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 (4.93)
Program No. 20944RJ
6 days
Starts at

At a Glance

Few have ever experienced “roughing it” like the wealthy businessmen of the Gilded Age, who turned the quiet wilderness of the Adirondacks into a haven for the rich and famous. Today, the Great Camps of the Gilded Age remain icons of the early Adirondack lifestyle, and Great Camp Sagamore is the perfect location to study this opulent era. Join historians for a look into the lives of these famous camp owners, their well-known guests and the workers who maintained their lavish properties. Then, gain an appreciation for the region’s natural treasures as naturalists share their insight on the ecology of the Adirondack Park, the largest park in the contiguous United States.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about the Vanderbilts' Sagamore and its neighbors, such as J.P. Morgan’s Camp Uncas and Collis Huntington's Camp Pine Knot — each a National Historic Landmark designed by William West Durant.
  • Get a fresh perspective of the great camp properties during a study luncheon cruise along Raquette Lake.
  • Canoe or hike around Sagamore Lake and discover the biodiversity of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room. Visit historic Pine Knot and Uncas camps, privately-owned and generally off-limits to the public.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Durant Family Saga
by Sheila Myers
The Durant Family Saga trilogy titles: Imaginary Brightness, Castles in the Air, and The Night is Done (2017 winner of Best Book of Fiction by the Adirondack Center for Writing) can be found at most online retail bookstores. Author Sheila Myers Set in the 1870s, the dawn of the Gilded Age, while the American economy is reeling from over-speculation in railroads. The Durant family saga tells the story of William West Durant and his sister Ella, the children of the powerful American industrialist and railroad tycoon Dr. Thomas C. Durant. William and Ella find their fortunes and reputations threatened by their father’s questionable business dealings as head of the Union Pacific Railroad. As the family's finances teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, both brother and sister are whisked from their privileged lifestyle in high society London to the untamed Adirondack forests. It is in this wilderness landscape that the tension between passion and propriety, their future and their family, turn their worlds upside down. The Durant family saga explores the early conquest of the great north woods, eavesdrops on America’s robber barons from the supper clubs of Manhattan, and unravels the mystery of the Durant family’s conflicting loyalties.
Great Camp Sagamore: The Vanderbilts' Adirondack Retreat
by Beverly Bridger
Beverly Bridger has been Sagamore's Executive Director for more than 20 years.

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