The Princess of Lake Ronkonkoma | Earth & Skye Photography

When my oldest son said that he saw an interesting story on News 12 about a Lake Princess mural, he wanted to go find it. I was all for it, in fact, spontaneous, small adventures are right up my alley. I grabbed my camera and the boys and we set out.

Legend has it that the Lady of the Lake was a beautiful American Indian Princess from the Setauket Sachem tribe. She fell in love with a white settler, across the Lake, named Hugh Birdsall. Her Father forbade their union. For seven years, she scratched love letters on pieces of tree bark and floated them across the lake to Birdsall. Ultimately, she couldn’t stand the pain of not being with her love that she took her boat to the middle of the lake and pierced her own broken heart. Some say that her spirit haunts the lake and takes the life of one young man every year. (I’ve read that about 30/32 drownings have been male…eerie but I don’t know if it is true).

We arrived at Lake Ronkonkoma in about ten minutes. We parked in the main entrance and walked down. We really had no idea where this mural might be. The kids jumped on, over and off the cement walls that were surrounding the building for awhile. They even sat still for a couple of seconds…

We made our way down to the lake.

It was us and some seagulls.
The sand had a lot of reddish tones which I really liked.

On this overcast day, the lake was still and inviting.

Although we a local, we never come here. We once came in March of 2015 when the kids were small and the lake was frozen. We watched ice boats gliding and ice skaters twirling about. The boats were really beautiful and I took this shot to remember them.

March 2015
February 2019

Besides the small beach, nothing was there that resembled the Princess. We looked out across the lake though and saw some color. Since we could only walk so far where we were, we decided to take the car to a different entrance. Maybe we would have better luck.

Our new spot had a playground and kids were playing. Runners were doing their laps and there were a few dogs playing around with their owners. We walked till we couldn’t walk anymore. Nothing. We still weren’t close to the bluish color we saw. A little frustrated, we retraced our steps back. Just about to pass us, an older gentleman was walking with determination. I suddenly said, “Excuse me, do you know where we can find the Lady of the Lake Mural?” Well, he was overjoyed to talk about her. Of course he knew of it and his friend was the artist who painted her. What luck! He spoke of Todd’s talent and how he himself would never, in a million years, be able to paint something so beautiful. He had visited her a bunch of times and told us where to go. This was just the fuel we needed to continue on.

We drove and parked where he told us. We saw the home of the artist, Todd Arnett. He is a local artist that loves sculpting. You could tell it was his home because there were so many pieces of his artwork at the edge of the road. What a nice gift to give the passersby.

Arnett’s work is mystical and haunting to me.
I’m drawn to these faces and I wonder the history behind them.

We managed to cross the busy street but it was difficult to find an opening. We eventually found an area to go in.

Was this the place?
It was beautiful.

We found steps! It already started turning into a magical area. Although we were a few feet from cars speeding by, it was quiet and still.

Little one armed with his Ipad to document the adventure.
The steps led to this mural. Not the Princess.

We searched some more only to find identical steps a bit further down. We hiked back up and walked along the edge and then headed back down. I think we were in the right place.


My oldest ran down and screamed, “I found it!”.

Little one not far behind.
He couldn’t wait to come get me.

“You’re not going to believe it Mom!”, he said. I made my way down the steep incline, climbed down the steps and there she was.

Princess of the Lake

She is ghostly and hauntingly breathtaking.

All three of us didn’t say a word for a few minutes.

The painting pulls you in and makes you feel as if you may know her not just her story.

The kids were proud of themselves for finding her.
Token portrait posed just like the artist in the interview.
…times 2

Princess Ronkonkoma now watches over the lake. This is her view…

Magical right? On such a dreary day, the sky really changed just as I was shooting this. Coincidence?

Thank you Todd Arnett for painting something so special and adding to the history of Lake Ronkonkoma.

Mr. Arnett is also currently sculpting The Princess Ronkonkoma Statue down the road. It is also something to see. You can donate here.

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