Seneca Ray Stoddard was an iconic artist of the late 19th century primarily focused on photography as a medium. Stoddard, whose home was always in and around the Adirondack Park, soldiified his career as a skilled photographer by capturing the beauty of "wild" regions, including (most famously) the Adirondack Park, but also the Catskills, the Hudson Valley, New Hampshire's White Mountains, and the St. Lawrence River. Through these landscape photos, Stoddard expressed his own Romantic sentiment surrounding the Park, a sentiment popularized by Ralph Waldo Emerson and his contemporaries around the same time. Like the many visitors to and residents within the park, Stoddard came to construct his own Adirondack story, predominantly one of conserving and celebrating the stunning wilderness spaces that the Adirondacks provide. A Methodist, Grand Worthy Patriarch of the 1875 New York State Temperance Movement, and a man wary of industrialized, urban living, Stoddard believed in the power of the Adirondacks to align its visitors spiritually and otherwise. In many ways, Stoddard's keen knowledge of the Park through his surveys, guidebooks, and frequent wilderness forays, was pivotal in establishing the Adirondack region as a state Park, marking the land he knew so well as some of the best protected land in the country. Ironically enough, however, Stoddard's publications (including his photographs, illustrations, writings, and popular Guidebooks) also encouraged tourist travel to the Adirondacks to glimpse the unparalleled sunsets, mountains, and hotels so often the subject of Stoddard's work. Ultimately, Stoddard's work in the Adirondacks represents a key part of the Adirondack narrative as both a land protected from the people and a land intended for the people.
We hope that, with this website, we may uncover and convey the exact ways in which Stoddard and his work contributed to the development and definition of the Adirondack Park as the paradox-filled Blue Line we know it as today.
This brief clip from Mountain Lake PBS and Borderless North introduces Stoddard as a key player in the development of the Adirondack Park. Set at New York State Museum's Stoddard exhibition "Capturing the Adirondacks" (2012-2013), Bordless North representative Derek Muirden and curator Craig Williams discuss Stoddard's relationship to the Park and the legacy he left behind in photographs, legislation, and the public mind.