Reader Interactions


  1. Bill Hutchison says

    Kudos to Brian Mann for writing this even-handed essay that raises questions about ARTA’s fanciful proposals. The trail will be neither as cheap or easy to build as they suggest. They should stop trying to kill the railroad between Old Forge and Lake Placid and start working cooperatively with the railroad for a comprehensive solution that satisfies all. It can be done.

    • Doug Vensel says

      What a load of BS! These guys did the corridor maintenance??? WHEN?? I did it with other volunteers for 10 years and it’s still done by RR volunteers. NOT ONCE did we get any help. Even Jim McCulley told me that why should they do it when it’s a railroad? Every damned spring we would go out and pick up after the sleds were done with it. Cut trees, cut back the brush (again and again) clean out plugged culverts and rip out beaver dams flooding roadways and causeways.
      This an out and out blatant lie!! They’re taking credit for the work done by the volunteers.
      Frankly, it’s about time the RR board stood up and finally said something worth hearing and supported the people who make this RR work.
      ARAT obviously is purporting to be the responsible parties involve when in reality they’ll leave it up to someone else to worry about and the tax payers will be hung for it.

  2. Ryan Lennox says

    I say… SAVE THE RAILS! We need these for the future… Not for a “lollygagging Rail Trail”. A financial failure? Boy the Trail advocates seem to always argue with that same line. I am a snowmobiler.. who rode them last weekend. I’m also a full time volunteer for a railroad called: Catskill Mountain Railroad. We are dealing with a similar threat from Rail Trail advocates… SAVE THEM RAILS!

  3. Gene Falvo says

    Mr. Mann has presented the clearest picture of the ARTA proposal I’ve seen in these pages to date. Given the thousands of hiking, biking and snowmobile miles already in the region, it seems a stretch to believe that one more trail is all it would take to attract those hundreds of thousands of visitors predicted by Rails-to-Trails. And the fact that much of the Corridor is so remote makes the use by casual tourists even less likely. One point not addressed in the story is that fact that work could begin this spring on track restoration but it will take years, maybe decades, to begin removing the rails and constructing the path. Years of economic impact from railroad tourism that would be lost. The region should focus on Rails AND Trails.

    • Doug Vensel says

      Maybe it’s time you and the rest of the board starting doing something instead of remaining silent about it. Paying lip service isn’t going to fix this. If you guys can’t do it, maybe it’s time someone else tried. You let these opponents get away with their lies and do nothing. Show a little backbone for once. Speak the hell up!!

  4. Tree says

    In the summer of 1980, well after the Olympics had ended, the Adirondack Railroad of the time carried nearly 12,000 passengers in just two months. There is no reason to doubt that similar numbers are not possible now.

    Given the money to rehabilitate the corridor, those passengers could be arriving in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid as early as 2015 – not the tens of years this article indicates it could take to complete the trail.

    Regarding the salvage value of the rails – once the salvage company takes their cut (50%?), there will be the cost of remediating the ties. One estimate I’ve seen indicates that the remaining moneys would be in the low five figure range – hardly enough for the signage proclaiming how great the someday trail will be.

    The railroad is a genuinely shovel-ready project, and has a proven effect on the communities it currently touches. There is no reason to delay completion of the line. Operating trains will allow thousands of people who cannot hike or bike such a trail to enjoy the beauty of our Adirondacks, and may even make areas near the line more accessible to those who would like to hike, bike, camp, or otherwise partake of the forest.

    In addition, the ten thousand vehicles that will be necessary to carry those twenty thousand hikers won’t even have to enter the preserve. How environmentally friendly is that?

  5. N. says

    All I can say is, if they finish rebuilding the railroad, I’ll take it to visit Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, like we could back during the Olympics.

    If they rip it up for a trail, I won’t visit at all.

  6. Wayno says

    Trains made the Park what it is. Rails opened the park up to the first tourists and helped foster an interest in the ADK wilderness that has grown even stronger as time goes by. That is something to consider as history tends to repeat itself.

    What I can’t understand is why not leave them in and push for a Third Olympics in Lake Placid??? The US is due to host a winter games again soon and Lake Placid is synonymous with that idea. The region sure could use the infusion of investment. It is not that far fetched and even just pushing the idea would spread the word about the history of Lake Placid for anyone not old enough to remember. Both the 1932 and 1980 Olympics were great for the USA teams, and they say the third times the charm!

  7. Top Gun says

    Forty-Two years folks! There has not been train service in Tupper Lake for over 42 years and during that time not one company has even remotely expressed an interest restoring regular passenger or freight service on this line. So that leaves us with a seasonal tourist train offering 15 mph rides a few days a week for several months a year. The majority of these tracks are so deteriorated that trains are not allowed on them and it will cost millions of tax dollars to repair and maintain them. There is little demand for this service.

    Most people are coming to the Adirondacks for outdoor recreation, not to ride a train!

  8. Roscoe says

    I took my family on the scenic railway from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake and back 6 years ago. It was somewhat fun, but to call it a “scenic” railway is a huge over-promise. 95% of the route is in an alley of deep pine forest, so all you see are dark trees going by. I did get a slight glimpse of the top of Scarface mountain through the trees, but I can get that same view from my car windows. So it was a bit of a let down, once you get past the novelty and fun of riding on a train. We haven’t been back since, and will very likely never go back again.

    The only thing that might get me to use that train, is if it truly did run from Utica up to Lake Placid, as an actual, useable form of transportation. But since the line no longer connects, it’s completely useless to me. The fact is, I’m an outdoor enthusiast, 46er, mountain and road biker, hiker, etc. When I go to the Adirondacks, I want to get up to the high peaks/Olympic region 9 times out of 10. The lake country and other areas are great, too, but I need a way to get to Lake Placid. Right now, a car is the only option.

    So I’m in favor of the rail trail. My family and I would use the bike trail, when staying in LP. So would other cyclists, and the prospect of much higher snowmobile traffic in the winter months would certainly be helpful to both towns’ economies.

    My vote is: it’s time to let go of this flatlining, if not dead, railway (that isn’t even scenic).

  9. amavisca says

    I appreciate the opportunity to have read this and I will consider it and I’ll come back in the future, to read what others who find this article are thinking about the subject.

  10. Bruce Van Deuson says

    Gee, the supporters of the trail make it sound as if people are standing around with money in their pockets, just waiting for the trail to be built so they can use the trail and spend their money on the local economy.

    The other thing which someone else has brought out, is that many miles of the corridor are not readily accessible because of the remoteness, much like our local Appalachian Trail here in NC. Only those sections with ready road access will be regularly used, with the remainder sucking up maintenance costs, but generating little revenue from the hard-core trail enthusiasts who would be the primary users. Most folks want a nice afternoon walk, not a 3-day adventure away from everyone in the wilderness. As for the sledders, that’s motorized conveyance and doesn’t require lots of access points, and apparently the corridor is already used by sledders when there is sufficient snow.

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