One of Wolfeboro’s main attraction is Lake Winnipesaukee. Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in the State of New Hampshire, and one of the largest lakes in the United States that lies within the boundaries of a single state. Surrounded by three mountain ranges, the wooded shoreline and crystal-clear water make this lake a popular year round New Hampshire destination. It’s definitely a great place to rest and relax in beautiful surroundings.
From boating to swimming and ice fishing, everyone loves to be on this lake year-round. And there’s plenty of room for them, too. The lake has a whopping 365 islands on it, 244 of which are large enough to live on. Winnipesaukee is 504 feet above Sea Level and reaches depths of more than 200 feet near Rattlesnake Island (the average depth is about 45 feet). It’s about 28 miles long and 15 miles at its widest. Lake Winnipesaukee holds about 625 billion gallons with a surface area of 72 square miles (which is 46,586 acres)!
People often ask what “Winnipesaukee” means. It’s a name that’s been translated from the native Abenaki language to English lots of different ways. Because Abenaki was exclusively oral and not written, there a lot of disagreement among scholars both on the spelling and the meaning of this (and other) Abenaki words.
According to author Bruce Heald, an expert on New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, the most common translation, “The Smile of the Great Spirit“, is based on an old Indian folk tale told about the Lake, and the alternate spelling Winnipiseogee. Heald says the translation comes from “Winni” meaning “Smiling” and “Ogee” meaning “Great Spirit.” People love this translation as they believe the lake resembles a giant smile.
Chandler E. Potter, in a 1856 history of Manchester, translated the name as meaning “Beautiful Water in a High Place.” His translation cites the words “Winne” (beautiful), “Nipe” (water), “Kees” (high), and “Auke” (a place). Or literally, “the beautiful water of the high place.”
>Chester B. Price, in the 1967 article Historic Indian Trails of New Hampshire, wrote that Father Jeremiah O’Brien claimed Winnipesaukee is actually a derivation from the Indian word Wiwininebesaki, which means “at the lake in the vicinity of which there are other lakes and ponds,” or what we now call the Lakes Region. He translates this from “wiwini” (around, or in the vicinity), “nebes” (lakes or ponds), and “aki” (region or territory).
C. Lawrence Bond, in his 1991 book, Native Names of New England Towns and Villages, states that Winnipesaukee means “Good Smooth Water at Outlet“, deriving it from “Winne” (smooth), “pe~(nip)pe” (water), and “saukee” (outlet). Bond explains, “At its outlet the Winnipesaukee River is smooth where it joins the Pemigewasett River.”
Whatever you call it, it’s a whole lot of lake to fall in love with, whether you choose to live or vacation here.