Historic train is credited with establishing the Adirondacks as a winter tourism and skiing destination
By Rick Karlin, Times Union
Starting this weekend, the Schenectady Wintersports Club will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the first snow train to run between the Electric City and North Creek, where the Gore ski center is located.
The train developed after alpine skiing grew in popularity following the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid.
Events in Rotterdam, Glenville and North Creek will highlight the legacy of this snow train and the people who initiated this long-running program that brought winter adventurers from Schenectady to North Creek and Gore Mountain. Click here for the schedule of events.
The train is credited with establishing the Adirondacks as a winter tourism and skiing destination worldwide.
Known as the North Creek Snow Train, it first brought 378 skiers from Schenectady to North Creek on March 4, 1934. Skiing in the Adirondacks dates back to the early 1900s, but gained popularity through the 1920s and 1930s, leading to the 1932 Winter Olympics. Reliable transportation to the Adirondacks was unavailable, which prompted Vincent Schaefer, a founding member of the Schenectady Wintersports Club, to lobby railroad companies to establish a train schedule to the North Creek depot.
The train was operated by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad. Round trip fare was $1.50 (approximately $35 today) and by 1936, snow trains were operating out of Albany and New York City.
The economic contributions of these snow trains helped North Creek and the surrounding “ski bowl” area stay afloat throughout the Great Depression. The trains ran until America’s entry into World War II, but the impact on winter tourism and Adirondacks skiing is lasting, including the “ride up, slide down” mentality that still brings winter enthusiasts to the area.
Multiple events and local partnerships are offered to honor the snow train anniversary. Events are held in collaboration with Schenectady Wintersports Club (which was founded in 1932), Gore Mountain/ORDA, the Tannery Pond Community Center, the town of Rotterdam, the town of Johnsburg, the North Creek Depot Museum, the Johnsburg Historical Society, Wolf Hollow Brewing Company, Revolution Rail Co., Cunningham’s Ski Barn and more. Barkeater Chocolates, Upper Hudson Coffee and Wolf Hollow Brewing Company are all releasing products co-branded with the snow train logo or created to honor the snow train anniversary.
Besides the history of the snow train, events will focus on the important contributions of women in popularizing skiing in the Capital Region and Adirondacks.
Women highlighted include Frederica “Freddie” Anderson (1921-2022), who rode the first snow train and later became a founder of multiple ski schools in the area and one of New York’s first certified ski instructors. She rode the 2011 Snow Train and continued skiing and teaching the sport until she was nearly 100 years old. Also being recognized is registered nurse Loir Perret Schaefer, (1901-1992), who headed the first aid committee of the Schenectady Wintersports Club and became an essential contributor to the foundations of today’s national ski patrol programs.
A memorial award is given in her honor to recognize outstanding service to members of the Gore Mountain Ski Patrol since 2003.