PRESENTATION: Great Camp Sagamore's history, programs, and preservation.
Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks is the steward of Great Camp Sagamore and is dedicated to its use for education and interpretation. Our mission is to foster understanding, care, and respect for nature, people, and their critical interdependence. Great Camp Sagamore strives to be a place where broad and diverse audiences gather to use these unique buildings and natural setting to explore and understand Adirondack culture, the region's natural environment, and our relationship to both.Lodging: Great Camp SagamoreMeals Included: Dinner
The source of the Raquette River, Raquette Lake has 99 miles of wooded shoreline, the largest natural lake in the Adirondacks. Dotted here and there with small towns, 80% of the shoreline is owned by the State of New York and “Forever Wild” by law. It was here in 1877 that designer, developer, and entrepreneur William West Durant began work on what would become the first of the so-called “great camps” with a distinctive architectural style, Camp Pine Knot. Elements of the style include log and native stonework construction, decorative rustic items, and a compound of separated structures. Raquette Lake then began to develop into one of the most prestigious summer getaways for the elite. The two other extraordinary estates showcasing Durant’s vision are the Vanderbilt's Sagamore and J.P. Morgan's Uncas. Today, all three are designated National Historic Landmarks.
FIELD TRIP: Following the presentation, we'll have a walking field trip through the self-sufficient workers’ complex at Sagamore, where generations of local families lived and worked to support the lavish lifestyle of the owners and guests, and where they created crafts that became synonymous with Adirondack regional culture. The functional architecture for the worker’s complex is red board-and-batten structures, very different from the Vanderbilt guest buildings.Lunch: Lunch in the Sagamore dining hall. Lunches typically include selections such as: sandwich meats, cheeses, breads and condiments: a hot entree like macaroni & cheese or soup; various salads, like cole slaw or potato salad; cookies or granola bars; a variety of fresh fruits; milk and a variety of juices or lemonade. Coffee, tea, Sagamore water are always available.Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: The Adirondack “great camps” are to "camps" as Newport mansions are to "cottages." Newport in the Gilded Age was the way the ultra-rich went to the beach; Great Camps were the way they went to the woods, with all the luxuries of luxurious homes in buildings that used rustic, native materials to provide the illusion of “roughing it.”
You'll get an in-depth look at the camp of the gentry -- the owners' and guest buildings of the main complex, ranging from the stately-but-rustic Main Lodge and private “boys' club” Wigwam to the whimsical Casino/Playhouse, complete with its own bowling alley -- all of which are situated on a peninsula overlooking Sagamore Lake.Dinner: Dinner in Sagamore dining hall.Evening: PRESENTATION: Introduction to the Geology of the Adirondacks and its influence on Great Camp Sagamore.
Historically, the Adirondacks were sought after by Gilded Age businessmen for their minerals, such as as iron and garnet, and for their alpine lakes, both products of the region's unique geology. Today, the Adirondack Mountains are well-known among professional geologists, “rock hounds,” and many recreational visitors as a major showcase for a large variety of rocks, minerals, and rock structures. It has been described as a “window” to the once magnificent Grenville Orogeny, a Himalayan-magnitude edifice that over a billion years ago stretched from present-day Scandinavia to Antarctica. Sagamore is located in a particularly hot and high-pressure (deeply buried) part of the range as can be determined by close study of the local granite gneiss bedrock. This camp, like all parts of the Adirondacks, also shows evidence of the glaciation event that climaxed about twelve to eight thousand years ago, producing many of the pebbles, cobbles and boulders strewn about the grounds. Some of these rocks were later incorporated into building structures, particularly the roadways and paths, foundations and fireplaces. We will explore how the geology of this area has influenced local culture and history, as well as specific aspects of Sagamore.Lodging: Great Camp SagamoreMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
With Adirondack scholar and retired professor Dr. Michael Wilson, examine the economic philosophy and cultural impulses that led to what we now refer to as Adirondack Great Camps. Dr. Wilson's lecture will be followed by a Q & A session on the history and architecture of the region, and will ask students to examine their own attitudes toward the natural environment and our place in it.Dinner: Dinner in Sagamore dining hall.Evening: PRESENTATION: Wit, Wisdom and Work. This evening we'll enjoy a slide presentation that emerged from an oral history project conducted by a Sagamore staff member back in the 1980s when many of the camp's previous workers were still alive and happy to share their experiences of life at Sagamore.
The oral history project revealed the immense knowledge and close relationship to nature common to craftsmen who built the buildings and their furnishings at Great Camp Sagamore. For instance, the head caretaker's son helped nail bark to the exterior of a new building in 1914, but the bark was prone to cracking and the workers had to gradually learn by trial and error how to make it pliable. One of the carpenters was an expert in calculating log shrinkage when he built beds or tables using whole logs. In addition to utilizing local natural materials, workers also created things like drawings of local flora. The electrician's grandson sold drawings painted on shelf fungus to guests of the Vanderbilts. [Excerpted from “Doing History in the Adirondacks: Interpreting the Park, the People and the Landscape” by Maria F. Reynolds.]
Lodging: Great Camp SagamoreMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After that, you might be beckoned by a jigsaw puzzle or board game -- carrying on the illusion of "roughing it" in the wilderness. Or go outside and experience the quiet sounds of the night and the beauty of glittering stars.Lodging: Great Camp SagamoreMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Built during the winters of 1990-91, the “W. W. Durant” captures the opulence of a by-gone era with wainscoting, stained and etched glass, gleaming brass, rich carpeting, and polished oak, while at the same time offering the convenience and comfort of modern amenities.Dinner: Dinner in Sagamore dining hall.Evening: PRESENTATION: Tonight, we'll broaden our examination of the Great Camp phenomenon with an analysis and discussion of the Adirondack Park itself: its establishment, enlargement, protection, land use, and ongoing importance in American cultural and natural history.
EXTRA-CURRICULAR: Enjoy a night under the stars at Sagamore's historic Adirondack lean-to, nestled in the woods along the outlet stream to Sagamore Lake. Based on an ancient design, the Adirondack lean-to is common to hikers in the region, who frequently sleep in lean-tos rather than camping in tents. Of course, the Vanderbilts lean-to was not too rustic: it came equipped with an intercom system to the kitchen, so that staff could be easily summoned to bring refreshments. Tonight, we'll make do with marshmallows and the makings of 'smores and maybe some campfire singing. Bring your voice, bring your old campfire songs, and if you play, bring an instrument!
Lodging: Great Camp SagamoreMeals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
PRESENTATION: After a short break, we'll reconvene for one last time to examine some of the Adirondack memorabilia that the Sagamore Institute has collected over the years, including (via the magic of digital photography) several of the Sagamore scrapbooks that remain in the Vanderbilt family. The program concludes with this presentation. We trust that you will have enjoyed your learning adventure here at Great Camp Sagamore and will return for other rewarding Road Scholar programs in the future. Best wishes for all your journeys!Lunch: Participants will have the opportunity to make a pack lunch at breakfast, consisting of cold cuts, chips, fruit and cookies, etc, that you may eat in camp, or take on your way.Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch