Steamboats ‘At the Lake’: Exhibition of Stoddard Photographs Complements New Show at Chapman
‘At the Lake,’ the new exhibition about Lake George that opened at the Chapman Museum in May, is supplemented by another show in the downtown Glens Falls museum, one featuring Seneca Ray Stoddard’s 19th century photographs of Lake George steamboats.
According to Tim Weidner, the Chapman’s executive director, “ ‘At the Lake’ presents different perspectives on what it has meant to be at Lake George over the past 150 years. The exhibit tells the stories of groups that camped on the lake’s islands, of families that built grand homes on the lake and of those who constructed more modest camps. The exhibit also includes the stories of people who lived on the lake and worked there each summer as waitresses, cooks, laundry workers, guides and boatmen.”
“Personal accounts from the era, reviewed during research for the museum’s summer exhibit, ‘At the Lake,’ referred to people coming and going, underscoring the significance of the steamboat. In a time when they were so essential, they were part of everyone’s Lake George experience,” said Weidner.
According to Weidner, “Throughout the 1800s and much of the 19th century, steamboats were the primary means of transportation around Lake George. Most visitors arriving by stagecoach or train from Glens Falls disembarked at the head of the lake and boarded steamers to take them to their final destinations. All the major hotels and towns around the lake had docks where the steamboats could stop to unload and pick up passengers and their luggage. Smaller boats supplied lodgings and private camps that could not accommodate the deeper draft of the big vessels,” Weidner said.
He continued, “The steamboat also played an important role in the social life of the lake.
Large boats operated by the Lake George Steamboat Company offered cruises up and down the full length of the lake, stopping at major landings and points
of interest along the way. Smaller boats took passengers to picturesque spots for picnics and hikes during the day, while at night they ferried
people to dances and other socials at hotels that featured evening entertainment.”
The steamboat exhibition is composed of fourteen images from the Chapman’s collection of Stoddard’s Lake George photographs, the largest in the country.
The two exhibitions will remain on view through August 31.
They have been complemented by a series of talks at the Crandall Library devoted to different aspects of summer life on Lake George. The final talk in the series will be delivered on June 12 by Henry Caldwell, the owner of Bolton Landing’s Black Bass Antiques. Caldwell’s talk, “185 Years of Lake George Souvenirs,” will start at 7 pm.
The Chapman Museum is located at 348 Glen Street in downtown Glens Falls. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm and on Sunday from Noon to 4 pm. Admission fees are $5 per adults and $4 for students and senior citizens. Children under 12 are admitted free. For more information call (518) 793-2826.