Durant family subject of lecture in Canfield Casino – New York News

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Saratoga Springs History Museum will host a lecture about the Durant family by Professor Sheila Meyers at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10 in Canfield Casino.

Myers will speak about her fictional account of the Durant family, a trilogy focusing on the fictionalized lives of William and Ella Durant who spent their formative years traveling and living abroad while their father, robber baron Dr. Thomas C. Durant, built the transcontinental railroad (1861-1874).

“Doc” Durant is a central character on the TV series “Hell on Wheels” and the PBS American Experience special on the Transcontinental Railroad.

While building the Transcontinental Railroad, “Doc” Durant was also acquiring vast tracts of land in the Adirondack wilderness. When his son, William, turned 24, “Doc” Durant instructs him to return to America to take on the family’s tradition of building railroads, this time into the interior of the Adirondacks.


William established a home in Saratoga in 1884 with his wife Janet Stott. They raised three children on Union Street before finally moving permanently to their home on Raquette Lake during the Financial Panic of 1893.

William’s life was marred by familial turmoil, including divorce and a lawsuit brought against him by his sister for her share of the family’s fortune. His legacy lives on and is visible in the rustic architecture he inspired in the Adirondacks including three Great Camps he designed and lived in before he left the region for good. They are camps Huntington, Uncas and Sagamore — all National…

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