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Robert F. Flacke papers on the XIII Olympic Winter Games

Identifier: ARL-018

Content Description

The papers include correspondence, planning records, legislative and agency reports, photographs, postcards, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings related to the approval process, planning and environmental impacts of the Olympics.


  • 1974 - 1980


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical Note

Robert Francis Flacke (1933-2018) was a former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency Chairman. As a coordinator with the Governor’s Olympic Task Force, he is often credited with preventing the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Games from becoming a disaster and international embarrassment. He was also a businessman in Lake George, New York.


The 1980 Winter Olympics are often remembered for the U.S. victory over the U.S.S.R in Men’s Hockey and by the familiar site of the ski jumps and Olympic Sports Complex. Though the games happened in February of 1980, planning started as early as 1974, with an act submitted in the New York State Senate to create a temporary state commission to conduct the XIII Olympic Winter Games.

To make the games a reality, years of planning and coordination at the national, state and local level took place – often with mixed results. The State Olympic Task Force was charged with aligning state responsibilities and lines of communication across a dizzying array of 14 state agencies, the United States Government and three Olympic committees including the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee (L.P.O.O.C). The work involved complex logistical, administrative and financial decisions.

The unique management of land use in the Adirondacks meant proposals for the necessary facilities needed to be presented to multiple agencies before approval could be granted. As DEC commissioner, Flacke signed the permits that sanctioned construction of the facilities around Lake Placid. In total, all the construction projects for the XIII Winter Olympics amounted to over 43 million dollars.

The opening weeks of the games were characterized by poor weather, inadequate transportation and an avalanche of visitors. A shortage of bus drivers led visitors who held tickets to miss games, journalists became unable to cover events and the chaos even caused hospitalizations from trampling and exposure. Flacke took command of the state response after Governor Hugh Cary declared an emergency and successfully “pulled the games from the brink of chaos.”


2.46 Cubic Feet

2 Boxes


The papers are arranged as two series: Series 1, Planning Records, 1974-1980. Series 2, Correspondence, 1976-1978.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

On April 22, 2011, Protect the Adirondacks! placed the collection on permanent loan with Union College.
Robert F. Flacke papers on the XIII Olympic Winter Games
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Repository Details

Part of the Adirondack Research Library Repository

897 St. David's Lane
Niskayuna NY 12309