This July seventy-two teachers from across the country will spend their summer break in a classroom six-million acres wide thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
“Forever Wild,” a week-long immersive experience for K-12 educators, reveals the historical importance of the Adirondack wilderness during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, including how Americans from bustling cities made use of the natural landscape during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. » Continue Reading.
The sun filters through the hemlocks and dapples the ferns on the forest floor as you walk the shoreline from SUNY Cortland’s Camp Huntington to the cabin in the woods called Camp Kirby.
Walking the mile path along the shoreline of Raquette is the only way to get back and forth between these camps unless you take a boat ride. Camp Kirby is available to rent for alumni of SUNY Cortland. We have been renting it with fellow alum friends for the past few summers. » Continue Reading.
John Pierpont Morgan owned Camp Uncas. To reach the railroad connection for his Manhattan headquarters, he faced two options, neither to his liking. He could race his team up Durant’s new road from Uncas, passed the Seventh-Eighth Lake Carry, reached the Sucker Brook Bay Road (now Uncas Road) and turned left for Eagle Bay to hopefully meet the scheduled Crosby Transportation Company steamer. Then he transferred in Old Forge to the Fulton Chain Railroad terminus for the two mile spur to Fulton Chain Station. Instead of going to Eagle Bay, he could have continued north about a mile from Eagle Bay and followed the Durant trail past Cascade Mountain to connect with the road from Big Moose Lake and meet the railroad at Big Moose Station.
Collis P. Huntington owned Pine Knot on Raquette Lake. I do not know if he ever sat on a keg of nails on a Company steamer to Eagle Bay as some suggest, but he wrote about his experiences on the tedious series of stages, carries and small steamers necessary to travel from Fourth Lake to Brown’s Tract Inlet, crossing the road from Camp Uncas used by Morgan.
But Morgan and Huntington knew that travelers deserved a faster and cheaper way to reach the North Woods. In Huntington’s words, “It is a health resort for the rich and poor, for in these forests may be found the castle, the cabin and the tent, and the inmates of these forests share alike in the life-giving air of the woods”. » Continue Reading.
Raquette Lake comes together each year to celebrate the founder of the Adirondack Great Camp style, William W. Durant. Durant Days not only celebrates the history of the Adirondack architectural form, but brings people to the area that was the birthplace of the Great Camp design.
Event Organizer Donna Pohl says, “Beverly Bridger of Great Camp Sagamore and I started this event 14 years ago as a way to gain attention for the National Historic Landmarks of Raquette Lake. One of the crowning jewels during Durant Days is the opportunity for a guided tour of Camp Pine Knot.” » Continue Reading.
Raquette Lake will be a buzz of activity as community and guests enjoy the annual celebration honoring William West Durant. Tours, boat rides, fireworks and concerts are just a few of the activities everyone can enjoy this weekend.
William W. Durant is most commonly known as the founder of the Adirondack Great Camp. The most recognizable elements of the Great Camp style are rough hewed log construction, local stonework and decorative work using twigs, bark and branches. The camps were self-sufficient mega complexes that provided all means of entertainment for its guests from teahouses to bowling alleys. In the 1800s his father, Thomas C. Durant, had owned thousands of acres of Adirondack property turning the Raquette Lake acreage over to William to manage. William West Durant first built the Great Camp Pine Knot that would eventually be owned by Collis Huntington and other properties including Camp Uncas (owned by J.P. Morgan 1895) and Sagamore Lodge (built in 1897 and purchased by Alfred G. Vanderbilt in 1901). Durant supervised the building of over 100 buildings on the properties, a town, a railway and two churches (St. Williams and St. Huberts) and was responsible for hundreds of workers while spearheading these Great Camp endeavors. The rampant development of these large-scaled projects eventually led to his bankruptcy. These three camps are now National Historic Landmarks as advocates of history have worked hard to preserve this golden Adirondack era.
Currently Pine Knot is owned by SUNY Cortland and not open for public tours except on July 30th during Durant Days. Not only is Durant known for the founding of a classic architectural style but also for creating a town named in his honor that provided employees and families a place to congregate. The town of Durant no longer exists. The renovated store and St. William’s Church are all that remains of a once thriving waterway community on the north shore of Long Point.
With the opening of the railway line in 1900, the post office was moved from Durant to what is now the hamlet of Raquette Lake.
Event coordinator and caretaker of St. Williams’s On Long Point Andrea Monhollen says, “On Thursday nights we have free concerts here and the Raquette Lake Boys’ Camp and Girls’ Camp meet people at the dock and offer free boat rides to the events. It is a wonderful way to bring the community together.”
A special event will take place on Saturday on St. William’s on Long Point with a free water taxi from the town dock with a free afternoon concert from “Wide Variety” billed as Jersey’s premier A Cappella Group. Other activities commence throughout the day culminating with a band on the village green, boat parade and fireworks.
The Great Camp experience is also available through a free 10:00 a.m. tour of Camp Sagamore on Sunday, August 1st. All other guided tours are fee-based. The planned activities end with free vester service at St. Hubert’s.
Officials at SUNY Cortland have announced a new director for the school’s Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education which oversees outdoor and environmental education facilities including the operations at three historic camps on Raquette Lake.
Robert L. Rubendall, who has spent 30 years overseeing environmental and experiential education at institutions in New England and Wisconsin, was named the director of outdoor education at SUNY Cortland on June 1 replacing Jack Sheltmire, who will retire on June 30. Created in 1991, the Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education includes: the Outdoor Education Center, encompassing Camp Huntington (formerly Camp Pine Knot), Antlers (a former resort), and Kirby Camp (a part of Camp Pine Knot believed to have been built for William West Durant’s mistress). All three are located on Raquette Lake about 155 miles northeast of the Cortland campus. The Center also operates the Brauer Education Center near Albany and the Hoxie Gorge Nature Preserve south of the campus in Cortland County.
Residing at Camp Huntington, Rubendall will make periodic visits to the other facilities. He is responsible for scheduling facilities usage, overseeing lodging operations, managing five budgets, supervising five staff members, marketing and promoting the facilities, engaging in fundraising activities and arranging for some maintenance tasks. He will work with the New York State Parks and Recreation and Historical Preservation Office and the National Parks Service to ensure that the upkeep, maintenance and renovation of the Camp Huntington facility are consistent with its historical landmark designation, according to Cortland officials.
Rubendall of Rindge, N.H., most recently served as director of the Boston University Sargent Center in Peterborough, N.H., from 1995 until 2009.
Photo: Guide boat in front of Antlers, approximately 1902. Library of Congress photo.
US Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced yesterday that Great Camp Uncas on Mohegan Lake has been selected as a National Historic Landmark.
Camp Uncas is located a few miles south of the hamlet of Raquette Lake, in the Town of Long Lake, Hamilton County. It is close to the geographic center of the 9,300-square mile Adirondack Park. The camp was built by William West Durant, pre-eminent architect and builder of the Park’s most famous and well-preserve great camps (including the adjacent Great Camp Sagamore, also an Historic Landmark and open to the public for day trips and overnight stays). The designation of Great Camp Uncas marks the third building in the tiny hamlet of Raquette Lake to be awarded National Landmark status. The other two are Great Camp Sagamore and Great Camp Pine Knot, all built by Durant.
Great Camps are compounds of buildings meant as a self-contained (often self-sustaining) seasonal retreat for a wealthy family, mimicking a tiny rural village. Great camp architecture reached its peak around the dawn of 20th Century, as the industrial magnates of the Gilded Age were spending their fortunes on ways to escape the crowded and polluted cites of the Northeast. Each building served a separate purpose, with dining halls, libraries, game rooms, blacksmith shops, boathouses, carriage houses, barns, farms, guest quarters, servants quarters and lounges.
Many great camps fell into disrepair as the wealthy owners passed away or lost their fortunes in the Great Depression. Some were later purchased by scout groups and other institutions that had the means to keep them in order.
Perhaps the two most important features of Durant’s great camps are his use of the landscape to conceal the buildings from view until you are right next to them, and his use of whole logs, rock and bark to create a rustic look that matched the landscape but also provided great comfort within. It was a combination of the American log cabin and the opulent European ski chalet. The style has been widely emulated, serving as the prototype for nearly every major lodge and administrative structure built by the National Park Service, including Yellowstone Lodge in Montana.
While Durant built Great Camp Uncas for himself, he was forced to sell it to pay his debts. New owner J. P. Morgan used it as a wilderness retreat for many years.
For the past 30 years, visitors to Great Camp Sagamore have been given tours of Uncas as well. More than 20 group tours came through just this past summer. Uncas and Sagamore have each hosted the Adirondack Council’s Annual Forever Wild Dinner and Conservationist of the Year Award celebration. This year, Uncas hosted the Adirondack Architectural Heritage organization’s annual meeting as well.
The Sagamore and Uncas roads are designated bike trails, surrounded by Adirondack Forest Preserve lands.
Here is an excerpt from today’s Department of the Interior news release announcing the new designation for Great Camp Uncas:
* Camp Uncas was developed 1893 to 1895 on Mohegan Lake in what is now the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
* Camp Uncas is one of the best examples of Adirondack camp architecture, which was designed for leisure. It is of exceptional historical and architectural significance as the first Adirondack camp to be planned as a single unit by William West Durant, widely recognized as one of the most important innovators of the property type.
* At Camp Uncas, Durant developed the camp as a single cohesive unit: a “compound plan” for camps that provided for an array of separate buildings, all subordinate to the natural setting. Camp Uncas was built as an ensemble from start to finish.
* The Adirondack camp had a strong and lasting influence on the design of rustic buildings developed for national and state park systems in the 20th century.
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