99 years ago — a glimpse of our village

Kenneth W. Goldthwaite owned and published the Adirondack Enterprise (it was not yet a daily) from 1906 to 1918. He obviously was quite a guy. I have on loan a book of more than 60 pictures published by Mr. Goldthwaite in 1914 entitled “Picturesque Saranac Lake in the heart of the Adirondacks.”

The book belongs to Dick and Avis Brown of Duane, collectors of memorabilia; Dick is a former Franklin County engineer and former town justice.

There are no photo credits; the photos are excellent, the book is in mint condition and covers all summer and winter events along with scenic photos of the lakes and mountains. I found Mount Pisgah spelled Mount Pizgah as it was, at the time, sometimes spelled.

The inside front page contains the only text in the book written by Mr. Goldthwaite here are excerpts:

“Saranac Lake is a town of villas, hotels and boarding houses, the principal resort of the Adirondacks, and has a cosmopolitan population of not less than 6,000 at all seasons of the year. It is situated in the geographical heart of the Adirondack Mountains; has an elevation of 1,600 feet above the level of the sea and is surrounded by irregular mountain ridges and ranges varying in heights from 2,000 to 5,000 feet.

“Improved state and county highway systems place Saranac Lake on the main trunk highways for automobiling in the state. Saranac Lake has paved streets, cement sidewalks, electric lights, gas, sewers, mountain lake water and every sanitary arrangement and precaution as becomes a high class resort; and hospitals, two banks and 100 business houses to supply ever need.

“Saranac Lake is, thanks to its climate and its many resources of sport, an all-year-round pleasure and health resort, better and more accessible to hunters and anglers than Maine or New Brunswick, more effectual for the valetudinarian (okay, I looked it up for you, ‘a person who is unduly anxious about their health’) and closer at hand than Switzerland or the Western United States.

“Delightful as are the mountains during the balmy days of July and August, there are charms quite as potent when Jack Frost reigns. Then does the sunshine delicious send its magical rays of warmth and beauty across the snow fields, and it is difficult to believe that only the night before the thermometer registered 10 below, yes, maybe 20 or 30 below. There is a tang in the balsam air that stirs one’s blood and is an incentive to active sports. There are skiing, tobogganing, skating, hockey, snowshoeing, curling and winter picnics, which makes Saranac Lake the center of winter sports in the Adirondacks.”

Who needs a chamber of commerce when the newspaper owner is publishing an elegant picture album of the community lathered with praise and one would imagine, with a wide distribution area.

About Mr. Goldthwaite

Historic Saranac Lake has established a wicked good web site and it carries a wonderful story about Mr. Goldthwaite written of his son, E. K. for the 75th anniversary of the Enterprise.

He bought the newspaper for $1,500 because it had been foreclosed on by a Saranac Lake businessman. The writer puts the price in perspective by telling that his father’s weekly wage was $9 a week as telegraph editor of the Utica Observer and observes that Charles M. Palmer thought $50,000 was too high for the New York Times. Here is what E.K. says about Mr. Palmer:

“Mr. Palmer, who lived for many years on Park Avenue in the village, owned a daily in St. Joseph, Mo., was senior partner in a newspaper brokerage firm in New York City, and served as mechanical consultant to the Hearst newspapers. He was a director of the Adirondack Bank and, next to Phelps Smith, was probably father’s most important friend.”

Mr. Palmer built and lived in the house at 308 Park Ave., now owned by Frank and Audrey Casier. He also owned a farm near Vermontville which was managed by Cash Shumway. Palmer had a brook dammed up which created a big fish pond and where we used to go swimming with the Shumway kids when we owned the farm on Norman Ridge.

Mr. Goldthwaite covered the trial of Chester Gillette who was convicted of murdering Grace Brown at Big Moose on July 11, 1906. Gillette was arrested on July 14, and with the delays that are inevitable in such a big murder case, he was finally executed in the electric chair at Auburn State prison on March 29, 1908.

We have to do part two next week because there are too many interesting Enterprise stories just to leave off; for instance; “Found in the Adirondack camp of a prominent Cleveland banker, Count Von Bernsdorf, German ambassador to the U.S., who had fled Washington, and was persona non grata following declaration of war in Germany.”