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Great Camps History Weekend
July 5 - 7, 2013
Join resident historians, Dr. Jeffrey Flagg and Dr. Michael Wilson, as they take you on a whirlwind weekend tour of the camps in and around Raquette Lake, where William West Durant started what we now know as the “Great Camp” movement. The course will begin on Friday night, with introductions, along with a short lecture on the early development of the region and the impetus for the camp phenomenon.
Following breakfast on Saturday, we’ll take an in-depth look at Sagamore, which epitomizes not only Durant’s vision of wilderness luxury, but also the massive investment in time, money and labor needed to create such a rustic illusion for Gilded Age families with names like Huntington, Morgan and Vanderbilt.
After lunch, we’ll head down to the nearby town of Raquette Lake for a guided narrated tour of the lake itself aboard the W.W. Durant. Raquette Lake is the site of many of the other Gilded Age “Great Camps," including Durant’s first camp, Pine Knot, now owned and operated by SUNY-Cortland as an outdoor education facility. Other camps that you will see on Raquette Lake include: Echo Camp, built by Connecticut governor Phineas T. Lounsbury; magazine baron Robert Collier's Bluff Point; and North Point, the Carnegie camp at the northern end of Raquette.
After the cruise, you'll have several hours to hike, canoe or just relax before dinner in Sagamore's rustic dining hall. After dinner, we’ll end the evening with one of several in-depth presentations on an aspect of the Great Camp phenomenon, followed by a campfire at Sagamore rustic lean-to, complete with S'mores!
On Sunday morning, we’ll take a short-but-refreshing two mile hike to Camp Uncas, which Durant built and sold to J.P. Morgan just prior to building Sagamore (guests may carpool if they wish). Uncas, which today is privately-owned and generally off-limits to the public, is the least altered of Durant’s camps, and so provides the purist example of Durant’s vision of wilderness recreation. Finally, we’ll return to Sagamore in time for lunch and farewells.
Guest for this special July 4th weekend program are invited and encouraged to spend an extra day or two exploring the region. Interested history buffs will certainly want to visit the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, or the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. First opened in 1957, the Adirondack Museum is one of the finest regional museum in the nation, and has been described as the "Smithsonian of the Adirondacks." The Wild Center, meanwhile, welcomed its first guest in 2006, and is the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. Both are world-class facilities, and provide useful background context for Sagamore's Great Camp weekend course.
For those who are interested in the Great Camps themselves, meanwhile, two other camps are accessible to the public. Camp Santanoni, in Newcomb, is now owned by NYS, and is open to the public for tours and visitation. However, the camp can only be reached by traveling five miles over a dirt road, either on foot or in a horse-drawn wagon. White Pine Camp in Paul Smiths is somewhat smaller and was built later than most of the Raquette Lake camps, but shares many of their distinctive qualities, including whimsical rustic architecture, a multi-structure compound, and an incredible lakeside setting.
Costs for this special history weekend are $329/adult and $179/children which includes lodging, meals and the use of camp facilities. Guests may add-a-night on a space available basis for only $99/night/adult and $49/night/child.
Please click here to register online for the weekend or call the Registrar's office 315-354-5311 x 21 for availability to extend your stay after the weekend.