Our recent Facebook post on the demise of the Grossinger Resort started us thinking about what we have lost here in the Adirondacks. Before there was Disney World or Six Flags there was; Frontier Town, Land of Make Believe, Sterling Alaskan Fur and Game Farm… “Land of 1000 Animals” road side attractions that once drew 1000s of vacationers to the park, but now gone. In some cases they have been re purposed, in others reclaimed by nature or just abandoned. Their passing was well noticed both by the press as well as those who shared fond memories of them. But there are other places in the park, not so well known or as often visited that have also fallen victim to the ravages of nature and the march of time as well.
These place, while possibly well known to the hiking community, are not so easily accessible and did not received the same level of attention. Places such as Duck Hole, Marcy Dam, and The Village of Adirondac (Tahawus), all meeting the same fate as the old roadside attractions they shared so little in common with; other than their passing. Weather and time took their toll so all that remains now are remnants and ruins to explore.
Marcy Dam and Duck Hole fell to Irene in 2011. Both sustaining damage beyond what the State of New York was willing to spend to repair. In the case of Duck Hole it would have required a completely new structure to be built in what is classified as a “Wilderness” area. Marcy Dam while not as damaged was not that much better off. As for Tahawus while years in the making the final blow was just struck this past fall when most of the buildings were razed. The passing of time and Adirondack winters made arrival of that day inevitable.
The loss of all three of these truly iconic structures while disappointing was not unexpected or unreasonable. The changes to Duck Hole and Marcy Dam are exciting to watch and will be studied for many years I’m sure. As for Tahawus man’s footprint has not been completely removed, the Blast Furnace has been restored, and MacNaughton Cottage is also being preserved.
There is one other place that does not fit either of these descriptions, it was neither lost due to economic downturn or the ravages of time and weather, it was lost due to selfishness. The barn at Santanoni was lost due to a suspected act of arson in July of 2004. Thankfully, the fountain has been protected and there is talk of rebuilding the structure at some point in the future.
There are other examples: lean-tos that have been removed or relocated, Great Camps lost to fire. I remember as a child visiting the Saranac Inn on the Upper Saranac closed in the 1960s, left in disrepair and rotting before the big fire that finally took it in 1978. With each of their passings a small piece of Adirondack history is lost. Time marches on, and our impact on the land is temporary at best, but let’s make sure to appreciate what we still have before it is gone. We would like to think that the Northwood Cabins still serves as a little reminder of the Adirondacks of the past.