Lake George is a long, narrow lake located on the eastern edge of the Adirondack State Park in Upstate New York. The lake, nicknamed the Queen of American Lakes extends 32.2 miles from the village of Lake George north to Ticonderoga, and varies between one and three miles wide. The lake connects to Lake Champlain via a narrow river called La Chute, which then drains into the Saint Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean. Several villages are located along the shore of Lake George, including Bolton Landing, Hague, and Huletts Landing. The area around the lake is known for its resorts and summer cottages.
Before European settlement, the lake was in the territory of the Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois. It was then called Andiatarocte, or "there where the Lake is shut in." The lake is mentioned in the notes of Samuel de Champlain's voyages to the area, but the lake is not given a name. The first European to extensively explore the area was St. Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit missionary. He named the lake "Lac du Saint Sacrament." After four months among the Mohawk, he was killed by the natives, supposedly for bringing a plague of insects which destroyed crops in the area.
During the French and Indian War, the area around the Lake was seized by British General William Johnson, in order to control the trails used by both the French and the Iroquois for raids on English settlements. General Johnson renamed the lake after the reigning monarch at the time, King George II. After the Battle of Lake George, the British constructed a fort at the southern end of the lake, called Fort William Henry. The French countered by beginning the construction of their own fort at the northern end of the lake one month later. The fort would later become Fort Ticonderoga. At the conclusion of the French and Indian War, the French relinquished all claims to the area, and it fell within the realm of the Province of New York.
The lake shore remained largely unpopulated during the late 18th and early 19th century. Many battles took place around Lake George during the American Revolution, including the Battle of Ticonderoga and the Battles of Saratoga. After the Revolution, the lake was visited by a number of the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. During the early 19th century, artists including E. Charlton Fortune and Frank Vincent DuMond visited the lake.
Tourism and Wealth
Located at the easily accessible eastern edge of the Adirondacks, as well as being halfway between Montreal and New York City, Lake George became a popular getaway for a wide rage of people after the Civil War. By the turn of the 19th century, Lake George rivaled Newport, Rhode Island, Saratoga, and The Hamptons as summer vacation spots for the rich and famous. Large resorts, such as the Fort William Henry Hotel in Lake George Village and The Sagamore in Bolton Landing, were constructed for those who could afford to vacation. More affluent families, such as the Van Rensselaers, the Roosevelts, the Vanderbilts, and the Rockefellers build large estates on the road connecting Lake George Village and Bolton Landing.
The advent of airplane and car travel reduced the the number of wealthy tourists to the area, but made the area more affordable to middle-class vacationers. Many of the old estates were town down and replaced with more affordable accommodations. Those estates that survived have been remodeled in recent years, restored to their original condition and opened as hotels and resorts.
* In 1904 artist Harry Watrous created a fake sea monster, named Georgie, and put it in the lake as a practical joke. Georgie now lives in the Hague Historical Museum, with a replica in the Lake George Historical Museum.
* On October 2, 2005 the Ethan Allen, a tourist boat holding 47 passengers, capsized about a mile out from Lake George Village. The accident killed 20 senior citizens on a tour from Trenton, Michigan. It was determined that modifications to the ship caused the accident.