You'd hardly know it now, but Port Douglas was once a busy commercial port with a plank road connecting it to the productive AuSable Valley and town of Keeseville. The large waterfalls in Keesevile powered a number of productive industries over the years. Until the arrival of the railroad in 1875, water transport was the primary transportation resource for Keeseville and a small trunk line called the Peanut Railroad.
Port Douglas was pretty much a a company town of the Peru Iron Company, from the opening of the canal to the coming of the railroad. The giant Clintonville Iron Works owned property and a dock at the port. This property was then sold to Philadelphia investor Calvin Pardee in the early 1900s and became part of one of the largest private land preserves in the Adirondacks, centered in the Town of Lewis, called the Hale Brook Estate.