The Adirondacks are filled with interesting facts - like did you know that there are over 2,000 miles of hiking trails in the Adirondack Park?
Or did you know that the Adirondacks are the origin of the American vacation? Indeed they are! According to Smithsonian Magazine, during the second half of the 19th century, the affluent population of New York City began to "vacate" the hot and muggy city for a summer retreat in the cool lakeside resorts of the Adirondacks. As a result, the term and tradition of the summer vacation began. By 1875 over 200 hotels were built in the Adirondacks and the number only climbed as we reached the turn of the century.
And another fun bit of trivia - do you know where the first hotel was located that had an electric light in every guest room? Again, this answer is the Adirondacks! Blue Mountain Lake to be more precise.
The Prospect House, Blue Mountain Lake
Of the many hotels built during the later half of the nineteenth century, one stood out as an engineering marvel: the Prospect House in the Hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake, New York.
In 1880, construction began on one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the Adirondack Park. When Fredrick Durant's remarkable structure, the Prospect House, opened in 1882 on the shores of Blue Mountain Lake it was magnificent! It stood 4 and a half stories high, had 300 guest rooms and featured amenities such as a restaurant, bowling alley, barber shop, billiard room, shooting gallery, telegraph office, library, physicians office and pharmacy. It even had a resident orchestra which performed twice a day to the 500 plus visitors the Prospect House could accommodate at one time.
The First Hotel in the World with Electricity in Every Room
The massive size and extravagant amenities were not the only major feat that was accomplished during the construction of the Prospect House. Its engineering accomplishments alone have left the Prospect House with the legacy of being ahead of its time.
Thomas Edison was a frequent visitor to the area and became the head electrician for the Prospect House. He successfully made the Prospect House the first hotel in the world to have an electric light in every guest room. The electricity was powered by two steam-driven, "Z" Dynamo Generators. In addition, the hotel also had hydraulic steam elevators, electric bells, steam heat and a two story outhouse with "modern bath and toilets." Ads placed in 1899 for the hotel stated "no expense is spared."
The place was frequently visited by some of New York City's wealthiest, including the Vanderbilts, Macys, Tiffanys, Huntingtons, Colegates, Roosevelts and the list goes one.
Unfortunately, the financial panic of 1893 and a breakout of Typhoid Fever lead to the demise of the glorious Adirondack resort. It closed its doors for good in 1903 and was later torn down in 1915.
The Prospect House Today
Today, the Prospect House continues to live on for the legacy it left behind. A road in the Hamlet of Blue Mountain Lake is named in honor of Thomas Edison and the engineering feat he accomplished in this remote wilderness area.
The Adirondack Museum
A mile north on NYS Route 30, the Adirondack Experience, The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake holds many treasures and historical images that help tell the story of the infamous Prospect House.
An "Easternlake" style light fixture from the Prospect House is on display in the Adirondack Museum's "The Log Hotel: Hotels, Camps and Adirondack Clubs" building.
Artifacts from the Prospect House's recreation amenities - Adirondack Museum Display.
Blue Mountain Lake Boat Livery
For a different perspective of the Prospect House, take a scenic boat tour with Captain "Crabby Bob" at the Blue Mountain Lake Boat Livery. The historic tour aboard an antique wooden boat covers the rich history of the Prospect House and the many tales its era brought with it. The Blue Mountain Lake Boat Livery operates annually from Memorial Day through Columbus Day.
Prospect Point Cottages
The beautiful point where the Prospect House once stood continues to welcome guests. The land is now home to the Prospect Point Cottages which, like its predecessor, has lights in every guest room (but today that is typically a given).
The property is graced with a peaceful cluster of cottages which provides guests with a year-round opportunity to escape to the tranquil shores of Blue Mountain Lake. Each private cabin has its own picnic area complete with a campfire, grill and picnic table and in the summer a private beach gives guests access to the refreshing lake water. (Take a virtual tour of Blue Mountain Lake and see for yourself why it continues to attract guest after all these years.)
Unlike the Prospect House, Prospect Point Cottages is open year round. In the winter months the cabins are a warm and inviting resting place after a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice fishing.