What are the landmarks to be visited and topics to be explored?

Forever Wild offers you the exciting opportunity to explore late 19th and early 20th century cultural ideals, social and economic issues, and political conflict surrounding the wilderness from the unique perspective of living within it.  Beginning in Cortland, New York, a typical Gilded Age industrial city, you will become grounded in the social, economic and cultural dynamics of Gilded Age urban life while preparing to think about vital urban connections to the wilderness of the Adirondacks. 

The 1890's House Museum

Photo of 1890s houseThe 1890 House Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and located in the historic downtown district of Cortland, NY, functions as a museum and educational resource illustrating the domestic life of Cortland's industrial elite, the Wickwires. 




SUNY Cortland's Alumni HouseAlumni House

Next door, you will visit the Lynne Parks ’68 SUNY Cortland Alumni House, another Wickwire family home, and site where the group will hold its opening reception and a morning session to examine primary sources gleaned from The Cortland County Historical Society


Camp Huntington

Camp Huntington (Pine Knot)You will then travel by chartered bus up to SUNY Cortland’s national treasure: Camp Huntington (originally called Camp Pine Knot), which is registered as a National Historic Landmark, was built by William West Durant in the 1870s and is the first of the “Great Camps” in the Adirondacks.  Camp Huntington is itself an inspirational instructional resource. While lodging at Camp Huntington, you will study documents, structures, and industrial processes while inhabiting spaces created by some of the most successful industrialists of the period. First-hand experiences at the camp will bring the era's ideas and debates to life and deepen your knowledge about the period. For more detail on Camp Huntington’s history, please navigate to

Camps Sagamore & Uncas

Camp SagamoreCamp UncasYou will also have the opportunity to visit Great Camps Sagamore and Uncas. These camps, also built and designed by Durant, are National Historic Landmark sites that catered to leisure and recreational interests of Gilded Age elite families. The Vanderbilt family retreat, Sagamore (for the Native American term “sachem”) was built in 1897 and purchased in 1901 by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, the great grandson of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt. The camp maintains 27 original buildings on nearly 10 acres, restored to their 1897 condition. J. P. Morgan owned Uncas, now privately owned, named after a character in James Fennimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans. Uncas is architecturally significant as the first “compound plan” camp, designed and built as a single plan, rather than evolving over time as was the case at Pine Knot. Durant’s opulent, Swiss chalet-influenced architectural style, common to all three camps, is a reinterpretation of the rustic American log cabin. All three sites maintain original structures that illustrate the Adirondack architectural style, which influenced subsequent building designs as seen throughout the National Park Service. 

Adirondack Museum  

Adirondack MuseumIn addition to the Great Camps themselves, you will engage in learning experiences with nearby partner, the Adirondack Museum, which houses artifacts representing the people, industries, and arts of the region. The museum’s industrial history collections illustrate the tension between the “wilderness ideal” of unspoiled nature and a late 19th century industrial economy as evidenced in the region’s economically important timber, rail, and mining industries. As the exhibits so clearly document, the Adirondack region was as much an industrial site as any Gilded Age city and faced the same economic, labor and class dilemmas as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Chicago.


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What Our 2013 NEH Summer Scholars Had to Say:

“The Forever Wild seminar has affected me like no other. I am a stronger teacher of the Gilded Age because of this week.”

“This was by far the best seminar and learning experience I have ever had as an adult.”

"The directors Kevin Sheets and Randi Storch and their assistant Kerri Freese were amazing--they were enthusiastic, generous, fun-loving, hard-working, passionate and well-organized in executing the program."

"The visiting faculty were intense and highly qualified to speak on the topics they did. The readings they assigned were excellent and will be highly adaptable as references in my classroom."

"The participants were amazing--it was a history nerd extravaganza in the best possible way."

"The activities were sublime--from touring the great camps to the excellent Adirondacks Museum to kayaking and swimming in Raquette Lake before breakfast--sublime!"

"This was simply a superb institute and experience. It will PROFOUNDLY affect my teaching of the Gilded Age and the beginnings of environmentalism in our history."

"The directors were knowledgeable, hands-on, and very engaging. They did not pontificate, but rather created wonderful lectures and groups that we as participants could actively be involve in as well as thrive in. The visiting faculty were outstanding, the use of primary source materials valuable, and the mix of colleagues was second to none. It was a pleasure to be around all the participants, faculty, and staff."


Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program and website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.