In the late 19th century, a tradition began. A tradition that has left its mark all over the Adirondacks. Soon after the publication of William H. H. Murray’s “Adventure’s in the Wilderness”, the Adirondack region was put on the map. Wealthy and famous people from all over the world traveled to this region to spend entire summers here. Grand hotels were built to accommodate these guests seeking an escape from the city life to camp, hunt, fish and relax.
It was long after this movement began that the Gilded Age magnates started building their own lakeside estates. These estates were grand mansions made up of several buildings spanning the shorelines of the lakes in upstate New York. These estates had buildings for dining, guest accommodations, game rooms, tea cabins and even cabins for the servants.
Raquette Lake is known for being the “birthplace” of the Great Camp legacy. In 1877 W. W. Durant built the very first great camp on Raquette Lake, Camp Pine Knot. This was an incredibly large estate that was made up of more than two dozen rustic cabins that were connected by beautiful covered walkways. He didn’t stop there, Durant went on to build several other Great Camps in the area. Among them was Great Camp Sagamore which was later bought and modernized by the Vanderbilt family. Camp Sagamore is one of the camps that have survived until today and is somewhere you can visit if you are interested in seeing these incredible places in person!
From the late 19th century until the early 20th century these luxurious, rustic estates popped up throughout the Adirondacks. Through the years, most were modernized with running water, flushing toilets and electricity. Although not all the camps have survived to modern day, the ones that aren’t privately owned are available for the public to tour, some are even used as summer camps for kids to stay at, canoe, hike and explore.