Bolton embraces both dramatic mountains and the only good farmland around Lake George. These hillsides once lay at the upper end of a watershed, before ice age glaciers gouged out the Lake George narrows to the north. Farming and lumbering supported the first settlers, but timber disappeared quickly through the saws of Sawmill Bay.
As the forest receded, summer travelers began to arrive, generating a whole new business based the natural beauty of the Lake and mountains. More that three-fourths of the Lake George Islands, and half its shoreline lie within Bolton's boundaries, so tourism flourished. Steamboats made regular stops at hotels on the larger islands and at the main dock at Bolton Landing. Prosperous families built grand houses by the lake while campers on the islands bought supplies from farmers and store keepers. Artists found nurture for their muse as well as inspiration for their canvas.
This blend of aesthetic and physical pleasures generated a conscious appreciation for the natural environment and concern for its welfare. Since before the days when the Civilian Conservation Corps ("CCC") planted hundreds of acres of trees on Tongue Mountain, Bolton has harbored conservationist sentiments and activists. John Apperson spearheaded the movement to protect the Lake George Islands under New York State ownership. The Darrin Fresh Water Institute brings the scientific expertise of RPI to the challenges of preserving Lake George water quality while the Lake George Land Conservancy works at protecting the land around the Lake.