About Adirondack Explorer

The Adirondack Explorer is a nonprofit magazine covering the Adirondack Park's environment, recreation and communities.

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  1. Curt Austin says

    The puzzling thing here is that even with a very favorable freight rate the math does not work out at current gravel prices. A viable business plan depends on forecasting a gravel shortage to the south. That could happen. But is stone so scarce that Tahawus would become a favored source? No. The stone market will react in numerous smaller steps.

    Some environmentalists are hoping the Tahawus site can be fully erased, aided by removal of the “big pile” by rail. But after it’s gone in a few years, operations will target less visible, partially-revegetated piles. Being in favor of railroad operations means being in favor of digging up these piles for decades to come.

    Newcomb jobs are worth pursuing. Successful businesses are worth pursuing. But the corridor has been unused since 1989 – zero jobs. That’s a shame, since there’s been a very good use for it all these years that would have brought a non-zero economic boost. A rail trail is an attraction.

  2. Larry Roth says

    It is not quite correct to say the corridor has been unused since 1989; aside from the railcar storage, there is also the rail bike operation.

    Another issue affecting the economics of the line is the connection with Canadian Pacific. The charges CP imposes are a factor that could stand to be adjusted to facilitate freight operations.

    While a rail trail would be an attraction, it would also be a financial drain. It would produce no direct income, would require year-round maintenance, and would give up all the economic potential of a working rail corridor.

    Further, a rail trail will do nothing to meet the state’s plan to reduce carbon emissions. Removing the rails means no alternative to moving people or goods except by highway – and that’s simply not as energy efficient as steel wheels on steel rails.

    Climate change means the need for what rails can do is going to be essential in the years ahead – and sooner than most people yet realize.

    • Marisa Muratori says

      Good points Larry Roth. Dismantling the rail infrastructure to this mining site may not be forward thinking…and the idea of a tourist train is risky to a rail company. Freight is what makes rail profitable. Diversified, active avenues of transport, including but not limited to rail and barge, is what the future must hold.

    • Curt Austin says

      Interesting that you cite rail biking as a use, which indeed has been far more popular than the tourist train. It’s a strong indication of the larger benefit of the corridor as a fully-fledged rail trail. This is the Adirondack Park, which is all about outdoor recreation.

      NL tried to ship stone by rail. SNCR tried to ship stone by rail. OmniTRAX/Mitchell tried to ship stone by rail.

      That’s the data for the past 30, 37, or more years depending on how you want to count it. The benefit of rail transportation has not exceeded its cost in this specific case. To justify reserving it for rail use, you have to describe how this is likely to change, remembering that the NYC area already gets stone by rail.

  3. Andy says

    A rail trail makes a ton of sense. The Park has the potential for a much larger trail network that would allow even longer hikes than the N-P trail affords, which would offer yet another “must-do” destination for outdoor enthusiasts. A trail from NC to Tahawus would link the Siamese Ponds wilderness with the High Peaks Wilderness. Currently this requires driving around the upper Hudson valley on 28N.

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