If you ask any sports fan to name a miracle that took place in Upstate New York they will quickly tell you of the “Miracle on Ice,” when the U.S.A. team defeated the Russian ice hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics. But another miracle, this one a medical miracle, took place a century before this. It occured in Saranac Lake, just a hockey puck shot down the road from Lake Placid. It is the subject of our newest look at an Upstate memorial.
Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau (1848-1915) came to the pristine Adirondack Mountains in 1873 after both completing his medical degree and contracting tuberculosis all in the same year. At the time it was felt that there was little to do to fight this disease but that surrounding yourself with fresh clean air, plenty of sunshine and a relaxed lifestyle all contributed to lengthening ones life with the disease. In 1894 Trudeau established the first clinic in the U.S. dedicated to the study and treatment of tuberculosis. The Trudeau Laboratory was opened in Saranac Lake and over the years hundreds would make the trek to the mountains seeking “the cure.”
Among the many famous clients who visited Trudeau’s clinic are writer Robert Louis Stevenson (who survived the disease) and baseball Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson (who died of TB in a cure cottage in Saranac Lake on October 7, 1925).
The clinic is still located here. At the rear of the building is a haunting statue. The statue shows the doctor in his final days of life gazing serenely over a pond behind the clinic that bears his name. The creator is one of America’s most famous sculptors, Gutzon Borglum, a friend of Trudeaus. Borglum’s most famous work of course is the presidential tribute carved on Mt. Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Dr. Trudeau’s great-great-grandson, the cartoonist Gary Trudeau (“Doonesbury”), currently serves as an Honorary Trustee of the institute bearing his family name.
In our next post we will take a look at a remarkable statue in Western New York which commemorates the historic meeting between a U.S. president and an 11-year old girl.