Saranac Lake history document

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise has re-issued a 1913 publication entitled Winter Life which is on sale at the Enterprise offices for $5. It is a history treasure of this village and if you love this village as much as Bob Seidenstein does then you should rush down to the Enterprise and buy two copies one to send to friends who have moved away.

Many stories, books and other publications of the early last century carried no dates as with the aforementioned which carried this publication note: “Stephen Chalmers, Editor, Mills Thompson, Art Editor, Kenneth Goldthwaite, Publisher. Printed at the Office of The Adirondack Enterprise in the town hall, Saranac Lake, N.Y., a weekly publication devoted to Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks as an Art Supplement to The Adirondack Enterprise.”

Here is how, with an incredible amount of clever detective work, I came up with the year that Winter was published – on Page 28 – “Where some years ago few persons came to Saranac Lake who were not suffering from tuberculosis, in this year of grace and knowledge, 1913, hundreds and thousands come to Saranac Lake to avoid tuberculosis.”

The following are random quotes from Winter Life.

“Another fact which may stagger credulity, but which is a matter of public record, is that there is no case on record where any person coming to this town and residing in it for any length of time has ever contracted tuberculosis.”

“In May, 1912, the World’s Work, a magazine which devotes itself to problems of the day, social, sanitary and industrial, offered a prize for the best paper on the sanitary regeneration of a small town. The competition was open to all towns, less than cities, in the United States. Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks won!”

“The following vital statistics were also published in the World’s Work in connection with the fact that Saranac Lake won the silver medal of the Eighth Congress of American Physicians and Surgeons at Washington in 1908: [I wonder if someone or some institution in Saranac Lake still has that medal?]

“Here is a town of at present 5,000 resident inhabitants where, since the health ordinances were put into force in 1896-97 there have been no deaths from measles or scarlet fever.

“There have been but two deaths from diphtheria, one being a child brought into town in an advanced stage of the disease.

“Typhoid fever has claimed only 10 in fifteen years, six deaths occurring in the first four years of the Health Board’s existence, and the remaining four in the ensuing ten years when the population had more than doubled!

“Tuberculosis claimed, during the Health Board’s existence, from 1897 to 1900 inclusive, one person in 693; from 1901 to 1905 inclusive, one person in 1,241; and from 1906 to 1911 inclusive, one person in 3,125.

“Any person who reads the foregone figures and still finds that his mind has failed to emerge from the ‘dark ages,’ might as well stay away from Saranac Lake, where insanity is rare.”

The Winter Carnival of 1913

Our 2014 Winter Carnival is upon us and one can never give enough credit to the ice palace builders, it is dangerous, cold work; and to the carnival committee members who work all year on this wonderful winter celebration; now who would ever try to elaborate on this lead sentence in Winter Life describing the Winter Carnival of 1913?

“MARDI GRAS-iced! A monster snowball gathering merriment, speed and more snow as it rolls through the dry, invigorating, winter days of the North Woods, pursued by thousands of overgrown children clad in furs, moccasins and gloves like bear paws. This and an atmosphere which is at once Russian, Swiss, Canadian, Norwegian and American is the festival of King Ice and His Queen of the Snows at Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks.

“As it happens that there is no other event of this kind celebrated in the United States, at Saranac Lake is the only place where one may see it without traveling abroad. This season’s Midwinter Carnival will be held over a period of three days, from January 28th to January 30th inclusive.

“Here in the Adirondacks, where Winter is the best part of the year, here was the place to inaugurate national Winter sports. And here in 1898 they were inaugurated, and as a crowning feature of them, a Midwinter Carnival of Ice and Snow.”

In all of the old publications that I run across, the ads are sometimes the most interesting and an accurate history with the exact business names and addresses listed. Here are a few from Winter Life:

A. Goldsmith & Son, Saranac Lake’s Pioneer Dry Goods and Clothing Store, 44 Main Street; Coal and Wood, J. A. Latour, 139 Broadway; The Colonial, Saranac Lake’s Only Theatre, J. H. Farrington, Owner and Manager, 53-55 Broadway; High Class Groceries, W. F. Straight, 43 Broadway; Hugo & Buckingham, Exclusive Millinery, Eighty-six Main Street; The Economical Laundry – We use the greatest care in laundering Flannels and Woolens, Family Wash, wet 50c, rough dry 75c.