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History

The History of Lake Placid in the Heart of the High Peaks

Having hosted two Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid holds a special place in history. From The Miracle on Ice in 1980 to the Boston Bruins Stanley cup win in 2012, this is a place where teams come together to achieve greatness. Individuals have also chosen to visit Lake Placid over the years to experience the beauty and serenity of the Adirondacks as part of their quest to become more advanced thinkers and philosophers.

  • 1809 - This picturesque Adirondack Mountain Village was first settled when an ironworks was started by William McIntyre.
  • 1815 - The mine failed and by 1840 only six families still remained.
  • 1845 - Gerrit Smith purchased a great deal of land in Lake Placid area and donated 3,000 parcels of his land to poor, free blacks.
  • 1849 - John Brown arrived and bought 240 acres from Mr. Smith.
  • 1859 - John Brown led the raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) to steal weapons in support of the Underground Railroad. He was convicted of treason and hanged. Brown and other members of his party are buried at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site, located behind the ski jumps here in Lake Placid.
  • 1850 - Joseph Nash and Benjamin Brewster bought adjoining plots that ran from Mirror Lake to the top of the ridge and down the shore of Lake Placid to farm, but soon found themselves inundated with tourists - thus becoming accidental innkeepers and beginning the Hotel Era in Lake Placid.
  • 1895 - Melvil Dewey, inventor of the Dewey Decimal System and his wife opened the famous Lake Placid Club.
  • 1905 - The Club began to stay open in the winter, greatly adding to the development of winter sports in the area and creating the first winter resort in the United States.
  • 1921 - The area boasted a ski jump, speed skating venue and ski association.
  • 1929 - Dr. Godfrey Dewey, Melvil’s son, was able to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Lake Placid had the best winter sports facilities in the nation.
  • 1932 - Winter Olympic Games were held here.
  • 1980 - The Games returned to Lake Placid, highlighted by the USA Hockey Team’s “Miracle on Ice” victory over a powerful Soviet Union National Team that was heavily favored. Only three locations worldwide have hosted two Winter Olympics: Lake Placid, New York; St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Innsbruck, Austria.
  • 1892 - Adirondack Park created in by the State of New York amid concerns for the water and timber resources of the region.

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The Adirondack Park today:

  • The largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier and Grand Canyon National Park combined.
  • Encompasses six million acres, nearly half of which belongs to the people of New York State and is constitutionally protected to remain a “Forever Wild” forest preserve.
  • The High Peaks area of the Adirondacks around Lake Placid boasts forty-six mountains higher than 4,000 feet. An ultimate honor in the High Peaks is to become an “Adirondack Forty-Sixer” who has hiked to the summit of all these beautiful peaks.