The Fourth Life: Magnet for Tourism

The Lake Champlain Monument. Courtesy of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism - Essex County.

The Lake Champlain Monument. Courtesy of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism/Lake Placid CVB

In the early 1800’s, Americans started exploring their new country, finding inspiration in the places where their fathers and grandfathers fought for freedom and in the vastness of Nature. The first tourists took the “Northern Tour” up the Hudson River by sloop, then by stagecoach to the shore of Lake George. Here, they boarded a boat to Ticonderoga and caught another coach to connect to Lake Champlain. Travelers wrote books praising the wildness of the landscape. Their books lured more travelers.

By the 1850’s, Lake George had become a destination in itself. Great tourist hotels replaced the primitive boarding houses. Steamboats evolved to become the primary means by which to enjoy the beauty of the lake and the panoramic views of the Adirondacks. After the Civil War, tourists arrived by railroad in ever greater numbers. Soon, a new generation of vacationers – children from the cities – took the train to escape the heat and humidity for the chill mountain air of summer camps.

In the early twentieth century, automobiles began to reshape patterns of tourism. Lakeshore cottages and campsites multiplied as tourists took their vacations in the family car. Motels replaced the luxurious lakeshore hotels while families looked for more lively activities to entertain the youngsters. Dude ranches, rodeos, and the nation’s first “theme” parks attracted flocks of visitors. Today, Lakes to Locks Passage offers all the magnets to tourists: the wildness of nature, the inspiration of history, and the thrill of adventurous recreation

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