Vacation Memories – The Albedor

The “Great Camps” of the Adirondack Mountains of central New York State were built in the late 1800s, early 1900s by the fabulously wealthy from New York City. They were “rustic” lodges with all the amenities the wealthy required to get away from the city and relax in the wilderness.

Sagamore Camp, historic "Great Camp" on Long Lake, NY, 2009, via WikiCommons and Mwanner

Sagamore Camp, historic “Great Camp” on Long Lake, NY, 2009, via WikiCommons and Mwanner

Growing up, my family spent many summers on Fourth Lake in the Adirondacks. Once, we stayed at Snow’s Inn, orginally the Albedor, one of the great camps which had, unfortunately, fallen on lean times. Lucky us, though, because we could never afford it otherwise.

The Albedor was built in the 1920s by Col. Edward A. Simmons, of the Simmons-Boardman Publishing Co. (which is now a global publishing corporation). It was named for his three daughters Aline, Betty, and Dorothy. Originally, the property consisted of 30 acres with 1100 feet of shoreline, the main lodge, and 11 other buildings, including a boathouse with a second story for gatherings and dancing and three “playhouses” for his daughters – actual houses complete with plumbing and kitchen facilities!

My family’s interest in the Albedor started with my grandfather. He did a great deal of business traveling in the 50s and 60s and stayed at the Albedor during a more affluent time. The photos below are from 1961.

My grandfather on the lawn outside the Albedor, 1961

My grandfather on the lawn outside the Albedor, 1961

Worker on staircase. The railings were made from solid logs.

Worker on staircase. The railings were made from solid logs.

There are a few things I remember in particular about our stay in the 1970s. The banks of windows that let in the glorious sun sparkling off the lake. The huge stone patios that wrapped around the house where my mother soaked up the sun in the afternoons. The trails my sister and I explored that wound through the woods to the “playhouses” (which were locked, unfortunately), the boathouse, the overgrown tennis court, and down to the water.

1980sSnowsPostcard1

Two postcards from the 1980s. Main lodge is nestled in the trees on the right and the boathouse is on the left.

1980sSnowsPostcard2

View of Fourth Lake from the patio.

I remember a stuffed bobcat sitting on the mantle of one of the many massive stone fireplaces in the lodge. I would sit at the bar, drink Coke with a marachino cherry in it and look at that bobcat. Funny the things that kids fixate on.

As with any family vacation there were a couple mishaps as well. In our bedroom suite, the bathroom lock stuck and my father had to climb out the window, cross the precariously steep slate roof, and back in a window in the next room. I believe we were on the third floor and it was a sheer drop! Later, playing on the lake’s edge, I remember cutting my toe on a sharp rock and had to be taken to the emergency room.

The Albedor has changed hands many times over the years, but is now privately owned. From the photos on a real estate listing ,it’s been refinished and a great deal of care taken in decorating it with period style furnishings. It’s rented out for just a few weeks of the year — at $16,000 a week. I suppose that’s reasonable for such a property. Not that I could ever afford it.

At one time, many of these great camps were in danger of being lost forever, but were saved through preservation efforts. As a child, I didn’t care about the history, it was just a fabulous old place to explore, but now I’m glad they were. You can’t build something like this anymore. It was part of an era that’s long gone. But we can get a glimpse, a hint, at what life might have been like because of the wonderful great camps that remain.

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16 comments on “Vacation Memories – The Albedor

  1. Wow. You were lucky to have seen them. We spent our holidays in leaky old tents.

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  2. E.K. Carmel says:

    I WAS lucky. My parents took us on some really nice trips that my husband and I just can’t afford for our kids.

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  3. What an imaginative name, The Albedor. I love the fantastic way Simmons used his daughter’s names. It’s perfect for the lovely lodge you show in the pictures.

    I think we got to go on one really nice trip together as a family,we just couldn’t afford anything else but day trips which were lovely btw. My kids do remember them with some happiness, I believe.

    My parents, on the other hand, took my kids on some great vacations my husband and I couldn’t afford. They went to Canada, they went to stay at lovely lodges such as you mention here, and a variety of other places. So while I’m sad I couldn’t provide these things I’m still happy my kids got to enjoy them.

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      I know how you feel. We’ve managed a couple big trips with the kids, but mostly it’s been day trips. We do what we can. And, as you said, your kids had the advantage of going places with their grandparents.

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  4. D J Mills says:

    I should write a story about some characters who got to hide out in a place like that, or better yet, new settlers on some far away colony could build a place like that. In my own way, I would get to enjoy the beauty of the building and the wilderness around it. 🙂

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  5. Mary Margaret Ripley says:

    We did you ever dig those pictures out of? I have never seen those lol!!

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    • Mary Margaret Ripley says:

      Sorry that’s supposed to say where haha

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      • E.K. Carmel says:

        Lol – Mom had them. Pictures of Grandpa and his trip in the 60s and the last two were postcards from when we all went in the 70s. The photos when we visited as kids were too dark to use here because Mom and Sam were first learning how to develop photos at that time.

        Hey – thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  6. jim says:

    I had the pleasure of staying in the home for about 3 weeks in the middle 90’s with the owner at the time. It was a beautiful place ,i flew in on a sea plane and landed in the lake pulling up to the boat house with my pilot bird at the time. Im not sure if the man whom owned it still does thus weve lost touch in the years. But i see its now 16000.00 a week its a small price for the beauty your getting especially if you have others going with you whom can split the cost , it equals out to a week in disney i guess lol. Do remember having to watch out for the bears and the super hot wings at the red dog inn ,i wonder if thats still there. All and all a beautiful few weeks there, definitly a time to remember.

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  7. Jay Buettner says:

    I remember the Albedor from growing up in Eagle Bay during the summers … mainly, I saw it from a boat and always loved it. We visited it many times with many different owners. At one time, friends of my family, the McKees bought it and intended to run it as a resort, but as strict Methodists, they would not serve alcohol and owned it for a very short period but I remember an afternoon when my mother took me there to talk with Mrs. McKee and the three of us were there all alone and I looked around at everything while my mother and Mrs. McKee chatted together. Wish I had been a little older as I could have seen it all with much more depth and appreciated it so much more, but I’ll never forget it. I agree that it’s one of the greatest of the Great Camps and the outdoor porches are beyond compare with the spectacular views. It’s a truly magical place. Not enough is made of the polished wood ceilings which add to its organic Adirondack beauty.

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    • E.K. Carmel says:

      Welcome, to a fellow Fourth Lake area visitor! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your memories. I agree, it is magical place and you’re absolutely right about the hardwood used throughout the Albedor. Gorgeous!

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    • Dave says:

      Jay, the mckees were my mothers’s family. It sounds as though you might’ve known them. Contact me at dwmondo@gmail.com, as I would like to discuss the family further. Thanks!

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  8. Lived up in this area as a kid for a while. This really brought back memories. Thanks.

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  9. wjs says:

    In winter of 1971 The Snows Inn hosted snow mobile clubs. You could hear the snow mobiles roar through the woods day and night. The mobilers were self sufficient because they’d fix their rigs themselves since the cold and terrain was merciless on machines.

    County roads were owned by the loggers. The bigger the load the faster, crazier they drove. Local school bus drivers parked their buses in parking lots next to the bars opened for business at noon.

    The inn’s dinner was served to the guests who’d enjoy libations at the bar then retire to the great room near the fireplace before drifting off to bed. The nightly temperature would drop to -25F. Since there was no wind you’d go outside and marvel at the stars.

    After I win the next power ball. I’ll rent the joint for the winter.

    Thanks to all for your personal story’s.

    Bill

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