20944
New York

America's Treasures: Three Adirondack Great Camps of the Gilded Age

Hear the story of the Adirondack’s Gilded Age from experts as you visit the Great Camps, learning about three lavish properties, their architecture and the people who lived there.
Rating (4.94)
Program No. 20944RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
749
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Raquette Lake, NY
D
Great Camp Sagamore

Activity note: Lodge check-in from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Get your room assignment by visiting the office in the Collins building and stop by the Road Scholar table outside the office to meet program staff and get your welcome packet. The packet will contain an up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information related to the program, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Breakfast choices typically include one hot course, like blueberry pancakes, egg dishes, French toast, and more, cereal and milk, doughnuts, bagels, pastries, and juice. Lunches typically include sandwich meats, cheeses, breads, condiments, a hot course like macaroni and cheese or soup, salads, like cole slaw or potato salad, cookies or granola bars, fresh fruits, milk, and a juices or lemonade. Dinners typically include a hot course, like creamed chicken over biscuits, veggie lasagna, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs, roasted turkey, stuffed pork loin, or ham, salads, dressing choices, potatoes, rice, pasta, a vegetable choice, and bread or rolls. Coffee, tea, fruit, and very pure Sagamore water are always available to guests. Beer and wine are available for purchase in the office. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Great Camp Sagamore History, Workers Complex & Tools
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L,D
Great Camp Sagamore

Activity note: Pre-breakfast walk. Walking across camp around 1/2 mile. Climbing stairs to enter buildings. Chairs available at some stops at camp. Standing for 10 minutes or more at other stops.

Breakfast: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Morning: For the early risers among us, we may choose to begin our morning with a fitness walk before breakfast. If we’re lucky, we may see birds, deer, and snowshoe hares still active at this early hour. A member of program staff will lead the walk. After breakfast, we'll gather for a presentation by Sagamore Institute’s historical interpretation staff about Sagamore and the Gilded Age. During the lecture, we’ll learn more about what historical events led to the creation of the Adirondack Great Camps and how people started to see the Adirondacks as an ideal landscape for vacation rather than the vast, dismal wilderness it was considered not long before. After this presentation, we’ll leave the classroom to begin our exploration of Great Camp Sagamore with an educational walk around the main complex. Completed in 1897 by William West Durant, Sagamore was once the summer vacation residence of the Vanderbilt Family. Senior members of the historical interpretation staff will lead the walk and show us how the main complex embodies Adirondack rustic architecture. Elements of the style include log and native stonework construction, decorative rustic items, and a compound of separated structures.

Lunch: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Afternoon: Sagamore’s historian will teach us about the workers complex and the people who lived there. We’ll start with a presentation on working at Sagamore and how numerous employees were necessary to create the illusion of “roughing it” for the Vanderbilts’ famous guests. After that, we’ll head up to Sagamore’s worker’s complex to learn about where the carpenters, blacksmiths, caretakers, and other workers at Sagamore lived. At the conclusion of the field trip, we will join relatives of Richard Collins, Sagamore’s original caretaker, in the workers complex barn, where they will showcase an antique set of woodworking tools. This set of tools was originally owned by Allie Roblee, a master carpenter during the camp’s construction. This hands-on presentation will include an opportunity to see, handle, and try these historic tools on wooden boards supplied by the instructors.

Dinner: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Evening: At the camp, we'll join Sagamore’s historian for a history presentation on Camp Santanoni, another Adirondack Great Camp that sits at the south end of New York’s High Peaks region, 5 miles into the wilderness. During the presentation, we’ll observe pictures, learn about the historian’s work and the history of the camp.

DAY
3
Adirondack Experience Visit, Folk Culture
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L,D
Great Camp Sagamore

Activity note: Pre-breakfast walk. Getting on/off van, driving 1 hour round trip. Walking at the museum at your discretion.

Breakfast: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Morning: Before breakfast, we'll meet once again for an elective morning fitness walk. After breakfast, we’ll gather in the Collins Building for a presentation on Adirondack literature which will feature an upstate New York author who has researched and written about the Great Camps. Next, we'll be joined by an authentic Adirondack storyteller who will entertain the group with songs, stories, and tall-tales. Throughout the performance, our entertainer will share some anecdotes deeply embedded in his Adirondack roots.

Lunch: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Afternoon: We'll travel by van together to the world-class Adirondack Experience, a history museum in the nearby town of Blue Mountain Lake. We can choose to stick with Sagamore’s staff or explore the museum on our own. Exhibits focus on Adirondack regional history and cover subjects such as logging, fire towers, historical figures, wooden guide boats, railroads, and art. We'll take our time learning from the exhibits until returning to Sagamore for dinner.

Dinner: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Evening: A member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation will come to Sagamore to teach us about Native American heritage in the Adirondacks. She will present the story of the Iroquois Confederacy’s formation and share the legends of her people. Weather permitting, we will enjoy the presentation by the fireside at Sagamore’s wigwam lean-to, nestled in the trees on the edge of Outlet Brook. A question and answer period will follow. 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 snack on classic s’mores.

DAY
4
Field Trip to Camp Uncas, Free Time, Evening Entertainment
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L,D
Great Camp Sagamore

Activity note: Pre-breakfast walk. Choice of walking 2 miles to Camp Uncas or transfer by shuttle. Exploring the grounds at Uncas will require walking about half a mile on flat, dirt roads.

Breakfast: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Morning: We’ll travel to nearby Camp Uncas. Now a privately-owned property with very limited access by the public, Uncas was Durant's second “great camp” and the property that most closely retains Durant’s original vision. Sold to J.P. Morgan by Durant at a loss, the camp was used only sporadically by the Morgan family, and underwent only minor renovations prior to its donation to the Damon Runyan Cancer Research Institute. After passing through several private hands, the camp was purchased by its current owners in 1977, who have preserved and restored many of the exteriors of the camp according to Durant's original architectural vision, while modernizing most of the interior spaces. Throughout the morning, we will walk the Uncas grounds accompanied by our Group Leader. A member of Sagamore’s historical interpretation staff will be present to discuss the history of Camp Uncas.

Lunch: At Camp Uncas, we’ll enjoy packed lunches consisting of cold cut sandwiches, chips, fresh fruit, yogurt, cookies, and drinks.

Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: We'll enjoy a special meal in the dining hall tonight inspired by the Adirondack region or the Vanderbilt family's historical camp favorites.

Evening: We’ll gather in the Collins Building for a presentation on life as an Adirondack Forest Ranger. Now that we've had a chance to hike the trails surrounding Sagamore, we’ve gotten a taste of the vast tracts of rugged land that make up the Adirondack Forest Preserve. This evening, a local retired Forest Ranger will share how protecting these forests has changed over the years, while telling entertaining stories of his many years working the woods.

DAY
5
Camp Pine Knot, Raquette Lake Cruise, Adirondack History
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L,D
Great Camp Sagamore

Activity note: Pre-breakfast walk. Getting on/off van, steamboat. Driving 1/2 hour roundtrip; 2 hours on steamboat. Pre-dinner walk choices include 2 miles and 1/2 mile, mostly flat with small hills, rocks, and roots typical of an Adirondack trail.

Breakfast: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Morning: Before breakfast, we'll meet again for our elective morning fitness walk, mixing up our route to see something new. After breakfast we’ll learn more about Pine Knot and travel to the nearby hamlet of Raquette Lake, where we’ll board the W.W. Durant steamboat. While on the water, we'll see the many structures on the shore of Raquette Lake that were designed by William West Durant, including camp Pine Knot. Completed by Durant around 1889, Pine Knot was described by scholar Alfred Donaldson as the “first of the artistic and luxurious camps” in his 1921 history of the Adirondack region. Today, the camp is owned and operated by the State University of New York Cortland, and used for a variety of educational programs. Yet the camp retains many of its original design elements, including whole log slab siding, decorative twig railings, and ornamental rustic decoration. A senior member of Sagamore’s historical interpretation staff will lead us on this trip. We’ll re-board the W.W. Durant for a delicious and delightful lunch cruise around Raquette Lake.

Lunch: Aboard the boat, we’ll be served a 3-course meal, with a buffet for the main entrée.

Afternoon: While eating lunch, we’ll enjoy a narrated cruise past several other great camps of the Gilded Age, including those belonging to important characters of the period, folks with names like Huntington, Stott, Carnegie, and Collier. Returning to camp, we’ll spend the rest of the afternoon learning more about the Adirondacks. First, we’ll meet with Sagamore’s historical interpretation staff for a presentation on Adirondack park history and issues. The park was created in 1892 to protect the resources of upstate New York, and instantly became a conservation experiment due to the communities that had already been established inside the borders of the forest preserve. Even today, the residents of the Adirondacks experience unique issues that result from the 6-million acre patchwork of public and private land surrounding their homes. We’ll follow this presentation with a discussion of these issues. After this presentation, we will have the choice of two different nature walks. Both walks will be led by a naturalist from Sagamore’s program staff. The longer hike will be approximately 2 miles and include a visit to Sagamore’s historic farm meadow and sugar house ruins on the far side of Sagamore Lake. The shorter walk will stay close to Great Camp Sagamore, covering about half a mile total distance. Both will include expert-led observations of flora and fauna and local materials used in the construction of the camp.

Dinner: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Evening: Back at camp, an Adirondack folklorist will perform in the playhouse after dinner. Growing up on the fringes of the Adirondack Park, our performer will share his personal history of life in the North Country while singing authentic, regional songs with acoustic guitar accompaniment.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Raquette Lake, NY
B

Activity note: Pre-breakfast walk. Lodge check-out by 10:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Sagamore dining hall buffet.

Morning: Before breakfast, we’ll embark on our usual fitness walk. After breakfast, the group will convene one more time for a Q&A session with the Group Leader. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on another rewarding program in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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