The Lake George Swimming Marathon, held in July of 1927, drew 146 competitors from six countries and nearly every state in the U.S. Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey traveled to Hague to fire the starting pistol. Prizes included $10,000 in cash, valuable real estate as well as cups and medals. The 24-mile course set up for the marathon ran from the Trout House in Hague to the Fort William Henry Hotel. Eighteen and one half hours after the start in Hague, New York City swimmer, Edward Keeting, crossed the finish line in Lake George Village. Former Hague Historian Clifton West, who was 18 at the time of the marathon, remembered that so many people had crowded onto the platform leading out to the pier, that it gave way when Dempsey stepped onto it, sending him and about a dozen of his fans into the ankle-deep water. Dempsey was unscathed, though his fashionable shoes were soaked through. Rule #12 stated: “Any class of bathing suit… can be used. Suits can be abolished entirely if swimmer chooses to use a covering only of grease.” Warren County Sanitary Inspector Harry Smith announced before the race that the grease could jeopardize the quality of Lake George’s water. The swimmers, however, rallied at the Lake George Courthouse and were able to convince him that the grease was a natural substance (wool fat or lanolin) and would not harm the lake.
Hague Historical Society