20944
Raquette Lake
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 (4.83)
Program No. 20944RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
645
Special Offer
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner, About Sagamore
Raquette Lake, NY
D
Great Camp Sagamore

Afternoon: CHECK-IN: Available from 4:00pm.

Dinner: The chef will carefully prepare buffet meals provided in our paneled dining room with splendid views of Sagamore Lake. Dinners typically include selections such as: a hot entry, like creamed chicken over biscuits, veggie lasagna, pot roast, spaghetti/meat balls, roasted turkey, stuffed pork loin, or ham; salads, along with several dressing choices; potatoes, rice or pasta; a vegetable choice; bread or rolls; milk or juice. Coffee & tea are always available Note: Sagamore's buffet line is bountiful and varied. If you do not think that you can choose the foods you need for your special diet from the buffet, please supplement with your own that may be stored for your convenience in our walk-in cooler and/or cooked in an available microwave. Beer and wine are available for purchase. Sagamore's water is pure and delicious. Please do not bring bottled water.

Evening: ORIENTATION: After dinner, you'll have an informative overview of the program plus an opportunity to meet the program staff and your fellow participants during an introductory get-acquainted session. We’ll review the updated schedule, cover responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 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.

DAY
2
Raquette Lake Natural & Human Hist., Great Camp Phenomenon
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L,D
Great Camp Sagamore

Breakfast: All breakfasts are served in the Vanderbilt dining hall, with lovely views of the sun rising over the mountains of the Blue Ridge Wilderness. Breakfast choices typically include selections such as: one hot entry, like blueberry pancakes, egg strata, french toast, or scrambled eggs; hot & cold cereal & milk; a variety of donuts, bagels & pastries; and several juices. Coffee, tea, and very pure Sagamore water are always available to guests.

Morning: PRESENTATION: Raquette Lake History and the Great Camp Phenomenon. Enjoy an illustrated slideshow presentation providing an overview of local natural and human history. 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: LECTURE: At the Camp, we’ll be joined by Dr. Michael Wilson, who created the Adirondack Studies Program at the State University of New York. He’ll discuss the economic, philosophical, and cultural impulses that led to what we now refer to as Adirondack Great Camps. Dr. Wilson will also ask us to examine our own attitudes toward the natural environment and our place in it. The presentation will include time for Q&A.

DAY
3
Sagamore Lake Field Trip / Historic Influences of the Great Camp Era / Folk Culture Presentation
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L,D
Great Camp Sagamore

Breakfast: Breakfast in Sagamore dining hall

Morning: LECTURE: We’ll gather for a morning class introducing Adirondack geology and its influence on Great Camp Sagamore. Historically, the Adirondacks were coveted by Gilded Age businessmen for their minerals, such 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. Some of these rocks were later incorporated into building structures, particularly roadways and paths, foundations and fireplaces. We will learn how the area’s geology has influenced local culture and history, as well as specific aspects of Great Camp Sagamore.

Lunch: Lunch in Sagamore's dining hall.

Afternoon: Depending on weather conditions at the time, a staff naturalist will lead one of two field trips. One option is canoeing around 180-acre Sagamore Lake; the other is hiking around the lake on old carriage roads. Situated on the edge of the 40,000-acre Blue Ridge Wilderness area, remote Sagamore Lake is the top of the Raquette River watershed that flows into the St. Lawrence River. Whether canoeing or hiking, we’ll learn about local geography, flora, fauna, and human impact on the environment. The lake is adjacent to a farm meadow, milking barn, and sugar shack, all of which are now slowly recovering their original character as part of the "forever wild" forest preserve mission.

Dinner: Dinner in Sagamore dining hall.

Evening: In the 1980s, many of the camp's previous workers were still alive and happy to share their experiences of life at Sagamore. A staff member conducted an oral history project documenting their recollections. This evening we'll view a slide presentation that resulted from the project. It revealed the extensive knowledge and close relationship to nature common to craftsmen who built buildings and furnishings at Great Camp Sagamore, expressed with their own individual brand of wit and wisdom, In addition to utilizing local natural materials, workers also created drawings of local flora.

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

Breakfast: Breakfast in Sagamore dining hall.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: We'll travel (either on foot or by shuttle) 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 it current owners in 1977, and 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. After walking the grounds, we'll take a look inside a few of these renovated spaces.

Lunch: At breakfast, we will pack lunches for all guests, in order to accommodate those who would like to spend their afternoon out of camp. Typical spreads consist of cold cuts, chips, fresh fruit, yogurt, cookies and drinks.

Afternoon: FREE AFTERNOON: Spend the afternoon as you like. Visit the world-class Adirondack Museum in nearby Blue Mountain Lake, or the recently-constructed Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Take a dip in Sagamore Lake, paddle in a classic restored canoe, hike some of the 20 miles of trails, play croquet on Sagamore's lawn, or just relax with a good book in one of our Adirondack chairs. Porch-sitting is also highly recommended.

Dinner: Dinner in Sagamore dining hall.

Evening: In the heyday of the Gilded Age, a popular form of entertainment was being regaled by some of the often eccentric backcountry guides who led city folks on adventures into the Adirondacks. They would be invited into the great camps and tell tall tales of their exploits around the campfire. Tonight, we’ll be entertained by an authentic Adirondack folklorist who will sing songs about life in the North Country and tell similar stories — some of which may even be true! Later, you could carry on the illusion of “roughing it” in the wilderness with a jigsaw puzzle or board game. Or head outside and experience the quiet sounds of the night and beauty of the glittering stars.

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

Breakfast: Breakfast in Sagamore dining hall.

Morning: FIELD TRIP: After breakfast, we'll take a short trip to the nearby hamlet of Raquette Lake, where we'll board the W.W. Durant cruise boat, that will transport us to 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 education programs. Yet the camp retains many of its original design elements, including whole log slab siding, decorative twig railings and ornamental rustic decoration. Among the buildings we see: the Chalet at Pine Knot, about which Donaldson wrote: before it was built, there was nothing else like it . . . since then, despite infinite variations, there has been nothing essentially different from it;" the Recreation Center, with its scissor truss beams and whimsical rustic decor; the Barque of Pine Knot, a floating houseboat of sorts, which Durant's wife escaped to, in order to avoid the biting insects of spring. Finally, we'll take a short walk over to St. William's, the Catholic church that Durant built for his workers and which has been restored by volunteers from the town and is now operated as a non-denominational retreat center.

Lunch: After the tour of Pine Knot, we'll re-board the W.W. Durant for a delicious and delightful lunch cruise around Raquette Lake.

Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: 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. 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: We'll broaden our examination of the Great Camp phenomenon with an analysis and discussion of the Adirondack Park itself, including its establishment, enlargement, protection, land use, and ongoing importance in American cultural and natural history. Then, we’ll head out for 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, too.

DAY
6
Great Camp Sagamore Present & Future, Vanderbilt Scrapbooks
Raquette Lake, NY
B,L

Breakfast: Breakfast in Sagamore dining hall.

Morning: We'll finish up our discovery of Great Camp Sagamore with an overview of the organization as it exists today, and discuss some of the opportunities and challenges faced by a 27-building, National Historic Landmark non-profit located in the midst of the least populated county in the entire Northeast. Issues surrounding historic preservation, maintenance, accessibility, staffing, harsh weather, impending climate change and (of course) funding all play a critical role in Sagamore's attempt to remain a viable, contributing member of the Adirondack and New York cultural community. 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 several of the Sagamore scrapbooks that remain in the Vanderbilt family.

Lunch: Have the lunch you packed this morning at a location of your choice or take it with you. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!