BLUE MT. LAKE - "Traveling with Stoddard," a new exhibition at the Adirondack Museum here, showcases nearly 100 photographs and artifacts including rare large-format photographs, sketches and oil paintings, maps, stereoviews and souvenir picture books.
Stoddard's diary and sketchbook from his first trip to the Adirondack Mountains in 1873 are also featured. Most of the photographs have never been exhibited before.
Seneca Ray Stoddard (1843-1917), more than any other photographer and writer, shaped the popular image of the Adirondack Mountains as a comfortable, spiritual place where one could find health and companionship in a spectacular wilderness setting.
Between 1874 and 1914 he wrote and published "The Adirondacks Illustrated," a guidebook for tourists and sportsmen peppered with engravings, adventure stories, advice and his own brand of humor. His work helped shape and reinforce ideas about how to value nature and behave in the outdoors.
The tourist industry in America - and in the Adirondacks - was just beginning to develop as Stoddard began his career. Carefully composed and suffused with light, Stoddard's images depict a serene, luminous landscape.
He also captured the social side of tourism in the Adirondacks. Stagecoaches loaded with people and baggage, gatherings of boat enthusiasts, outdoor picnics and tuberculosis patients on an open-air porch convey the conviviality and communal aspect of the 19th century wilderness experience.
Even armchair travelers could follow the tour, courtesy of the hundreds of stereoviews Stoddard printed of popular tourist spots, conveyances and hotels.
Chief Curator Laura Rice organized "Traveling with Stoddard." It includes interactive, hands-on activity stations for all ages.
Visitors can use magnifying glasses to examine photographic details and also try out real stereoscopes - a high-tech, 3-D technology for its time - with historic photographic views of Piseco Lake, Raquette Falls, Whiteface Mountain, Ausable Chasm, Lake George and dozens of other Adirondack Park locations.
For information about the Adirondack Museum call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adkmuseum.org.