Camp Sagamore – New York

The Great Camp Sagamore

Between 1895 and 1897, William West Durant built Great Camp Sagamore on Sagamore Lake. Earlier to Sagamore, William Durant built Camp Pine Knot adjacent to Raquette Lake and Camp Uncas on Lake Mohegan. Today, all three camps are still operational. Here’s additional information about Camp Sagamore and its historical background.

The Camp’s History

The camp is divided into two compounds, the Upper, or worker’s facility, and the Lower, or guest’s portion, which are separated by half a mile. The upper complex’s structures are far more practical than those from the Guest building and lack the decoration of the structures suited for entertainment, therefore the guests wouldn’t even have visited it. Sagamore was a secluded environment where America’s wealthiest families could rest, celebrate, and feel like they were reconnecting to nature. All of this, though, was done without abandoning society’s amenities behind them.

Durant was compelled to close down and sell Sagamore in 1901. This happened because he was on the verge of ruin due to a lawsuit filed by his sister over his administration of their mother’s inheritance.

Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt bought it and extended and upgraded it, adding flush toilets, a sewage system, and warm and cool flowing water. Later, he constructed a hydropower plant as well as an outdoor bowling alley with a unique ball retrieval mechanism. A tennis facility, a croquet field, a 100,000 gallons pond, and a thriving farm were among the other attractions. Vanderbilt apparently died in the Lusitania drowning in 1915, passing Sagamore to his wife Margaret Emerson, an ardent female athlete who lived there periodically for many seasons.

Mrs. Emerson gave the land to Syracuse University, which used it as a convention hall till the government of New York proposed to acquire it. Due to the obvious “Forever Wild” clause of the New York State Constitution, acquiring the land as a portion of the Forest Preserve might have necessitated the destruction of the historic structures. To avoid this, the Preservation League of New York State negotiated for the state to seize ownership of the property, passing it with deed limitations to a not-for-profit organization that could use it. Great Camp Sagamore has remained open to the public as a learning center committed to the conservation of the National Historic Site.

Things you can do at the Camp

In 1976, a section of Sagamore was included on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1986, numerous property applications for registration contained a boundary expansion for more acreage.  On May 16, 2000, the camp was listed as a National Historic Landmark.  Sagamore Institute of the Adirondacks, Inc. presently runs the historic campsite, which is available to the public for guided tours and offers lodging and educational activities from May through October every year.


Overnight stay with Camp-organized experiences

Visit and explore Great Camp Sagamore, a National Historic Landmark nestled among thousands of square miles of pure Adirondack countryside. Great Camp Sagamore, formerly a private retreat for the affluent and famous, is now a center for learning, protection, and the creation of a friendly community for everyone. Come educate yourself about heritage, wildlife, and how to interact with your environment by joining them.

Overnight Stay and Personalized Experience

Spend two nights at the campsite and go around your own schedule to take pleasure of all it has to give.

Day Trip

Experience a portion of the day on an Assisted Tour of the historical structures and gardens, on the lakeside, or in the Adirondack wilderness around the resort.

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