Historic plane flight in Saranac Lake, 1912

There was a picturesque race track on the Bloomingdale Road on the exact site where the BOCES School is located today. I remember it, at least into the 1940s; It was a horse racing track but it was also the site where fairs and carnivals were held in the summer months. There was a high, wooden judge’s tower on the back side of the track across from but facing the spectator stands and stables.

So again, here is a great piece of history mined from the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library.

Oct. 6, 1912: The Enterprise headlines and sub-heads on this day tell the whole story:

  • Aviator G.A. Gray in sensational lights; Carries Woman Passenger, Flies Across Country; Makes Trip to Lower Lake

-Saranac Lake General Hospital Fund Richer by $35

-$1,500 Paid Admission at Race Track Sunday

-Thousands Watch Exhibition from the Hillside

-Miss Stearns First Woman to Navigate Adirondack Air

“Two cross country flights, a race with an automobileand a passenger carried eight and one-half miles in 17 minutes is the record made by Aviator George A. Gray of Boston during his stay in Saranac Lake. Thousands of people have seen his flights, and thousands more have caught glimpses of his bi-plane as it sped over the village in one of its many ascensions.

“Miss Edith M. Stearns is the woman who has the record of first aviating the Adirondacks. Miss Stearns was also the first woman to make a flight in her home state of Virginia. Sunday afternoon Aviator Gray, during his exhibition at the driving park, [the race track] sped off to the Northeast and at Fletcher’s Farm [located on the Upper Franklin Falls Road at the intersection of the road up Norman Ridge] took Miss Stearns aboard, returning with her to the race track. The flight was uneventful and was characterized by careful and skillful piloting by the aviator.

“A flight from the driving park to Lower Saranac Lake was the feature of Saturday’s exhibition. Aviator Gray delivered a package of candy to a very young gentleman who lives at Pinehurst on the west shore of the lake, made a circle or two above the camps on the shore, and returned to the race track, going to the north of Pisgah Mountain and completely encircling the hill before landing at the track.

“The automobile race came off Sunday afternoon. There were 1,500 paid admissions at the track, while the surrounding hills and trees held nearly 4,000 more people who watched the exhibition from a distance.”

[Did the pilot drop the candy from the plane at Pinehurst? Was there a landing field on the shore? It apparently was not a pontoon plane because he could not have landed at the Fletcher Farm to pick up Miss Stearns. However, skillful pilots could land a pontoon plane in a grassy field. The late Bill Harvey, a wonderful guy and WWII pilot used to do that to help less skilled pilots who stored their planes in barns in the winter. Other questions. What/where was the ‘cross-country’ flight? What/where was the car/plane race? Where did the 35 bucks come from for the General Hospital?]

The story of Eagle?Island, 1912

This story appeared in the Enterprise under a heading, ‘Our Man About Town, Current Gossip on Various Topics, Local and Otherwise.’

“Upper Saranac _?The Land of the Silver Sky was the one on which the Indians first made settlement. The Eagle, a chief of one of the tribes, mysteriously disappeared and The Wolf, the chief of another division of the tribe was accused of his murder. Angered at the charge, The wolf with his braves moved away and established a settlement on Lower Saranac the Lake of the Clustered Stars. Years afterwards the Eagle, an old man, appeared and told the story of his disappearance. While out hunting he had been captured by some Canadian hunters. He finally made his escape from them and returned to die among his own people. The island on which he made his abode was given his name and is still known to all residents and visitors as Eagle Island.”

A Marriage Certificate, 1896

“The State Board of Health has received a curious marriage certificate from Fort Covington, near the St. Regis Reservation. It announces that on Aug. 5 Joseph Across-the-Water and Mary Nearly Tipover were wedded in the presence of Christie Curlyhead.”