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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Railroad bed washed out near Hoel Pond

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A few weeks ago, a a couple of men came into the Explorer’s office to show us photos of a section of railroad bed had been washed out just north of Hoel Pond, where a stream enters the water body.

Apparently, the small inlet had grown into a river during a spring rain storm, washing out the soil under the tracks.

Yesterday, I decided to head out to the area to see the damage for myself. I paddled to the northern part of Hoel Pond, where the tracks were visible after I went a short distance up a small stream.

The damage was more severe than I anticipated. It looks like the stream knocked out a section of the railroad bed that was 40 to 60 feet wide and roughly 20-25 feet high. The damage was reminiscent of that caused by Tropical Storm Irene. You can see photos of the impacted area in the photo gallery above.

For people not familiar with Hoel Pond, it is located in the northern Adirondacks, just south of the St. Regis Canoe Area in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest.

The railroad tracks run from Utica to Lake Placid, although this section hasn’t been used by trains for years other than when they used to travel in the spring and fall to Lake Placid to run between there and Saranac Lake. Snowmobilers do use the tracks during the winter to travel between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake when there is enough snow.

The corridor may also become a rail trail in the future, as the state is currently working to decide its fate.

I contacted the state Department of Transportation, which manages the travel corridor, to find out more about the washout and future plans, but hadn’t heard back as of Thursday afternoon.

 

Mike Lynch

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer. His favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing.

3 Responses

  1. There was a metal culvert under the tracks. I’d guess debris and/or beavers blocked it. Snow melt and rain caused water to back up. It looks as though the washout occurred with explosive force as seen from your photo of the tree and the debris blown into Hoel Pond. There was a similar washout in the same spot about 20 years ago. It was repaired with a lot of new stone the last time the tracks were rehabbed.

  2. Boreas says:

    Nature weighs in on the rail/trail debate. Looking at the pictures, it looks like this spot may have washed out before.

  3. John Blair says:

    ARPS used to maintain this until the state kicked them out at the behest of powerful political donors. I’d like to see the sled head/hiker/biker dilettantes maintain this roadbed. Thanks for NOTHING, FOOLS!!!

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