History of the SOA

Placid Lake was first identified on a map in 1840. The term ‘Placid Lake’ is still used today when it is necessary to differentiate the Lake from the Village of Lake Placid. Permanent residences along the shores of the Lake can be traced back to 1870. Hunters, hikers and fisherman were drawn to the rugged beauty and pristine waters of the Lake. As more visitors discovered the area, hotels and family camps began to dot the shoreline. At the same time, ironmaking enterprises located downstream found that the waters flowing from the Lake were essential to their mining businesses. In 1846, the Peru Steel Ore Company in Clintonville, New York built a dam at the outlet of the Lake to supply water for its iron works business. The company regularly released water from the Lake to generate power for their operations downstream, causing the water level to fluctuate by as much as three- to five-feet.

Visitors and homeowners along the shore felt the consequences of these fluctuations. When the water level was high, logs and debris floated in the Lake. As the water level was lowered, it became difficult to access the Lake from docks and boat slips. In 1892, property owners along the shore formed an organization to purchase the land owned and controlled by Peru Steel Ore Company. Four acres of land around the dam were sold to the property owners by the steel company the following year. The negotiations were handled by Colonel Abraham Mills, owner of what is now the Whiteface Club and Resort. Shortly after, he represented the group in the purchase of the ‘false outlet’ on the east shore of the peninsula. In 1893, the Shore Owners’ Association of Lake Placid (“SOA”) was incorporated, with Colonel Mills serving as its first President. The newly establish organization rebuilt the dam to conform to an agreed upon lake level.

The SOA replaced the wooden structure with a masonry dam in 1901 at a cost of approximately $1000. It served for nearly a century when, in 1995, the SOA authorized a rehabilitation of the structure and rebuilt the bridge across Outlet Brook. The bridge was dedicated to Harry W. Voege, a Trustee Emeritus and long-time Chairman of the Docks and Dam Committee. The maintenance of the dam and the bridge continues to be a primary responsibility of the SOA.

Fire Protection

In 1900, the SOA provided for the installation of a fire pump on the steamer Doris. When the Doris was re-equipped with a gasoline engine, the Association provided its own fireboat, SOA I and later, SOA II. In 1966, the Town of North Elba and Village of Lake Placid assumed responsibility for fire protection on Lake Placid and the Association gifted the SOA II to the fire department. SOA II was subsequently retired in favor of the Hotspot, a 22-foot, diesel-powered, fiberglass former Coast Guard vessel with a 1000 gallon-per-minute pumping capacity.

Camp Identification

In 1990, to better coordinate and communicate with the fire department and rescue squad, and to ensure that the fire and rescue equipment remained in top condition, the SOA formed the Emergency Services Committee. The Committee devised a property identification system, and in 1993 the SOA distributed reflective number plates to be attached to every dock or boathouse on the lake. The number plates were updated and replaced in 2019. The numbers provide a coherent and comprehensive system to aid fire and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency. Please contact the SOA to confirm that your property identification is up to date.

Navigation Marking System

For many years the SOA maintained the navigation marking system on the lake. Hazards were first marked with SOA flags and oil lamps. The Village of Lake Placid provided navigation lights where powerlines existed, supplemented by battery-powered lights provided by the SOA at the northern end of the lake. In 1969, the New York State Conservation Department, now the Department of Environmental Conservation, assumed responsibility for the navigation buoy system. The SOA continues to monitor navigational lights and marker buoys for the safety of all who use the lake.