History

Canada Street in the 1960's. Photo courtesy of Dave Stanton

Canada Street in the 1960’s. Photo courtesy of Dave Stanton

Lake George, NY, formerly called “Caldwell,” was formed from the Towns of Queensbury, Bolton, and Thurman on August 2, 1810. It is the smallest town in Warren County (32 square miles), originally named for James Caldwell and renamed as “Lake George” in 1962.

Its entire region is rich in history, and the town sits on one of the most pristine bodies of water in the world. Lake George was orginally called “Andia-ta-roc-te” by the Native Americans and was later named “Lac du St. Sacrement” by Father Issac Joques, the first white man to see the lake in 1646. The lake was finally named “Lake George” by Sir William Johnson in 1755 for his King, George II of England.

Lake George was a strategic battle ground for the Seven Years War, known as the “French and Indian War.” Here, Montcalm fought against Amherst and Ambercrombie. Later, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys and Burgoyne, Benedict Arnold and his Canadian force, as well as the Native Americans who were both friend and foe, battled on and along the shores of Lake George.

Lake George at one time had three forts: Fort Gage, Fort George, and Fort William Henry. Fort George was built by General Amherst in 1759. It was never completed and was built to be used as a base of operations from which to attack Fort Ticonderoga, thirty two miles north at the north end of the lake. Fort William Henry was built in 1755 and burned in 1757 by the French; Native American forces and General Montcalm forced the occupants under General Monroe to surrender. The fort was rebuilt in 1953 and may be seen today as a replica of the original.

Bloody Pond was the site of the battle between Dieskau’s forces and Colonial reinforcements. After surrounding the French, the provincials opened fire and the dead were thrown in the pond. The water became red with blood, and since September 8, 1755, it has been known as “Bloody Pond.”

In the late 1800’s, Lake George was beginning to grow, primarily because of its beauty and the lake. The main business was lumbering, with several saw mills. Then came the steamboats on the lake the D&H Railroad, marking the beginning of the tourist trade. Wealthy people bought homes along Route 9N, Bolton Road, and the east shore of Lake George. In 1845, the Warren County Courthouse was built along with the County Clerk’s office, and Lake George Town and Village grew.

Stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices, dentists, etc., were established. The small, rural schools were abandoned and a larger school built in the village. The thriving community changed from the lumbering industry to tourism, with hotels and increasing numbers of tourist cabins built near the lake. Interstate Highway 87 was constructed, enabling people to get to Lake George more easily. Today, Lake George plays host to thousands of summer tourists from May to October.

The Town of Lake George has, over the years, passed through a process of legislative change common to many American communities. While only a few simple laws were necessary at the time of the establishment of the town, subsquent growth of the community, together with the complexity of modern life, has created the need for new and more detailed legislation for the proper function and government of the town.

For additional information about the history of the Lake George area, visit the Historical Association’s web page by clicking here.

 

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Updates by James P. Mathis

Background photo by Luke Dow