Posts Tagged ‘railroads’

Friday, October 17, 2014

NYS Seeks Comments On Best Use Of Historic RR Corridor

NYC Railroad from Lake Clear LodgeThe State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Transportation (DOT) have announced that they are seeking public input through December 15 on an amendment to the Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor (the Corridor).  The UMP governs the use of the 119-mile rail corridor, which has been the subject of much recent debate over the future of the historic rail line. Four public comment sessions are scheduled to discuss the possible amendment.

According to the notice issued to the press: “DEC and DOT will develop a draft UMP amendment to evaluate the use of the Tupper Lake to Lake Placid segment for a recreational trail. The agencies say they are also examining opportunities to maintain and realize the full economic potential of rail service from Utica to Tupper Lake, and reviewing options to create and expand alternative snowmobile corridors, and other trails, to connect communities from Old Forge to Tupper Lake on existing state lands and conservation easements.” » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company

photo 4During the summer of 2014, on the lawn at the Goodsell Museum in Old Forge, Kyle Kristiansen, using a metal detector, discovered a metal object. Digging it up, he uncovered a buried metal luggage tag containing the intials “F.C & R.L.S.B.CO.”

These letters stand for the Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company, a short-lived and relatively unknown concern established for carrying passengers and cargo from Fourth Lake to Raquette Lake in the days before automobiles connected the region.

This is a history of that company and its successors to that trade.  We will probably never discover how that item arrived on the lawn in the Town of Webb. » Continue Reading.



Friday, August 1, 2014

Will Fixing The Tracks Cost $15M or $44M?

Adirondack Scenic Railroad -Nancie BattagliaIf you’ve been following the debate over the Old Forge-to-Lake Placid rail corridor (and who hasn’t?), you probably have seen the widely disparate estimates on how much it would cost to restore rail service over the entire line.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad says reconstructing the unused portion of the tracks—some sixty-eight miles—would cost about $15 million. Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates (ARTA), which is pushing the state to replace the tracks with a multi-use trail, puts that figure at around $44 million.

Which figure is correct?

They both are.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bicycling Coalition Happy With Rail-Trail Proposal

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)The New York Bicycling Coalition has kept a low profile in the debate over the future of the Adirondack rail corridor, but its proposal for the 119-mile corridor is similar to the one set forth by the state.

Last September, the coalition’s executive director, Josh Wilson, wrote the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to call for removing the tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake to create a trail for biking and other non-motorized activities in spring, summer, and fall.

“NYBC believes that such a trail would be unparalleled in New York State and the Northeast,” Wilson wrote Raymond Hessinger, director of DOT’s Freight and Passenger Rail Bureau. “A trail on this segment of the Corridor would serve to connect three ‘hub’ communities of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Tupper Lake with multiple other access points in between.” » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

State To Consider Removing Tracks East Of Tupper Lake

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)After several years of public debate, the state has decided to consider tearing up the tracks and establishing a bike trail in at least part of a 90-mile rail corridor that cuts through the heart of the Adirondack wilderness.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation announced today that they would reopen the management plan for the corridor and look at establishing a recreational trail in the 34 miles between the villages of Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. In addition, the state will examine the possibility of expanding rail service on the rest of the line between Tupper Lake and Old Forge.

“Our goal is to protect our natural resources, while also exploring ways to increase opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor recreation activities in the Adirondacks,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release. “We recognize that the future of the Remsen-to-Lake Placid Travel Corridor is important to local residents, communities, and the regional economy.”

» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Old Forge Company Against Collis Huntington’s RR

fulton chain rr boat adirondack news ad 1900John Pierpont Morgan owned Camp Uncas.  To reach the railroad connection for his Manhattan headquarters, he faced two options, neither to his liking.  He could race his team up Durant’s new road from Uncas, passed the Seventh-Eighth Lake Carry, reached the Sucker Brook Bay Road (now Uncas Road) and turned left for Eagle Bay to hopefully meet the scheduled Crosby Transportation Company steamer.  Then he transferred in Old Forge to the Fulton Chain Railroad terminus for the two mile spur to Fulton Chain Station.  Instead of going to Eagle Bay, he could have continued north about a mile from Eagle Bay and followed the Durant trail past Cascade Mountain to connect with the road from Big Moose Lake and meet the railroad at Big Moose Station.

Collis P. Huntington owned Pine Knot on Raquette Lake.  I do not know if he ever sat on a keg of nails on a Company steamer to Eagle Bay as some suggest, but he wrote about his experiences on the tedious series of stages, carries and small steamers necessary to travel from Fourth Lake to Brown’s Tract Inlet, crossing the road from Camp Uncas used by Morgan.

But Morgan and Huntington knew that travelers deserved a faster and cheaper way to reach the North Woods. In Huntington’s words, “It is a health resort for the rich and poor, for in these forests may be found the castle, the cabin and the tent, and the inmates of these forests share alike in the life-giving air of the  woods”. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Demonstration Planned Against Champlain Oil Trains

Oil Train ExplosionOn Saturday, July 5, North Country residents will bear witness to the one-year anniversary of the deadly oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people and to raise public awareness of crude-by-rail transport in the Lake Champlain region.

Participants will gather near the mouth of the Saranac River at 3 pm, walking out on a pedestrian bridge about 50 feet from the Canadian Pacific railroad bridge, and gathering in canoes and kayaks below the bridges.

The demonstration is part of a week-long action by citizens and groups across North America opposing the escalation of crude-by-rail shipping. The Plattsburgh event is being spearheaded by Center for Biological Diversity and People for Positive Action. » Continue Reading.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Earthjustice Seeks Info On Routes Of Oil Trains

Rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013 (Wikimedia photo)The environmental organization Earthjustice is asking authorities to disclose the routes of trains that transport Bakken crude oil through New York State.

Earthjustice attorney Christopher Amato filed the freedom-of-information request Thursday with the state Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Management on behalf of several environmental groups, including Adirondack Wild and the Sierra Club.

Amato is seeking all records submitted by rail carriers regarding the oil-transport routes as well as any requests by the carriers to keep such records secret.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

David Sommerstein: Trains Carry Oil And Risk

Rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013 (Wikimedia photo)On a summer night last July, the charming French-Canadian town of Lac Megantic literally exploded. A tanker train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire, incinerating much of the downtown and killing forty-seven people.

Other train explosions followed in Alabama and North Dakota. Now people are wondering if it could happen here in the Adirondacks.

Since the disaster in Lac Megantic—located 180 miles northeast of the Adirondack Park, in Quebec—officials in northern New York have taken notice that similar trains, up to a hundred tankers long and filled with eighty-five thousand barrels of oil, roar regularly through the Champlain Valley. Most of the oil is in tankers that federal regulators have deemed unsafe. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Charlie Herr: A History of the Uncas Roads

1896 8th lake eugene scrafford camp 2_0 aIn the off year election of 1918, New York voters elected a new governor (Al Smith) who later became the first Roman Catholic and Irish-American to run for President.  In that same election, voters also approved a constitutional amendment to the “forever wild” Article VII (rewritten as Article XIV in 1938) permitting the construction of a state highway on forest preserve lands from Saranac Lake to Old Forge by way of Blue Mountain and Raquette Lakes.  Until this highway was built, the road from Inlet to the north ended at Seventh Lake.

When the segment from Seventh Lake to Raquette Lake was completed in 1929, it became the route of choice to Raquette Lake from Eagle Bay, replacing what today begins at that place as Uncas Road and ends as Browns Tract Road ending at Antlers Road at Raquette Lake.  Its name changes at Browns Tract Ponds. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Short History Of The Second Fulton Chain Railroad

PC1367 OmnibusOne afternoon in early July 1905, four girls aged about seven years old were playing on the railroad tracks in the newly incorporated Old Forge village.  They were the Levene girls and fellow classmates Hilda Abbey and Erma Garratt.  The village school had dismissed the students for the day.  The schoolhouse had been built ten years earlier.

While the girls were playing, a train was backing up to its depot at the Forge dock and the engineer did not see the children.  The children may not have heard the train since it was propelled by an oil burning engine and was probably coasting.  People on the scene claimed that the children would surely have been killed had the train’s brakeman on the last car had not seen them and given signals to stop at once.  The alert engineer was able to stop the cars two feet from the startled children on the tracks, the tracks of the 2 and a 1/4-mile Fulton Chain Railway. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Peg Leg Line: The First Fulton Chain Railroad

P3935-Peg-Leg-Railroad-Leaving-Moose-River-Settlement-enlargedEarly Brown’s Tract settlers Albert Jones and his son Eri had gotten into trouble with the law in 1877 for mistreating Eri’s wife, leaving her in a critical condition to be cared for by a neighbor.  Around the same time, like many early Brown’s Tract pioneers, they were squatters south of Thendara on the Moose River middle branch called Stillwater.

Albert had become sick and weak, presumably from a hard life as a businessman, lumber mill owner, rancher and breaker of horses for their Spanish owners in Mexico.  He claimed that if he was going to die, he wanted to die in the woods.  Temporarily, Adirondack weather was the cure and Albert and Eri set up Jones’s Camp as a boarding camp with boats for campers. It was a stopover twelve miles from the Forge along the Brown’s Tract Road. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Life and Times of the Raquette Lake Railway

1900 raquett lake railway schedule_0After the Raquette Lake Railway opened to the public on July 1, 1900, life on the Fulton Chain changed forever.  For its prime mover, Collis P. Huntington, life ended at Camp Pine Knot in August.  Huntington’s death left W. W. Durant without favorable money sources and his Blue Mountain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company, as well as the newly built Marion River Carry Railroad and its terminal properties, were sold to Patrick Moynehan in May, 1901, then sold to the Webb interests in 1902.

I would like to tell the Railway’s story by telling the story of its stations.  When introducing the station’s name, I insert  its mile marker in parenthesis ( ) according to Michael Kudish’s Where Did the Tracks Go in the Central Adirondacks?. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Getting to Blue Mountain Lake in the 19th Century

1922 Marion River RRMy trip to the Adirondacks from our home in Western Massachusetts ends when I see the water of Raquette Lake’s South Bay – a three-and-a-half hour drive.  OK, my wife insists the trip is not over until we unload the car, pack the boat, traverse the lake, unload the boat and schlep everything into the cabin.  A five-hour ordeal in her mind, but serenity fills me the minute I see the water.

Be it three-and-a-half hours or five, our trip is nothing compared to the arduous travels my great-great-grandfather took to reach these shores. He had been among the very first to summer on Blue Mountain Lake, building the first private summer home on Thacher Island in 1867.

In 1862, George Hornell Thacher first traveled to the region guided by Mitchell Sabattis.  At that time, the railroad to North Creek and the stage road from North Creek to Blue Mountain Lake did not exist.  Access to Blue Mountain Lake was only from the north, down from Long Lake.  The trip from Albany took three or four days. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Charlie Herr: Building the Raquette Lake Railway

1909RR-Station-DockRPPC-LDriving to Old Forge, I pass the old Eagle Bay station, recalling that I had a tasty barbecue sub sandwich there in the early 1980s.  I continue, watching the hikers and bikers on the level path to my right, also watching for deer.  Passing North Woods Inn, I see a sign referring to a train wreck and, just around Daikers, the path to my right disappears into the woods.

I once biked into the woods there and found a historical marker that told of the Raquette Lake Railway.  I decided to learn more about this railroad that, along with Dr. Webb’s line, provided both the rich and the poor access into the Adirondacks.  Its story starts with the Adirondack railroads that preceded it. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Indian Lake: The Troubled Acquisition of Township 15

Township 15 Map 1900Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: New York State makes a landmark Forest Preserve acquisition near Indian Lake. The seller is Finch, Pruyn & Co. The deal leads to controversy.

This is not another viewpoint on the Essex Chain, but a story from the past. In 1897 the state announced its intent to acquire two Totten and Crossfield townships located near Indian Lake; and like the modern Finch Pruyn acquisition that was recently consummated, this one was hailed as a landmark purchase full of benefits to the state. Then its flaws became exposed. More than simply sparking a debate over which land use would best benefit the local economy, this purchase directly impacted dozens of families—and it took more than two decades to resolve most of the issues. Some aspects of the purchase remain legal anomalies today. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dick Beamish Commentary On Rail-Trail Debate

Rail.locator (2)(1)Words of wisdom can be found in the latest issue of the Conservationist magazine, published bimonthly by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. In his introductory letter to readers, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens makes the following comments that have special application to the proposed Adirondack Rail Trail that would run 90 miles between Old Forge and Lake Placid. Following the Commissioner’s comments are observations of our own. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fulton Chain Steamers 101: The Fulton Navigation Years

PC500 Steamers Train at Forge House  165In a letter dated April 19, 1901, Dr. William Seward Webb informed J. Pierpont Morgan in New York City that, on behalf of the Raquette Lake Railway directors, he was accepting the option from the Old Forge Company to purchase the two mile Fulton Chain Railroad and the docks and  boats of the Crosby Transportation Company.

Dr. Webb informed Morgan that the purchase price was $45,000, but additional amounts necessary for repairing the railroad lines and upgrading the docks brought the total costs to $56,000.  Dr. Webb also asked Morgan and the other partners copied in the letter to send him their share of the purchase price.  The other paying partners were Collis P. Huntington, William C. Whitney and Harry Payne Whitney. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fulton Chain Steamers 101: Crosby Transportation Period

Old Forge Station 1050From 1892 to 1895, steamboat managers tried to outdo each other to attract passengers arriving on Dr. Webb’s railroad.  But these efforts suffered from the growing pains of an embryonic village and bad business practices from Fulton Chain to the Old Forge dock.

As the Utica Sunday Tribune reported, “At the depot everyday are ‘pullers in’ and ‘runners’ for the several boats which run to the head of the lakes.  As soon as a traveler alights from the train he is importuned to take this or that boat.  Then, if he consents to go on a certain boat, perhaps the ‘runner’ for the other boat will get the check for his baggage, and passenger and baggage will go up the lakes on separate boats.  The baggage man had no badge and the men who operate two of the boats go daily down to Remsen to ‘drum up’ business on the way between that station and Fulton Chain.”  It was hoped that Dr. Webb’s agent H. D. Carter would take steps to “obliterate the nuisances which are hampering this resort”. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moratorium Sought On Local Bakken Oil Rail Transport

800px-Lac_megantic_burningIn the wake of two explosive derailments in the past two weeks involving crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and western Canada, the Center for Biological Diversity is calling for a moratorium on rail transport of the oil in the Northeast.

Trains travel to Albany and the Hudson River Valley from the north as well as west-east rail lines that border the Adirondack region, bearing the same incendiary crude that has been involved in a total of five major rail accidents since summer 2013.

» Continue Reading.



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