During the first decades of the 20th century, the General Electric Company, in Schenectady, New York, developed an engineer training program with a world class faculty, well-equipped laboratories, and hundreds of jobs for eager young college graduates. Scientists who had trained in disciplines of chemistry and physics in Europe were invited to work in the laboratories and were given the freedom to do “pure science,” which led to a golden age of invention. This paper traces the relationships between many of the top scientists and engineers and tells a little known story about their extracurricular activities as they took advantage of the recreating in New York’s Adirondack Park. Many of the young scientists and engineers took an interest in preserving the wilderness areas and, especially, in saving the islands of Lake George—from logging, development, and erosion caused by a commercial dam. These scientists became activists who volunteered to haul rocks, write letters, and venture into politics to help defend the Forever Wild clause of the New York Constitution. GE became a sort of incubator for leadership in the wilderness preservation movement.



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