Enterprise history — big money here | News, Sports, Jobs

The original caption under this photo read: “People of the isolated community of Saranac Lake, seen here around the turn of the century, [now for you 20-year-olds that ‘turn of the century’ was not the year 2000, but 1900] enjoyed the precious commodity of world news. This photo looks at Broadway from Berkeley Square with some of the historic buildings recently mentioned by Historic Saranac Lake. (Photo courtesy of the John Duquette Collection, which also provided all the photos for the 1992 centenary booklet.)

In 1918, Enterprise publisher John S. Ridenour said in a letter to his mother, quoted here last week, from Saranac Lake: “There’s a lot of money invested here by many of the biggest men in America.”

Let’s start by telling you about just one of those great men, Charles M. Palmer. The Palmers bought the house at 308 Park Ave., which is the three-story pink mansion owned for 50 years or more by Frank and Audrey Casier. You could consider the Palmers built the house because they spent $100,000 “renovation”, which meant adding two floors. Some time ago Phil Gallos did a good report on the history of the house listing the many owners.

Palmer was supposed to be a very big man physically and a very big businessman. Here are excerpts from a story in the Enterprise written by EK Goldthwaite for the 75th anniversary of the Enterprise. EK’s father had purchased the Enterprise in 1906 and sold it to Mr. Ridenour in 1918.

Around the same time (1906), Charles M. Palmer had offered $25,000 for the purchase of The New York Times because he thought the asking price of $50,000 was too high.

He “owned a daily newspaper in St. Joseph, Missouri, was a senior partner in a New York newspaper brokerage firm, and served as a mechanical consultant for Hearst newspapers.” In Lake Saranac, it “was a director of the National Bank of the Adirondacks.”

He owned a farm on the secondary road of Sorrell Street (the road begins at the town of Franklin Town Hall) operated by the Cash Shumway family. Palmer had dammed a creek that ran through the property to create a fishing pond. It was a nice swimming hole for us and the Shumway kids as we hiked from the back of our farm on Norman Ridge quite a distance through the woods to the pond.

The Shumways had a large family…maybe 12 children. I knew all their names but not anymore. A boy named Cash, who was my age, and another boy named Stanley became brother-in-law to my brother Ray when they married sisters.

Stanley had a 1929 Chevy 4 door and he used to drive through open fields which sounded like sitting in the backseat we were going 100 miles an hour which was probably 25 mph. The bouncing and swaying was a bigger thrill for me than the roller coaster I experienced on our St. Bernard School Class of 1944 (train) trip to an amusement park in Montreal.

The pink mansion

The house on Park Avenue is three stories high with an elevator from the first to the second floor. There are huge living rooms on the first and second floor. There are two full bathrooms on each floor; the bathtub on the third floor is absolutely huge.

There is a spiral staircase to the second floor, then there is a small service staircase from the second floor down to the cellar.

A beautiful house and so well maintained for all these years by Frank and Audrey. In the 1960s, I managed the various Casier properties for a few months in the winter when they were in Florida. At this time, they also owned the building at 54 Main Street, which now houses the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

History of the winter carnival

More from Mr. Goldthwaite’s story:

“In 1915, Saranac Lake was America’s premier winter sports resort. No one had ever heard of Snow Mountain or Sun Valley. Lake Placid had not yet built its bobsled runs or ski jumps, although it had skate and ski-joring behind fast horses and had produced outstanding speed skaters including Charles Jewtraw was a great example.

“Saranac Lake, however, was a focal point for the winter carnival, with speed skating events, ice hockey championships, figure skating, curling, skiing, snowshoeing and sledding, and was unequaled as a center for winter sports. [Speaking of Winter Carnival, Jeff Branch has done a terrific job holding that event together through these difficult times.]

“The Winter Carnival was an event that occupied every man, woman and child in the village from the first snowfall until the last Roam candle was fired to defend – or attack – the ice palace built on the hill. [site today of the administration building of NCCC] looking down on Flower Lake.

“Weeks of research went into designing floats and costumes for the parade; months of construction and preparation refined production, and lifetimes of experience and skill sustained participants in the competitive events that brought hundreds to the stands along the River Street building which, to d other seasons, was used as an arsenal.

“The village had developed a bumper crop of speed skaters, but none was better known — or more worthy of his title — than Ed Lamy. Not only was Ed champion in the one and two mile distances; his jump record of 28 barrels has never, to my knowledge, been exceeded.

Now I have read in other old carnival stories that trainloads of spectators would come for the carnival. One story goes that hundreds came from Plattsburgh just for the parade. There were 10 or 12 trains a day arriving at Saranac Lake at this time so Plattsburgh visitors could arrive in the morning and pick up another train in the evening.

This station was a busy place and a great meeting place for us 12 and 13 year olds in the 1940s.

In the summer of 1948, our National Guard unit, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment traveled to Pine Camp (now Fort Drum) by train.

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