The history and geography of New York State's Adirondack Park, plus a description of the struggle between commercial and environmental forces to control its destiny. With soil too poor for farming and a harsh climate and terrain, the Adirondack region was largely unknown wilderness until cravings first for beaver pelts and then for timber led to its invasion. Later, the beauty of the lakes and mountains attracted the first wave of tourists; the first confrontation between those who would preserve the area and those who would exploit it occurred soon after. In 1894, the Adirondack Forest Preserve was written into the state constitution as an area ""forever wild."" Since then, nature has restored once-befouled forests and lakes, and long-absent animals are returning--but the struggle to find the best way to use and enjoy the land, yet to preserve its wilderness beauty, continues. First-time author Steinberg offers a cultural history full of charming, quirky people, plus both funny and sobering anecdotes (e.g., in 1882, the Prospect House on Blue Mountain lake boasted bowling alleys, concert halls--and a two-story outhouse). Gracefully written, with lessons that go far beyond regional interest. Brief bibliographic essay; index. Maps and photos--not seen.