Hunters' Home was a primitive hotel on the north branch of the Saranac River near Loon Lake. While most accounts hold that Paul Smith built it, about 1852, contemporary James Wardner says that it was built about 1848 by Smith's father for Paul Smith's elder brother, Seth, to run with Paul's help, and that the two brothers did not get along. 1 Edwin R. Wallace, writing in 1878, says that it was being run by Paul Smith's brother, Lewis. 2
By all accounts it was a simple affair— Alfred L. Donaldson writes
It was very primitive. It consisted of one large living room and kitchen, with eight or ten thinly partitioned sleeping quarters overhead. No provision was made for ladies. It was strictly a man's retreat, but its patronage was select—largely doctors and lawyers with high standing in their home cities. They maintained a certain brotherhood reserve about the delights of their wilderness lodge; but word was passed along to the elect, and novitiates were never wanting. The enterprise prospered from the first.
Board and lodging was $1.25 per day; but it cost $2.00 a day to hire a guide. There was, of course, a bar on the premises, and it was run on the pay-as-you-enter principle. In one corner of the living-room stood a barrel of rye whisky. Fastened to it by a stout string was a tin dipper. The price of a drink was four cents—probably because nickels were not in general use at the time,—and the consumer thereby saved a penny. To get a drink you placed four coppers on top of the barrel, and removed the spigot from near the bottom. That the bar paid under these conditions argues extreme moderation somewhere—either in the guests or in the whisky. 3
Plattsburgh Republican, May 31, 1879
…From the Goldsmith place we followed the road which runs up near the river four miles to the hotel known as HUNTERS' HOME, which marks the end of the travelled road in that direction, and also the point where the Port Kent and Hopkinton Turnpike crosses. Hunters' Home is a sportsman's paradise. The river comes rippling past the very door, and for three miles above falling just about rapidly enough to make first class fly-fishing. This point very nearly marks the dividing line between the outer edge of the great Adirondack plateau, and the valley below. In following up the stream the valley has been gradually growing narrower and narrower, and now at Hunters' Home we find ourselves at the bottom of a deep gorge, the river banks rising high on either hand at a sharp angle. The Port Kent and Hopkinton Turnpike crosses this gorge here at nearly right angles, and by that road we climbed up the steep west bank one mile to LOON LAKE…
1. Charles A. Wardner, Footprints & Sunset on Adirondack Trails. Graphics North: Jay, New York, 2010, p. 141.
2. Edwin R. Wallace, Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks, Syracuse, New York: The American News Company, 1878, p. 75
3. Alfred L. Donaldson, A History of the Adirondacks, vol. 1. New York: The Century Company, 1921, p. 322.