“Bark Eater” is an English translation of the Mohican word “Adirondack,” a term the Mohawk once used for Algonquian-speaking tribes who were said to eat the inside of the bark of the white pine when food was scarce. The Adirondack mountains were given their name in 1838.
The beginning of The Bark Eater property dates back to Algonquin and possibly Mohican use of the land. Multiple burn pits discovered in the meadows behind the Inn are believed to have been ceremonial because of their shape and dimensions. European American settlers arrived in the 1770s or 1780s. Their early presence is indicated by graves in a nearby cemetery that had stones dating back to 1793. The Town of Keene was founded in 1808.
The farm was originally a stagecoach stop between the Lake Champlain Region to the east and the Lake Placid Region to the west. The stage left the Inn at 6:00 a.m. heading west fourteen miles to Lake Placid. With a little luck, it arrived at 6:00 p.m.—twelve hours later. Much of the road was paved with log, called “corduroy road.” The stage was king of the road by 1893—the same year the first railroads opened in the fringes of the Adirondacks. The road was drivable by car until the late 1940s, when it was replaced by an alternate route through the Cascade Lakes. For a while it was called the Old Mountain Road; now it is now known as the Jack Rabbit Trail and is popular for cross-country skiing, hiking, and mountain biking.
Gordon and Anna Wilson, who were from Lake Placid, bought the farm in the 1930s with a gold coin collection. In the 1940s they operated the property as a dairy farm and inn catering to artists from the New York City area during the summer.
Joe-Pete Wilson began operating The Bark Eater as an inn in the 1970s. Joe-Pete was born and raised in Lake Placid and spent summers on the family farm in Keene. He was the North American Snowshoe Champion in 1964, and in 1965 he was a member of the U.S. Four Man Bobsled Team that won a bronze medal in the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. (The team missed the Silver Medal by 1/100th of a second over a two-day period and a total of four runs.), where he competed as a cross-country ski racer. Over the years he and his family made many additions and improvements to the Inn property.
Black Mountain Associates formed the Barkeater Hospitality Group LLC acquire the Bark Eater property in 2013. Since then, the historic inn and other buildings have been extensively renovated, and the inn reopened in July 2016. In the coming years the Bark Eater will be adding other lodging options ranging from rustic camping to luxurious cabins. Guests will enjoy fresh vegetables and herbs from our garden, along with eggs from our our organically fed free range chickens.
We’re proud of The Bark Eater’s long-standing traditions and look forward to making continuous improvements while preserving the uniqueness of the property.