Looking for something?
Search here to find what you need to plan your getaway to High Peaks Resort.

Discovering Our History at the Adirondack Museum

We are residents from every walk of life, our passions are many and the fabric of our history has thread harvested from all over the world and is woven into the fabric of many, many others. Exploring that history is the Adirondack Museum.

Published: 08/09/2016

I am not usually a person who finds themselves at a loss for words, and yet, when it came time to put down my thoughts on the Adirondack Museum, I found myself in a bit of a conundrum.

Where do I begin? 

So, like I do whenever I'm faced with uncertainty, I turned to the American Romantics - the great American writers of the 19th Century who found themselves on the precipice of a new world and contemplated, like I was, "Where do I begin?" Walt Whitman had the answer:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Like the mountains themselves, the Adirondack Museum contains multitudes, and the honest and genuine contradiction intrinsic to human history.

Before the 19th Century, North America was, in large part, a foreboding wilderness; perilous, uncivilized and to be avoided. As we ventured west, and as we slowly realized the potential of our landscape, the perception of wilderness changed. No longer was wilderness exploration a frightening prospect, but rather an exciting new opportunity to uncover the brilliance and majesty of an undiscovered country. By 1820, residents of Boston and New York began to turn to the Adirondack Mountains to hunt, to fish and to experience a pristine vista, an escape from urban claustrophobia. They came for adventure, they came for experience, they came to build a closer relationship with nature and more importantly to build a closer relationship with their own humanity.

The Adirondack Museum is a celebration of these intrepid explorers and also those who came later. In 24 exhibits you can learn the fascinating history of the Adirondacks. It is a story of potential deforestation to constitutionally protested state park. It is the story of the American Romantics of Mountain Hermits and of American Industrialists and the Native Americans of the Adirondack region. It is the story of simple homesteads and gilded age Great Camps and the people who lived, worked and played within our mountain range.

The entire museum is a true gem chock-a-block of historical artifacts, mechanical wonders and everywhere you look has a story to tell. A few of my favorite exhibits include:

Work in the Woods

Diorama Illustrating 19th Century Logging
Work in the Woods

"When I was your age, I used to walk 15 miles to school, uphill both ways..." That was what my parents said anyway. Whenever I go through the Work in the Woods exhibit I tell myself, "I will never again complain about being cold. I will never again complain about being dirty. I will never again complain about being hungry. I will never again complain about being tired." These early beginnings of industry in the Adirondack Mountains are beautifully illustrated in the equally humbling and fascinating exhibit, "Work in the Woods".

Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks

handmade Wooden Inboard Motorboat
Designed and built by John L. Hacker, Detroit, Michigan, 1922; modified by F.R. Smith and Sons, Bolton Landing, under the direction of George Reis, 1929-37.

 I do love pretty shiny things. And I do love old school quality craftmanship. There is nothing quite like getting out on the water of an Adirondack lake in a beautiful handmade wooden boat. The museum's Boats and Boating exhibit celebrates a wonderful history of Adirondack watercraft from genuine Adirondack guideboats to  inboard motorboats like the one above crafted by the legendary John Hacker.

Coming in 2017: The Adirondack Experience

More than anything, life in the Adirondacks is about the thrill of the experience and in their new exhibit The Adirondack Experience, the Adirondack Museum beautiful illustrates Adirondack culture, from the Jon Rondeau's modest hermit cabin to Adirondack Great Camp style. Get a sneak peak now before it opens in full next spring!

Contact Guest Services

A visit to the Adirondacks can be any thing you would like! Our concierge has relationships with our region's most prominent and sought after professionals and organizations to provide you with limitless ways in which you can enhance your visit.

If you are interested in information on Adirondack activities, don't hesitate to contact us!

Lake Placid Activities

Check out all the fun things to do in Lake Placid and the Adirondacks during your stay at High Peaks Resort.

Bed & Breakfast

Enjoy the breakfast of your choice at the world-famous Dancing Bears Restaurant for each person each day!