Draft horses served as the backbone of the Paul Smith’s Hotel Company throughout its history. The hotel existed from 1858 to roughly the 1930s (until an electrical fire burnt down the hotel and most of the property). Draft horses were used for almost every aspect of transportation. A stagecoach drawn by a six-horse hitch was used to deliver guests, mail, medicine, and news throughout the 1800s. Drivers had to be quick-thinking, and as rugged as the Adirondacks themselves.
One of the original stagecoaches, from 1869, is housed in that barn next to Saunders Gymnasium. The Paul Smith’s stagecoach was an icon of the hotel. It was left neglected for more than 60 years in storage. Finally, with the help of volunteers, faculty, and students the stagecoach was refurbished in 1986. Here, draft horses Belle and Midnight, driven by professor Emeritus Gould Hoyt, pull the coach in 1989. The stagecoach is still used on campus today.
Lumber sold to second home owners served as a fair portion of the Paul Smith’s Hotel Company income. Horses were used to skid logs to the lake where they would float to the sawmill on the Lower St. Regis shoreline. Pictured here are some of loggers and horses that Hotel had at one time.
Logging with horses is more time consuming, but less ecologically impactful. When logging with draft horse you have to work with the seasons. In the winter frozen grounds and snow made for easier skidding. Summer meant logs could be floated through the St. Regis Canoe area to the sawmill on Lower St. Regis lake.
Draft horses are still very much a part of Paul Smith’s College. They are a rare and unique feature of PSC. We are only one of a handful of colleges that uses draft horses in in classes. Horses are used for education, logging, farming, weddings, community sleigh, stagecoach rides, and much more. If you’re a horse lover don’t hesitate to check out the course Draft Horse Management (FOR 270), or the Draft Horse Club meetings, or just stop over when you see our two lovely girls, Lady and Fee, around campus!