David Henderson Memorial – Lake Placid, New York - Atlas Obscura

David Henderson Memorial

This memorial in the Adirondack wilderness honors the accidental death of a Scottish entrepreneur.  

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David Henderson, along with his father-in-law Archibald McIntyre, operated the Adirondack Iron and Steel Company in Tahawus, New York during the early 19th-century. Although not as fruitful an endeavor as he hoped, Henderson is credited with one of the earliest written descriptions of the Adirondack high peaks region. Several natural features, including Henderson Mountain and Henderson Lake, are named after him. 

Despite his influence on the region, Henderson is most famously known for his unfortunate death on a scouting expedition in 1845. Along with his son and guide John Cheney, Henderson was looking for water sources near the mine when they reached a small pond filled with ducks. Henderson gave his gun to Cheney to shoot the birds, but Cheney was not able to get a shot off before they flew away. He gave Henderson back his gun, and he put it in his backpack and set it on a rock. The gun then misfired, fatally wounding Henderson.

Due to his death, nearby Calamity Mountain, Calamity Pond, and Calamity Lake are said to be named after the unfortunate accident. Several years later, a memorial was placed at the spot of his death. It reads: “This monument, erected by filial affection, to the memory of our dear father, David Henderson, who accidentally lost his life on this spot 3rd September, 1845.”

Know Before You Go

The monument is located just off the Upper Works Trail near Calamity Pond. The easiest way to get there is to park at the Upper Works Trailhead at the end of Upper Works Road, and hike about three miles along the Upper Works Trail.