LONG LAKE - Imagine being so hated by the political bosses in your own state that they actually work to promote you to a "useless" position. Now imagine that position is vice president of the United States.
In 1898, Theodore Roosevelt won the governorship of New York, and was thereafter so despised by the party bosses here that they worked hard to put him on the 1900 presidential ticket with William McKinley.
The problem with Roosevelt (who was a popular governor) was that he did too much. The bosses wanted to be able to continue their stranglehold on power in the Empire State and use patronage to enrich themselves and their friends.
Teddy Roosevelt’s legendary ride through the Adirondacks is marked by a state Department of Transportation scenic trail designation between North Creek and Long Lake (pictured).
News photo — Justin A. Levine
Roosevelt got in the way of those goals, and so people like Boss Platt did everything they could to rid themselves of Roosevelt.
President McKinley added Roosevelt to the ticket (McKinley's first vice president died in 1899), and after a grueling campaign in which Roosevelt took to the rails to make hundreds of speeches around the country, the pair was handily elected.
Shortly after the election, McKinley was in Buffalo and Roosevelt was on vacation in Vermont. While having lunch on the shores of Lake Champlain, Roosevelt received word that McKinley had been shot by an anarchist.
Roosevelt rushed to Buffalo, but McKinley seemed to be in no danger of dying, so Roosevelt turned to one of his favorite vacation spots: the Adirondacks.
After spending a few days in Tahawus, Roosevelt and a group of people hiked to Lake Tear of the Clouds. While at the lake, a messenger delivered a telegram informing Roosevelt that McKinley had taken a turn for the worse, so he returned to the lodge he was staying at. Since it was already dark and the closest train station was 40 miles away in North Creek, Roosevelt decided to wait until morning to make the trek to the station.
However, within hours he received a second telegram saying that McKinley was fading quickly and Roosevelt was informed that he needed to get to Buffalo as soon as possible.
Starting out from the lodge at Tahawus, Roosevelt made what some call the "the ride heard around the world."
Traveling the roughly 40 miles to the North Creek train station, Roosevelt's hasty ride consisted of barreling down dark Adirondack dirt roads, changing horse teams and drivers several times. When he reached the station, he was informed that McKinley had died at 2:15 a.m. on the morning of September 24. Roosevelt had become President of the United States right here in the Adirondacks.
Roosevelt went on to have a successful presidency (and an unsuccessful run at a third term in 1912) and his nighttime ride has become the stuff of legends. According to the Adirondack Museum, this trip would have taken seven hours during the day, when visibility was good. Roosevelt did it in about six.
In honor of Roosevelt's nighttime ride through the towns of Newcomb, Minerva and North Creek, the state Department of Transportation established the Marcy-Roosevelt Trail along what is now state Route 28N.
The DOT-approved route is just over 40 miles long, and links the communities Roosevelt passed through on his way, literally, to the presidency.
Starting at the intersection of state routes 30 and 28N in Long Lake, the trail (which is not a foot path, but rather a scenic byway) goes to North Creek, right around the corner from Gore Mountain's Ski Bowl.
Along the way, there are glimpses of wetlands, mountains and even the High Peaks. There is not a single traffic light, and on a sunny afternoon in February, only one other car was seen on the road.
In the summer, this is a popular bike route. The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has mapped out three bike routes of varying difficulty that families and serious riders alike can utilize. From a short family ride to an 80-mile loop, bicyclists are likely to find plenty of views and solitude along any of the routes.
There are also a number of attractions along the route, including Great Camp Santanoni in Newcomb and a museum at the North Creek train depot.
In addition to the historic aspect of the trail, it also brings you past the main access point for the Essex Chain of Lake state land complex and many other hiking opportunities, including the beautiful OK Slip Falls.
There are a number of mountain biking opportunities as well, both at Santanoni and within the Essex Chain lands.
For more information on Roosevelt's ride, go to the Adirondack Museum's website at www.adkmuseum.org/about_us/adirondack_journal/?id=117.
ANCA also offers directions to bike the Marcy-Roosevelt trail and highlights many of the attractions along the way at www.bikethebyways.org/roosevelt-marcy-byway.