In about 1827, Captain Pliny Miller built a dam on the Saranac River to create water power for a mill. Saranac Lake's first industries were logging and guiding the sports who came to the woods to hunt and fish after the Civil War. However, logging faltered with the relatively low water levels in the Saranac River. Outdoor recreation took first place, until tuberculosis treatment began when summer visitors to the lakes and woodlands found their health had improved, and they began to stay the winter in the primitve settlement. Dr. E. L. Trudeau founded his Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium in 1884, and the T.B. industry essentially ended when the (re-named) Trudeau Sanatorium closed in 1954, though other nearby facilities continued to house and treat patients for many more years. Early medical research at the Saranac Laboratory on Church Street and the Trudeau Laboratory at the sanatorium were an essential part of Saranac Lake's T.B. industry, one that continues today at Trudeau Institute, the successor corporation to both the Trudeau Sanatorium and the Saranac Laboratory. When Trudeau Sanatorium closed and it was clear that other facilities for patients in the region would follow, the community scrambled to replace the jobs that direct and indirect services to patients had provided for so long. Among the successful efforts were the sale of the sanatorium property to the American Management Association and establishment of North Country Community College. But other attempts were also made, including more conventional industries, such as a dress factory and a shoe factory.
On February 5, 1955, an article titled "Busy Workers Happy in S.L. Shoe Factory" by Roger Tubby appeared in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, on the Saranac Lake Footwear Company at Broadway and Van Buren Street.