Speculator is the only incorporated village within Hamilton County and is within the town of Lake Pleasant. The village included the northeastern end of a lake, also called Lake Pleasant. The local inhabitants sometimes refer to the village as the "Four Corners," referring to the intersection of NYS Route 8 and NYS Route 30 in the middle of the business district.
Archeological evidence of Native Americans has been found in arrowheads and spearheads near the local lake shores of the lake, Lake Pleasant. Many historians believe Speculator was the hunting and fishing grounds of both Mohawks and Algonquin tribes. These Native Americans would only travel to the Adirondack Mountains to hunt during the warm months and their villages were located in the Mohawk and Hudson Valley Region. There was a Mohawk, who named himself Captain Gill, who lived in a wigwam at the outlet of the lake, Lake Pleasant, during the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century. He had a wife named Molly and Molly had a daughter named Molly Jr., however Capt. Gill didn't claim the daughter as his own. Old Capt. Gill was a trail guide for the first settlers. He would show them places to hunt and fish. Capt. Gill was most famous for his story telling and would tell folklore of the Iroquois Nation, such as the Flying Head.
The small settlement at the foot of the lake, Lake Pleasant, was part of the Town of Lake Pleasant, New York, until 1864 when Joel Newton built a small store and hotel in the center of town and secured a post office with the name Newton's Corners. At that time Page Hill and Page Street were included in Newton's Corners. Joel Newton's structure burned in 1870, and in 1872 the Newton's corners post office was reopened in Satterlee's store. Henry Dunning built a hotel in 1882 where Newton's hotel had been and the post office had moved there, and 1896 the community received a new name, Speculator, after the mountain seen across the lake.
In 1892, a few ambitious and industrious business men leaders felt they needed to update and modernize their facilities. Speculator was a "booming Mecca" for tourists. With the support of the voters in 1925, the village of Speculator was "incorporated" with a mayor and two trustees, which later changed to four trustees. The Village of Speculator purchased a small water system of Dexter Slack and expanded it. The village had a generating plant and waterwheel installed at Christine Falls, and by 1926 they had electricity
Age of Tourism
Growth escalated in the Victorian era between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s. Entire families spent their summers enjoying the mountain hospitality and fresh air. Several more hotels were built to accommodate them and eventually more stores, homes and several cottages were built. Around the 1850s, city sportsmen began to come to the Adirondack Mountains to hunt, fish, and enjoy expeditions into the deep woods. They hired local men who knew the area to be guides. The guides provided food and crude lean-tos for shelter. Hunting shanties were later widely used. With these sportsmen came their whole families to use the many hotels and boardinghouses in Lake Pleasant and Speculator. Private summer camps and cottages were built and along came the established family and children camps. Camps such as Camp-of-the-Woods, Camp Setag for girls, Kamp Kun-ju-muk for boys, the YMCA Camp Agaming, and Deerfoot Lodge for boys were established around the shores of local lakes. After World War I, famous athletes came to practice in the isolated communities, such as Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, and Max Baer who arrived to train for the heavyweight championship fight.
Age of Lumbering
In the beginning, small saw mills provided lumber for local use. After the Civil War, a growing nation needed lumber, so large lumber companies formed and mills were built near the Glens Falls area. At first logging was prevalent along the upper Hudson River as river were used to float the logs to the mills. Later, logging operations moved into Lake Pleasant and the Sacandaga River was used to float logs to Glens Falls as the state of New York designated rivers as public highways for moving logs to the larger companies. Many local farmers found winter employment as lumberjacks, and also supplied the companies with potatoes, meat, animal feed and dairy products. The lumber companies bought large parcels of land for their timber. Some of this land was later abandoned and became state land. This was the beginning of the Adirondack Park as designated in 1892.