NEB&W Guide to Lake George Village, NY
- 1 Overview
- 2 First Depot
- 3 Second Depot
- 4 Boat Pier at the Depot
- 5 First Fort William Henry Hotel
- 6 Second Fort William Henry Hotel
- 7 Fort William Henry Hotel Garage
- 8 Pergola
- 9 Overpass
- 10 Lake House
- 11 Lake George Steamboat Company
- 12 Lake Champlain Steamboat Company
- 13 Fort William Henry
- 14 Freight House
- 15 Water Tower
- 16 Marine Track
- 17 Million Dollar Beach
- 18 Shelburne, VT Creamery
- 19 Summer Cabins
- 20 On The Layout
- 21 Not Modeled
Lake George was a branch on the Delaware & Hudson, but is modeled on our layout as a part of our NEB&W mainline. In 1922, it had a population of 900. A D&H video, originally filmed by Charles Allen Elston in 1947, has some views of Lake George, including train action at the station, then a few seconds of bathers and even a shot of people on horseback, from some local dude ranch. Each time we watch this, it reminds us of what Lake George was really about - an extremely popular summer vacation land. The exceptionally clear blue waters of Lake George have always been a tourist attraction, providing for boating, bathing and water skiing. Vacationers could enjoy golf, miniature golf and tennis.
The D&H at its peak owned both the Lake George and Lake Champlain steamboat companies. At the station, the D&H ran a track out on a steamboat pier so passengers could easily transfer to go up-lake. This was built in the era before automobiles, when the only practical way to reach the grand resorts along the lake was by steamboat. However, although the D&H sold the steamboat companies during the Depression and eventually abandoned the Lake George branch in 1958, the pier still stands today and still serves steamboats, modern-day replicas of Victorian boats,which you can ride.
The station was the second one on the site, built in 1911 in the popular "Spanish Colonial" style of the time. Above it was the Fort William-Henry, a 1950's reconstruction of a fort dating back to the French-and-Indian Wars. The capture and burning of original Fort William Henry was described in James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans. The reconstructed fort is today a museum and popular tourist attraction. Next to it the D&H built the Fort William-Henry Hotel, overlooking its "Pergola" (a combination boat house, promenade, cafe and changing rooms) on the shore. The pergola no longer stands, and only the kitchen wing of the hotel survives, part of the Fort William-Henry Motel.
The creamery is modeled after the one at Shelburne, VT, on the Rutland RR. Its half-timbered stucco finish recalls the Elizabethan period, a revival especially popular for suburban homes in the 1920's (called "Stockbroker Tudor").
At the far end of the station area, the D&H built a track which ran out under the water for about 200 feet. This so-called "marine track" was used at Lake George to launch small pleasure boats brought in on flat cars. A locomotive, with idler flat cars between, would push the flat car out onto this siding, which ran under water. This allowed the boat to be floated off the railroad car.
Maps & Aerial Views
- Topographic maps:
- Valuation map of the dock and depot area.
- An aerial view c. 1950 shows the relation of the Fort William Henry Hotel and Pergola to the depot and boat dock. (Note the turntable in the area later occupied by Gaslight Village.)
- High-level views of our layout scene.
- The first station, built in 1882, in a Swiss-chalet type of Queen Anne. It was replaced in 1909.
- The station was built in 1909 (perhaps 1911) in the Spanish Colonial style, one of the styles then in vogue, even though Lake George is a far way from California. (It also combined features of the Queen Anne, including the eyebrow window.) In each of the four corners of the tower was a larger-than-life statue representing the four groups associated with the region's history (Indian, French explorer, Englishman, and American, I think).
- A few years after the new depot was built, they built a new canopy out to the dock.
- At the base of the hotel was a "Pergola" (combination boat house, changing rooms, cafe, and small shops) where hotel guests could still wander around in their bathing suits without being arrested for indecency. See this section for more info.
- There was no overpass near the depot area, but we had to have the main pass through the backdrop into the Red Rocks scene. The following picture in Jim Shaughnessy's The Delaware & Hudson featured this photo of a train on the Lake George branch (but I have no idea exactly where) and the road overpass in the background was the inspiration of our model (which was made from the balustrade trim from the roof of the Bachmann O scale Independence Hall).
- Next to the overpass, we intend to include a model of the Schroon Lake House from its namesake village. This is a classic example of Steamboat Gothic, a subset of Gothic. The multi-tiered porches go all away around the building (including the rear). It is called this because of multiple porch floors with fret-sawed railings, resembling the steamboats of the era.
Lake George Steamboat Company
- The D&H owned the Lake George Steamboat Co. and built a pier to provide direct connection between rail and boat.
Lake Champlain Steamboat Company
- The D&H also owned the Champlain Transportation Co., and there was a Ticonderoga on both lakes. The one on Lake Champlain ran as late as 1953, and was rescued from destruction when it moved to the Shelburne Museum, where it still can be seen today.
Fort William Henry
- In the 1950's, the prototype Fort William Henry was reconstructed and opened as a tourist attraction.
- The fort was recreated by Paul Stoving on the layout, using bamboo skewers.
- Since the D&H terminated in Lake George, they had a large circle, called "the balloon track" in order to turn trains quickly. Today this area is the site of a miniature golf course and Gas Light Village. The freight house (and other industries) was in the area of the balloon track. The site of the fort is in the background. The model was scratchbuilt by Anthony Prattico.
- The water tower was on the balloon track so we aren't modeling it.
- The marine track was used to unload boats brought in by box car or flat.
Million Dollar Beach
- Most of the shore of Lake George, including along the tracks and by the hotel, was rocky. In 1949-'51, the State trucked in at great expense enough sand to build a large beach. This earned the name "Million Dollar Beach." This was located just south of where the D&H branch came in from Glens Falls, but it wasn't in sight of the tracks.
- The sand on our layout was made from diatomaceous earth (swimming pool filter material), colored a buff color by mixing in powdered dry colors. The water is just blue-painted wood, but eventually we hope to pour the whole lake here, some thirty feet long, in polyester casting resin. The figures are from Presier and Merten. They include both turn-of-the-century figures and modern day ones, since no one makes 1940's figures. Some figures have been repainted by club members to represent mid-century dress, but we have a long way go. (While 1950 bathing suits might be considered conservative by today's standards, back then they were too revealing for anywhere other than the beach. Back then, signs were posted all over Lake George prohibiting people from coming in to town in just a bathing suit.) We have also been unable to find horse-back riders who are sitting there sedately as the horses bob along (think Grand Canyon Suite).
- Million Dollar Beach was opened June 16, 1951 just south of the depot. It was named for the staggering (at the time) cost of construction, to bring in the sand.
Shelburne, VT Creamery
- We beefed up the rail traffic on our model by adding a creamery modeled after the one at Shelburne, VT on the Rutland. Note the half-timbering of the upper floor to give an Early English flair. (The building still stands, but today is doctor's office, stripped of all the trim.)
- We are slowing adding small summer cabins along all lake shorelines, including here. See this section for more info.
On The Layout
- When we originally added the front panel for Lake George and on to the causeway scene, we cut down the top of it to flush with the plywood "water", not leaving any room to pour a half-inch or so deep plastic water. In Dec. 2013, Tom Amrine, with the help from Bob Tate, are replacing this with a new front panel.
- From Kevin Surman: "The Saratoga County Wednesday night model railroaders celebrate their 40-year anniversary at the NEB&W railroad. It was a great evening and thanks again to the students for inviting us."
- Operating session, April 2016.
- See this section.