McCulley testifies against train

The tracks outside the village of Saranac Lake. Photo by Susan Bibeau.
The tracks outside Saranac Lake. Photo by Susan Bibeau.

Jim McCulley traveled to Albany this week to testify against the state’s continuing subsidization of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. A short article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise generated a lot of online comments from readers. Click here to read the article.

McCulley, the president of the Lake Placid Snowmobile Club, wants to see all or most of the tracks pulled up to create a corridor for biking, hiking, and snowmobiling. Snowmobilers do use the corridor, but McCulley says the rails and ties limit its usefulness.

Proponents of the train argue that removing the tracks would be shortsighted at a time when the nation is, or should be, embracing mass transit to reduce our dependence on oil. But is reviving the train a for freight and/or passenger service a realistic option? That’s a question that we will look at in a future issue of the Adirondack Explorer.

For background on converting the railbed into a recreational corridor, see this earlier story in the Explorer.

About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Rusty Russum says

    The main thrust of all of these articles is the economic impact a trail might have. There is also a potential economic benefit from a completed rail line hauling freight cheeper, fuel comes to mind, and getting some of the heavy truck traffic off our roads. Passengers could be hauled cheeper as well by rail. One thing folks are over looking is people, not everyone enjoys the youth and strength to peddle long distances. The old NYC Adirondack Division offers a look at the mountains not seen anyplace else. Older folks and those with disabilities can enjoy visiting that back country in the comfort and safety of a train. If for no other reason I feel the line should be completed as a railroad so everyone can enjoy the trip young and old sick and stong alike. As a conductor on the north end I can’t tell you how it makes me feel to see a child soak up the wonder of the train for the first time. Older folks are moved to tears remembering when they rode the line as younger commuters. We make too much of the ‘bottom line’ we will make lots of money from the train, I believe at least as much as from a trail. I’ve seen it happen on lines like ours. I know I often get shot down for saying that. But do we always have to go for the quick fix to satisfy one noisy group? Or should we look to the far off future when we are going to need the rails more than ever!

    Thanks for listening,


  2. Amtrakpax says

    The Pentagon is now warning of oil shortages starting in 2011. Google “Pentagon and 2011 oil shortages”. We’re about to have an other oil emergency. Why do we need to remove the track? The right of way is plenty wide for another trail that NY State can pay to maintain. I guess we only have about 2000 or 3000 miles of these trails already?? Most are on railroads beds. What effect will $10 or $20 gas have on a trail system and tourist visits to the area? Do you think gas will go down in cost? China is about to put 200 million new drivers on its roads; millions more are coming in India. What do you think gas will cost then? The war in the middle east will end in sunshine and happiness, right? And they will never fight over the oil fields!

    Gas was about 30 cents a gallon when the last New York Central train from Lake Placid to New York City (with connections to Cleveland and Chicago) ran. The Chicago train still runs. It’s called the “Lake Shore Limited.” Many times it runs sold out right out of New York City. At Utica you can’t get on unless someone gets off or cancels their trip. It has reservations to keep people from standing in the aisles during popular times of travel. (All the extra intercity coaches have been scrapped)So they just turn people away after the train capacity is filled. If you’re just traveling in NY state, it’s not so bad. But just try to get west of Buffalo. Sleepers are very popular.They seem to sell out first. People who don’t travel a lot by long distance train just don’t know what’s going on today. Tearing up the track now would be a bad idea. Just think of $5 or $10 gas, because you’re going to see it. It’s just a matter of time. Will we be ready?


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