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These hotels should not be confused with the family cabins and sporting lodges in the deep woods of the Adirondacks.
The family cabins were used mostly in the summer by those who had earned big money in New York City.
The lodges were used most all year by the well healed “sports” who wanted to escape the city and enjoy a little hunting or a lot of fishing; all drenched in a substantial amount of alcohol. Most of these “sports” lost more money on poker games than they spent on hotel fees.
Not so, these hotels of the Chateaugay. These were for the tenderfoot, the style maven, the poser; all those who could not wait to have the photographer set off that explosive charge of black powder.
They were properly dressed, parasol in hand, ascot deftly pressed, spats with nary a drop of mud on them, and many of them college educated.
The railways had infringed upon the Adirondacks from Plattsburgh to Saranac Lake. A short train ride was sufficient to ensure a hallucination. These naive people believed that they were deep into the woods. Nothing was farther from the truth.
“Ralph’s” was owned by a man named Hutton. It was only open for three months in the summer. It’s owner also had a winter resort hotel in Palm Beach Florida. Obviously the semi- well-healed were the only people who would visit Ralph’s. The actual-well-healed had already built their family estates deep in these North Woods.
Oliver Young, a hard-working man, was the proprietor of “The Merrill House.” Mr. Young kept his hotel open for a much longer period; sometimes into November. November is an unpredictable month in the Adirondack Mountains.
Oliver Young told me he could make as much money in a year as Mr. Hutton did. This was despite the fact that Oliver Young’s prices were much more reasonable.
That was the first time that I ever heard of basing yearly profits on lower prices. Oh well, what would you expect from me; a boy fresh out of the woods?
And so it went with the prices getting more reasonable as you scanned down the advertisement.
I had long departed these environs. It was a disappointing scene for me to see what had happened to our beautiful woods.