Should state buy the Tahawus rail line?

Tahawus tank cars
Tank cars stored in Minerva last fall. Photo by Brendan Wiltse.

The controversy over the use of a thirty-mile rail line in the central Adirondacks got a lot more interesting in recent weeks. The railroad that has been storing empty tank cars on the line–to the consternation of state and local officials–now wants out.

Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific Holdings, told Warren County supervisors in March that he wants to sell the line to the county for $5 million. If he doesn’t get the money, Ellis warned, his subsidiary, Saratoga and North Creek Railway, would cease operations. S&NCR intends to shut down Saturday (April 7).

As the railway’s name suggests, the tourist train runs between Saratoga and North Creek. Those tracks are owned by Warren County and the town of Corinth. The tracks that Iowa Pacific offered to sell Warren County run from North Creek to the old mine at Tahawus. That line lies mostly in Essex County.

Warren County rejected the offer.

But there is another possibility: a purchase by New York State.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, has been urging the state to acquire the Tahawus line–though he believes Ellis would accept a lot less than $5 million.

“I think anything close to a million he’s going to take. I think he realizes that railroad is worthless,” Woodworth told the Adirondack Explorer this week.

In a story for the May/June issue issue of the Explorer, Michael Virtanen reports that the state will consider buying the line. Click here to read that article in advance of print publication.

Virtanen also reports that the state is continuing a legal fight against Iowa Pacific. It contends that the Tahawus line is no longer being used as a railroad and should be considered abandoned. If the state wins, it could apply its own laws to force Iowa Pacific to remove the tanker cars.

Woodworth, however, thinks it would be faster and simpler for the state to buy the line.

A story in the March/April issue of the Explorer looks at the feasibility of converting the entire ninety-mile corridor from Saratoga to Tahawus into a recreational trail.

Should the state buy out Iowa Pacific? What do you think?

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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. Mark Studer says

    The track to Tawawus? Tawasus mines are owned by NL Industries. Does anyone know just who NL Industies are?
    does anyone know that NL Industries own the mine in Texas where the NUCULER WASTE is stored. Don’t you think the three men in a room Might have something to do with a dirty deal??
    Nucular waste is store in Steel cylinders (used railroad cars) and then covered in concrete.
    Trains will go out with material, you can bet they will come back with material!
    Thank you, but NO THANK YOU.

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