Our History

A Historic Destination for Adirondack Vacations

A vacation destination for 150 years, Lower Saranac Lake has hosted such famous individuals as Robert Louis Stevenson, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.J. Stillman and A.F. Tait. Part of a 140 mile trip, Lower Saranac Lake is one of the bodies of water that connects Old Forge to Lake Champlain and it was this waterway that brought the first visitors to our region. Today, the majority of its shoreline and islands are a part of the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve and are home to 87 campsites that are open to the public.

In 1849, the first Hotel was constructed at the mouth of Ampersand Bay. Martin’s Hotel provided guides to nearly every visitor to the region, including Ralph Waldo Emerson the other members of the famous Follensby Pond “Philosopher’s Camp.” In addition to guides, Martin’s provided meals, rooms, whiskey, transportation and was home to the first Post Office in the area. A Republican, Martin was granted the job of Post Master by Abraham Lincoln, a job that was previously held by a local area Democrat. It was the location of Martin’s Post Office on Lower Saranac Lake that led to the naming of our lovely village.

Verplanck Colvin hired many guides for his famous survey of the 46 High Peaks at Martin’s. His survey was later presented to the NY State Legislators in an effort to encourage politicians to create a Forest Preserve in this region. Colvin’s brainchild eventually became the Adirondack Park. Hikers still follow in Colvin’s footsteps today in an effort to make it to the top of all 46 of his High Peaks.

Albert Einstein pursued the joy of sailing while he visited the Knollwood camp. Unfortunately, Einstein had learned to sail before he learned to swim. It is said that he was rescued from drowning by a local boy. He was at Lower Saranac Lake when he received news of the bombing at Hiroshima.

Ampersand Bay Resort’s location today is sandwiched between the site of Martin’s and the former site of the Hotel Ampersand. When both Hotels were open, more than 650 guests could be seen enjoying the lovely lake from Ampersand Bay. The Hotel Ampersand burned to the ground in 1907. Its cement docks and foundations can still be seen just past the NY State DEC boat launch, a short walk from Ampersand Bay Resort. The point that can be seen from the window of every suite and cottage on our property was once home to Martin’s. Martin’s burned in 1888 but a portion of the hotel and the guest house were saved. They burned in 1897.

Ampersand Bay Resort was opened by Walt Emmons as a series of summer cottages as early as 1948. It featured indoor and outdoor skating rinks and the Red Door Restaurant as well as the guest cottages. It has been operated continuously as a summer resort since that time.

All of the information for this website was provided by Historic Saranac Lake. For more information about Saranac Lake and Adirondack history, please refer to: