Address: It was on New York Route 86 where the Department of Environmental Conservation offices are presently located.

Old Address: Ray Brook Road

Other names: Cameron's

Year built: 1865

Other information:

The Ray Brook House, also known as Cameron's, was owned by Duncan Cameron; it was located half way between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. It was built in 1865 and burned in 1907. President William McKinley is known to have stayed there.

Franklin Gazette, April 1, 1881


Like every other man who has always stayed at home, our ideas of the world and or men were limited. Until taking this trip we were impressed with the idea that Paul Smith's, Martin's, Wardner's, the Prospect and Loon Lake Houses, were the only sporting houses the World contained. This trip, however, has convinced us to the contrary. After leaving Saranac Lake and passing through North Elba, our preconceived ideas met with the first shock upon reaching the hotel of Mr. Duncan Cameron—a fine house beautifully situated, and celebrated for the prolific trout stream in its immediate vicinity. This trout stream is owned and controlled by Mr. Cameron, and always placed at the disposal of his guests…

Plattsburgh Sentinel, April 26, 1907



Was Built Over Fifty Years Ago— Loss $40,000, Partly Covered by Insurance.

A fire which was discovered about noon Tuesday has completely destroyed the Ray Brook House. This hotel has been known to sportsmen for almost half a century as Cameron's, the main building having been erected in 1865, and used uninterruptedly since that date. It was situated half way between Saranac Lake village and Lake Placid, and was one of the most familiar landmarks of the region to all Adirondack visitors.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been a defective flue or chimney. All of the guests escaped without being injured.

The property was insured for about two-thirds of its value, and the total loss will add up to nearly forty thousand dollars.

A post office is located at the Ray Brook House, and all the mail there is reported to have been destroyed.

Essex County Republican, July 28, 1950

Adirondack Conservation Boys Camp Remodeled By Earl Arnold, Opens Aug. 6

On the site where once stood Cameron's Ray Brook House and where, according to Mrs. Lester Allen, nee Harder, Grover Cleveland was a three-time guest in the 1890's, The Adirondack (boys) Camp will open its doors to the first session group on August 6. The camp is located between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid on route 86.

The site and the (2nd) Ray Brook House was purchased from the Harder family. From the office of District Forester William Petty, it was learned that the deed, dated March 12, 1946, was recorded in the Essex County Clerk's office on April 7, 1947.

Mrs. Allen stated that her father, Eugene Harder, purchased the land and original Ray Brook House in 1906 from the Duncan Cameron family. Her brother, Merle Harder, has the Cameron's guest register bearing the three signatures of the 22nd (1885-1889) and 24th (1893- 1897) president.

Grover Cleveland's favorite guide, according to Donaldson's History of the Adirondacks was Martin Moody, popularly known as "Uncle Mart;" a son of Jacob Smith Moody, the first settler in this region.

Mrs. Allen also said that after a fire destroyed the original Ray Brook House in 1907 her father built their 39 room house. Primarily, theirs had been a guest house, and later, it sheltered health seekers until the fall of 1938 when it closed for renovation. In the spring of 1939, it reopened as a tourist house and remained such until the ownership changed.

District Game Manager Greenleaf Chase, and office staff, stated there will be two one-week camp sessions —August 6-12 and August 13-19 with forty Adirondack District boys, from the ages 12 through 16, in each session. They are sponsored by various sportsmen's clubs and other service organizations within the nine counties, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Warren, Lewis, Herkimer, Jefferson and Hamilton. The sponsor fee is $25 per lad per session.

Oliver Wallace, instructor of forestry at Paul Smiths College and the camp director, will select the three camp counsellors from the college. The camp doctor selected is an intern in Albany. A cook and cook's helper will be employed but they will not reside on the premises. The department has mimeographed instruction sheets concerning "List of Important Considerations" which carries the stipulation that each boy must bring a health certificate of recent date signed by his family doctor; the camp's location on a map; Equpment List for Campers; Conservation Camp Rules and Regulations; and "An Outline of Subjects to be Taught."

The boys will be instructed in 21 subjects: preliminary firearms; stream improvement; development of wildlife areas; trapping fox and raccoon; trapping mink and muskrat preparation and grading of pelts; forest fire protection; bait casting; fly casting; trap shooting instruction; rifle range instruction; forestry; State fish hatchery, field trip; soil conservation instruction; bird dog demonstration; canoe and water safety; conservation law enforcement; tree identification; duck identification; hawk and owl identification; and map and compass instruction.

Of the eleven rules and regulations bearing Camp Director Wallace's name, two are safety and fire prevention measures. No ammunition, fire-crackers, etc., are to be brought to camp. Violators will be severely dealt with and sent home with a letter to the sponsoring club. Smoking will be allowed only in designated areas with the counsellor's permission, with no smoking in or around the camp at any time.

Three fire escapes were installed at the camp. The iron one in back of the building is reached by window-length doors; each based with a door-step. A third floor front window opens upon a trap door in the top of the second floor porch. The door freely swings open, via a pulley with weights, onto sturdy wooden stairs and below is another side door and a wooden stairway with a rail.

G. Earl Arnold of Keeseville, man of the five-man construction crew living on the premises, showed the alterations accomplished. When he spoke of the camp's present, its future, and everybody's work share in it warm pride seeped into his voice. Said he, with conviction, "It will be one of the finest boy's camps." Alterations began April 14 with a much smaller crew and soon after the Rangers joined in the work.

On the main floor front, three partitions were torn down, and one large L-shaped combination dining room -recreation hall was created. Two supporting steel girders are attractively boxed in. Six inch varnished, wooden troughs shield the indirect lighting around the top of the walls, which are covered half-way with celotex planking, appearing to be a blending of mauve and pale green. The lower wooden half is painted white, as is the ceiling. A great stone fireplace graces the right wall.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 25, 1953

Our Town

By Eddie Vogt


"The hotel at Ray Brook where the new Conservation building is was 'The Ray Brook House' (writes Mrs. Lyall delaMater) and was owned by my grandfather, Duncan Cameron. Board per week was $12 to $17.50. President McKinley also vacationed there. Hunting, brook trout fishing, tennis and croquet were offered. Conveyances were buckboards and covered wagons."


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 13, 1972

Trail of McKinley Pine Grows Colder


RAY BROOK—A trail grown cold since 1928 failed to indicate the whereabouts of the famous McKinley Pine named after the president of the United who often spread has ‘fisherman's' lunch and ate under its generous branches at the beginning of the century.

The State of New York is endeavoring to locate its prize trees, both coniferous and deciduous in various localities so that they can be entered in the record book.

The McKinley Pine which was visited by lab technician Joe Kurung and Dr. Harry Bray, Hospital superintendant, many times in the 1920's is difficult to find today. Mr. Kurung retired microbiologist and an ex-patient who came here in 1900 felt that the tree was about 200 yards off the road and  somewhere between the old Lezak store and the first Ray Brook hospital buildings. It would lie between Route 86 and the old entrance road to the hospital grounds.

The snow in the woods is nearly gone and a hard crust permits good walking. This Enterprise reporter with Mr. Kurung spent Wednesday afternoon in the forested area where the tree is presumed to be but it could not be found. The tree was huge then said Mr. Kurung so it would certainly qualify as one of the biggest around today.

He described it as having a triple butt and said it was well known as the "McKinley Tree” in his first years at Ray Brook. The president, who was staying at Harder's Ray Brook House spent many hours fishing in Ray Brook and the tree was a favorite spot of has when he wished to stretch out and relax.

Lee Emigh who was state hospital steward for years was also aware of the location of the McKinley Pine but could not shed any light on how to reach it. He has been hospitalized recently and unable to go into the woods.

Doctor Bray who enjoyed walking often asked Mr. Kurung to accompany him as he liked someone to talk with. The two men often hiked to the presidential tree because there was a well worn trail leading to the pine at the time.

The Conservation Department is cataloguing the prize trees in each quadrant of the state but snow and cold have prevented anything but, brief observation forays in Franklin and Essex Counties.

Some extremely large pines grow at Cold Brook, the biggest white pine recorded to date in the present campaign is 13 feet 3 inches in girth and in located at Constableville, N. Y.

Other historic properties