After reading about the Adirondack-frolicking rich folks of the Gilded Age, take a ride to Raquette Lake (about 14 miles from Blue Mountain Lake) to tour the Great Camp Sagamore, once owned by the Vanderbilt family. It is incredible.
This is not an ordinary cabin in the woods, but a compound of buildings that once had a full, year-round staff that supported the Vanderbilt family (who spent roughly six weeks a year at the place). It is mind-blowing to tour the mini-town where the workers lived, then the family's area that includes a huge rustic home for "bachelor" guests, the three-story main family home, a children's playhouse, a semi-enclosed bowling alley and huge dining hall. (The place appeares in the film "The Good Shepherd.")
During the "No Velvet Ropes Tour" guests are escorted by a guide through the camp and are treated to an extraordinary interpretation of the place and its history. You'll learn information about its builder, William West Durant, and the family, including a fun look at the height marks made on the door frame, measuring the Vanderbilt grandchildren.
You can stay at Great Camp Sagamore (not to be confused with the historic Sagamore resort), which hosts a variety of events, including grandparent/grandchild week, Simply Sagamore Weeks, Adirondack Gilded Age History Weekends, Adirondack Women and more.
Summer tours are daily at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., lasting about two hours. Cost is $12 adults, $6 children. For information: (315) 354-5311, www.sagamore.org. On the way home, consider stopping in Old Forge for a boat ride up the Fulton Chain of Lakes on one of Old Forge Lake Cruises boats. A boat ride is a great way to experience the area. The route follows along much the way folks would have traveled during the early days of the Adirondacks, when heading to the great camps and hotels. The leisurely cruise is accompanied with narration by the captain, who points out historic landmarks and current day points of interest.
You'll see the location of the former hotel where comedian Don Rickles got his start; St. Peter's Church that has its own dock; and you'll learn about the "pickle boat" that brought camping supplies via water.
Old Forge Cruises offers twohour sightseeing cruises, a onehour kids' cruise and three-hour mailboat cruises, which still serves one of America's longest running freshwater mail routes, started by President Harrison in 1902. Cruises run rain or shine.
For information: (877) 508- 6728, www.oldforgecruises.com.
- Emeri Krawczyk