Adirondack Wetlands: Heron Marsh at the Paul Smiths VIC (6 October 2014)

Armchair Lecture Series:
Who Was Paul Smith?
Thursday, 22 October 2015
7:00 - 8:30 PM

Paul Smith. Historic Saranac Lake.
One story about Paul Smith involves Grover Cleveland, who – when Governor of New York – once spent a month with Smith, camping and fishing. One day he turned to Paul and asked: "Paul, what can I do for you?" Smith replied: "Governor, you've got nothing you can give me except your friendship." (Collins, p. 175)

Paul Smith came to the Adirondacks from Vermont as a young man, built a rustic resort on the shores of Saint Regis Lake, established a reputation as a guide, hunter, storyteller, and hotel proprietor, and – after his death – gave his name (through a bequest by his son) to Paul Smith's College. Alfred Donaldson, author of the 1921 History of the Adirondacks, wrote of Smith:

He hewed his fortune and his fame out of the primeval wilderness, and he compassed the former without ever tarnishing the latter. He lived and died respected and loved by old and young, rich and poor alike. In the early days of his hotel, his name is said to have been more frequently printed and more often spoken than any other in the State. I have heard it fall from the lips of high and low for many years, but I have never heard it coupled with malice or reproach. (Donaldson, Volume 1, p. 328)

When Smith died of a kidney ailment in December 1912 at the age of 87, every newspaper in New York State (and many outside it) published lengthy obituaries praising the self-made man for his wit, honesty, and shrewdness.

Neil Surprenant. Paul Smith's Adirondack Hotel and College (Arcade Publishing, 2009)

Find out more about this quintessential Adirondacker. Join Neil Surprenant at 7:00 PM on 22 October as he describes the life and times of this region's early pioneering entrepreneur.

Neil Surprenant retired from his post as director of Library Services at Paul Smith's College in August. He has lectured extensively on the history and development of the Adirondack Park and has published numerous articles. He is the author of several books, including Paul Smith's Adirondack Hotel and College: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing, 2009) and Saranac Lake: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing, 2014). Both books are available online at the Paul Smith's College bookstore and through Arcadia Publishing. They are also sold at the Saranac Lake Community Store, where Paul Smith's College students get a 10% discount.

Cost of the lecture: $5 per person. Free for Friends of the VIC.   The Arm Chair Lecture series will continue every other Thursday through the winter.   Supported by the Friends of the VIC.  


Neil Surprenant. Paul Smith's Adirondack Hotel and College. Images of America (Arcadia Publishing, 2009).

Alfred L. Donaldson. A History of the Adirondacks (Harbor Hill Books, 1977).

Geraldine Collins. The Brighton Story. Being the History of Paul Smiths, Gabriels and Rainbow Lake (North County Books, 1977).

Apollos (Paul) Smith. Historic Saranac Lake. Retrieved 29 September 2015.

"Paul Smith Dead. Famous Guide and Hotel Proprietor Succumbs to Operation," New York Times, 16 December 1912. Retrieved 29 September 2015.

Paul Smith Obituary. The Ogdensburg Journal, 17 December 1912, p. 2. NYS Historic Newspapers. Retrieved 30 September 2015.

Paul Smith Obituary. Plattsburgh Republican, 28 December 1912, p. 3. NYS Historic Newspapers. Retrieved 30 September 2015.

"Paul Smith, Grand Old Man of the Adirondacks," The Elizabethtown Post, 19 December 1912, p. 3. NYS Historic Newspapers. Retrieved 30 September 2015.

"Paul Smith is Dead," Courier and Freeman, 18 December 1912, p. 1. NYS Historic Newspapers. Retrieved 30 September 2015.

"Paul Smith Dead, Aged 87," The Journal and Republican, 19 December 1912. NYS Historic Newspapers. Retrieved 30 September 2015.

Explore the VIC

The Paul Smiths VIC offers a wide variety of programs throughout the year to educate and inform Adirondack Park residents and visitors about the natural wonders of the Adirondack Mountains. You can help support these programs by joining the Friends of the VIC. More information on Friends of the VIC memberships

Explore the Trails

The VIC trails are free and open to the public, from dawn to dusk, spring through fall. In winter, the trails are open to cross-country skiers and snowshoers for a fee. Day or season passes may be purchased.