Lake Placid Center The
Adirondacks 3


Geography is not an indoor sport! Get out and explore New York State!


Physical Geography

Human Geography

Economic Geography

Regions of NYS

Mt. Defiance

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 ski jumping.

Crown Point

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.

Adirondack Museum

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.

Garnet Crystals

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

Part Three

Lake Placid and back again!


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?

QUESTION: 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, Linda Trachtman.

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 wilderness experience.
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 here.

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? Look around!

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 made?

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:

  The Egg

  St. Lawrence River

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