11. John Brown Memorial
stands guard in the South Meadow near Lake Placid. It was here
that a community of fugitive slaves was formed before the Civil War. John
Brown moved his family here. When he was executed after Harpers Ferry, his
body was brought here for burial. (The towers in the distance are for
13. Cascade Lakes sit in a glacially scoured valley east of Lake Placid. The
Adirondacks has many northeast-trending valleys that lie along old fault lines.
15. Rustic Cabin in the Adirondack Museum: This is one
of the many authentic buildings and exhibits in the Blue Mountain Lake museum
that interprets life in the Adirondacks. All the furn- iture is hand-made,
a trademark of Northern New York.
16. Purple garnet crystals are found in many rocks in
the Adirondacks, but they are especially concentrated in Gore Mountain. Here
they are still mined by the Barton Corporation near North River.
The Adirondack Mountains
Placid and back again!
ADK GREAT CIRCLE ROUTE (continued):
10. Lake Placid, NY
sits in the
middle of the Adirondacks "High Peaks Region". This certainly is
one of the most breaktaking scenic areas of the state. And it also has
the highest name- recognition of any place in the mountains, due in large
part to the Winter Olympic Games that were held there in 1932 and 1980.
Even after two decades and counting, most enthusiasts still consider the
victory against the powerful Soviet hockey team the greatest moment in the
history of sports. ("Do you believe in miracles? YES!") The Olympic
Center is pictured above.
If you are lucky enough to be in Lake Placid during a competition or
a skating exhibition, by all means attend. It will help you, perhaps,
to absorb some of the Olympic mystique. (Chances are the games will never
return to Lake Placid. The town is just too small for such high-stakes
competition today. Geography is not static, you know!) But no matter when
you visit, take time to stroll the main drag. Observe carefully. What kinds
of businesses have been there for decades? Which ones owe their existence
to the boom of tourism after the 1980 Games?
How would Lake Placid
look different if the Olympics never came here? How does this fit in with
the wilderness concept of the Adirondacks?
11. I recommend a short detour at this point. In the town center take
Route 73 south, back toward the Keene Valley. As you leave the village limits,
look for the sign for John Brown's Farm.
Yes, that John Brown. This small homestead was originally designed
to be a community for escaped slaves before the Civil War. The harsh climate
of the mountains made that impractical, but Brown moved his large family
up here anyway. However, John and his sons spent very little time here.
They were off in Kansas or in Harper's Ferry, fighting their war against
slavery. When Brown was executed, his body was sent here for burial. Make
sure you visit the gravesite and his little farmhouse.
QUESTION: The statue honoring John
Brown in shown at the left, with the ski-jumping towers profiled in the
distance. The statue depicts Brown protecting a young African-American
boy, perhaps leading him to a better life. Would such a statue be sculpted
today, or would it be considered politically incorrect? Is its location
important, i.e., can you see such a monument in Harper's Ferry or in a
northern urban area?
12. On you way out of Lake Placid, you can also visit the ski jumps,
even in the summer. Chances are athletes will be practicing there, no
matter what season it happens to be. You can, for a small fee, take the
ski lift to the towers themselves for a nice panoramic view of the High
Peaks area. Also nearby is the Bobsled course, which for many years was the only
one in North America. For a not-so-small fee, you make the run down the
course, driven by an expert. The ride is exhilerating. Just ask my friend,
13. Several miles down the road you will be in a narrow valley with
the two Cascade Lakes. (see photo
on the right). I strongly suggest stopping there to enjoy the
view and to contemplate the incredible forces that created such a landscape.
Continue on the road as it drops down into the Keene Valley again. If you
are hungry, make sure you stop at the Noon Mark Restaurant. At least have
a piece of their pies (or buy one to take with you). If you go south toward
St. Hubert, you will be in the shadow of Mt. Marcy, the highest of the High
Peaks. (Unlike Whiteface, however, you have to climb it yourself). For those
who are not into mountain-climbing, a relatively easy walk can be found
just south of St. Hubert - the trail to Roaring
Brook Falls. (see the photo on the Physical Geography page). Although the hike is only around 1/2 mile, you can still get a small
Now drive back toward Lake Placid. Get back on Rte. 86, heading for
Saranac Lake. You will pass through Raybrook,
where the Olympic athletes lived in 1980, and then was converted into a
correctional facility). Saranac Lake was made famous when the tuberculosis sanitaria opened there in the late
1800's. The most famous patient of "the Cure" was Robert Louis Stevenson.
Many of the vacation homes around the lake (Lake Flower, that is, not Saranac
Lake, which is outside of town) once housed patients wrapped in furs hoping
that the clean cold mountain air would restore their health.
14. Take NY Rte. 3 west toward Tupper Lake,
and then Route 30 south to Long Lake.
The small hamlet sits in the middle of its namesake lake, which certainly
deserves its name. It sits in a valley along an old fault line, a remnant
of plate tectonic collisions hundreds of millions of years ago. A mandatory
stop for refreshments and browsing is Hoss's Store. Just about anything
you want to buy that has something to do with the Adirondacks can be found
QUESTION: The cluster
of shops all owned by the same family is, of course, very dependent on tourist
dollars for survival. Its location is not on the lake, but Hoss's is always
busy (at least in season). Does its location here lend to its success?
15. The beautiful road south takes you to Blue
Mountain Lake, which is named after one of the more popular climbing
mountains in the Adirondacks. Nearby, overlooking the lake itself, is the
magnificent Adirondack Museum. This is one of the required
stops along the Loop. Expect to spend at least a couple hours here.
Here you will see exhibits in various buildings, both modern and rustic,
about life in the mountains. You can see how the wealthy tourists of the
19th century enjoyed the wilderness in style (such as summering in a cabin
like this one on the left).
QUESTION: The people of the Adirondacks
make ends meet whatever way they can. As you go through the exhibits,
keep a record of the various vocations mountain people have practiced, both
past and present. How many do you come up with?
When you leave the museum, you have a choice. Many visitors continue
west on Rte. 28 to Old Forge and then
south to Utica. This is recommended
for those of you from Central or Western New York and beyond. If you wish
to continue on the Loop, go on to 16.
QUESTION: What other
ores and minerals have been mined historically in the Adirondacks? Think!
You should have seen that exhibit back at the museum.
16. Follow Route 28 East. Although you won't see it, you quickly pass
over a low-level divide. Blue Mountain Lake flows into Racquette Lake and
on to the St. Lawrence River. But nearby Lake
Durant feeds one of the tributaries of the Hudson River. Both
waterways lead to the Atlantic Ocean, of course, but the pathways are hundreds
of miles apart. You won't actually see the Hudson itself until driving through
Indian Lake and North River. Nearby on Gore Mountain are
the garnet mines, New York's official mineral. This semi-precious stone
(see photo on right) is still extracted from the ancient rocks.
A few miles down the road is North Creek. Look at the road signs
at the main intersection. Do you see the image of Teddy Roosevelt? It was
at this location that he boarded a train when he heard that President McKinley
was dying after being assassinated in Buffalo. What was he doing here? He
was about to climb Mt. Marcy, New York's highest peak.
FINAL QUESTION: The Adirondacks,
as we have stated previously, are legally forever wild. Do you think
that the State of New York has realized that goal, or is this a big hoax?
Or do you take a more centrist view, and accept that compromises must be
Now that the Grand Tour of the Adirondacks
is complete, go on to visit the Capital-Mohawk Region of the Seaway Region.
Click on the links below: