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Motoring the mountains

May 21, 2011
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

This is the second column about motoring in the Adirondacks with the information taken from a "motoring" guide published in 1914 by the Associated Adirondack Hotels and Garages.

The advertising is mainly hotels and garages along with a few retail stores. I don't know how many readers realize that there was a grand hotel where today there is a scenic picnic area between the Cascade Lakes. It appears from the advertising that the Cascade Lakes Club, and the lakes were privately owned - "Also these lakes, in the preserve of the Cascade Lakes Club, are noted as the best fishing waters in the Adirondacks."


Article Photos

The Lake Placid approach

The highway was described in bold letters as Cascade Pass: "Road skirts shores of twin Cascade Lakes. Narrow but turnouts frequent. Use caution. Sound horn. Passing Cascade Lakes Hotel on right, continue up and downgrade swinging sharply to left upgrade. Cross iron bridge and up hill. Turn right at next fork. Straight ahead. Bear right and down small hill into village of Newman. Sharp turn to right across bridge. Upgrade with turn to left at watering trough."

You see, the automobiles probably needed water as often as the horses did. After reading those directions of the Cascade Pass, I think I will stick with my GPS.

Now, the approach to Lake Placid "takes one through the little hamlet of Freeman's Home where John Brown and Gerritt Smith attempted to establish a settlement of negroes in the days preceding Brown's assault upon Harper's ferry and his subsequent capture and hanging (and the prose swings sharply to the left) and a little further on, where the road ...

"Lake Placid's natural beauty is not at once apparent to the motorist entering the village over this approach. In fact the impression is apt to be a discouraging one until the center of the village is reached. Then a portion of the glorious panorama is unfolded, but it is only when viewed from the neighboring heights that one really understands why the title 'Peerless Placid' is no exaggeration." Now maybe my friend Jim McKenna, Lake Placid Visitor's Bureau CEO, will want to incorporate that line into their logo.


The Saranac Lake approach

"Saranac Lake, reached via Gabriels and Bloomingdale, is the metropolis of the Adirondacks, and for the tourists visiting the place for the first time there is a distinct surprise in store. Expecting to find Saranac Lake a duplicate of the other small villages passed en route, they find as they pass through paved streets, flanked by imposing business blocks and beautiful residences, a miniature city instead.

"It is this metropolitan atmosphere mingled with the invigorating atmosphere of the rugged Adirondacks that serves to distinguish Saranac Lake from any other place in the State of New York, if not in the country. Its hotels, public buildings, banks, garages, private residences, all bespeak the comforts of city life and yet over all is the charm of life in the open. But a short distance from the center of this hustling business community are the trails and waterways of the wilderness in which one may easily imagine himself miles from any human habitation. Indeed, Saranac Lake is the terminal in the heart of the Adirondacks of the chain of waterways, navigable by canoe, extending northward from the Fulton Chain of Lakes. It has been estimated that no less than 200 large and small lakes may be reached via the waterways and carries from Saranac Lake village and there are eight lakes navigable by motorboats to be reached from this point."

There then follows detailed descriptions of Lower, Middle and Upper Saranac lakes.


Other places

There are brief descriptions of other surrounding communities such as Elizabethtown, Jay, Westport, Ticonderoga, Keeseville, the farm country of Peru, AuSable Valley and many more, but the guide does not mention, nor is there any advertising from, Tupper Lake. Easy to understand because in 1914 it held one of the biggest logging industries in the East, but it was certainly not a tourist destination.

Here are some of the hotels that advertised: the Riverside Inn in Saranac Lake, the Rockwell Hotel In Lake Luzerne, the Grand View Hotel in Lake Placid, the Fort William Henry Hotel and the Marion Hotel in Lake George, the Leland House in Schroon Lake, the AuSable Club in St. Hubert's, the Windsor Hotel (and cottages) in Elizabethtown, the Lee House in Port Henry, the Westport Inn in Westport, the Witherill Hotel on Lake Champlain, the Hotel Flanagan in Malone, the Lake Meacham Hotel at Meacham Lake, Saranac Inn at Upper Saranac.

Then there is a full-page ad from the Hotel Hargrave, located at 72nd St. West in New York City, owned by the Sandringham Hotel Company. A line across the bottom of the ad read: "Also the Grand View Hotel, Lake Placid." The Hargrave advertised "Exclusive, Refined, 300 Rooms. 200 Bathrooms."



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