This site was started by Historic Saranac Lake on December 4, 2008. It takes as its subject the history of the Saranac Lake region. Contributions are welcome from anyone with any relevant material to contribute. Photos and information posted on the site are considered public domain unless otherwise noted. Historic Saranac Lake may use photos or content posted on the wiki in other publications or web postings. We will do so only for the purpose of educating the public and inspiring interest in local history, not for material gain. For more information on use of material, please see editing guidelines below.

Our wiki was mentioned in a 2010 article on "Crowdsourcing" written by Tim Grove of the Smithsonian Institution on the American Association of State and Local History website. The other examples mentioned are from the Minnesota Historical Society and the Library of Congress, so we're in pretty good company!

As of March 2021, there are more than 7,500 pages on the wiki created by more than seventy-five thousand edits by more than a hundred contributors. There are also more than twelve thousand photographs, historic and modern.

What's a Wiki?

A Wiki is a Website that is built collaboratively by its users. The term comes from the Hawaiian term wiki-wiki, meaning "quick".1Wikipedia, the most famous of wikis, is an encyclopedia with 3.8 million articles, written entirely by volunteers over the last nine years.2 This wiki has more modest goals, but there's still plenty of work to do.

How to use your Wiki

What's great about wikis is that they are built a bit at a time— it is perfectly reasonable to start a wiki page with a single sentence (or even less), knowing that someone will come along and add to it later. This takes the pressure off— that big blank page waiting to be filled doesn't have to be filled all at once.3

Other users may choose to do no new writing at all, simply working at improving the writing of others— after all, an article written collaboratively by many people is bound to require some work on its writing style. Adding photographs to articles is always a worthwhile contribution. Adding links to other resources on the web for further information is also helpful. We're looking for short pieces on books that you have found especially enlightening about the history of our area.

So don't be shy— poke around the site, add to it, clean things up if you see something that seems to need it, or just leave a comment or ask a question in one of the comment boxes.

You may want to start an account so that your edits will be attributed to your user name. To do so, click on New User, above right, enter a username and a password, and keep record of your password so you can log in easily the next time. Union Depot


1. See Wiki" for more.
2. Actually, Wikipedia exists in an astonishing 282 different language editions, with a total of more than ten million articles.
3. To pick an example at random from Wikipedia, there is quite a good article on the California Gold Rush). It was started in 2002 by someone who wrote "The 49ers who traveled by sea or land to California after the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento, California in 1849". That article has been growing ever since.


1. Our Subject Area/Article Names

Saranac Lake Central School District (click on image to enlarge) Historic Saranac Lake Collection.  We generally limit our articles to the history of the Saranac Lake area, roughly defined as the Saranac Central School District area.

Phil Gallos' Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake revived the practice of naming cottages after prominent owners or occupants, and we follow that approach where practicable. Otherwise, pages are named for the pre-911 system street address. We use the old address because so much documentation and literature uses the old address, and because we cover many structures that no longer exist, and have no current address.

2. Cite Your Facts

HSL Wiki seeks to compile factually correct historical information. Cite historical facts as thoroughly as possible. There is a simple way to do footnotes. Check the help with editing information to find out how. HSL Wiki also invites open conversations about the past and the sharing of memories, which of course can be fuzzy. If you are unsure whether a statement is correct, qualify your statements.

3. Do Not Post Copyrighted Material on the Wiki

Do not copy text verbatim from books or websites (although it is fine to summarize, or restate in your own words, text from other sources). Do not use copyrighted photos from any source. In general, material first published before 1923 can be assumed to be public domain, and therefore it is fine to use, as is material from U.S. Government sources. You should assume that all other material is copyrighted (under current copyright law, copyrighted material does not have to bear a copyright notice). Copyrighted material will be removed. Exact quotations of short text selections (one to two paragraphs max), in quotes, with full attribution, are fine.

The Creative Commons Attribution-By 3.0 license means that anyone can use any content you put on the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki for whatever purposes they want. It can be modified, edited, and redistributed without your permission or direct control. Your material can be used for any purpose allowable under law provided they give credit to you or Historic Saranac Lake Wiki in their use of the content. For usage details, read the overview. Basically, 'original author' can mean the author or the collective "Historic Saranac Lake Wiki." Because most of our content falls under this license, you are legally responsible not to put other people's copyrighted work into the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki without permission.

For images, if you wish to allow your image on Historic Saranac Lake Wiki but not fall under this umbrella of Creative Commons, just note explicit copyright. e.g. "Copyright Me, 2005." under or near the image. This will let people know you allow it on Historic Saranac Lake Wiki, but want others to get your permission before using it elsewhere. If you just want to give yourself credit for the image, just say "Image by Me" somewhere near the image. You still retain copyright on images where you do not note "Copyright" — it is just assumed that you are also placing said image under the Creative Commons license.

We want to foster an environment in which information and ideas can be shared and used as easily as possible by the most people for the longest period of time. We feel that Creative Commons Attribution-By is the best way to achieve this.

The Creative Commons Attribution-By license means that every editor who puts work onto the Historic Saranac Lake Wiki, whether it be text or images, gives anyone the right to do whatever he or she would like with the material, the only restriction being that if you distribute the content you must give attribution to the creators of the content or the collective "Historic Saranac Lake Wiki"/"Historic Saranac" This means you don't need to ask permission first — you already have permission!

Please note that in some cases we allow material (usually images) on Historic Saranac Lake Wiki that is not licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-By license, and in these cases there is an indication of strict copyright by the material, such as a note saying "Copyright Joe Smith." Usually, this occurs with images, and you must obtain permission from the individual in these cases — it was placed on Historic Saranac Lake Wiki but not necessarily allowed elsewhere.

4. Respect Your Fellow Editors

Respect Your Fellow Editors even when you do not agree with them, and always be civil. Always act in good faith and assume good faith on the part of others. Be open and welcoming. Remember that, except for signed articles, others can and will change your writing as they see fit. Your only ability to control the content of an article lies in your ability to persuade others that you are, in fact, right.


The John Black Room at the Saranac Laboratory

To change a page, click the Edit button at the top of the page. Most pages are pretty simple, but the Front Page has more complicated formatting, so it is not a good place to start. Have a look at the Topic Index, the Books page, or the list of Wanted Pages. If you see a topic you'd like to write about, click on the title. If the topic has never been started, the link will have a dashed underline, and you will have to click on "Create this Page" (or, if it's a Cure Cottage or Book article, select Create as Cure Cottage or Create as Book). Then you will be taken to a blank page where you can start the topic.

Most wiki articles have more than one author. Clicking on the Info button will show who has worked on the article as well as the entire history of the edits to an article. You can also "revert" an article to an earlier version, although you should do so only sparingly, when subsequent changes are clearly wrong. If you choose to write something in the first person, it should be named something like "Memories of Home, by Mary Smith", and other editors should leave the content as written.

Each page has a box at the bottom for entering comments about the article. Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment. Someone should answer in a day or two.Notes on how to do various fancy things appear just below the edit window, along with a link to a more extensive guide. It is a good idea to use the Preview button to see how your page will look before you save it, but don't forget to hit Save Changes when you have it just right.