Clinton Township in scenic, rural Hunterdon County is home to New Jersey’s largest and deepest manmade lake, Round Valley Reservoir. Spanning 2,000 acres and stocked with trout, the lake – as deep as 180 feet in parts – has become a popular spot for area fisherman since it was opened to the sport in 1972.
Yet, as beautiful as the reservoir and its surroundings are, there is a sinister side to the well-known recreational facility. The lake has been home to a dozen or more deaths in the past 40 years. Some were swimmers, at least one an apparent suicide, but most were fisherman. And eerily, the bodies of six of the victims have never been recovered.
The lake, in the middle of a valley with a bowl shape, is buffeted by winds that get trapped and intensified within the valley, often creating waves of surprising size. In addition, the depth of the lake keeps water temperature low – even in relatively hot weather. So, logic dictates that the deaths, although of unknown origins, are likely due to small boats capsizing and victims receiving a hypothermia-like shock to their bodies or being unable to swim significant distances against strong winds.
Some locals, however, have different thoughts. The land was originally inhabited by the Lenape Indians. Do the reservoir’s waters cover sacred Lenape burial grounds? Tales also abound that, at the time of the reservoir’s creation, their were intact homes, trees, and roads on what is now the reservoir’s floor. Are the spirits of those who inhabited those homes washed away by the lake’s waters exacting their revenge on those recreating at Round Valley?
Is the Round Valley Reservoir New Jersey’s own Bermuda Triangle? Or, has some predatory creature made the lake its home? Like the questions surrounding Loch Ness, we may never know.