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Great Camp Sagamore
Adirondack Great Camps, as they are now called, were the first places in America where wilderness was used as the setting for recreation. Little known even today because of their remote locations, great camps were the baronial retreats the Gilded Age bankrolled in the Adirondack Mountains. Of the several dozen great camps originally built, only Sagamore operates as an independent not-for-profit dedicated to education. Still authentic to its original, rustic, vernacular architecture, Sagamore preserves 27 wood and stone buildings in two adjacent complexes.
Great Camp Sagamore was built in 1897 by William West Durant near the town now called Raquette Lake in Upstate New York. It boasted a Main Lodge on a peninsula jutting into a pristine, private lake and that featured indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water as well as gas light. There was also a boat house, dining hall (expanded to seat 99), and several service buildings, farm site, school house and work shops in the workers’ complex.
In 1901 he sold Sagamore to Alfred G. Vanderbilt, the wealthiest young man in America. The Vanderbilt family summered at Sagamore Lodge until 1954 with Mrs. Vanderbilt entertaining Hollywood stars Gary Cooper, Hoagy Carmichael, Gene Tierney and Broadway legends Richard Rodgers and Jerome Kern as well as dignitaries General George C. Marshal and Madame Chaing Kai-Shek. An invitation to Sagamore was highly valued. To more graciously accommodate this illustrious guest list, the family expanded the camp with more guest buildings, bowling alley, tennis court, play house, and state-of-the-art hydro-electric plant.
Since the mid-70s the site has been under the auspices of Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks, Inc. an independent, non-profit 501c3 corporation dedicated to the stewardship of Great Camp Sagamore and to its use for educational and interpretive purposes.Today, we afford you the very rare privilege of touring and staying in National Historic Landmark-designated buildings to recreate and learn. Many of our courses are in partnership with Road Scholar (Elderhostel). Our most popular is the Grandparents’ and Grandchildren’s intergeneration camp that runs in July and August.
Tours are at 10A and 1:30P in summer and at 1:30 only in autumn. All tours are guided by expert historic interpreters. Tours are approximately two hours. Admission is charged.
Please visit us at www.greatcampsagamore.org. Don’t Miss This When Visiting
The drive to Raquette Lake, NY is through the unspoiled Forest Preserve of the Adirondack Mountains. Many charming small towns offer amenities to travelers. Our foliage season is unparalleled.
Related Sites Or Experiences
1. The Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts is in neighboring Blue Mountain Lake. It offers exhibits and performances.
2. The Adirondack Museum is also in Blue Mountain Lake.
3. The Raquette Lake Navigation Company offers excursions, lunches, dinners, and special events aboard the “W.W. Durant” cruising the largest natural lake in the Adirondacks.
Suggested Further Reading
Any Gilded Age text.
Tours Are Offered
Site is Child-friendly
Site is Pet-friendly
I think Great Camp Sagamore is child friendly. There are exhibits on the tours and there are some wonderful week long programs for grand kids and grand parents.
Jeff Daly, 9/25/2011