Seneca Ray Stoddard (1843-1917) is best known for his photographs of the Adirondack Mountains, but he also was a cartographer, writer, poet, artist, traveler and lecturer. A sign painter by training, he turned to photography in his twenties. From his business base in Glens Falls he carried his cameras throughout the region, capturing the vistas and scenes of Adirondack life over a span of forty years. The 3000+ photographs in the Stoddard Collection document not only the Adirondack wilderness but also the human story of the region.
Stoddard applied his artistic inclinations and early training as a sign painter to other pursuits as well. He drew illustrations, painted oil landscapes and hand colored many of his photographs. Stoddard also was a passionate writer about his travels. In 1872 he began production of a yearly publication, Adirondacks Illustrated, which he revised and reprinted numerous times. The book, which incorporated Stoddard’s drawings and photographs, served as a guide to the Adirondack region, providing advice for novice wilderness travelers and directing vacationers to the best summer destinations. His tongue-in-cheek perceptions of Adirondack travel and his Mark Twain-style of humor made his guidebooks among the most popular sources of the day.
Stoddard was a great advocate of conservation of the Adirondacks. This drawing portrays drowned lands caused by damming streams — what he considered to be the uncontrolled impact of man. In 1892, his persistent lobbying of the New York State Legislature was rewarded when Governor Hill signed a bill establishing the Adirondack Park.
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