106 years ago, Carnival was in January

The Storming of the Ice Palace (Image courtesy of the Souvenir Program and Summary of Events, 1911 Carnival)

… and the village had been incorporated for only 19 years. I was lucky enough to be a member of that 1992 Centennial Committee (David S. Mac Dowell, Community Development Officer was the big push behind that celebration) and the Enterprise published a great historical booklet filled with stories and photos.

The opening sentence in the Preface of the booklet, which I would guess was written by John Duquette was, “As the result of a special election held on May 3, 1892, Saranac Lake became the first Incorporated Village in the Adirondacks.” There were no bylines on any of the stories.

William Madden, III was mayor in 1992 and in my opinion he was one of the top guys to serve in that position. He was well versed both in business and in infrastructure. The village trustees were Dennis Dwyer, Ray Scollin, Bob Rice and Reggie Perras. I was the 30th Mayor of Saranac Lake (including the Presidents) and Bill was the 35th.

The village had grown by leaps and bounds from 1892 to 1911 — here are excerpts from the 1911 Winter Carnival “Souvenir Program and Summary of Events.”

“The Village has pure, sparkling water, electric lights, gas, sewers, cement sidewalks, paved streets and perfect sanitary arrangements.

The parade (Image courtesy of the Souvenir Program and Summary of Events, 1911 Carnival)

“Lake Placid is ten miles east, Saranac Inn eleven miles west and Paul Smith’s is fifteen miles northwest. There are scores of ‘other minor resorts’ [my emphasis] easily accessible.

“The town has an excellent school system with grades from kindergarten to high school, and three buildings are occupied by more than one thousand pupils. Saranac Lake has an efficient Board of Trade and an active Board of Health, as well as a Village Improvement Society composed of energetic ladies. Street cleaning, the disposal of garbage, the arrangement of parks and playgrounds and the planting of trees generally have received very careful attention.

“In the village are nearly eighty hotels and boarding houses where more than 2000 patrons can find accommodations, the expenses being from $8 to $35 per week. The village has a population of 5,000 and during the summer that number doubles with the tourist population.

“Saranac Lake has naturally become the business capital of the Adirondacks and some hundred business places sell all kinds of goods to the townspeople and tourists. There are two banks, the Adirondack National Bank and the Saranac Lake National Bank, each with capital of $50,000.

Until the year 1928 the head of village government had the title of President, not Mayor. There were 20 Presidents of the village before 1928, the first being Dr. Edward L. Trudeau in 1892. Fred C. Conrad served as President in 1926 and then as the first with the title of Mayor he served until 1929.

The Riverside Inn in Saranac Lake is tapped as “the largest all-the-year-round hotel in the Adirondacks in the historical booklet the Enterprise published in 1911. (Image courtesy of the Souvenir Program and Summary of Events, 1911 Carnival)

The Winter Carnival

There is a photo of the 1911 Ice Palace which has been published many times and it was located at the top of Winona Avenue about where the administrative offices for North Country Community College are located today. Manpower and horsepower brought those ice blocks from Lake Flower to the top of that hill.

The program of events was for three days, Jan. 24, 25 and 26 and opened with a Grand Parade, Skating Races, Figure Skating, Hockey Games between the local team the Pontiacs and the Empires from Valleyfield, Quebec. That first night there was “Fireworks and Illumination of the Ice Palace.”

The next two days were packed with Outdoor Speed Skating Championships, fireworks every night and more hockey games featuring teams from Montreal.

Ed Lamy Speed

Skating Champion

I know we have all read a lot about Ed Lamy but read this…

“Edmund Lamy was born in Saranac Lake on Jan. 18, 1891. When 14 years of age he won the Junior International Championship for boys under 16 years. At Montreal in 1907, when he was 16 years old, he skated one mile in 2:48; the same year in Pittsburgh, indoor, he skated five miles in 15:09. At Brooklyn in 1908, when he was 17 years old, he skated one mile in 2:40 outdoor. He had, by 1911, won 67 first place medals, eight second and one third.

The list goes on and on. He later traveled the world as barrel jumping champion in addition to his speed skating prowess and he was billed as “Amateur Champion Speed Skater of the World.”

Local government and


In 1911 Isaiah Vosburgh was President and Village Trustees were J. Woods Price, [who, I believe, was a medical doctor], Frank Sheldon, Daniel E. Ames and Max Harold Westhoff.

The village was served by the New York Central and the Delaware and Hudson Railroads and a full page ad in the program declares “During the summer months nearly fifty trains arrive and depart daily at Saranac Lake”.

Here are some of the fares listed … for instance … one could get a train from Saranac Lake to Lake Clear for 15c and arrive in 20 minutes. The longest, most expensive fare was from here to Chicago, 871 miles, $18.50 and it was a 25 hour trip. Montreal only 114 miles and a 4 hour trip was $3.20. It cost $13.95 to ride the 594 miles to Washington, D.C. but it took 16 hours.

Train travel was pretty cool back then but it also could be pretty tricky. A story that circulated back in the day when a group of us newsboys used to hang out at the train station went like this:

A young fellow got on the train here and on the way to Utica he became friends with a young woman. He eventually made his way [it took 5 hours to get to Utica] to his new friends sleeper car wearing only his PJ’s. The trains switched cars in Utica, as was the custom, and the young man ended up in Buffalo but the rest of his clothes and luggage went on to New York City. I guess he should have asked her where she was headed.