NY
- Geneva Historical Society, Geneva, NY
- National Soaring Museum, Elmira, NY