Candlewood Lake is the largest lake in Connecticut and one of the largest man-made lakes in the United States. The Lake has a surface area of 8.4 square miles (5,420 acres / 21.8 km²) with 86-miles (106 km) of shoreline. Most of the lake is approximately 40 feet (12 m) deep and the lake has a maximum depth of just over 80 feet (24 m). The visibility in the lake typically between 5-20 feet. Visitors looking to buy, sell or rent timeshare resales will find Candlewood Lake was created in the 1920’s with water from the Housatonic River which is released from the dam built by Connecticut Light & Power in 1928. This facility is the first pumped-storage hydroelectric facility built in the U.S. Candlewood Lake fills several flat, winding valleys between steep, lightly-wooded hills. Northeast Utilities Company controls the entire 60 mile shoreline to elevation 440 (the 440 contour).
Most of the land above this level is privately owned and is residentially developed. Candlewood lake houses are often in different lake communities, some of which offer their residents basic services such as private road maintenance while others offer additional amenities such as tennis and beaches private to the community. Candlewood Lake houses command high values, and a typical direct waterfront buyer could expect to pay between one and three million dollars while tear-downs (which are increasingly difficult to find) can fetch well over $750K.
The four towns of Brookfield, New Milford, Sherman, and New Fairfield along with the city of Danbury share Candlewood Lake’s almost 90 miles of shoreline. Following its inception Candlewood Lake was almost named Lake Danbury but, almost by attrition, began to be called Lake Candlewood by New Milford and Sherman residents because of the massive Candlewood Mountain which rises from its shores.
The mountain on Candlewood lake’s North shore, got its name from settlers who learned from Native Americans how to make candles that could be used as substituted for wax candles from the trees that grew on the mountain. The best pine wood strips used to make these candles were known as “candle wood” and the mountain on which the trees grew was referred to as Candlewood Mountain. Although the name of the mountain, and the lake, is derived from the wood used for candles (candlewood) it is interesting to note that the flooded valleys with constitute modern day Candlewood Lake now produce hydroelectric measurable in millions of candlepower.
When Candlewood Lake was created in the 1920s inhabitants were relocated elsewhere, but many of the buildings in the valley were left standing and a considerable amount of personal property, including a great deal of farm equipment, was left behind. The roads that connected modern day Brookfield and New Milford with New Fairfield were not torn up before the valley was flooded and Scuba Divers, with the aid of either of the two local dive shops in Brookfield, can investigate remnants of the pre-lake era, even following the roads underwater. Divers have noted highlights that include Model T Fords, plane wreckage from craft that have hit the lake since its creation, and covered bridges from the pre-lake era.
Candlewood Lake is one of the most popular lakes in the area for boating, fishing (including ice fishing), waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet-skiing. The lake is the summer social hub of the five communities that surround it and also assumes the additional identity of an idyllic weekend escape for many from Manhattan. One principal Candlewood Lake landmark and institution is “Down the Hatch” an unpretentious waterfront restaurant-bar in Brookfield which patrons can boat, as well as drive, to. There is a 45 mph (72 km/h) daytime speed limit for boats and a 25 mph (40 km/h) night-time speed limit from 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise. A 6 mph (9.7 km/h) speed limit is in effect within one hundred feet of shore, dock, moored vessel, and other places that the power company has marked as hazardous.