One of the things that we often take for granted is the existence of modern medicine. Diseases that once threatened the lives of anyone it came in contact with now are controlled with a combination of antibiotics and vaccines, or have even been eradicated.

Before the existence of antibiotics and modern medicine, however, doctors relied on more practical cures. Herbal remedies, bed rest, and changes in environment were often recommended to ill patients, and instead of a quick cure, recuperation was a long grueling process.

Saranac Lake, now a scenic town in the Adirondacks, was once the premiere destination for patients suffering from tuberculosis. In the early 1870s, Dr. Edward Trudeau came to the Adirondacks after being diagnosed with the disease. At the time, the most common treatment for tuberculosis was a change of climate, with the best climate being cool mountain air. In the early 1880s, after being cured of tuberculosis, Dr. Trudeau decided to settle down in Saranac Lake, and he formed the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium. This was a place where patients could go and stay in specially designed cottages with enclosed sun porches. The idea was that they could benefit from the mountain air and sunshine without needing to be exposed to the outdoors.

The first cottage of its kind was nicknamed ‘Little Red’, and was the home of two sisters both suffering from the disease. Their condition improved, and their places were taken by other patients. Gradually, the Sanitarium became the primary destination for those suffering from tuberculosis, regardless of wealth or nationality. Over time, hundreds of cure cottages were built, some designed to hold multiple patients, and some designed to just hold one or two. During the heyday, a hotel was built to accommodate visiting family. Over 60 of these cottages still exist in Saranac Lake today.

While the first two patients at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium were successfully cured, not all of the patients survived. These deceased patients are still observed today. Many of the former cure cottages are reported to be haunted. Little Red is reported to be haunted by the spirit of a young boy. The local hospital is haunted by the ghost of a former handyman, and the hotel is haunted by the spirit of a former cook. The hotel is also home to a ghost cat, which is the former pet of a hotel guest who passed away during her stay. Most of the cure cottages are privately owned, but many owners report ghostly activity. The cure cottages in Saranac Lake were also the focus of Animal Planet show ‘The Haunted’, as well as ‘Paranormal Witness’.