Friday, December 18, 2015

Harrietstown Votes To Save The Rails

Adirondack Tourist Train (Susan Bibeau)The Harrietstown Town Board voted Thursday night in favor of keeping the local railroad tracks in place, but it’s uncertain what effect the resolution will have on a state proposal to remove the tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

On a motion by Councilman Howard Riley, the board voted 4-0 to support keeping the tracks. The resolution says the rail line provides “a positive impact on the area.”

Harrietstown includes the village of Saranac Lake, whose depot is used by two local businesses: Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which runs tourist trains to and from Lake Placid, and Rail Explorers USA, which runs pedal-power excursions to and from Lake Clear.

Rail Explorers, which began operations in July, says it attracted almost 15,000 riders in its first season, which ended in the fall.

If the state follows through with its proposal, Rail Explorers would have to move to another part of the rail corridor or to a different rail line. Adirondack Scenic Railroad would have to shut down its Lake Placid train, but could continue to operate tourist trains in the Old Forge area.

Riley told the Adirondack Almanack that Rail Explorers’ presentation to the board earlier this year prompted him to sponsor the resolution to keep the rails. “Since the tracks are there and it’s been such a hit – that’s what convinced me and the rest of the board to vote to keep them,” he said.

Riley conceded, though, that he doesn’t know if the town’s action will carry much weight with state officials. “I don’t know if our vote is going to impress anybody or change anybody’s mind,” he said.

After years of vehement public debate, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Transportation recently finalized a plan to divide the state-owned rail corridor into two segments. Between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, 34 miles of tracks would be removed, enabling the creation of a recreational trail for snowmobiling and skiing in winter and for bicycling and hiking in other seasons. South of Tupper Lake, the state would fix up 45 miles of tracks that are now in disrepair. This would enable tourist trains to run from Utica to Tupper Lake. It would be one of the longest tourist trains in the nation.

The Adirondack Park Agency has yet to rule on whether the plan conforms to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. At its November meeting, however, APA officials said they did not foresee any conflicts with the master plan. The agency is now weighing public comments on the matter.

Jim McCulley of Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates, which has been pushing for a trail, said he doubts Harrietstown’s vote will make a difference.

“I think the decision has been made,” he said. “I think the state realizes at this point that we’re better off with a trail.”

Three years ago, the Harrietstown board voted to ask the state to reopen the management plan for the rail corridor. That vote came over the objections of rail supporters.

Several other towns and villages asked the state to remove the rails or reopen the management plan, saying the train does little to benefit the local economy. ARTA contends that a rail trail will attract tens of thousands of tourists annually.

Riley is skeptical of ARTA’s projections, calling them “just figures in the newspaper.” In contrast, he said, Rail Explorers has proven it can attract tourists from many parts of the state and other parts of the country.

McCulley counters that Rail Explorers’ numbers are likely to tail off once the novelty of the operation wears off.

Photo by Susan Bibeau: an Adirondack Scenic Railroad train enters Saranac Lake.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

129 Responses

  1. Marcel Carrier says:

    Having ridden 41 major and minor Rail Trails across our nation, I can tell the Harrietstown Town Board that they have just made a horrendous mistake in supporting the retention of the rails. Not only are they trying to deny the businesses in there town a chance to grow and prosper, but they are denying their citizens a safe and healthy place to walk, jog, run, or ride a bicycle. Where ever I have ridden Rail Trails in villages like Saranac Lake the rail trail in those villages has become one of the social centers for those villages. Why would elected officials deny their citizens those benefits which would be available to them with out having to pay on a per trip basis ? A study by Cincinnati University on economic benefits of Rail Trails in Ohio estimated that houses gain $9.00 per square foot for every 1000 feet they were CLOSER to a rail trail. In other words if the rails were left in place every house within 1000 feet of the rail line would NOT increase in value. I doubt that the Town Board did any research on nor visited any Rail Trail in a similar village to Saranac Lake as evidenced by Howard Riley profound statement regarding ARTA’s projections on benefits of a Rail Trail, “just figures in the newspaper.” Good luck Harrietstown, you’re sure going to need it !

    • James E. Falcsik says:

      Sorry, Marcel, the argument of economic benefits created by a rail-trail diminishes once you drill down of the facts and conditions, especially concerning the proximity to urban areas. Assistant Professor Kevin J. Krizek of the University of Minnesota did a similar study (link below) and pointed out that city and urban housing selling prices had little to no significant effect when in close proximity to bicycle and trail facilities, and in suburban markets the selling prices actually went down. When you start looking at data that is not commissioned by bike and trail advocacy groups, the reality becomes considerably more clear. Howard Riley has finally made the realization that ASR and Rail Explorers have real data from paying customers and all the trail boosters have is wishful projections based on small sample extrapolations. Hooray for common sense. Link:Two Approaches to Valuing Some of Bicycle Facilities’ Presumed Benefits;

        • James Falcsik says:


          Informative article, like many others I have read touting real estate and recreational trail relationships.

          Real estate and home selling prices vary widely in relation to trail proximity; some increase in value, others decrease, and in many cases there is no effect. I find the scholarly articles tend to present more facts that reveal negative price effects or the no-effect category. There are many factors including: type of trail, region demographics, city, urban and rural. The impact of trails on home selling prices is not the same for all trails. Even the article you reference points this out, and there are trail-sponsored articles that reveal high percentages of properties that indicate “no effect” on value impact.

          Marcel’s statement that “every house” would “NOT increase in value” is ridiculous and another example of the type of exaggeration ARTA operatives and the trail/cycle advocacy use to mislead others in their mission to destroy the rail corridor.

        • James Falcsik says:

          Same trail, but not the same property value excitement:

          This puts the following statement from the referenced material in perspective: “… urban planners and advocates need to be aware of the consequences of providing for bicycle facilities, as the change in welfare is not necessarily positive for all homeowners.”

    • Keith Gorgas says:

      You are either missing something here, or deliberately ignoring it. What Harrietstown voted for was Rail with Trail.

    • Paul says:

      This hyperbole to the extreme. All through this debate I have seen these comments where this 30 mile trail is somehow needed for there to be any hope for these towns to “grow and prosper”. Now if the trail is not built the real estate along the line will never increase in value. Give me a break.

  2. Bruce says:

    I think it’s going to be a trail. As to whether one or the other will be more beneficial is just conjecture at this point. The best solution in my mind would be both, but the logistics and safety concerns don’t support that solution, not to mention possible SLMP violations to build new bridges and widen the right of way.

  3. Big Burly says:

    Good morning Phil,
    The most remarkable thing about the common sense displayed by the Town Board in Harrietstown is not in your coverage. During the November meeting facts were presented that detailed that the passenger rail operation and the rail bike business attracted almost 35,000 visitors to Saranac Lake during a shortened season. The rail bike business financial impact alone was in excess of a million dollars. Combined the two businesses already attract more than what the rip up the rails crowd predict, with a greater financial impact than forecast for a rail trail. Rail biking is an attraction that has long-term staying power.
    When NYS finally gets it act together and implements the policy adopted almost 20 years ago, residents in and visitors to the region, of all ages and abilities, will benefit from enhanced economic and recreation opportunities for many years into the future.
    Much has been said by NYS DEC that the communities in the Tri-Lakes support Alternative 7. Harrietstown, home to a significant stretch of rail that is being proposed for removal, voted decisively for common sense, the vote will make a difference. Other elected officials and stewards of our resources should take notice, reconsider earlier resolutions based on flimsy forecasts not facts, and vote to support their self interests.

  4. says:

    4 votes on a resolution inspired by the presentation of a business that stands to lose if the trail plan prevails – hope this vote has no weight.

    A trail will have a “positive impact on the area” too and the beautiful thing for Rail Explorers is that Tupper Lake is open and ready for their business.

  5. Keith Gorgas says:

    Thank you for covering this development,Phil. I think when ARTA presented to the various local governments, integrity was assumed. I have been going through ARTA’s list of “400 local businesses” in favor up ripping up the tracks. Of the 100 or so listed from Ray Brook and Saranac Lake, quite a few are no longer in business, or have changed owners. There are quite a few instances of duplicity, i.e, same owner of several businesses, and of the remaining businesses, some are actually members of TRAC, some that I’ve contacted have indicated they had no idea that they were signing to have the rails removed… they thought they were only agreeing to a rec trail along side the railroad. Actually, quite a few of the businesses listed have been very supportive of the efforts to retain the rails and build an accompanying trail as per the long ago agreed on Option 6. The idea of the Scenic Railroad was to hold place until the pendulum swung and demand for environmentally friendly rail service grew. Nationwide, passenger rail use has grown 78% since 1996. Not just in urban and suburban areas, but in rural areas as well. Young people are growing up caring about their carbon footprints. Vermont, with lots of trails on abandoned rail beds, is showing a strong resurgence of demand for passenger rail travel.
    The Harrietstown Board should be commended for looking forward to a win/win situation for all New Yorkers, not just the less than 1% who enjoy the sport of snowmobiling.

    • Boreas says:

      Get real. The people who want to lower their carbon footprint aren’t looking at using old diesel locomotives and rickety cars traveling at 30 mph between Utica and Lake Placid on an even more rickety railbed. They are looking at high-speed electric locomotives traveling between population centers. The tourists attracted to this line are people who enjoy nostalgia, not modern transportation. There is plenty of nostalgia between Utica and Tupper Lake, as the compromise would allow.

      One should also keep in mind, if the trail isn’t built, there is no guarantee DEC will put ANY additional funds into the decrepit railway. Then we end up with nothing more than we have now – a short excursion line with miles of unused track.

      • Big Burly says:

        Yours is a rear view look with this kind of comment.

        When NYS lives up to the requirements of the SLMP compliant policy of 1996, passenger rail operations, not just scenic excursions will be the outcome for residents and visitors. And by the way, diesel locos these days are cleaner than highway tractors.

        DEC, despite what one might believe reading Alternative 7, does not have anything to do with funding the annual maintenance or upgrades to the rail infrastructure, that’s the purview of DOT, the owner of the travel corridor.

        The mess we all find ourselves in, cut off from the national rail network, without the trails suggested in the ’96 UMP, results from an inadequate implementation of the UMP.

        Everyone of us who lives in the DAKs has earned and deserves the levels of investment by NYS that has for too long been lacking to get to a win-win: an enhanced transportation network, and expanded economic and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities. It is long past time. Governor Cuomo I believe is listening to the thousands of visitors who use the train, a better way to get tens of thousands of new visitors to our region.

        • David P. Lubic says:

          “I think when ARTA presented to the various local governments, integrity was assumed. I have been going through ARTA’s list of “400 local businesses” in favor up ripping up the tracks. Of the 100 or so listed from Ray Brook and Saranac Lake, quite a few are no longer in business, or have changed owners. There are quite a few instances of duplicity, i.e, same owner of several businesses, and of the remaining businesses, some are actually members of TRAC, some that I’ve contacted have indicated they had no idea that they were signing to have the rails removed… they thought they were only agreeing to a rec trail along side the railroad. Actually, quite a few of the businesses listed have been very supportive of the efforts to retain the rails and build an accompanying trail as per the long ago agreed on Option 6.”–Keith Gorgas

          Well, this doesn’t surprise me at all. James Falscik has documented multiple cases of the ARTA calling “users” “visitors.” There is a difference.

          “Users” is anybody using the trail, which in most cases is 94% local people. That might be nice for them, but most will only be short trips right near their own towns, and they and their money are already here. They aren’t going to be spending more and growing the economy. For that you need money from outside, which would be the “visitors.”

          But visitors only make up about 6% of the users–so if you are claiming all “users” are “visitors,” then you are either incompetent in statistics or are lying. Neither scenario speaks well of the person making the statement.

          Between the two sins we are discussing–duplicate entries and possibly misrepresenting the trail proposal to petition signers, and this overstatement of visitors–I wonder what else is wrong with what is coming from ARTA.

          • Boreas says:

            ““Users” is anybody using the trail, which in most cases is 94% local people.”

            This statement may be true in the middle of rural VT or PA, but in a vacation destination, it is absurd. If you believe this, poll the hikers, cyclists, and X-C skiers anywhere else in the area and see how many are local. Why would visitors shun a multi-use trail?

            • Paul says:

              If it 94% local people you can forget about any of the user estimates I have seen from ARTA. There are only so many people living in the area. More than the entire population of Saranac Lake and LP will have to use the trail at the same time.

  6. Judi Calhoun says:

    Nice that the Almanac chose Phil Brown, an avid ARTA supporter, to write this article, and the only person he interviewed was Jim McCully, another rabid supporter.

    • Phil Brown says:

      Actually, the first person quoted is Howard Riley, the sponsor of the resolution. Attempts to reach the town supervisor and Rail Explorers were unsuccessful. In short, I reached out to three rail supporters and one trail supporter.

      • Big Burly says:

        Phil, your email to Rail Explorers for info is time stamped after this article in the Almanack appeared.

        • Phil Brown says:

          That’s bull, and I resent the implication.

          • Big Burly says:

            Here’s the time stamp Phil

            From: “Phil Brown”
            Subject: Harrietstown
            Date: 19 December 2015 at 8:18:56 AM AEDT

            • Boreas says:

              Did you notice Phil was using the past tense? Excuse my ignorance, but isn’t any time stamp always going to be after the fact??

              • M.P. Heller says:

                It is if you sent the email after publishing the article. Which it clearly seems is the case here. Especially since the claim hasn’t been refuted since the information regarding the time stamp was published. I like Phil and his writings, but in this case I smell a rat. A big fat rotten one.

          • James Falcsik says:

            Phil, if Big Burly’s time stamp info is correct, you need to explain.

            Perhaps you should also consider updating the article with an interview with Mary-Joy and Alex from Rail Explorers and present here what they did to change the minds of the Harrietstown Council.

            • Phil Brown says:

              I can’t explain the time stamp. What I can tell you is that I both emailed and phoned Rail Explorers before I submitted the article to the Almanack. I also phoned the town supervisor at his town office and on his cell, to no avail. I would point out that the story was about the town board’s resolution, not about Rail Explorers. Talking to Rail Explorers was not essential, but I did try.

              • James Falcsik says:

                Well Phil if you can’t explain the time stamp then readers will just have to make up their own minds on your intentions.

                Regardless of what side of the debate people favor, all who visit here to read or participate in the discussion deserve objective reporting. While talking to Rail Explorers may not have been essential for writing the story, whatever they did to change the minds of the Harrietstown Board to reverse a previous public position and go further to comment on the lack of credibility in ARTA’s numbers is surely relevant. ARTA claims these people were previously pro-trail.

                From what I understand, the following link illustrating a portion of Rail Explorers customer base was the basis of “proving it can attract tourists from many parts of the state and other parts of the country” :

                • Phil Brown says:

                  James, readers can make up their own minds about someone who would impugn a person’s integrity in public based on something as flimsy as a “time stamp.”

                  But since you put so much stock in time stamps, here is the one from the email I sent on Friday:

                  Fri 12/18/2015 4:19 PM
                  Phil Brown

              • James Falcsik says:

                Since you missed talking to RE let me fill you in on the facts they presented to the Saranac Lake Board of Trustees on Nov. 9, which may have been part of what Harrietstown saw last week:

                6 miles of rail
                13 railbikes
                15 employees
                100 days of operation
                11,000 riders (one ticket = one rider)
                $1.9 Million in direct economic impact
                $23 MILLION in total economic impact
                $0.00 (ZERO) cost to the taxpayer.

  7. Bellota says:

    The Harrietstown board has demonstrated a lack of imagination and a fear of change. People are much more physically active than they were 20 or more years ago. They do not prefer to sit on an unattractive train or ride exorbitantly priced rail cars. After you have done either of those activities once you don’t do it again. There are many who prefer a closer encounter with nature whether walking, jogging, or biking. There are theme parks for those who prefer a Disneyfication of nature.

    • Bruce says:


      I think you really should look at the excursion rail business to see what actually goes on. Your view that folks only ride once and won’t pay a premium price is not supported in fact. Last year alone the Great Smoky Mountain RR had over 200,000 visitors, many of whom are repeat riders like us, and/or came from other states.

      There is no reason to assume that with the line between Big Moose and Tupper redone, the ADKRR won’t be a bang-up ride, attracting more visitors than ever before, and I might add, many repeat riders as we do every year when we visit the Adirondacks.

    • Paul says:

      Bellota, there is no lack of amenities for the physically active in the Adirondacks.

  8. Tom says:

    And ARTA continues the charade of supporting a “multiuse” trail packed with families walking or biking appreciatively through the wilderness, when all ADK locals know what they are really arguing for is yet another snowmobile trail on which motorheads can speed noisily from bar to bar.

    • James E. Falcsik says:

      Excellent comment and accurate as well. A 34 mile continuous trail is only required for one thing; a snowmobile superhighway. Recreational use trails could be built in smaller sections to provide the locals, the majority users, with a venue that fits the average trail user. Trails of five or six miles in length will be more than enough for the average user that is on the trail once each week for less than one hour.

    • Boreas says:

      Many more people will be using this trail than just snowmobilers. However it would still be a multiuse trail even if snowmobiles were banned in the future for bad behavior.

      • David P. Lubic says:

        But where will all those “users” come from? If this trail would follow the pattern of most, then over 90% (94%, really) would be local people. Now, this might be a nice amenity, and Joe Schmoe would undoubtedly enjoy a walk out there with his dog, but Joe and his money are already here, and he spends it here now. He’s not likely to eat more meals out, or drink more beer. You won’t get any growth from him.

        Tourists, however, do bring in NEW money from outside. That’s the railroad’s main market, and what eventually feeds hotels and other such businesses.

        I’m going to add some commentary on the snowmobile crowd. They supposedly have a huge economic impact, but it has shrunk considerably over the last 30 years. Resgistrations are down 30% from peak in the last available snowmobile season report, and sales are down an amazing 66%. A survey placing the economic impact at over $800 million in New York (and roughly a quarter of that in the Adirondacks) was released in 2012, using data from 2010-2011–but registrations declined 9% from then to now, so that means the economic impact is down, too.

        That explains why the tourist business struggles in the winter–30% of one important segment has dried up and blown away!

        On top of this, there is at least one more trail–much if not all NEW construction to boot–that has been cleared to be built for 42 miles. This adds to the 10,000 miles of trail in New York, with a minimum of 3,000 miles in the Adirondacks, all of which has been documented by this publication. In view of the decline in snowmobile registrations, we are looking at a serious case of declining returns, if not outright negative ones.

        What this means is any increase in snowmobile use is going to be marginal at best, and even then it will come at the expense of other snowmobile venues. There are only so many people in the sport, and they can only spread their money so far!

        And on top of this you would chase away the people who do ride the train and the rail bikes.

        Tearing out the railroad just doesn’t make good business sense, and the town council of Harrietsville has finally seen this.

        • David P. Lubic says:

          Correction, Harrietstown.

        • Boreas says:

          “If this trail would follow the pattern of most, then over 90% (94%, really) would be local people.”

          Repeating skewed statistics doesn’t make it any more valid. As I mention above, this statement may be true in the middle of rural VT or PA, but in a vacation destination, it is absurd. If you believe this, poll the hikers, cyclists, and X-C skiers anywhere else in the area and see how many are local. Why would visitors shun a multi-use trail?

          Vacationers or ‘visitors’ typically look for a variety of activities, and will do anything that looks interesting, different, and affordable. A multi-use trail where one doesn’t have to worry about being hit by a car is something different as is a ride on a train or pedal car. One is free and can be accessed year-round without a schedule, the other is seasonal and may be cost prohibitive by many families.

          With the compromise, all of these activities will be possible.

          • James Falcsik says:

            Boreas; David Lubic is spot on here.

            There will be plenty of trail users, but how many will actually contribute to economic growth? Surely there will be out of region visitors in the groups you mention, However, to consider economic gain from the trail, first you must eliminate any trail user that would have come to the region regardless of the trails presence. All of the published EIS recognize this. In a vacation destination you will have a much more difficult time finding trail users that will contribute new money to the region because they likely would have come anyway, trail or not. The Camoin EIS paid for by ADK Action actually stated there are so many venues for hiking and skiing in the AP their dollar contribution was not even considered.

            The difference between a user and a visitor is huge concerning trail economics. The primary-purpose visitor is the key measure, something that makes the Rail Explorers presentation to communities like Harrietstown, and hopefully others, reconsider their position; their presentation illustrates very high primary purpose visitor data.

            Somewhere I read the AP attracts 9-10 million visitors every year. Well that is the net zero starting point for measuring the proposed new multi-use trail visitors.

            • Boreas says:


              If I drive from Essex and bike, ski, or walk on the proposed trail, buy some gas (it is usually cheaper in LP!) eat at Desperado’s and drive home, what am I considered? The same argument was always directed against hikers vs snowmobilers. Any time I go to McDonald’s, Desperado’s, EMS, Mike’s Pizza, etc. I see hikers & skiers. They may not be spending the night, but they certainly contribute to local economies. Ask any of those businesses how much of their income comes from hikers/skiers/snowmobilers and how much from seasonal rail riders, you will quickly see who they support. Get farther away from the LP & SL and hikers, etc. are even more valued.

              Many of these people, including rail riders, would also welcome a safe corridor to bike, ski, birdwatch, walk, work out, etc.. Quoting statistics from other areas of the country with different economies, populations, and amenities isn’t very predictive of what would happen here. Many areas where those statistics are taken do not have an Olympic training complex, downhill ski area, High Peaks attractions, wilderness attractions and a health conscious population with activity-oriented ‘visitors’. Instead, these visitors look for a variety of activities if they are staying for a week, including a rail ride. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t travel to TL to see the Wild Center, take a train ride or pedal car ride with TL as a starting point – and a place for lunch, dinner lodging, etc. Hikers, bikers, and rail riders all have cars and are willing to drive an hour or so to a different town for a different experience. The DEC’s compromise allows for all of the above.

              • James Falcsik says:

                You are not an out of state visitor. You are considered a local user. Your spending would have occurred in the region whether at home or in the area you traveled to. In other words, your spending is not new, but redistributed. Al that you stated may be true, but from a trail economics standpoint, nothing you describe is NEW spending contribution. If you have read any of the EIS for the 1996 UMP Alternate 7, every one states only out of state visitor contributions are considered. Only the RTC published EIS, paid for by ARTA, lists local contributions.

                Boreas, I completely enjoy using our local rail-trails. However, the economic benefits claimed by the rail-trail advocacy does not materialize for the reasons posted. Look into it yourself. Use a wide-based demographics organization like City-Data to see what happens in a region wide survey. You can claim all the trail traffic you want, but drill down and find the most meaningful economic metric, the primary-purpose, overnight-user, is relatively low for all rail trails. Even the Erie Canal Trail report by Parks and Trail NY states in fine print the PPOV is 2.5 to 3%. Their average user is local, within 5 miles, and accesses the trail for less than an hour once a week.

                The Harrietstown Board is apparently considering the real statistics and the real customer data presented by Rail Explorers and ASR to publicly reverse their position and make the statement they have.

                • M.P. Heller says:

                  Boreas, I know you are a staunch supporter of all the good that the Park has to offer and truly have its best interests at heart. It’s clear from your frequent postings that you feel this way and it’s admirable. If only more interested parties possessed your even mind and well thought out assessments on important matters we’d be far ahead of where we are today.

                  That being said, James took you to the cleaners here. Let’s face the facts no matter how painful or distasteful we may find them. The ARTA plan stinks. It’s shortsighted and immature in its design. I won’t repeat the reasons here because it’s becoming very hackneyed, but the ARTA plan is the brainchild of the few, manifested with exxagerations, and mistruths to prop up their weak rationale. It’s really that simple and it’s a shame so many have fallen into their trap.

              • Bruce says:


                In one respect, you are correct. Every dollar you spend in the park is a part of the EXISTING economy, because you live there. The point others are trying to make is that your money is already in the park, and it doesn’t really matter who gets it, whether it be your local grocery store so you can eat at home, or a restaurant some miles away.

                As I recall way back when this subject first appeared on the Almanack, it is the existing economy which needs an economic boost. That boost can only come from money not already in the park. As was discussed in an earlier article, the park’s demographics are changing, and not for the better as far as the overall park economy is concerned.

                • Boreas says:

                  I may live in the park, but I don’t spend every weekend in LP or SL. Probably only a few every year as they are over an hour away. But I would be attracted more to the area if there was a recreation trail that was safe to ride a bike on. So if I go from 3 visits/year to 20 visits/year, that would certainly be a net gain for the community I am visiting, correct? My point is you do not need to attract people from around the world to boost the economy of a region. Local users spend money as well. If the trail isn’t promoted at all by the communities it traverses, then the failure would be on their part.

                  • James Falcsik says:

                    As a local user, the net gain you speak of for the community you visit, is a net loss for the community you came from. There are no new taxes collected by NYS because you are not an out-of-state visitor; this is the position the DEC has taken for this debate, and Alternate 7. So while you are driving an hour and spending money, there is no regional economic growth, because you would have probably spent that money in some way travel or not. Local users spend money, but it is a net zero gain. Have a look at the following link if you are having difficulty with this: Pages 22 through 27 clear up the definition of visitor, time-switchers, and casuals. Crompton also presents a caution of why economic impact statements are used to legitimize a position rather than present the truth in many cases.

                    • Boreas says:

                      OK. If it is strictly regional growth – meaning the Adirondack ark in general – then I can get my head around that. My understanding was that part of the reason for moving the terminus to TL was to help jump start the economy in that particular area of the park that is trying to make a comeback. Perhaps DEC should look at removing some tracks between TL & Remsen instead since there is more disrepair there and is not currently in use.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Make that ‘Park’.

  9. Smitty says:

    Oh geesh. Here we go again. My family and many others are chomping at the bit to ride the bike trail starting at Tupper, not just once as would be the case with high priced rail bikes but many times over. Time to end the debate. Build the bike path and they will come. This will be a spectacular and hugely popular draw for Tupper and Saranac. If you don’t believe it, let the rail bikes rin between Saranac and Lake Placid and see which is more popular. Then finish the bike path.

  10. Larry Roth says:

    What’s left unsaid in a lot of this reporting is that a number of those advocating for the trail don’t really care if it meets their predictions for success.

    There’s a certain number who just want the rails gone, and they don’t care if it hurts the community or not. Given the uncertainty of how many trail visitors from outside the region will actually appear – the economic justification for the trail is that it will bring in outside money – the area risks ending up building a luxury trail for primarily local users and losing what the rails are already bringing in every season.

    I see repeated comments that local people don’t ride the trains or the rail bikes – which means the thousands of riders they DO have must be coming from elsewhere. We know the rails are bringing in visitors; if a trail is such a good thing (yet to be proven) – efforts should be to do rails AND trails. That way, if trail visitors fall short of expectations, the rails are still there.

    For that matter – wouldn’t it make sense to to see what can be done to make the region more cycling-friendly in and around the towns? Seems to me there would be plenty of local demand for such – and it wouldn’t need state action to happen. It’s something that would serve both the existing rail service and potential trail ridership. What’s the point of building a trail if people ride it away from the towns, instead of sticking around?

    And hey – before getting any track ripped out, let’s see what getting trains running to Tupper Lake does. There is no need to rush into this. The 2016 Adirondack Cycling Tour seems to show it’s not impossible to ride a bike through the Tri-Lakes even now.

    • Boreas says:

      The rail line has been there for a century. How much more time are you requesting?

      • Keith Gorgas says:

        Yes , actually I think those rails were laid in the 1920s. Many of the ties go back that far too.
        Around 100,000 people rode on the two ends that have been rehabbed this year… a stead increase from year to year, matching nationwide trends. 22,000 on North end, plus about 15,000 on rail explorers just since July. That’s on a little dinky ride through a swamp and past a couple of prisons. No time for dinner train, or other features. AMTRAK has already committed to marketing LP and SL if the RR is rehabbed.

        • Boreas says:

          I think rehabbing the line to LP up to AMTRAK levels is going to require bigger pockets than NYS voters have. Get the feds involved and possibly something will happen in the next 50 years.

          • Larry Roth says:

            It could happen a lot sooner than you think – if you didn’t notice, the big federal transportation bill that just got passed finally includes money specifically for rail. I also don’t think you realize what a comparative bargain it would be – less expensive than you think, especially as interest rates are still historically low.

            One more thing – the people who ride the trains are helping pay for the line. Who is going to pay for the trail, and how? Remove the rails, and you lose that income. Somebody will have to make up the difference, or that trail is going to be left at the mercy of annual budget battles.

            • Boreas says:

              The rail corridor has had an opportunity over the last 40 years to become revitalized. It seems DEC/DOT have looked at both sides of the argument and are ready to turn a small portion of the line over to another group of users with the compromise decision. They are not ripping up the entire line but instead have agreed to rehab the majority of the line. Further delay in implementing the compromise is not going to get the remaining majority of the line rehabbed any sooner. Keep in mind an all-or-nothing stand can result in getting nothing.

              • Larry Roth says:

                The all or nothing is coming from the people who want the tracks gone. Seems to me the corridor IS becoming revitalized – or do you think the last 19 years didn’t happen?

                • David P. Lubic says:

                  This is true. There are photographs available showing a railroad in 1980 that looks like a jungle and which would be impassable. Not all of it is at passenger service level now, but it’s also in the best shape it’s been for the last 30 years. Work continues with minimal state money.

                  This brings up an important point. Why is a railroad expected to pay all its bills, pay property taxes in the case of privately owned freight railroads, and make a profit and pay taxes on that, too, when highways (and trails and airports, too) are subsidized and nobody bats an eyelash?

                  I’ve studied this, and to make the road system self supporting would require increasing gas taxes about 50 cents per gallon just to correct for cash flow; to correct for full cost accounting would probably be about double that. How willing are any of us to accept that additonal cost?

                  I want to know why anyone would not consider this a double standard, with the railroad being held to the much higher level. I would want to know why anyone would defend it.

                • Boreas says:

                  The majority of trail supporters are willing to accept the DEC compromise and are not looking to tear up the entire line. Yes, it involves removing a portion rails, but the majority of the rail system will be intact and rehabbed. Without the compromise, you may well find that none of the track gets rehabbed.

                  • Boreas says:

                    It isn’t a double standard, it is two different transportation systems. One can be used by anyone, anytime, without buying a ticket and is also considered part of our national defense system. The other is designed for freight and passenger service and is only used when a train is moving on it – otherwise it is off-limits to the public. Apples and oranges.

                    If an additional gasoline tax of even $1/gal were levied in this country, you wouldn’t see much of a drop in highway usage other than hurting the poorer people who must drive to work. Look at Europe if you want to see the effect of high gas taxes. Modern rail AND much road usage.

                    The national rail transportation system isn’t the issue we are debating here, but rather the best usage for a virtually unused, unsafe rail corridor within a wilderness area.

                    • James Falcsik says:

                      A recreational trail is not a transportation system. It is a linear park. In the UMP and the SLMP the term travel corridor is specifically described as being part of transportation; no part of either document lists a trail as a travel corridor. In the SLMP that the APA is now considering for the Alternate 7 proposal, out of 23 travel corridors, not one listed is a trail. The trail boosters are trying to claim the travel corridor designation would remain if the rails are removed and there is no statute or example that supports this.

                    • Boreas says:

                      I don’t recall saying a trail was a transportation system. I was commenting on the highway vs rail systems and the ‘double standard’ that exists there mentioned by David Lubic above.

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      “I don’t recall saying a trail was a transportation system. I was commenting on the highway vs rail systems and the ‘double standard’ that exists there mentioned by David Lubic above.”–Boreas

                      Still a double standard. In the current configuration, the railroad is a recreational venue (though it is unique in also potentially returning to a transportation venue, and even being both a transportation and entertainment venue at the same time). The trail would likely be a pure entertainment venue, with no potential transport value. Yet the railroad is expected to pay for everything and earn a profit, and the trail is not.

                      Still a double standard!

                  • Larry Roth says:

                    I’m not surprised a majority of trail supporters support the ‘compromise’.

                    They’re not losing anything. They’re not seeing 19 years of hard work stolen out from under them. They think they’re getting something for free. And they think this is just the first step in getting the rest of the line removed.

                    • Boreas says:


                      Again, only a small portion of the corridor is being ‘stolen’. The compromise wasn’t just taking into consideration rail vs. trail, it was also taking into account taxpayer expectations of how their tax dollars are spent. Of course trail advocates are willing to accept the compromise. But the rail advocates seem to keep losing sight of the fact that the compromise includes rehabbing the vast majority of the rail line. That is hardly a loss for the rail argument. Sorry, I’m not buying the ‘victim’ argument.

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      Larry speaks the truth. There have been trail supporters who have spoken angrily in social media for the railroad to disappear all the way to Utica! One of them has even posted here!

                      Of course, that also speaks to a horrendous level of ignorance, for the last section of the railroad into Utica is privately owned, makes a profit, and pays taxes. Adirondack Scenic runs on it in another agreement, helping to boost the profit margin there.

                      Good luck on that section!

                  • M.P. Heller says:

                    Tearing up any portion of the line undermines the viability of the entire corridor. Trail supporters count on this and it is a major part of their ultimate goal, which is to sabotage the economic viability of the rail corridor and have the entire line ripped up in the future. Without Lake Placid as the terminus, there is no future for the corridor. If you cant see that you don’t belong in the conversation.

                    • Paul says:

                      “Again, only a small portion of the corridor is being ‘stolen’.”

                      Seems odd to steal the section with a working RR on it (an this other business)?

                    • Boreas says:

                      It wasn’t my compromise. Trail advocates are being lumped under the same heading here, but not everyone wants to tear up the entire line. I am not part of ARTA, but I do support some of their ideas. Not all of us are taking the all-or-nothing stance that the rail supporters espouse. It is no wonder these discussions are so vitriolic when people are so paranoid. If people can’t reach a civil, middle ground, then the park is doomed to stagnation.

        • John Warren says:

          The railroad was built in the 1890s.

      • Larry Roth says:

        Well, in 19 years and with very little investment from the state, what the ASR has been able to do has already served 1.5 million riders – which is 1.5 million more than certain people thought would ever happen. So, if the state is serious about putting up the money for Tupper, let’s see what a real investment can yield. Would 5 years be too long to give it a fair test once they get the work done – or are you worried it would be even more successful? And in 5 years, there are a lot of cycling trails that could be developed in the trip-lakes area, so it wouldn’t be time wasted.

        Look at it another way – if you look at the amount of money the state is planning to spend to rip up the rails, dispose of them safely AND build a trail, it’s fair to ask what they could do for a trail WITH the rails with that kind of budget. DEC and DOT have never put anything together to show what they think would be acceptable, and how much it would cost. Possibly because they don’t want to be pinned down, so they can just keep saying it can’t be done.

        As I’ve said elsewhere, the big rush to rip up the rails isn’t because they’re failing – it’s because they’re succeeding.

        • Bellota says:

          What is the source of the ridership data? Who has validated it?

          • James Falcsik says:

            Their ridership data is from real paying customers; ticket sales. So you are suggesting they conjured up the number? Who is going to validate the trail user numbers? Another EIS statement paid for by ARTA?

            • Bellota says:

              Embellishment is the American way. I don’t trust any data until it is vetted.

              • James Falcsik says:

                OK, that is fair enough I suppose. So do you view the ARTA-RTC numbers for the Virginia Creeper Trail with the same critical measure? In their purchased EIS they report 31% overnight visitors when the real number was 4%; who would you suggest or trust to vet the the data that is not part of the advocacy-based information stream?

        • Bruce says:


          You’re right there was not a plan laid out for rail AND trail to my knowledge, but it was discussed. As I understand what I read, part of the discussion centered around the fact that there would have to be a certain amount of separation between an active rail line and a trail running alongside, which is probably a federal safety requirement. No matter who owns or operates the line, the feds decide what’s safe and what’s not.

          That separation would involve building new bridges over some watercourses for the trail, widening the right of way, and possibly building barriers, all or any of which could violate some provisions of the SLMP, depending on location. Whether existing tracks are torn out or left to be used by trains, the ROW would remain the same, which is not an issue in the SLMP, as the ROW already exists.

  11. ADKObserver says:

    John Warren, Yes the railroad was built in the 1890’s with some of the track at one time being a combination on narrow (D&H) and standard gauge (NYC) (3 rails) between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, but the rails and ties were eventually upgraded in the 1920’s to a heavier steel (105 Lb./Yard) from what was originally installed in the 1890’s to accommodate heavier locomotives and rolling stock.

    • Boreas says:

      Just curious, were portions of it ever used for trolley service, or would they have to have been side lines and spurs because of the electric cables?

      • David P. Lubic says:

        As far as I know none of this corridor was ever electrified. There was an independent electric road–Paul Smith’s Railroad, I think–that was such a line, and I think it may have been the only one in the area.

        There were other railroads in the area; one of them was a loggin road called the Grasse River, which was abandoned in the 1950s.

        Any historians care to verify or correct this?

        • M.P. Heller says:

          The Paul Smith’s line was indeed electrified. This mostly owing to the fact Paul made his own electricity at the Paul Smith’s Electric Light and Gas Company and had no need to use another source of fuel. The powerhouse was still standing on campus in Paul Smith’s when I visited it last. When I was a student several of us would go there often to enjoy the solitude and quiet that this disused part of campus offered.

        • Paul says:

          There are old abandoned rail lines all over the Adirondacks. There are many that don’t have trains running on them like this one.

  12. Hope says:

    Let’s see…… 34 miles of of trail to 51 additional miles of track. Hmmm…….
    This the compromise folks Rails and Trails
    If ARTA is wrong the tracks can go back. If ARTA is right maybe the rest of the tracks will be pulled.
    What is the train lobby afraid of? Oh yeah, ARTA might be right. But what if they are wrong? You now have only 34 miles to install tracks. Probably not even that because LP won’t give up the trail. They already know what good trails do for their community.

    • M.P. Heller says:

      What rail supporters are afraid of is the ignorance of ARTA and it’s supporters and their inability to understand how removing tracks to replace them with a trail is not in the economic interest of the region in any way. It amazing how many obviously simple minded people have jumped on board with this misguided behemoth of a plan. I’m not totally upset by this mental ineptitude, because currently I have a herd of unicorns that I am trying to sell and clearly there is a big market for them in Essex County.

    • James FAlcsik says:

      Even one mile of trail that ARTA or any other advocacy group obtains by deceit and the purposeful misleading of the business community and the public is too much.

      It is not about being wrong or being afraid of anything. It is about lying to people as part of a scripted plan to destroy a community asset that can never be replaced once removed, using economic prosperity as carrot dangled in front of their nose. Even today you spread false information to Facebook users about Rail Explorers customer count; Rail Explorers does NOT double count their ridership. One ticket is one individual rider. ARTA is wrong; how is ARTA going to pay the communities back if the rails are removed? Saranac Lake is going to have 30,000 less tourists in the streets in 2017 if the rails are removed; what is ARTA going to say to the business owners? Move your business or change your life’s work to something in the trail venue? Someone above said ARTA’s plan stinks; they are being way too kind.

      • M.P. Heller says:

        I’ll say it again too. The ARTA plan STINKS. So does their level of honesty, which is evidently barely existant.

        • Boreas says:

          The ARTA plans isn’t being instituted, but rather a compromise developed by the DEC to help both groups.

          • M.P. Heller says:

            Which amounts to the same thing. Lake Placid must remain the terminus if rail travel is to be viable. A Tupper Lake terminus would be a failure. Few people want to travel TO Tupper, most just travel THROUGH Tupper. In its current condition of severely declining infrastructure and terrible economic conditions, it’s just not a destination many people choose to travel to. On the other hand Lake Placid IS a sought after travel destination. This can be demonstrated by the thousands of room nights available in Placid, many of which are several hundred dollars per night, versus what is available in Tupper. Basic supply and demand metrics based on this tells the rest of the story.

            So back to my point of if the train doesn’t run to Placid, the train doesn’t work. ARTA knows this and supports the amazingly shortsighted “compromise” as a step towards their ultimate goal of a Trail to Thendara. It’s as simple as that.

            • Boreas says:

              I would say it is shortsighted to expect growth to a destination that neither needs it and failed once before after good roads were built. I don’t feel that making the tiny village of LP as the only destination in the Park is in the best interest of the Park in general. This of course assumes anything is ever done with the rest of the line. I feel there would be more overall growth by having BOTH rail excursions and a rail trail. But what do I know – I guess I am just another one of those ‘ignorant’ trail troglodytes that apparently have become the enemy of the Park.

              • James Falcsik says:

                It is clear to me you are not an enemy of the Park. Obviously, making use of as many tourism tools as they can would be the best outcome for each of the communities. Commercial real estate development in the AP is difficult, and really not desired, and this creates a problem for large-scale tourism venues. Creating economic growth in this environment is difficult. Removing existing economic assets like the railroad is not a good idea because once gone it will likely never return and sometimes planning for the future requires preserving what you have now. Rail Explorers is one example of using the railroads as a tool for growth. The rail vacation traveler is the target market and best use for a fully restored rail corridor. Shorter-segmented recreational trails would provide the locals with the safety and health benefits they desire, and visitor amenities for those who already come to the AP; this would cover 99% of the groups affected.

              • M.P. Heller says:

                Agreed. Rail AND trail would be the best solution. The protracted discussion surrounding the thought that you can’t have both its rather obtuse. It does however highlight the disconnect between the two schools of thought. I’ve lived in both Placid and Old Forge. I’ve never taken a train ride in either place. I probably won’t anytime soon either. It’s just not my thing. Neither is walking or biking on an old rail bed, so I don’t see myself doing that either. I do however see the value in maintaining rail infrastructure to LP for the future, so I support that very much. Destroying it for what amounts to someone’s pet project makes absolutely no sense to me. Especially when economic activity is already taking place on it, and as demonstrated by Rail Explorers, is growing and has further growth potential. To scrap it and convert to a multi use trail just displaces one set of users for another. It’s not growth, and likely is quite the opposite. A trail will eliminate jobs, close businesses, and reduce sales tax revenue. Not really the things we need here. Especially when many other better opportunities for visitors to hike and bike already exist. Nobody talks about those opportunities in these discussions because to do so would make the trail hoopla look stupid.

                You aren’t some kind of troglodyte Boreas. I too enjoy trails, and would venture that I have hiked more miles of Adirondack trails than 97% of the readers, writers, and commenters on this site. I just know BS when I see it and ARTA actually broke the BS meter and set new levels of BS loftiness with this anti rail campaign. Hike the NPT, or a section of it, it’s flat heading south out of Placid or walk out to Connery Pond or Marcy Dam. Bike the Pine Pond trail out of Averyville, or check out what they have built in Wilmington. Leave the rails alone. The other options are far more interesting anyways.

                • Bill Hutchison says:

                  “To scrap (the railroad) and convert to a multi use trail just displaces one set of users for another. It’s not growth, and likely is quite the opposite.”

                  Very true and this is the crux of the issue. ARTA marches in and says: “Nice railroad. Get out.” To people who have poured their time, money and sweat into this railroad only to have it snatched away without any effort to work together for the common good smacks of greed and selfishness and all the other unpleasant traits we were taught to avoid as children. Seems the lesson didn’t go far with the people who make up ARTA.

                • Bruce says:

                  MP Heller,

                  “Agreed. Rail AND trail would be the best solution. The protracted discussion surrounding the thought that you can’t have both its rather obtuse.”

                  Nothing obtuse about it. The Camoin study had this to say about a rail and trail solution:

                  The existing rail bed is not currently wide enough
                  to accommodate a rail line and a bike trail.
                  Much of the 100 foot wide
                  right-of-way is steeply sloped to
                  create rock cuts and embankments
                  needed to level the rail bed. To accommodate
                  both amenities in accordance with safety
                  standards and allowing for adequ
                  ate separation between rail and trail, the rail bed would need
                  to be widened by around 20 feet. As a result,
                  the additional grading to
                  increase the width of
                  embankments and rock cuts would
                  have a much greater impact on the natural, cultural and visual
                  environment than either a stand-alone rail or stan
                  d-alone recreational trail project utilizing the
                  existing rail bed.

                  Seems clear to me.

    • Paul says:

      If the only way a viable tourist train could make it is if it runs from the largest towns in the Adirondacks into areas where tourists would actually enjoy is required that seems like something that the “train lobby” should be legitimately afraid of. Disconnect the line from the two towns where much of the main ridership would come from is the way to make certain the RR is done for. It is a good strategy to ensure a much longer trail in the future. But let’s be honest about what is going on.

  13. Bill Hutchison says:

    Amen, Jim Falscik. ARTA has engaged in a deliberate and calculated campaign of pro trail misinformation and smear tactics against the railroad. They have lied, lied, lied and lied to anyone they thought they could sway. They have bullied those that they thought they could not win over. However, people are catching on to ARTA’s tactics, as evidenced by the vote by Harrietstown to save the railroad. It would have been nice if ARTA had tried to work cooperatively, but they are too haughty for that.

    • Hope says:

      Man that is the pot calling the kettle black. Nothing but conspiracy theories, half truths and the bullying is not coming from ARTA that’s for sure. Just listen to yourselves spitting out such vitriol and denigrating Tupper Lake. Wow!!!! No wonder 13000 plus people want a trail. Keep it up the list of supporters gets bigger everyday.

      • Bill Hutchison says:

        Oh but the half truths and bullying is indeed a hallmark of ARTA. Anyone who has paid attention to this stuff for the past two years can see that. And, yes, ARTA is too haughty to work cooperatively. Your answer is proof enough of that, Hope.

        • M.P. Heller says:

          No kidding Bill. What a circus of bratty idealism the ARTA campaign has become. 13 thousand people? So what! Rail Explorers did more than that in their first season. I bet they triple that or better in 2016. In fact I’ll put dinner at the MLI with drinks on the line that they sell at least 45 thousand tickets. Any takers? Hope? Tony? Dick?

  14. Peter says:

    Rails folks are just as dishonest, if not more so. They lie, liel, lie! The trains have not now, nor in the past, nor would they ever in the future make any sort of profit. ASR isn’t afraid of the trail folks, they are afraid of the fact, that WHEN this updated UMP gets approved, a RFP will have to be put out for a rail operator to take over running the pathetic little rail line from Utica to Tupper Lake before the state even spends a single dime to rehab the line between Big Moose & Tupper Lake.
    Good luck finding someone to take over running the rail line! The tracks will still sit un-used between Big Moose & Tupper Lake 5 years from now.

    • Bill Hutchison says:

      When will the trail make a profit from paying users? Never. So don’t try to play that tired old saw about railroads always having to be profitable when you don’t expect the same for the trail. That argument is just another trail supporter distortion, especially since the railroad’s operations are self supporting.

      • Peter says:

        So ASR is self supporting. hmmmmmmmmmm!

        • AdkDave says:

          Yes, the railroad is self supporting…. The ASR either maintains or works with rail contractors to maintain the entire line from Remsen to Lake Placid. Are they paid a portion of those maintenance costs from the state?? Of course they are the state is the property owner!! If you hire a caretaker to maintain your home or camp do you pay him or just let him use your camp in return for the work he does?? And yes I said a “portion” of the maintenance costs as the state does not pay them entirely. This arguement that the ASR and ARPS are supported by the state is old and tired and needs to be put to bed once and for all…. Since its beginning ARPS has not been state supported have they been paid for the work that they do by the properties owner yes they have do they receive monies from NYS for daily operations no they don’t.

      • Boreas says:

        Now who is being deceitful?

    • James Falcsik says:

      The Adirondack Scenic Railway is a non-profit corporation; they are not about making a profit and never have been Have you taken the time to read their mission statements and organizational goals? The ASR/ARPS is chartered as a historical preservation and educational organization. Staffed by mostly volunteers, they have been hired by NYS to operate a tourist attraction and maintain a viable historic railroad corridor. Trains operated by ASR are paid for by ticket sales. Maintenance performed on the corridor to the benefit of New York State are paid for with tax dollars reimbursed to ASR for services rendered. Consider what the cost of maintaining the corridor would be with NYS employees instead of volunteers. The railroad has long stood in the way of environmentalist plans to create a large wilderness area called the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The recreational trail plan is a step in that direction. Tactics used to achieve this goal include ARTA, the attack against and vilification of ASR, and a public promotion campaign that includes a great deal of misinformation concerning trail economic benefits. If NYS wants to use the railroad to attract additional tourism and preserve this transportation asset it needs to make the investment in the rail corridor regardless of who the equipment operator is; otherwise the results will likely be the same.

    • David Naone says:

      Peter, when the 96 UMP was released and the state put out the original RFP at that time they were not offering anything more than a month to month lease to ANY viable operator… And as such no other operators came forward.
      Now ARPS isn’t supposed to make a profit they are a 501(c) 3 NOT for profit organization which by law they are only supposed to be self supporting. Now I’m sure you are going to come back to me with they are being supported by NYS and to which I say you are wrong and as a former employee of ARPS and the ASR I can say that unequivocally. If you want to argue that with me then you need to bring proof.

  15. Charlie S says:

    Larry Roth says: “It could happen a lot sooner than you think – if you didn’t notice, the big federal transportation bill that just got passed finally includes money specifically for rail.”

    >> Specifically for rail yes because rail is a major transport avenue for crude oil to be shipped from point A to point B. My guess anyway…is why the money specifically for rail.

    • Paul says:

      One reason it is in there is because rail travel (lots of commuters on one electric train rather than driving in lots of cars) is good for the planet.

      Charlie, I thought you were and preservationist/environmentalist type?

  16. Peter says:

    And you glosssed right over the fact that I SAID, the state needs to put out a RFP to find a rail operator to come in with their own money & plan on how to manage the rail. Until that happens federal or no federal money, NOTHING will get spent to rehab the rails. I guess you have a hard time reading the updated UMP!

    • David P. Lubic says:

      If the state wants a new operator, then one thing it will have to do is offer a longer lease. It’s my understanding that the current lease is revocable in 30 days if the state were to so choose for any reason. That can put a crimp on outside financing, in which investors see a risk of spending a great deal of money and effort on this facility, only to suddenly, for no apparent reason, to be told to leave–or even worse, to be told to leave just because someone doesn’t like the vendor for apparent personal reasons.

    • Bruce says:


      I read somewhere in the early discussions that possibly American Heritage Railways, operators of the Durango and Silverton and the Great Smoky Mountain RR may have been approached or expressed an interest. If they take the line, it will be a first class operation.

      • David P. Lubic says:

        If that were to come true, it would be a very interesting development.

        One thing that I think would really boost the railroad would be a return to steam power, something that is the only real revenue earner on the Durango & Silverton and some other lines (D&S does have a diesel or two, but they are small switcher types used in track maintenance work or to move dead steam engines around the repair shop).

        Of course, I can imagine the squawking that would come from locomotives that would be considered even more antique and outmoded than what the Adirondack runs now. . .even if these locomotives had whistles that could almost sing. . .

        • Boreas says:

          I too would prefer steam over diesel for these excursion trains. Especially if historical significance is going to be touted.

          • Paul says:

            I would go the other direction. I would like to see a very lightweight (one that will not require much track upgrade, and save some $) electric train on the line, quietly swishing thorough the woods. I have been on the D&S train in CO using it for hiking access several times. You see small fires along the route when it is dry (and prescribed burns) trust me you don’t want a steam train on this line!

            • M.P. Heller says:

              One of the problems from 100 to 150 years ago were the fires caused by steam locomotives running lumber and other materials out of what is now the park. Huge swaths of land were scorched bare from sparks escaping from the boilers via the smokestacks. It was a big problem and helped lead the way to both stricter regulations on steam locomotives and helped to jump start the process of developing the forest preserve.

              An electric train would be a quiet and clean alternative, but electrified tracks are probably a non starter for various reasons. That leaves overhead electrification, which is unsightly and experience to install and maintain.

            • James Falcsik says:

              Check out this statement from the Adirondack Wild letter to the APA concerning the DEC Alternate 7 proposal:

              “With respect to alternatives, one that was not explored is the feasibility of a new narrow gauge, electric rail line side by side with a recreational trail, making dual use between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake possible. We ask that this alternative be addressed and assessed.”

          • AdkDave says:

            Currently you cannot run steam within the Park unless its oil fired steam…. So if you’re going to burn diesel anyway it might as well be diesel electric since they are alot less expensive and alot less difficult to maintain.

            • Boreas says:

              I didn’t really think so. I just thought it would be more interesting from an historic point of view.

  17. Peter says:

    And that is true. That is why the state is doing the RFP. It wants to give a rail operator a long term contract to manage the line. However, it has to be profitable & the ASR isn’t. You’re not going to run any freight on the line, because it’s not going to be configured to do that, so it’ll just be a punnnnnnny scenic railroad. Go ask Iowa Pacific how they are doing over in the Saratoga North Creek line. It’s costing them over 1 million a year in LOSSES to run that scenic railroad & they have a much better line, better rail cars & it actually goes someplace (i.e. North Creek & Gore Mountain). And they cannot even turn a profit. Now they aren’t even going to run the winter ski train this year. So yes, find someone DUMB enought to put up their own money to take over management of a rail line, with nio hope of profit!

    • David P. Lubic says:

      And I’ll essentially repeat what I’ve said to Boreas. Make all accountable to a common standard. If the railroad is required to make a profit, require the trail to make a profit. Require the highway system to generate a profit. Require the highway system, or the trail, to pay property taxes.

      There would be a lot of changes, I can tell you. One of them may well be a considerable reduction in your property (real estate) tax bill, which is where a lot of highway subsidy comes from. Against that, expect to see the cost of gasoline go up and the cost of trucking to go up. That sort of scenario could make revived freight service more plausible than it is now.

      Here’s another question to ponder. . .would you want to really attempt to go into a business of any kind in which your chief competitor has a publicly funded infrastructure discount of about 50%, and in addition to that would pay no taxes on the valuable public property he uses?

      Is it any wonder the rail system shrank so badly in this country?

      This is nothing new. It was visible and documented at least as far back as the 1950s, as seen at about 13:30 or so in this film from then:

      • Boreas says:

        “Make all accountable to a common standard. If the railroad is required to make a profit, require the trail to make a profit. Require the highway system to generate a profit. Require the highway system, or the trail, to pay property taxes.”

        Sounds good to me – let’s do it!

  18. Peter says:

    Ok, that’s fair: Let’s make ALL roads TOLL ROADS then; we’ll charge people to drive on them; pluse we’ll charge EVERYONE a fee each year based on the mileage they drive (we’ll call it a drive tax); we’ll raise the toll on the NY State Thruway & we’ll put a toll on the Northway, since they now have to pay for themselves. We’ll add a few dollars to the gas tax, & we can throw a fee on trail useage. Just put toll botths up. Sounds fine to me. You NY’ers go figure out how to get all that thru the state government!

  19. Dave says:

    This is all just a day late & a dollar short. At this point it doesn’t really matter anymore what the town did. The decision was already made back in the summer by the DEC/DOT and APA to remove the rails north of Tupper Lake. Now that the final comment period is over, the APA can green light the updated UMP with their signature, & the rail folks can run off to court. Because WE ALL know that is where this is heading! The rail folks won’t be happy with any decision less than full rail service. And the sad thing is, they can spend money on lawyers till they are blue in the face & they will NEVER get full rail service on this line ever again!

  20. Harrietstown Votes to Save the Rails » Upper Saranac Lake Association says:

    […] Read Article […]

  21. Dave says:

    Why read something again that is immaterial to the overall debate. The town reversed its previous decision. Big f’en deal! It’s way to late & a dollar short of having any impact. The decision has already been made. All this last public comment period was; was to cross the “t” and dot the “i”. It’s done. Now be a good little boy or girl & run off & hire a lawyer & let’s get this thing in court, because we all know that is where you rail weenies want it to go!

  22. Gil Gutierrez says:

    Through out the so called united states all abandoned rail should be for public transportation purposes, heavy rail, light or for tourism. As I read it some towns people say that the rail don’t feed the local economy, Remady, if that town has no specialty to offer, as a People they should find one so as to make that town an attraction worth stopping and visting. I bing from So. California with a m a maltitude of rail lines, the only countries to be given praise is San Diego that have used all existing lines and have promoted the planning and construction of new lines.

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