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"Saranac Lake in Winter"

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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Tuberculosis was a killing disease well into the 20th century and society found itself with few remedies. One school of thought held that the disease could be cured by removing its sufferers from the polluted cities and placing them in clean, remote country sites. Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau had become a doctor after the death of his brother from tuberculosis and specialized in treatment of the disease. But he too, contracted it, and in 1876 he considered himself near death. He decided to die in one of his favorite places, Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. But instead of dying, his health improved and he decided the place would be perfect for a sanitarium or a kind of resort for sufferers from the disease. Using new ideas from Europe, he created a regimen of exercise, fresh air, and rest and completed the sanatarium in 1884. In 1887-88, the writer Robert Louis Stevenson wintered there. Trudeau felt that winters were best for tuberculosis patients due to its fresh, cold air. Stevenson did get better and wrote a favorable review in "The Saturday Evening Post," one of the country's widest-read magazines. Trudeau ran the sanitarium until his death in 1915 and it continues to this day as the Trudeau Institute. These photographs depict sanitarium life: the taking of the cold winter air on the porch, sled rides, and hikes in the snow, all intended to fill the lungs of tuberculosis sufferers with fresh, cold air.


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