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On the expansive porches at Great Camp Santanoni in the Adirondacks there was plenty of space for leisure and fun. This NY State D.E.C. (Dept of Environmental Conservation) sign was up to show how life was at Santanoni back in the late 1890’s. It was a place of play and fun in a wild environment. The Great Camp barely touched the land and environment in the area as opposed to the farm that had opened up wide areas for grazing, farming and barns with cows and sheep. Santanoni was not a hunting camp, but a fishing camp and retreat for the Pruyn family. They all enjoyed angling, especially fly fishing and even the women were avid anglers, hikers and boaters.
The Pruyns often had parties of 16 or more stay for extended times after coming in from the long road from North Creek. They boated, went on long hikes, played games, fished and danced on the porches. There were many famous people that visited from the Roosevelts to James Fennimore Cooper.
People today may callously think the Pruyn’s were doing a huge land grab and then took away a lot of the Adirondack Park from the public, but the reverse is true. Santanoni was always called Santanoni Preserve because it was designed to Preserve nature and the landscape. The area was heavily logged by others in the late 1880’s and the Pruyns basically bought the land and saved it from being clearcut by the logging industry. They put in bridges and roads and hired only local woodsmen to build the extensive 31 buildings of the Great Camp and farm. They used local rock and masons for all the work and provided roads for the public until they were closed near the house. Today the entire Santanoni Preserve is deeded to NY State and maintained by the D.E.C. for public use with free camping and free boats provided if wished.