Raquette Lake Preservation Foundation, Inc.
RLPF


          The purpose of the foundation is to promote the cooperation and friendship among the inhabitants of the area and to unite its members in the material understanding of Raquette Lake, New York and its problems; so that the entire membership will go forward in carrying out the preservation and conservation of Raquette Lake and its watershed through education, advocacy and broad based community involvement.








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Raquette Lake History
      There is very creditable evidence that a tribe of people with skills more advanced than the Indians lived at Raquette Lake around 12-1300 AD. Pottery shards and an axe dated to that time frame indicate a number of cultural skills the Indians did not possess.  
     The Mohawks frequented the lake to hunt, trap and fish and had an encampment on what is now called Indian Point.  Their hunting and trapping parties were frequent visitors until the late 1800s. 
      In May of 1776, Sir John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson, fled from Johnson Castle with a number of retainers and Indian followers to escape the Revolution.  The group took the old Indian trail from Fish House to the then unnamed Raquette Lake.  There was still snow on the ground when they left, but the spring thaw overtook them and they had to abandon their 'racquettes' (French for snowshoes).  They piled them in a great heap on a knoll where South Inlet joins the lake.   The pile remained visible until just a few years ago.  While there are other theories as to how Raquette Lake was named, the pile of racquettes was a land mark and became a reference for the lake.
      In 1790, when New York State came into being, Governor Clinton recognized a number of landowners and land claims.  Robert G. Livingston was recorded as the sole owner of Township 40 which covers almost all of Raquette Lake. 
      In 1832,  the State declared Livingston had not paid his taxes (a finding of fact disputed by Livingston) and the Township was sold at tax sale to David Reed a canal developer from Vermont.  Reed and his fellow faculty member Professor Farrand Benedict, a mathematician and surveyor, were tasked to develop waterways from Raquette Lake and Raquette River to the Hudson River.  The goal was to facilitate economic expansion, and facilitate the development of the natural resources of the region.
      In 1837, William Woods and Mathew Beech decided to homestead together, and they built the first permanent structure on the lake shore on Indian Point.   William Wood was one tough guy.  In 1850, he froze both his legs while walking his trap line and the Indians had to amputate both his legs and nurse him back to health.  He continued to hunt, walk a trap line several miles long and fish using his knees with pads on them as feet.  
     In the 1850s 'sportsmen' started exploring the "wilderness" in upstate New York.    Many of the area guides established campsites and some built lean-tos or open camps for the comfort of their clients.   In 1855, Samuel Payne moved his family to Raquette and opened a 'Hunting Lodge' at the foot of West Mountain.   Soon other hotels followed and Raquette became a destination for wealthy sportsmen.   The hotel era peaked in the 1940s and the last hotel had closed by the mid- 1960s. 
     Among the early sportsmen were Dr Thomas Durant and his son William West Durant.   Dr Durant was one of the key figures behind the Transcontinental Railroad.   In 1863,  Dr Durant reorganized the Adirondack Railroad as the Adirondack Company and became President.  In 1876,  Dr Durant challenged William West to develop the area, and he built the family summer 'camp' on Long Point.   This camp would become Camp Pine Knot and evolve into the first Adirondack Great Camp.    During the 1880s to 1900, numerous camps, both great and small were built around the lake.  WW would become an designer of camps for the elite, and Raquette Lake would be the site of many of them and become the playground of the rich up until the great Depression of the 1930s and World War II.  
     In 1880,  WW also built the first church,  an Episcopal Church on St. Hubert's Isle, and in 1890 to serve the majority of the local workers, he built St. William's Catholic Church  on Long Point.  He was Raquette Lake's first Post Master in 1889, having filled out the petition for Raquette Lake to be recognized as a community himself.  
      In 1900, the Post Office was moved from Long Point to be near the railroad.   The present hamlet evolved at this location.  Raquette Lake continues to have one of the few mail boats to deliver the mail to the many water access only camps during the summer. 
      Also in 1900 the only store in Raquette Lake moved from Long Point to the Railroad Station.   In 1908, the Raquette Lake Supply Company came into being and continues to operate the main commercial complex in the hamlet.   Ice harvesting was big business in the early 1900s.  The railroad transported the ice to New York City where it was stored and provided refrigeration during the summer.   The lake ice is still harvested in the same manner it was, but today it provides ice for the coolers used by campers at nearby campgrounds. 
     During the 1970s the hotels and several of the great camps were divided into lots and sold.  Today the lake shore is still mostly undeveloped since the State of New York claims about 80% of the shoreline.  The rest is private camps and some businesses most of which are water access only, creating a unique water traffic environment.