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About The Adirondacks

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The Adirondack Region of Northern New York, The Adirondack Park, encompasses about 6 million acres. The Park was created in 1882 by the New York State Legislature, which enacted measures that guarantee public lands will remain constitutionally protected to remain "forever wild" forest preserve. (2.6 Million Acres). This was the start of protecting the Adirondack wilderness. The Park surrounding countryside and the entire western shore of Lake Champlain, is the size of the state of Vermont, with a structure unlike any other state or national park in the nation: it is a patchwork of public and private lands. There are expansive areas of back-country wilderness interspersed with private homes, farms, villages, businesses, timber lands and camps. Logging, mining, farming, tourism and even medicine all played a major role in the development of the Adirondack Region.

About 130,000 people live here year round in the Adirondack Parks 12 counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Warren, and Washington, comprised of 105 towns and villages. The harmonious blend of private and public lands give the Adirondacks a diversity found nowhere else - a diversity of open space and recreational lands, of wildlife and flora, of mountains and meadows, and people of all walks of life.

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The history of the Adirondacks has been shaped and influenced by many powerful forces. The Adirondack region remained virtually unknown to Europeans until the early 19th century. As the new United States industrialized, the discovery of iron ore fueled efforts to develop iron mines, furnaces and forges in the region. A burgeoning demand for timber pushed loggers deeper into the wilderness. Farming communities developed in many of the river valleys.

In the early 1800's, towns like St. Regis, Paul Smiths and Old Forge sprang up taking advantage of the vast timber resources and iron ore deposits. In the central Adirondacks, pioneers cleared the large tracts of land for farming creating the first settlements. By 1880 the Adirondacks had become a popular destination for the rich and famous. Vacations in the northern wilderness were recommended for health, well being and as a cure for tuberculosis. Hotels, inns and guide services sprang up to serve visitors to the area. It became fashionable for the wealthy to establish huge rustic compounds known as "great camp" estates (Gilded Age).

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The Adirondack Region is best known for its Mountains, Lakes and Ponds. Host to 8,000 Sq. miles of mountains; 2,000 high peak mountains, 40 which are over 4,000 feet. The highest peak in New York State is Mount Marcy at 5,344 feet. The Adirondack Park offers over 2,000 miles of hiking trails with 240 lean-tos and 35 campsites. 2,300 lakes (200 lakes at least a square mile area), 1,500 miles of rivers, and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams filled with 66 species of fish; trout, salmon, bass, pike, perch, sunfish. Throughout the park there are over 54 species of animals; Moose, Black Bear, White Tail Deer, Lynx, Bobcat, Coyotes, Foxes, Fisher, Pine Marten...and over 220 Birds that include Eagles, Herons, Loons, Owls. There are also 35 species of amphibian and reptiles, representing seven amphibian families and five families of reptiles, occupy the Adirondack region; Salamanders, Turtles, Snakes, Frogs.

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There is endless recreational activities the Adirondacks have to offer all year round! Snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, ski jouring, skiing, snowboarding, tubing during the winter months, while spring, summer and fall bring hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, swimming, mountain biking, camping, hunting, golfing, bird watching and the list goes on. Your list of things to do will only get longer as you discover this magnificent area!

In the Adirondacks, it is possible to hike to a stream an isolated pond and fly fish in the afternoon, then spend the evening strolling down Main Street in Lake Placid or Saranac Lake, NY.

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Lake Placid, New York is a village in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains in Essex County, named after nearby Lake Placid. The Village of Lake Placid is near the center of the Town of North Elba, 40 miles southwest of Plattsburgh. Lake Placid, along with nearby Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, comprise what is known as the Tri-Lakes region.

Please Click Here to view Snapshots of Lake Placid, New York.

Lake Placid was founded in the early 1800s to develop a mining operation based on iron ore discovered nearby. By 1840, the population of "North Elba" (four miles southeast of the present village near where the road to the Adirondack Loj crosses the Ausable River) consisted of six families. In 1845, Gerrit Smith arrived in North Elba and not only bought a great deal of land around the village, he also granted large tracts to his slaves, reforming the land law and reflecting his support of Abolitionism.

The abolitionist John Brown heard about Gerrit Smith's reforms, and left his anti-slavery activities in Kansas to buy 244 acres (1.0 km2) of land, which later became known as the "Freed Slave Utopian Experiment," Timbucto. Upon his execution in 1859, John Brown asked to be buried on his farm, which is preserved as the John Brown Farm State Historic Site.

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As leisure time increased in the late 19th century, Lake Placid was discovered by the rich and famous, who were drawn to the fashionable Lake Placid Club. Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System, designed what was then called "Placid Park Club" in 1895 and inspired the village to change its name to Lake Placid. Dewey kept the club open through the winter in 1905, which aided the development of winter sports in the area (although nearby Saranac Lake had hosted an international winter sporting event as early as 1889). By 1921, the area could boast a ski jump, speed skating venue and ski association, and in 1929, Dr. Godfrey Dewey, Melvil's son, was able to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Lake Placid had the best winter sports facilities in the nation. The Lake Placid Club was the headquarters for the IOC for the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

Lake Placid became an incorporated village in 1900.

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Lake Placid Olympic History

Lake Placid is best known as the two-time site of the Winter Olympics, in 1932 and 1980. In the United States, the village is especially remembered as the site of the 1980 USA-USSR hockey game, the "Miracle on Ice," when a group of American college students and amateurs upset the heavily favored Soviet national ice hockey team 4-3 and two days later won the gold medal. The victory is often ranked as the greatest in American sports history. It is also the site of the Olympic Oval, where Eric Heiden won his five Olympic gold medals.

Lake Placid also hosted the 1932 Winter Olympics. Along with St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Innsbruck, Austria, it is one of the three places to have twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Lake Placid was the first location in North America to host two Olympic games. Los Angeles became the other when it hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the second time in 1984.

Jack Shea, a resident of the village, became the first person to win two gold medals when he doubled in speed skating at the 1932 Winter Olympics. He carried the Olympic torch through Lake Placid in 2002 shortly before his death. His grandson, Jimmy Shea, competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah in his honor, winning gold in the Skeleton.

On November 20th, 1995, two-time Olympic Gold medalist Russian figure skater Sergei Grinkov collapsed and died from a massive heart attack while he and his wife were practicing in Lake Placid for their upcoming performance in the 1995-1996 Stars on Ice tour.

Lake Placid Recreational Opportunities

Lake Placid is well-known among winter sports enthusiasts for its skiing, both Alpine and cross-country. Whiteface Mountain (4,867 feet), in nearby Wilmington about 13 miles (21 km) from Lake Placid, offers skiing, hiking, gondola rides, and mountain biking, and is the only one of the High Peaks that can be reached via an auto road. The area has one of only three bobsled rides in the western hemisphere, and is one of the few places in the contiguous United States which offers dogsled and sleigh rides.

Many people use Lake Placid as a base from which to climb the forty-six High Peaks in the Adirondack Mountains; those who complete these climbs may join the Adirondack Forty-Sixers.

Lake Placid built its first golf course in 1898, one of the first in the United States, and has more golf courses than any other region in the Adirondacks. Many of its courses were designed by famous golf course architects such as John Van Kleek, Seymour Dunn, Alexander H. Findlay, and Alister MacKenzie. The geographic features of the Adirondacks were considered reminiscent of the Scotland mountains where the game was invented, and thus a fitting canvas for original play, or "mountain golf."

Lake Placid is near the West Branch of the Ausable River, a well-known stretch of water for fly fishing. More than six miles (10 km) of the West Branch is year-round catch-and-release, artificial-lures-only water.

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Saranac Lake, New York is a village named after Upper, Middle, and Lower Saranac Lakes, which are nearby.

The Village of Saranac Lake covers parts of three towns (Harrietstown, St. Armand, and North Elba) and two counties, Franklin and Essex. The village boundaries do not touch the shores of any of the three Saranac Lakes; Lower Saranac Lake is a half mile west of the village. The northern reaches of Lake Flower, which is part of the Saranac River, lie within the village. The town of Saranac is an entirely separate entity, 33 miles to the northeast.

The village lies within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park, about seven miles from Lake Placid. These two villages, along with nearby Tupper Lake, comprise what is known as the Tri-Lakes region.

Saranac Lake was named the best small town in New York State and ranked 11th in the United States in The 100 Best Small Towns in America ( Click here to read about it. ). In 1998 the National Civic League named Saranac Lake an All-America City and in 2006 the village was named as one of the "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The village has 186 buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Please Click Here to view Snapshots of Saranac Lake, New York.

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Saranac Lake History

The area was first settled in 1819 by the Jacob Smith Moody family, from Keene, New Hampshire. Later settlers Pliny Miller and Alric Bushnell established a logging facility with a dam and sawmill in 1827, forming the basis for the village. The first school was built in 1838, and in 1849, William F. Martin built one of the first hotels in the Adirondacks - the "Saranac Lake House", known simply as "Martin's" - on the southeast shore of Lower Saranac Lake. Martin's would soon become a favorite place for hunters, woodsmen, and socialites to meet and interact.

The village of Saranac Lake, with Lake Flower below and Lake Colby above, from Scarface Mountain to the Southeast.

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In 1876 Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau arrived to treat his own tuberculosis; in 1884 he founded his Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, starting with a small cottage, called "Little Red", where two tubercular sisters from New York City became the first patients. Little Red, the first "cure cottage", was built on a small patch of land on the backside of Mount Pisgah which was purchased for Trudeau by several of his hunting guides. As more and more patients visited the region, including author Robert Louis Stevenson in 1887, Trudeau's fame grew. Soon, the sanitarium had grown so that it was entitled to its own post office, which would sort and deliver mail to its many patients. The Trudeau Institute, an independent medical research center, evolved from the Trudeau's work for the sanitarium. In 1964, the Trudeau Institute began researching the functions of the immune system and how it guards against many infectious diseases, including tuberculosis.

Telephone service was introduced in 1884, and the Chateaugay Railroad reached Saranac Lake from Plattsburgh in 1887.

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The village was incorporated on June 16, 1892, and Dr. Trudeau was elected the first village president soon thereafter. Electricity was introduced on September 20, 1894, by installing water wheels on the former site of Pliny Miller's mill. Paul Smith, an important figure in the history of the village, purchased the Saranac Lake Electricity Co. in 1907, forming the Paul Smith's Electric Light and Power and Railroad Company, which eventually became part of Niagara-Mohawk. At the same time, the village began to stabilize, with public schools, fire and police departments, and other municipal facilities forming.

Starting in the 1890s and for the next 60 years, "Saranac Lake was the Western Hemisphere's foremost center for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis." An effective antibiotic was first used on human TB patients in 1921, but only after World War II did it begin to be widely used in the US. Thereafter, sanatorium treatment began to lose its importance, being phased out completely by 1954, when the sanatorium's last patient, Larry Doyle, left. Among the last of the prominent patients that sought treatment for Tuberculosis was Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina, the first Filipino president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, who died in Saranac Lake of tuberculosis, August 1, 1944.

But the village's preeminence in tuberculosis care had lasting consequences beyond the many large, handsome private cure cottages that were left vacant after the patients were gone. The effect of the hundreds of patients and doctors from all over the world who came to live in the village, many of them prominent in business, literature, science or another field, many of whom stayed for years, cannot be underestimated. Combined with the area's popularity with the power elite, who built their Great Camps on the nearby Saranac and Saint Regis Lakes, the effect was to change the sleepy village of 300 of the 1880s into the vibrant "little city" of 8,000, as the village has referred to itself for many years.

Mark Twain vacationed on Lake Flower in 1901 at the height of his fame. While there, he wrote a Conan Doyle spoof, "A Double-Barreled Detective Story".

Saranac Lake became an especially busy town in the 1920s, with the construction of the Hotel Saranac and several new, permanent buildings after multiple fires destroyed a large part of downtown. Bootlegging was common in the village. Legs Diamond visited his bother Eddy, who had tuberculosis and attempted a cure at a local cottage sanatorium. During the 20s, entertainer Al Jolson and president Calvin Coolidge were semi-frequent visitors to the village - Jolson once performed a solo for three hours at the Pontiac Theater on Broadway Avenue.

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Beginning in 1936, Albert Einstein had a summer home in Saranac Lake, renting the cottage of local architect William L. Distin; he could often be seen sailing with his wife on Lake Flower. He was a frequent summer house guest at Louis Marshall's cottage at Knollwood Club on Lower Saranac Lake during World War II, and it was there on August 6, 1945 that he heard on the radio that that atom bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima; he gave his first interview after the event at Knollwood, on August 11.

In 1954, Saranac Lake hosted the world premiere of the Biblical epic film The Silver Chalice, Paul Newman's film debut. Several of the stars, including Virginia Mayo visited the village and participated in the winter carnival parade.

In recent years, Saranac Lake has become a more conventional tourist destination. The Hotel Saranac, until 2007 operated as a laboratory for hotel and restaurant management students of Paul Smith's College (now privately held), is a memorable early 20th century Deco structure. The former sanatorium is now the corporate call center for the American Management Association.


Many tourists come to the village, which is unusually attractive owing to its setting and the preservation of unique older architecture. Much of the village fronts on Lake Flower, which was created by a dam in the Saranac River and named after Governor Roswell P. Flower.

Summer visitors enjoy canoeing and other forms of boating, hiking in the forest, climbing in the nearby mountains, and visiting the local shops and restaurants. In the summer the Village of Saranac Lake offers free concerts in the park. Camping is also a popular pastime in the Saranac Lake region.

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During the long, cold, snowy winters, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling are popular activities. There is also an annual two week-long winter carnival, an event that has brought people together in celebration of winter since 1898. Each year the carnival is given a theme - 2008's theme was "Hooray for Hollywood." The Winter Carnival parade reflects the theme, and Garry Trudeau, the creator of the comic strip Doonesbury who grew up in the town, creates artwork with characters from his comic strip doing things related to the theme for a button that can be purchased each winter. The carnival's main attraction is the ice palace, which is made with blocks of ice taken from Lake Flower and illuminated with colored lights, along with various winter activities and competitions. These include a parade, which normally has several Bagpipe and drum marching bands and the always favorite Lawn Chair Ladies, along with more usual floats and local school bands. Each year a Winter Carnival King and Queen, who preside over carnival activities, are selected from village residents based upon their contribution to Saranac Lake. There is also a winter rugby game.