Details of Lake Champlain vacation revealed

Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series marking the 120th anniversary of Niles native William McKinley’s U.S. presidency.

July 1899 ended with another vacation for President McKinley, this time to Lake Champlain in New York.

On July 23, the Washington Post reported that “preparations are being made at Hotel Champlain in anticipation of the arrival of President and Mrs. McKinley, who are expected on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. In view of Mrs. McKinley’s ill health, the president hopes to be able to spend his time while here in absolute rest and quiet. He has asked that no newspaper correspondents be allowed on the special train, which will convey himself and party to the shores of Lake Champlain.”

They went on to explain that “the suite of rooms facing the lake on the main floor of the hotel annex, which the president occupied during his stay at the hotel in the summer of 1897, is being especially furnished and made ready for his occupancy.”

On the 27th of July, the Washington Post reported “the suite of rooms on the main floor, in the southwest corner of the annex, which Mrs. McKinley enjoyed so much during her stay here two years ago, have been specially furnished in light blue, her favorite color. The president and his wife will take their meals in their own rooms during their stay at the hotel.”

Many guests accompanied the first family, including the secretary of the treasury, the attorney general, the vice president, the secretary of war and the postmaster general.

Per usual, the president’s niece Miss Duncan was in attendance, as well as their doctor and his wife, and Acting Secretary Cortelyou. Several assorted help staff also were in attendance.

Unlike today, the entire trip and approximate stops were outlined for the general public. The July 27 edition of the Washington Post shared that “the train upon which the party traveled consisted of the sleeper Coronet, the composite car Patagonia, and the Atlantic. It went over the Pennsylvania road to Jersey City, thence by the West Shore to Albany, and by the Delaware and Hudson River to Lake Champlain. The party is due to arrive at the hotel at 8:45 this morning.”

Farris is director of the National McKinley Birthplace Museum in Niles.