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Elegant Lake George

July 2024
1min read

Even a hundred years ago Lake George was considered too civilized, for all its beauty, to be thought of as part of the Adirondack wilderness; and indeed the Blue Line drawn around the Adirondack Park in 1892 was not pushed outward to include the lake until 1931. But it had the virtues of its defects, too: the first truly luxurious inns of the Adirondack region were built on Lake George. One of the fanciest was the Fort William Henry Hotel, finished in 1868. A huge, sprawling structure with a hundred-yard piaz/.a fronting on the lake, it offered nearly a thousand guests at a time every delight they might have had at Saratoga, plus some excuse for feeling that they were “in the mountains.” It soon became world-famous and a mark for other Adirondack hotels to shoot at. (It was briefly outshone by the Prospect House, which in 1882 opened at Blue Mountain Lake, right in the middle of the Adirondacks, with “an Edison electric light” in every chamber—the first hotel in the world to boast such illumination.) Lake George today is what can only be called, charitably, overdeveloped; yet for all the denunciations of wilderness purists, a trip on its waters aboard a diesel excursion boat still evokes— in spite of canned music and hot dogs much the same wonder that evidently moved the French missionaries when first they glimpsed it in 1642.

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