On William West Durant from the NY State Archives:
William West Durant was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1850, the son of Dr. Thomas Clark and Heloise Hannah Timbrel Durant. Durant attended Twickenham School in England and Bonn University in Germany and while living in Europe, Durant traveled extensively. Following his return to the United States, Durant took a position as Supervisor at the Equitable Loan and Trust Company. Durant first came to the Adirondack Mountain region of New York State in 1876 to assist his father in managing the Adirondack Railroad Company. Durant served as secretary and later as president and general manager until the company was absorbed by the Delaware and Hudson Company in 1889. After the merger, Durant continued to sit on the company's board of directors. Later, he worked as a General Land Agent for the Adirondack Company, which was owned by his father. At its peak, the company owned half a million acres in the Adirondack Mountains.
In 1884, Durant married Janet Lathrop Stott and the couple had three children. Following the death of his father in 1885, Durant continued to purchase land in the Adirondacks and began to develop transportation lines and to build homes and resorts. He established the Forest Park and Land Company, of which he was president. Durant built a road between Raquette and Blue Mountain Lakes and established a line of horse–drawn coaches from the terminus of the North Creek Railroad to Blue Mountain Lake. In 1878, he established the Blue Mountain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Line and built several dams to facilitate water travel. He built hotels to accommodate the growing number of visitors to the region and designed, built, and decorated many of the first “great camps” in the Adirondacks. He built Camp Pine Knot in the 1880s, which he took as his home. In 1895, he sold it to Collis P. Huntington. Durant built Camp Uncas for J. P. Morgan, the Sagamore for Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, and also built Camp Kill Kare. He established the Adirondack, Lake George, and Saratoga Telegraph Company as well as the first post office on Long Point, Raquette Lake. He raised funds and donated land to build two churches, the Episcopal Church of the Mission of the Good Shepherd and St. William's Catholic Church. He also built a store on Raquette Lake. In 1900, he built the Marion River City Railroad and oversaw completion of the Raquette Lake Railroad along with fellow investors including Collis Huntington, J. P. Morgan, William Seward Webb, William C. Whitney, John A. Dix, Charles E. Snyder, and Edward M. Burns. Between 1899 and 1900, he built the Eagle's Nest Country Club & Golf Course on Eagle Lake in Hamilton County.
In the early 1900s, due to several poor business deals and difficulties in the settling of his father's estate, Durant lost much of his fortunes. He was divorced from his first wife and married Annie Cotton in 1907. To earn a living, Durant performed title searches for land in the Adirondacks for Charles E. Snyder, a Herkimer, N.Y. attorney and former business partner. Durant died in 1934. In honor of his contributions to the Adirondacks, the lake located between the Village of Indian Lake and Blue Mountain Lake was named for him in 1936.