The history of the First Wilderness Corridor is as complex and adventuresome as the terrain it follows. The corridor follows the less rugged, southern lowland areas surrounding the Village of Corinth through the southeastern region of the Adirondack Mountains, part of the Great North Woods. Upland areas, from Lakes George and Luzerne follow the Hudson River watershed with its many beautiful rivers, lakes, and streams.
Mirroring the terrain, early development and settlement were limited to the southern communities such as Lake George and Corinth. Inaccessibility to and through the forests, rivers and mountains prevented much permanent settlement in the interior and upland areas until the 19th century. Consequently, development of the interior progressed slowly compared to the lowland areas.
The history of the First Wilderness is in many ways a tale of two geographies, the uplands and lowlands, wilderness and frontier outpost.As development progressed from the lowland to upland, the wilderness was penetrated, first by pathway and canoe, to be replaced with horse, oxcart, and stagecoach, followed by railroad and hard surfaced roads. The terrain was difficult and it presented engineering challenges. Settlement and access required deliberate planning and investment capital. First, the settlers came to the lowlands, then hunters, trappers and guides moved into the uplands, followed by the rich and famous.
International and national economic issues influenced the communities and people of the Byway route. While the lowland areas grew and prospered, the uplands subsisted with a frontier lifestyle. Today, many historical and cultural elements relating to the settlement of the corridor have been preserved and can be visited by those interested in learning more about this area that played such a critical role in the development of America’s First Wilderness. Use the links above to learn more about the history of the individual communities along the corridor or to discover historical places to visit.