By Annika Johnson.
We shared where we were from beneath a crisp Adirondack morning. Despite the wide range of backgrounds, we had all chosen Santanoni as a place to converge. The great camp was doing what it did best, drawing people in with a rustic charm and a true embodiment of the Adirondack Park.
We learned a little about the history of Santanoni under the great stone arches that had welcomed so many before us. After the introduction, we walked to the carriages that would be carrying us one mile to the creamery and then five more to the larger lodge. I shared a bumpy cart ride with a six-year old boy and many others. Going further into the woods, you could not breathe in without the risk of catching a scent of Adirondack fresh air.
Arriving at the creamery and farm, we gathered to learn about life here and the new technologies being used at the time this camp was inhabited. Walking under yet another set of stone arches, I entered the creamery feeling as if I was stepping into history itself. Between its concrete walls the building held an overpowering stillness that muffled the outside world. While you were inside, it seemed as though you were being suspended in the rich past of Santanoni.
After getting a glimpse of the building, we began trickling out of the creamery and back into the wagons to begin the five mile journey to the very heart of the Adirondacks. As we neared the camp, we passed over a shimmering Newcomb Lake and the passengers rustled, sensing we were getting closer. When Santanoni came into view, there was a collective breath drawn in, whether this was your first time or you were a regular visitor. Santanoni’s modest yet grand presence has drawn travelers back year after year.
After a lunch of local buffalo and sausage, our tour roamed around the several cabins. Santanoni seemed to represent the Adirondacks down to the very finest of details; it was built to blend seamlessly into the environment and encourage guests to enjoy the great outdoors. During the talk that Steven gave, one word kept reappearing: joy. People gathered here in pursuit of peacefulness and unbound happiness that seemed to be missing in urban life. Santanoni was filled with joy.
As Steve was retelling the history, I could vividly picture the outdoor fun and even a terrarium being built in the bathroom as a prank. Even a hundred years after these routines had been enjoyed an air of elation still sits heavily around the cabin. I could see these activities, this joy, so easily because it is much like my own cabin. Times have changed but our reasons to be in the woods haven’t. Everyone can find a piece of Santanoni that speaks to them.
Annika Johnson is a photographer, videographer, and high school student who summers in the Adirondacks. She volunteered with AARCH over the 2015 summer tour season, joining us on several AARCH tours with her mom and her brother. Her family has been long-time supporters historic preservation in the Adirondacks. We thank Annika for sharing her experience and talents with us.