I turn afield this afternoon to share with you a growing collection of vintage postcards and miscellaneous artifacts featuring Camp-of-the-Pines in Willsboro, New York. To be 100% transparent from the outset, my aspiration is twofold:
- I want to solicit community knowledge about this [apparently] no longer extant Lake Champlain neighbor.
- I want to showcase our remarkably robust collection of vintage artifacts for this intriguing one-time travel destination.
By way of introduction and orientation, let’s navigate north from Rosslyn along the Adirondack shore of Lake Champlain in a skiff or a sailboat (so long as the draft is not too great). Northbound you’ll observe some but not many homes and camps partially concealed by foliage. Before long we’ll discover the Boquet River delta which extends a sandy bar far out into the broad lake south of the Four Brothers Islands. After the river a large holding with several discreetly sited residences yields to a cluster of buildings that—once upon a time, according to these artifacts—might have been Camp-of-the-Pines (aka Camp of the Pines). I say “might” because this is my best guess, and waaay down the path of conjecture. My hypothesis may well prove mistaken.
Okay, let’s dive in!
Community Crowd Sourcing
For about a decade Katie Shepard has been sharing our Rosslyn and Essex-area artifacts (mostly antique and vintage postcards) on our community’s social media channels to celebrate local heritage and crowdsource the postcards’ many familiar and sometimes unfamiliar subjects. She published the postcard above back in August 2017, but unlike many artifacts there wasn’t much familiarity with this historic Willsboro destination. In fact, this was the only message received by a reader.
Seen this many times in my lifetime! — Alice Pettersen (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)
Despite enthusiastic familiarity, we learned little. Katie’s forensic fact finding focused on the information available on the postcard itself.
According to the caption along the top of the postcard this is an aerial shot of Camp of the Pines in Willsboro, NY with Vermont and the Four Brothers Islands on Lake Champlain in the distance. — Katie Shepard (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)
The backside of the postcard offered a little more insight.
The back side of the postcard shown below gives us a bit more information:
CAMP-of-the-PINES, Willsboro, NY— Katie Shepard (Source: essexonlakechamplain.com)
“Where Lake Champlain is at its Best”
Single rooms to private cottages
with Central Dining Room
Modern Appointments — Sports
Private Sand Beach
In short, it appears that Camp of the Pines was a Willsboro summer “camp” on Lake Champlain. But where? And when?
Katie’s sleuthing draws our attention to the postmark date which appears to be August 8, 1956 which she deduces must have been during operation of Camp of the Pines. But when did it start and cease to operate? Where exactly was it located? And what happened to the property after it concluded its days as a commercial venture. Does it still remain intact? Changed? Has it become a private residence?
Camp of the Pines Artifacts
What follows are additional historic artifacts/images of Camp of the Pines. Perhaps one will trigger some useful tidbits of information, a memory, a backstory, maybe even an epilogue?
Let’s start with this 1940 brochure advertising a June 29 thorough September 3 vacation season at Camp of the Pines.
Vintage gold! If your eyes struggle with the fuzzy letters, here’s a transcription of the paragraphs on the right side.
Health, happiness and good fellowship await you at CAMP-of-the-PINES on Lake Champlain during your vacation days.
Amid the peace and glories of Nature you will find plain, comfortable accommodations, restful beds, an abundance of good food, and the courteous service of a Christian Camp.
So, we’re on to something. A Christian summer camp. And the map on the left side is somewhat helpful as well, generally locating the camp more or less as I’ve described above. Let’s dive deeper into the brochure.
The next two pages of the brochure are replete with intereresting information and are transcribed in full.
CAMP-of-the-PINES is located on Lake Champlain less than two miles from Willsboro, Essex County, New York.
The New York-Albany-Montreal highway and the Delaware & Hudson Railroad station are a mile and a half distant, while Port Kent, the western terminus of the Burlington Ferry is a short drive to the north.
The Village of Willsboro maintains good stores, a well-equipped library, a bank, several churches, telegraph office and garages, and enjoys the services of a highly trained physician.
The Camp is a kingdom apart, far enough from any road to insure perfect quiet and freedom from intrusion of every sort, but reached over an improved highway.
Points of Interest
Drives to and from widely renowned historical and beauty spots can be made in one day — Ausable chasm, Whiteface Mountain, Fort Ticonderoga, Lake Placid, Lake George, John Brown’s Grave, The Heart of the Adirondacks, and the cities of Plattsburg, Burlington, Saratoga, Montreal and other points of interest. Two bridges span Lake Champlain within easy driving distance of the Camp.
Mountains and Lake
Lake Champlain in its nine-mile width and 136 mile length offers an unusual opportunity for trips by sail and power boats.
This histories lake, far-famed for its beauty and grandeur and the glory of its mountain environment, makes the Camp site one of the most fascinating in the East.
From all points on the shore line of the Camp estate more than thirty miles of magnificent views, together with broad, entrancing lake vistas up to twenty males in extent, greet the eye.
With tho stately and picturesque Adirondacks stretching off to the West, the majestic Green Mountains silhouetted against the Eastern sky and the great blue Lake Champlain nestled in between, the location of CAMP-of-the-PINES is ideal for nature-lovers and those seeking new and broader outlooks.
Sunrise and sunset may be from the Camp and the moonlight, casting a silvery path over the broad expanse of clear water backed by the majestic mountains, is romance itself.
A quiet bay on which the Camp property is located affords the safety of a small lake, with none of its disadvantages.
The large tract of land with its gradual rise from the beach, enjoys isolation from other properties and has a long shore line presenting extensive lake and mountain view. One-half of the tract covered by majestic pine woods and the other by open fields where one may absorb health-giving sunshine in abundance.
There is no low or marsh land and fog is practically unknown. This locality is renowned for the absence of mosquitoes, black flies and other mountain pests. Dry mountain air, clear skies, cool nights and comfortable days are the rule.
The Camp is aptly named — tall, stately pines spread their branches above the buildings and tents which are scattered along the shore and up the easy hill side — fragrant pine needles of other years softy carpet the walks and woods.
The Club Plan
It is the aim of the Camp management to limit its clientele to guests of refinement and common interests and so maintain a happy, genial and inspiring camp atmosphere. To contribute to the maintenance of this ideal, guests will be limited to members of the CAMP-of-the-PINES VACATION CLUB.
Membership in the Club may be secured upon written application. Blanks for application will be sent upon request. The payment of a nominal fee of one dollar for each adult admits the applicant to full membership for one year. This amount will be returned to anyone whose application is not accepted and to any not making use of the Camp facilities, if desired. The Club dues will be used in their entirety, and under direction of a committee, to provide vacations for for worthy persons who, otherwise, could not enjoy the benefits of rest and change.
Choice vegetables grown on the Camp Farm are gathered daily, just prior to their use, thereby retaining that sweetness and freshness which make them so appetizing. Milk and fresh eggs from the same source are served. Guests will find tables supplied with an abundance of wholesome, seasonable, well-prepared home cooked food. Ample portions and repeated servings are the pride of the Camp.
Boating, bathing, swimming, motor boat rides, aquaplaning, fishing, tennis, croquet, handball and other games provide the guests with out-of-door exercise. Indoor games, dancing, singing and entertainments afford pleasant occupation and offer opportunities for wholesome social intercourse.
Safe and clean row boats may be rented by the day or week.
Camp guests have access for a modest fee to a golf course adjoining the camp property.
The Camp store supplies guests with pure refreshments, toilet articles, souvenirs, cards, magazines and many of the away-from-house necessities.
In addition to the fishing in Lake Champlain, many small lakes, ponds and streams in the vicinity lure the ardent fisherman, while broad fields, shady glens and mountain wilderness attract the naturalists.
A limited number of children can be accommodated but children under fifteen are not expected unless accompanied by an adult.
Persons with a communicable disease cannot be accommodated.
No alcoholic beverages will be sold, served or permitted in the Camp.
Dogs are not allowed.
Roughing It In Comfort
Guest accommodations consist of one-room cabins with private bath (toilet, lavatory and shower); Duplex cabins with semi-private bath; Twin cottage rooms (with and without running water) or weather-proof tents with board floors, wooden wainscots and frames and electric lights.
All buildings are located among the pines at the edge of the woods, have porches and are completely screened.
The Camp property is electronically lighted throughout and has modern appointments and sanitation with both tub and showers.
There is an abundance of hot water at all times in shower rooms and bathrooms and available by pitcher service in your tent or room.
Fresh bed linen and summer blankets will be supplied. Woolen blankets may be rented at the office. Guests provide themselves with towels, washcloths, soap and heavy blankets.
Unusually Fine Beach
The broad, gently sloping sand beach, free from depressions and stones, affords bathers an opportunity to wade out in safety, a long distance from the shore. The clear blue waters of the lake make bathing and swimming a real pleasure and the clean, sand beach affords ideal conditions for sun baths.
This stretch of private sand beach is a favorite place for all ages. Beyond the bathers’ beach is a beach for swimmers where a float is provided, affording good diving.
Morn ‘til Night — It’s Fun!!
Particularly those vacationing alone will enjoy the friendly, family atmosphere and the daily program of entertainment and activities.
There is a continual tug-of-war between the beach with its suppers, swimming and aquaplaning and the Recreation Hall with its sings, games and dancing. Organized hikes and tournaments, badminton, horseshoes, croquet and tennis fill the days.
Guests who remember with pleasure motor-boat rides will have cause for even more pleasant memories of rides in the new 27-foot inboard motor boat which makes for initial appearance in the 1940 season.
What to Expect and What to Bring
From the pines themselves springs the gracious hospitality of the Camp. Like them it will not smother you with a too heady nearness — neither will it leave you lonely. Your vacation here is your OWN, to spend as you will — strenuously or restfully — in solitude or in refreshing companionship. You will live informally in informal clothing. The simplicity and ease with which living is accomplished is a boon to tired minds and bodies.
Everything about CAMP-of-the-PINES encourages out-of-door life and we suggest that guests bring comfortable walking shoes, camp clothing, both heavy and light, fishing tackle, tennis rackets, bathing suits, golf clubs and musical instruments.
Guests are encouraged to make CAMP-of-the-PINES a place of happy, helpful friendships and to arrange for parties of friends to come with them and to visit them. A cordial welcome awaits you and the assurance of days filled with rest and recreation which will send you back to the daily grind with renewed health and inspiration.
1949 Adirondack Guide Advertisement
Nine years after circulating the impressively detailed Camp-of-the-Pines brochure above, Camp-of-the-Pines featured prominently in this 1949 Adirondack Guide.
I’m especially intrigued by mention of the “adjoining golf course” which possibly helps pinpoint the location of Camp-of-the-Pines. (Many thanks to David Brayden for providing this artifact!) Personal our broader community will be able to connect some of the dots so far?
Camp-of-the-Pines Inside Out
As of now, I still have only a very slender perspective on the interior of Camp-of-the-Pines, but the two images below offer a glimpse from within.
If that blurry, time patinated photograph doesn’t mislead me, it looks as if the dining room view overlooks the Four Brothers Islands and Burlington, Vermont beyond.
The following postcard takes us into a space referenced in the brochure above, the Recreation Hall.
I include the reverse side of the postcard because the small description has become familiar at this point.
Camp-of-the-Pines From Above
I’ll wrap up, for now, with an aerial view of the property. This perspective helps orient us along the Willsboro shoreline on Point Road, possibly suggesting a location north of the Boquet River, south of Willsboro Point, and adjoining the Willsboro Golf Course.
I have to admit that I’m still thin on conclusions (and even a little thin on conjecture). But I’m optimistic that this post *might* little-by-little elicit further insights from our readers. And I recollect acquiring a couple of additional artifacts that I can’t currently locate, so I may be able to update this post with some more objects to study and consider. I also recollect taking some photographs from a boat a few summers ago. Maybe I can locate those as well…
Many thanks to newspaper “archeologist”, Paul Harwood, who discovered this snippet about Ed Grady, the owner of Camp-of-the-Pines in September 15, 1949.
Chopping Wood Sends Troy Man To Hospital
PLATTSBURG — A clothesline and an ax combined to send Edward Grady, 25, of Troy, to the Champlain Valley Hospital here for treatment late Monday afternoon. Grady, according to State Police, was engaged in chopping wood at his camp “Camp in the Pines” at Willsboro Paint. The ax struck a clothesline, was deflected and inflicted a gash Grady’s forehead. Eight stitches were required to close the wound. Grady returned to his camp after receiving treatment.