Historical Towns

Lake Luzerne,NY

Lake Luzerne lies on the east bank of the Mighty Hudson River and the foothills of the Adirondack mountains.   Luzerne was settled after the French and Indian War on August 14, 1767.  Edward and Ebenezer Jessep and others petitioned a grant for 4,100 acres (once called Jessep’s Patent) to create Lake Luzerne.  The Jesseps founded Jessep’s Landing and Jessep’s Little Falls.    History is unknown as to the meaning, or reason, the name Luzerne came about, but the American Indians (Mohawk, Abenaki and Iroquis) called this land “the spot where the Sacandaga meets the Hudson and forms a large bay of Ti-o-sa-ron-da  “The meeting of the waters”.

In 1792, land was taken from Queensbury to form the Town of Fairfield, which changed its name in 1808 to Luzerne in honor of Chevalier de la Luzerne, a French nobleman sent from France to aid the Americans in their fight against the British.    The first settlers  found virgin pine and lumbering was the first industry created.  In the early 1800’s there were only a small number of residences.  The town grew with commerce of tannery, glove-sewing shop, grist mills, harness shops and general stores.   It wasn’t until a 100 years later, the community era of the dude race began.  Today, there are eight dude ranches one being owned by actor Paul Newman called the Double H. Hole in the Wood’s Ranch for critically ill children since 1992.   The first ranch was built in 1935 by Earl Thomas Woodward (or known as “Baron of Bolton”) and named Northwood Dude Ranch.   He also developed the Rocky Ridge Dude Range, then Stoney Creek Dude Ranch,  then Hidden Valley Dude Ranch.  Later he sold these ranches to Charles and Walter Isaccson and they built the successful Painted Pony Ranch still operating today, and well known for the Painted Pony Championship Rodeo.   Lake Luzerne had a number of children’s camp as well.  Camp Tekawitha became Luzerne Music  Center for gifted children which has the Lake Luzerne Chamber Music Festival.  Famous artists guitarist Joel Brown, violist Raymond Gniewek and jazz greats Chris and and David Brubeck perform.  Other famous visitors of the past include President Grant who came for a rest and recreation after the civil war.   

Lake Luzerne was also home to large tannery of the time, “Garnar Leather Works’ on Wells Creek which had the entire block with buildings on both sides and three stories high.  They operated successfully until 1920.   Wells Creek drew the attention of Albrecht Pagenstacher who founded a pulp mill; but later realized the greater power of the water at Palmer Falls and moved the mill to Corinth (the famous mill International Paper Company ).

Lake Luzerne has other popular activities to draw visitors today like water rafting, hiking, bicycling, snowmobiling, tennis, mini golf, museums and shops.   Luzerne has hamlets of Beartown, Danielstown, Fourth Lake, Hartman, Lake Vanare and Lake Luzerne hamlet.   Population is now 3,219 with over 1,200 households