Theodore Roosevelt signed this Tahawus Club guest register in the town of Newcomb on Sept. 11, 1901.
After U.S. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt made his famous “Night Ride to the Presidency” in the Adirondacks in September 1901, the lives of many people changed.
The date was Sept. 11, 1901. Roosevelt had met his wife at the junction of the Newcomb and Tahawus roads in the Essex County town of Newcomb after traveling from the North Creek train station. The couple rode together for the last leg of the trip, to the Tahawus Club, and Mrs. Roosevelt told her husband about Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s latest hunting adventure, in which he killed his first white-tailed deer.
At some time after arriving at the Tahawus Club, Roosevelt, a hunting enthusiast, proudly signed his son’s name in the guest register before signing his own name. Roosevelt did not hesitate to document his son’s arrival, perhaps to brag a little: “[Sept.] 4, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Oyster Bay, L.I., killed a two year old buck.” Then he signed, “[Sept.] 11, Theodore Roosevelt, (ditto marks for Oyster Bay, L.I.), went to Mt. Marcy.”
The Roosevelt family, minus the vice president, had actually arrived at the Tahawus Club for vacation weeks earlier, signing the guest register on Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, 1901.
Theodore Roosevelt was a guest of the Vermont Fish and Game Club at Isle LaMotte when President William McKinley was shot on Sept. 6 in Buffalo. Roosevelt rushed to Buffalo on Sept. 7. After the surgeon said McKinley would recover from the wound, the vice president traveled to the Adirondacks on Sept. 10 to spend time with his family.
The Roosevelts hiked to a camp on Lake Colden on Sept. 12. They next day, the vice president and a hiking party, including guide Noah LaCasse, climbed Mount Marcy, New York state’s highest peak at 5,344 feet. Descending from the summit, they had lunch at Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds, where guide Harrison Hall approached Roosevelt at 2 p.m. with a message that the “president appears to be dying.” After finishing lunch, the party returned to the Tahawus Club at 5:15 p.m. He did not leave for the North Creek train station until 10:30, when McKinley’s death seemed imminent.
That’s when the night ride began on Sept. 13. Three drivers—Hunter, Kellogg and Cronin—used three separate teams of horses to travel 35 miles by buckboard. It was almost dawn by the time they arrived at North Creek. McKinley had died at about 2:15 a.m., before Roosevelt arrived at the Aiden Lair Lodge, his last stop prior to North Creek.
At the North Creek depot, Roosevelt was told of McKinley’s death. The new president was sworn into office at Buffalo. On the way, in Ballston, Roosevelt wired a telegram to his wife: “Ballston, N.Y., Sept. 14/01, To Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Tahawus, N.Y., President died 2:15 this morning, Theodore Roosevelt.” The telegram is pasted onto a page in the Tahawus Club guest register, which is now part of the Adirondack Museum’s collection.
This story first appeared in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 2,” by Andy Flynn.