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Area History

The history of the Adirondacks region is rich, complex, and diverse. Originally claimed and fought over by the Iroquois and the Algonquin Native Americans (who began visiting the area in 10,000 BC) because of the Lake George - Lake Champlain water route, which is the easiest way through the mountain range, the Adirondacks were also the site of much of the French-Indian wars. Indeed, colonial involvements go back some 250 years, and the French, English, American colonists, two Indian nations, and Canadians all tried to stake claim on them during that time.

In 1755, the British built a fort, William Henry, at the south of Lake George. The French response was to build their fort on the other end, calling it Carillon. Two years later, the French took Fort William Henry, only to be routed out by the English later that year, forcing the French from the region altogether. The British renamed Carillon to Fort Ticonderoga when then took it. By 1763, England ruled the entire known eastern region of North America. Their possession would not last a full score of years.

The first American navy took on an English army attempting to invade through Canada, on Lake Champlain. Near the end of 1776, Benedict Arnold's fleet held off the English and stopped that invasion attempt. By the following year, the English had taken them back and advanced their campaign south to Saratoga, only to be defeated by the Americans again and finally pushed out of the Adirondacks permanently.

Since the colonists fought their way to freedom from England, many influences have shaped the history of the Adirondacks. Logging, mining and farming each reshaped the region to some extent. Even medicine and tourism can be credited, in part for the way it's seen today. Logging helped to form during the 1800's. St. Regis, Paul Smiths and Old Forge are all logging and mining towns. The areas cleared of timber were then farmed by those settlers. By the end of the 19th century, the mountains had become a vacation resort for the rich and famous, and tremendous sums of money were poured into them to build the Great Camps.

As you can see, the beautiful Adirondacks have a history which spans centuries. Each event has helped to shape and form the ancient mountains, allowing history to come forth alive and vibrant even today. Take a bit of time to visit the museums to find out more about this truly impressive and unique centerpiece of American wilderness and history.