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Saratoga Throwback: The Gideon Putnam’s Sleigh Rides of Old

Looking back to when the grand old hotel used to host horse-drawn fun.

(George S. Bolster Collection)

This past fall, Saratoga Springs’ Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa announced that, in part because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, its historic hotel would adopt a seasonal operating schedule and close down from November 9, 2020 until March 31, 2021. 

But enough with the depressing news: Let’s look back to the happier times depicted in this photo from the George S. Bolster collection, taken on the hotel’s grounds when the colder months were a wonderland of wintery fun. “According to the Knickerbocker Press, the Gideon Putnam was one of the few hotels open in the winter,” says Lorie Wies, local history librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library’s Saratoga Room. (The Knickerbocker Press was a newspaper that operated out of Albany from 1910-1937.) “It offered a full range of winter activities—skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides among them.” 

Hopefully, next year, when the pandemic is better contained, the Gideon Putnam will be able to stay open throughout Saratoga’s winter months. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll bring back those popular sleigh rides because, as every Christmas caroler knows, “Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.”

Three Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides to Take This Winter

1. Loon Meadow Farm, Greenfield Center

Journey through the fields and forest of Loon Meadow’s 153-acre Greenfield Center farm in a private antique sleigh and follow the trip up with a warm mug of mulled cider. Make it a weekend getaway with Loon Meadow Guest House’s “sleigh and stay” option.

2. Circle B Ranch, Chestertown

Let Circle B Ranch’s three teams of horses—Jack and Daniels, John Wayne and Tiny, or Tony and Riley—drive your sleigh through the Adirondack forest this winter. Afterwards, head to the barn for refreshments and a make-your-own s’mores bar.

3. Country Dreams Farm, Lake Placid

Enjoy the crisp Adirondack air and views of Whiteface Mountain from beneath a cozy blanket on a sleigh ride at Lake Placid’s Country Dreams Farm. Be sure to snap some photos with your tour guides—two Belgian Draft horses—before heading to the cabin for a hot cocoa after your ride.  

Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the managing editor at saratoga living.

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