Adirondack History Museum climbs to new heights with permanent hiking exhibit

ELIZABETHTOWN – The Adirondack History Museum now serves as a permanent place to reflect on the history of its High Peaks surroundings.

The Museum celebrated the grand opening of its “Hiking the Adirondack High Peaks” exhibit on July 20 with over 130 people attending a ribbon cutting and reception.

“With the opening of this exhibit this museum has become the leader in preserving High Peaks history,” said Board President Sharp Swan in his welcoming remarks.

Museum staff and volunteers have spent over 1,000 hours developing the exhibit. The interactive permanent display explores High Peak’s hiking history dating back to the mid-19th century. The exhibit highlights the work of the Adirondack Forty-Sixers, hiking pioneers, old time guides, and other historic and contemporary figures, such as legendary Adirondack 46ers Historian and founding member Grace Hudowalski.


“The major impetus for this was L. John Van Norden giving some of Grace’s possessions, like her desk, typewriter, boots and guest register to our Museum about five years ago. With such an incredible collection we felt that Grace Hudowalski’s story in the High Peaks needed to be told,” said Swan.

Van Norden was invited to perform the ribbon cutting along with 46er Phil Corell, past president and current treasurer.

The exhibit features the work of both historic and contemporary photographers, including stunning pieces donated by Carl Heilman II and Nancie Battaglia. The exhibit utilizes some of the earliest photos of the High Peak region that include George Bacon Wood collection from the 1880s, and Lake Placid Club member  J. L. Harrison’s images from the turn of the twentieth century.


Swan explained the exhibit was the culmination over two years of development. He added that another phase needed to be finished, but the major part of the exhibit is complete. Swan, along with Museum Director Aurora McCaffrey and Board Member Gerald Zahavi, researched and wrote the content for the exhibit.

Swan thanked the exhibit designers Thinking Outside of the Square for their amazing design work, and exhibit printers Light Works for creating the material. The exhibit was sponsored by Cloudsplitter Foundation, the ADK 46er Conservation Trust, ADK 46ers, McDonald Foundation, Gerry Foundation, Cloudsplitter Construction and Curtis Lumber.

After the ribbon cutting over 100 people attended a screening of the film, The 46ers, which was introduced by Film Director Blake Cortright.


The Adirondack History Museum seeks to serve as Essex County’s center for the stories that reveal the roots and values of its people. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon-4 p.m.  Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $2 for students.

For more information, please contact the museum at (518) 873-6466,, or visit the Museum’s website at

Inline Images: 

Photo provided by Adirondack History Museum
Photo provided by Adirondack History Museum
Museum supporter L. John Van Norden, Board President Sharp Swan, Museum Director Aurora McCaffrey and 46er Treasurer Phil Corell. Photo provided by Adirondack History Museum