Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Tupper Lake: A Hub of Potential

tupper lake storeThe roads were torn up and dusty, with holes almost a story deep in places. It was difficult to navigate around the construction, and visiting a shop on the main Park Street thoroughfare was all but impossible.

Yet, the positive energy in Tupper Lake was palpable.

Have you been to Tupper Lake lately? I’ve been there several times recently for a variety of reasons, and in this outsider’s opinion, great things are going on.

The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) entered into a contract with Tupper Lake in 2014 to assume tourism-related responsibilities. That’s the reason I’ve been there recently; making sure I’m updated on what’s new for travelers and hosting some travel media. There are a lot of things to see and do there, but I have to admit; I wasn’t expecting the level of enthusiasm and private investment that I encountered.

We often send travel media to the Adirondack Public Observatory, as it is a great way to highlight the lack of light pollution in the region as compared to some of the cities in our feeder markets. And of course, there is still momentum following the opening of the Wild Walk at The Wild Center last year, a new attraction that is still garnering significant media and traveler attention. In addition, though, during the course of my own recent familiarization tour, I met a number of business owners who are starting new ventures or expanding existing ones this year.

earth girl designs made in tupper lakeMy first couple of stops were a study in contrasts. First, I met knowledgable and energetic Cherrie Witten & Kristin Amell of the Health Hub on Park Street. The Hub is at a new location at 211 Park Street, and this cooperative offers nutritious, non-GMO, local and organic products at fair prices. The store is lined with bins with bulk ingredients such as grains, seeds and nuts by the pound, and callers with fresh eggs and meats and as well as ready-to-go prepared items such as baked goods, salads and sandwiches. Plus, they have racks of local-made craft items. They source local foods from the region, including the Amish farms northwest of Tupper Lake. It’s a bright and busy space, which also serves as a venue for holistic health educators, too.

I left the Health Hub to meet another cheery entrepreneur who is opening her business (with one not-as-healthy aspect) this year, too.

Jenn Walsh met me at the door of “The Connection Cafe” with a huge smile and a plate of cake balls. These treats for which she is famous (or will be) are a signature concoction.”Everything that’s bad for you, I do,” Walsh told me. I found that not everything that she offers is actually bad for you, though. The Connection at 123 park Street is a “creative hangout”, and is a collaboration between Walsh, her partner Jon Kopp, and Evan Bujold, the high school librarian, who is committed to bringing an internet arts and music cafe to Tupper Lake. I was there before they were completely set up and open, but the space is now serving as a meeting space for Mod18 teen group gatherings, as well as for craft vendor fairs, and music performances and art demonstrations. They hope to welcome teens, locals and visitors to their space. And once the kitchenette is completed, I’ll be back for more of Jenn’s “homemade, home processed, hand crafted” products and “bad for me” creations, too.

Tupper Lake is also part of the growing brewery craze, with not one, but two breweries on tap.

Raquette River Brewery, which has been brewing since 2013, is undergoing some expansion. I had the opportunity to sample a beer with owner Mark Mark Jessie, who owns the brewery along with Joe Hockey. Mark told me that he doesn’t necessarily want to do any big distribution, as it his intention to be part of the Tupper Lake experience, and support the community as a destination and a place to live. They just expanded their brewing capacity, as well as their physical footprint at the brewery, with a poured concrete deck to accommodate pub visitors as well as bands.

tupper lake urinalsBut wait; there’s more…beer.

I then got a tour of the new LaLa’s at Big Tupper Brewing. According to Big Tupper Brewing co-owner Jim LaValley, one third of the building will be occupied by a brewery, and the other two-thirds are LaLa’s BTB, a brewpub that specializes in Mexican and pub fare. The space is nicely designed in rustic wood and cool details like growler light fixtures, and even urinals made from kegs (something I wouldn’t ever have gotten to see if I hadn’t been there before opening!) 14 taps at the bar will offer Big Tupper Brewing’s various beers. Given the flurry of activity there that day, it isn’t hard to see that LaLa’s is opening early this summer, and the brewery is expected to open this fall.

One more stop took me to Tupper Lake’s own souvenir shop. Expanding from a successful online Etsy business to a bricks and mortar souvenir shop located in a cute house adjacent to Park Street, Faith McClelland officially opened the Spruce & Hemlock Country Store over the Independence Day holiday weekend. The adorable shop comes complete with an eclectic supply of all kinds of crafts, clothing, gifts, and a kids section with toys, many proudly proclaiming “Made in Tupper Lake NY” on the label.

After meeting one bubbly personality after another, I was hungry. And the upbeat theme continued. My colleague Michelle Clement, Tupper Lake & Hamilton County Marketing Manager for ROOST, decided to stop in at the brand new Ohanas 1950s Diner. The 50s are a bit before my time, but when you walk in, it’s like the set of Happy Days. We ordered fried pickles and two different hamburger specialties – I recommend the mushroom/swiss stuffed burger. Owners Mike and Amanda Gonyea-Kelly were there cooking and serving respectfully, and Amanda was completely in costume, right down to the bobby socks.

Rails and trails

There was more to the tour, including a short walk on the paved pathway in the Municipal Park, and a stop to see the new junction pass multi-use trail that currently connects the uptown and downtown districts of Tupper Lake, and that will connect to the anticipated rail trail leading to Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.

This spring, Governor Cuomo approved a plan to rehabilitate the 45-mile railway between Big Moose and Tupper Lake and build a scenic multi-use recreation trail on the 34-mile old rail corridor connecting Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid.

Under The direction of the NYSDEC, NYSDOT and the Governor, the compromise has paved the way for the greater Tri-Lakes area to take economic advantage of the Adirondack Rail Trail, and now is the time to for us to start planning the marketing strategy for these new regional assets.

The all-season multi-use recreation trail will serve as a safe, scenic, healthy way for residents and visitors to enjoy this incredible natural landscape. Cyclists, hikers, runners, walkers, skiers and snowmobile enthusiasts will be able to utilize this terrific trail year-round.

It’s a product we can sell. The rail connection to and from Utica will be an attractive and unique experience. And the multi-use rail trail has tremendous potential to be marketed and packaged as part of a guided tour, an inn-to-inn biking or snowmobiling excursion, a rail/bike combination, part of the Adirondack Cuisine Trail or other connective experiences.

ROOST, as the accredited destination marketing organization responsible for promoting Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties, conducts research on an annual basis to determine the effectiveness of our marketing and to gather visitor data. That research shows that close to 20% of visitors identify cycling as one of the activities that attracted them to the region.* The recreation trail is an opportunity to take advantage of key attributes of the Adirondacks that travelers want to experience.

There are a lot of great things happening; the upcoming addition of two new hotels in Saranac Lake, the ongoing vitality of Lake Placid’s tourism activity and robust revitalization efforts in Tupper Lake.

ROOST has strong working relationships with the Towns and Villages in Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, with a record of spearheading cooperative programs to promote shared visitor experiences.

We applaud the efforts of DEC leadership to pull stakeholders from all three communities together to begin the process of strategic planning, marketing and implementation, and look forward to working with all parties to take full advantage of these amazing new resources for both residents and travelers.

I hear they are paving the streets in Tupper Lake – covering up all those new water pipes and cables that will put Tupper Lake at the forefront of infrastructure improvements in the region.

With all that new infrastructure, and being the hub between the rail and the trail, Tupper Lake may well be positioned best to take advantage of it all. The bed of an old rail corridor, the recreational path might be fairly flat, elevation-wise, but the positive energy level in Tupper Lake is certainly poised to continue to go up!

* 2014 Leisure Travel Information Study results.

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Kim Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism.

139 Responses

  1. Larry Roth says:

    Actually, the rail trail Tupper Lake is getting will be a good thing – but not as good as it could be, and certainly not world class. The best solution would be to keep the rails and build the trail around them. That way each would support the other, multiplying the benefits of both. The state’s plan is really a cheap way of trying to please everyone, but far from the best solution. It shows a real lack of vision, a willingness to dream small.

    If you want to see what a real world-class trail looks like, and what the state should really be doing, there’s a photo diary that shows how a small town in England – Hebden Bridge – makes full use of rails, trails, and other assets. It’s comparable to Tupper Lake in some ways – small, living on tourism and trying to attract ‘creatives’, looking to get more jobs. Here’s the link:

    Hebden Bridge is a model from which Tupper Lake and the rest of the Tri-Lakes towns could learn much.

    • Hope says:

      Since ASR has continually disrespected Tupper Lake they shouldn’t be surprised at the communities continued support of the trail all the way to Old Forge.

      Tupper Lake is the geographic center of the Park and an area of tremendous natural beauty that is metamorphosing from a rough and tumble mill town into a outdoor recreation community. It is the “Heart of the Adirondacks”. The hub of Rt 3 and 30. The roads that bring visitors in from the northwest, the southwest, the southeast and the northeast. A place were hikers, bikers, paddlers, hunters, fishermen, skiers and snowmobilers all manage to utilize the Park’s natural resources and get along with each other. Change is palpable and the community is embracing it. RR can be part of it or not. They are not winning any friends in Tupper by fighting it and by the looks of it it seems that Saranac Lake is also coming around. Change is in the air and it is refreshing!

      • Larry Roth says:

        It’s this false narrative that ARTA has worked so hard to create that is going result in the tri-lakes ending with so much less than they could have and deserve. ARTA is so focused on getting rid of the tracks at all costs, they refuse to admit how much better the trail could be in partnership with the rails – both environmentally and economically. Take a look at the photo diary to see how it works. You can’t tell me the cycling tourists you want to attract would not want to have the kind of services – including rail options – that are routine in the rest of the world. ARTA’s “grand vision” looks pretty small when you can see what else is possible – for those with open minds. You are selling Tupper Lake and the rest of the region short.

        • Hope says:

          Rail with Trail is the false narrative that the RR has been spreading. If that was a viable option that’s what would be happening. Funny thing the locals who have traveled the corridor, hunted and fished from it know that rail with trail is not a realistic option. So trying to convince them of it is disingenuous at best. You done your best to convince Utica that it is possible except that DEC knows that it is not and said so back in 1996.

          • Larry Roth says:

            Hope – did you even look at what they do in Hebden Bridge? How they make it work the entire length of the Pennine Cycleway? Is there some reason you don’t want people to know what they could have, instead of what ARTA is selling? Is there nothing they do there that wouldn’t work even better in the Adirondacks? Why are you so determined to settle for so little? What are you afraid of?

            Take another look – and ask why ARTA won’t even talk about this. For certain, they will never mention it on their Facebook page.


            • Hope says:

              Yup. Hasn’t changed my opinion. England is quite a bit smaller than NY and the major metros are much closer. Train travel in Europe is ubiquitous not so here. ASR is proposing a tourist train ride and not transportation. Totally different ball of wax.

              • Larry Roth says:

                You have nothing to learn from a successful national trail organization stretching hundreds of miles? You don’t think the kind of facilities they have in Hebden Bridge aren’t exactly what Tupper Lake could use? Do you truly represent the best interests of cyclists in your group? Or Tupper Lake?

                • Hope says:

                  The people of Tupper are free to express their own opinions. They did so at the voting booth by voting in pro trail candidates across the board. Very very clear margins. In reality most Tupper folks prefer the trail go all the way to Old Forge and if you were at the public hearing in Tupper Lake you would have heard the majority of folks call for the trail. A petition put out by concerned businesses (not ARTA) had 95% of local business prefer the trail. It is what it is. And with ASR saying they aren’t interested in coming to Tupper is just another nail in their coffin. RR has made their bed.

              • Boreas says:

                I agree. Train travel is ubiquitous over there partly because fuel prices are sky high due to the taxes on it – much of which likely going to public transit.

            • John says:

              They don’t exist in the ADK, with all it’s outdated rules. Plus, I bet the area around that rail/trail in England ISNOT considered a Protected area!

        • If this was just simply a matter of leveling and creating a path next to the tracks it would have happened 20 years ago. But it’s not simple. And Tupper Lake has suffered for 20 years.

          This is actually a blessing for ASR because they can focus on where they are successful (Utica to Thendara), and stop with the delusional fantasy that a seasonal railroad with very expensive tickets from Utica to Lake Placid is viable.

          • Larry Roth says:

            Tupper Lake will suffer even more if close-minded people with no vision continue to dominate the decision making process. Argue for your limitations, and sure enough – they’re yours.

            This isn’t a blessing for ASR – it’s a blight on every community on the line that will have its economic potential reduced for no good reason.

            The delusion that a trail all by itself can beat a rail and trail combination is the real problem.

  2. Eric says:

    Obviously, a rail and trail would be the best. But in this instance it does not work economically or environmentally. So the next best thing is to rip out the tracks.

    What a great day it will be for SL when they cut the ribbon for the new rail trail. I cannot imagine how depressing it is for the locals who drive across those tracks everyday. But the depression is soon coming to an end.

  3. Bruce says:

    Hebden Bridge is very nice, but like that and other places where rail and trail systems are working, constitutional protections concerning usage are either non-existent or very limited in scope. That’s the one thing which makes the Adirondack Park unique, and also the big stumbling block with a rail/trail here. You only need to look at the Camoin study which very clearly explains why.

    I agree a rail/trail would be nice, but impractical under the present law. If the trail portion were limited to foot traffic only, then the SLMP guidelines would largely not be an issue. The compromise offers the most bang for the buck, although personally, I would like to see the train go all the way from Big Moose to Lake Placid.

    Instead of continually beating a horse which is not going anywhere, it would be far more profitable to go with what we have and put our efforts into making it work.

    • Larry Roth says:

      If there is one thing I keep seeing, it’s the mindset “No we can’t. We must settle for less than we could and should have. It’s just not possible.”

      Argue for your limitations – and they’re yours.

      The only thing standing between the region and a real rail and trail is the negativity too many have become resigned to, the people who would only dream small selfish visions.

    • David P. Lubic says:

      Bruce’s commentary is a reminder that the real obstacles here aren’t technical and might not even be financial, but are institutional.

      In other words, some people won’t listen, even with proof right under their noses.

      • Larry Roth says:

        The other thing Bruce assumes is that it’s easier to do these things in England than it would be in the Adirondacks. Has he considered the challenges of pulling this off where land use goes back centuries, in a small country with overlapping jurisdictions and levels of government? Yet somehow they make it work, and work rather well considering. How many times do we hear “You can’t do this in the Adirondacks because (fill in the blank)” History shows the state can do anything – if it wants to badly enough.

  4. Pete Nelson says:

    This article is the ticket: enthusiasm and support for the kinds of entrepreneurial, small businesses that must be the future lifeblood of the region, and an endorsement of the rail trail as a product ROOST can sell. You bet it is: bicycling continues to grow as one of the most popular recreational activities in the US. This trail can and should be marketed as a national destination, and every one of these businesses should get ink along side, marketing Tupper Lake as a happening destination for recreational cyclists who want healthy food, good beer and interesting things to do.

    I saw ROOST head Jim McKenna this week and he reminded me of his constant mantra: build it and they will come. His perspective is amenities first: give the public and his staff something they can work with. This means that communities have to invest, take risks. They have to have a vision, some courage and a way to get money and resources to begin to realize it. The small business women and men of Tupper are showing the courage and vision, and now the State is effectively giving them money and resources by making them a rail and trail hub. This is real and exciting.

    As to the ongoing series of rail-with-trail comments, I have been exploring the rail corridor from Tupper northeast, foot-by-foot, to document potential amenities and features for the coming rec trail. I have seen with my own eyes what experts have said, what DEC has said and many knowledgeable commenters have said: short of a constitutional amendment a trail alongside the rail is impossible. On the other hand, the rec trail is going to be a beaut, with so much see and do and savor.

    Keep going Tupper, you’re on the right track (pun intended).

    • Larry Roth says:

      With all due respect, DEC is not universally considered to be the final authority on what is legally possible in the ADK Park – considering all of the DEC decisions now being challenged elsewhere – nor does DEC have an impressive record on developing solutions, but it is very good at raising objections.

      There are a number of trail possibilities DEC dismissed out of hand – and there are alternatives it hasn’t even considered. People are putting a lot faith in an agency that was supposed to be doing trail development in the corridor for the last 20 years – but didn’t – and is only now suddenly finding ways to do so in the stretch where the tracks are going to be upgraded.

      The reality is that DEC can always find a way to do what it is ordered to do – when it wants to and is forced to.

      • Boreas says:


        I haven’t seen every inch of the corridor, but have seen quite a bit. Even if the legal issues magically were to go away, widening the corridor to accept both train and recreation SAFELY would be a Herculean task requiring commensurate spending. Through every wetland, the corridor is just wide enough for the tracks & bed, not to mention numerous bridge and culvert replacements. Filling wetlands and creating a new parallel bed for the trail would be very expensive, and no one is waving wads of free cash around to fund the project. The DEC knows the corridor well, and I believe their initial rejection of a parallel trail to be genuine and in the best interest of taxpayers.

        • Larry Roth says:

          A number of people have developed detailed plans for trails that make use of the corridor where possible, and chart alternatives where not – and there’s an alternative no one has considered as far as I know.

          One of the problems of designing a parallel trail is that it has to accommodate snowmobiles – the trail has to be wider, bridges have to be stronger, curves limited, etc. What happens if you take snowmobiles out of the mix?

          They currently have full use of the corridor 3 months of the year – when there is snow. (Just 3 months – and they complain it’s underused by the railroad!?!!) DEC can build all the snowmobile trails it wants, but if the snow doesn’t come, neither will the snowmobiles. Their numbers are in decline; 2016 is the hottest year on record so far; ADK winters have been getting shorter and shorter for some time now. The smart long term policy is to keep the tracks and let the snowmobilers fend as best as the weather will let them. It makes no sense to rip out a working railroad to invest in a user group whose long-term prospects are in decline.

          The need to accommodate snowmobiles distorts what the trail could be for everyone else. Connections from other snowmobile trails can be improved, and facilities can be added – but it shouldn’t be at the expense of rails which will become even more useful with a compatible trail routed around them.

          Take snowmobiles out of the mix and what happens? The trail doesn’t need to be as wide; bridges can be smaller and less obtrusive. It’s easier to route around sensitive areas – and it’s easier to have the trail detour occasionally from the corridor to reach nearby points of interest. The trail wouldn’t be limited to flat grades. (The Olympic Training section would be a lot more realistic and effective if the trail followed the terrain in spots – otherwise they might just as well be going around and around on a running track.)

          You can have strategically placed shelters/whistle stops along the line for trail users, including Portajohns. Those can be serviced by hi-rail trucks and placed along the trail on a seasonal basis. The rails will also make it easier to support the trail, getting work crews and tools in and out as needed. Put “You are here” maps in the shelters along with train schedules, emergency contact info, nearby local attractions, etc. and the trail will be getting into the ‘world-class’ category for real.

          And, there are NO other rail trails that could offer anything like this in the U.S. DEC is actively trying to serve cycling of all kinds; they are overlooking a unique opportunity here. You can’t do this with a regular freight railroad operating on its own tracks; a tourist railroad operating on a publicly owned right of way is the perfect partner for this.

          Cyclists are being especially badly served by ARTA. If they were open to working with the railroad to develop mutual rail and bike services, it would offer a lot more for everyone. The ASR already offers rail and bike trips down the line; why does ARTA think it can’t be done in the tri-lakes? If the cyclists would work with the railroad instead of fighting it, everyone would win.

          The bonus of upgrading the rails and building a trail around them is this: you get to keep the economic benefits of the rails, you ADD the benefits from the trails to them – and the combined effect is greater than either alone. The compromise may look cheaper – but so is the pay-off. It’s a bad deal compared to what’s been taken off the table by those who just want the tracks gone.

          The Adirondacks deserve a vision as great as they are, and as they could be.

          Save the Rails – Rails With Trails!

          • Boreas says:


            “A number of people have developed detailed plans for trails that make use of the corridor where possible, and chart alternatives where not – and there’s an alternative no one has considered as far as I know.”

            I believe it was considered and scrapped as even more unworkable than a parallel trail. There are simply too many wetlands and obstacles to work around, and virtually every one would require building a new trail out & around the obstacle. And that assumes it isn’t on private land.

            “One of the problems of designing a parallel trail is that it has to accommodate snowmobiles – the trail has to be wider, bridges have to be stronger, curves limited, etc. What happens if you take snowmobiles out of the mix?”

            Safe cycling trails also need to be quite wide – especially in congested areas. We’re not talking about a narrow, off-road bike trail here. A 10 foot wide trail is even quite narrow on a bike – especially with a locomotive beside you.

            My own preference would be to create a trail without snowmobiles as well, but the governor seems to be pressing hard for that group, so that’s what we will likely see.

          • Bob says:

            Man!, LR, your gonna beat this to death.

            • Larry Roth says:

              Well, as far as ARTA is concerned, it won’t be over until the tracks are pulled out all the way back to Old Forge. Hope Frenette said as much in a comment up top.

              While ROOST is excited about finally having trains coming to Tupper Lake, ARTA will be working to stop it. They’re not giving up – so don’t expect the issue to go away.

              Her spin that just about everyone voted for the trail in Tupper Lake is only about half true – the vote was about getting trail AND rail, not just the trail. ARTA does not want to admit there are people who want both.

              • Hope says:

                You have no idea of the politics in Tupper Lake but you can keep drinking the RR cool aid if you want.

                • Larry Roth says:

                  Hope – I may not know the details about politics in Tupper Lake, but I can see the bigger picture and it’s not pretty. Your response is typical, unfortunately. I try to bring relevant information to the discussion; you can’t answer it so you descend to personal attacks.

                  Here’s what I see happening:

                  False Choices. ARTA depicts this as either rail OR trail; the railroad people have always supported rails AND trails – and the state did too for 20 years. The railroad people have done their part – it’s the state that never delivered on the trail part.

                  Politics of Denial. ARTA has engaged in a campaign against the railroad that deliberately paints a false picture. ARTA will acknowledge nothing positive from the railroad, denying ridership, denying historic value, denying job creation, denying its ability to work with other businesses, denying its benefits to the larger regional economy, denying its role in diversifying a regional economy that has a shrinking base. ARTA will allow nothing on its Facebook page that has a pro-rail aspect, nothing that shows how rails and trails could work together. ARTA refuses to even admit the existence of the Rail Explorers if it can avoid it, and will not acknowledge their success. Coupled with personal attacks and misinformation, ARTA has been deliberately playing to the dark side while busy painting a fantasy picture of how great the trail could be. Well, a trail could be great – but a rail-trail combo would be even better.

                  Politics of Division. ARTA has pitted town against town, personal desires against the public good. ARTA’S message to Utica: Drop Dead! ARTA’s approach to any questions about what to do: What’s in it for me? The railroad seeks the betterment of every community along the line, the good of the whole region. ARTA wants its own exclusive enclave.

                  Politics of Resentment. ARTA continually portrays the railroad as a drain on the taxpayers, despite the fact that it keeps the corridor open for everyone, provides services that can’t happen any other way, and has made a huge investment of volunteer time and financial resources to restore the corridor. ARTA instead promises a ‘free’ trail – that will be completely paid for and maintained at public expense. ASR is called ‘selfish’ – yet ARTA insists on denying thousands of visitors the chance to see the Adirondacks in a unique way so they can have their own personal luxury trail.

                  ARTA’s prime objective from day one has been the destruction of the railroad. If the people behind ARTA had put half as much effort into making the state live up to its plans to build the trails it was supposed to be doing for the last 20 years, they’d already have them. The rail supporters – and it’s a much larger group than just the ASR – are still ready and willing to make that happen.

                  Hope, you can talk about RR Koolaid all you want – but it sounds pretty hypocritical coming from someone running an All You Can Eat Buffet of …. fertilizer.

                  Let me repeat that it’s possible to do things differently than the ARTA “all or nothing” approach.


                  • Boreas says:

                    “Let me repeat that it’s possible to do things differently than the ARTA “all or nothing” approach.”

                    Which is what the current rail/trail compromise is Larry. ARTA didn’t get the entire corridor, nor did ASR.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      The critical difference is this: ASR is prepared to work with trails whatever the outcome of the legal action. They won’t like the compromise if that prevails, but they will adapt. RE will probably leave the state.

                      I have spoken directly with ARTA members, including Hope Frenette. None of them could even conceive of cooperating with the railroad on anything despite all the things that would benefit both sides – AND Tupper Lake. (Did you read the photo diary?)

                      ARTA has never accepted the compromise. but they’re not challenging it because 34 miles of trail is 34 miles of track removed. They still want the rest of the track gone back to Thendara and they see this as just the first step.They will continue to do everything they can to keep the railroad from succeeding in Tupper Lake.

                      That’s the reality here. ARTA is the group that is not prepared to compromise; they are just biding their time.

                  • Robert says:


                    ARTA is self-serving and near-sighted. It’s a riot (albeit a frustrating one) to watch one of their loudest members come to the SL train station, park, and spend the next 10 minutes finding the perfect camera angle that doesn’t show the couple of dozen cars parked there. Minutes later, a Facebook post about how “nobody is on the train today.”

                    Now I’m not saying the railroad is a powerful economic driver, but I know a volunteer and people do come here, first and foremost, for the train.

                    Try to find somebody who is holding off on a trip to the Tri-Lakes area until there’s an 8-or-so mile stretch of mundane biking/walking between SL and LP. I live right down the road from the D&H, and the only people there are the ones who need a quick and easy space to walk a dog (myself included). I mountain bike and cross country ski, and there are plenty of far better alternatives in the area.

                    But wait, the snowmobilers! The economic saviors!


                    If we even have snow, there’s going to be plenty more of it in Old Forge (or just about anywhere else in the park when compared to SL/LP). And while the railroad is less transportation-oriented today, what about 5, 10, 25 years from now? Odds are the snowmobile season is going to continually shrink, it’s a biking/walking/skiing destination of little interest, and don’t even get me started on this whole “There’s value in the rails!” when you have to pull up and deal with disposal of harshly treated railroad ties. Can’t just throw the creosote-soaked things in the woods.

                    ARTA: We don’t like trains.

              • Hope says:

                ROOST is excited about the trail coming. Finally!

  5. Keith Gorgas says:

    A question for everyone: just suppose for the sake of imagination that Judge Main rules in favor of the Railroad and agrees that NY State arrived at Alt 7 in an arbitrary and capricious manner.

    Where do we go from there? Is it more fighting to destroy the railroad, or are there any people from ARTA who would sit down with TRAC to work together to bring ALt 6, the 1996 UMP, to fruition?

    I guess at the root of that question is my wondering if the goal is to get a trail to Tupper Lake or to destroy the historic railroad?

    To my knowledge, no one has figured, even estimated, what would the cost be of carrying out the 1996 UMP, nor has anyone projected the projected benefits of a side by side in and out trail along with a restored railroad.

    • Larry Roth says:

      The odds of anyone coming together on alt 6 are long at this point. The only thing ARTA members agree on is getting rid of the tracks.

      My guess is the snowmobilers would be satisfied with just getting the tracks pulled – they don’t need a fancy trail. The wilderness people just want everything gone – including the snowmobiles. The NIMBY faction wants the tracks gone – and they’ll be complaining about all those people on bicycles next. The cyclists might be able to work cooperatively – they could gain a lot – but I haven’t met any yet who would even consider the idea.

      I’m waiting to see how people like it if and when DEC decides the Lake Colby causeway is going to need full guard rails on both sides for safety.

      • Boreas says:


        I agree – whatever the result here and in general, there will be people who complain because it didn’t go their way. But they will be the ultimate losers by not seeing change as an opportunity instead of a travesty. The winners will be people who make the best of the final situation and pursue any new opportunities that may present themselves. Nothing new here – to evolve, one must adapt.

        • Larry Roth says:

          True indeed. ARTA is still locked in a mindset from
          30 years ago when cars were the only way to go and trains were on the way out. Snowmobiles were the magic answer to keeping the ADK economy going in the winter.

          A lot of people haven’t realized that trains are coming back and people are tired of having to drive everywhere. Rail trail people in the US are used to assimilating rail corridors like the Borg – the idea of partnering with them is incomprehensible. That’s why the example of Hebden Bridge is so important – and why Hope Frenette is so determined to ignore it. It challenges her fundamental beliefs and desires.

          Change is coming. Climate change is going to affect the winter ADK economy in ways the local and state government are still in denial about. The effects of invasives and shifting native plants from the climate changes are going to change the wilderness in ways the forever wild people can’t deal with.

          One more trail among hundreds isn’t going to make that big a difference; keeping the railroad is important because we don’t yet really know what we’ll need – and it might prove critical. A rail and trail combination could be a big part of the answer. The railroad people have shown they are willing to try whatever works. ARTA? Not so much.

          We can do better. But it won’t happen with closed minds that refuse to adapt.

          • says:

            Larry, you’re aiming way too low…

            … demand a “Bullet Train”, now that would get things rocking!

            If yer not talking Bullet Trains, yer spinnin yer wheels!

            BTW, Utica is not where an efficient train line begins…

            Listen to Hope!

          • Boreas says:

            L R ,

            “A rail and trail combination could be a big part of the answer.”
            Hence the proposed rail/trail compromise.

            “The railroad people have shown they are willing to try whatever works”
            But not the rail/trail compromise.

            “One more trail among hundreds isn’t going to make that big a difference;”
            I am not familiar with any 34 mile multi-use recreation trails in the Park, let alone hundreds.

            • Larry Roth says:

              Nor am I – and I have no quarrel with the state building one. I object to the false choice that it can only be done be ripping out the railroad. The state has demonstrated time and time again that it can always find a way to do something if properly motivated.

              There is nothing more expensive in the long run than a ‘cheap and easy’ solution; the people of the region would be far better served if the state would spend the money to do the job right and do it for the long term – rails AND trails.

  6. Paul says:

    I am going to ask my legislator if they can sponsor a bill for a law that would make it illegal to argue about keeping a RR or building a trail. Enough is enough already. Those of us that are sad to see this major piece of historic infrastructure go have got to just give it up. Sometimes bad decisions are made. I hope the trail does as well as some have predicted. I will be very happy to be proven wrong. Going for a bike ride.

  7. john says:

    Well, in my opinion if the judge rules against option 7 & I was the DOT, I would just allow the leases to end & NOT renew them. ASR & Rail Explorers cannot force the DOT to renew their leases. If the state chooses to end them, that is their choice. ASR & Rail Explorers operate at the desire of the DOT to provide them a lease. Bite the hand that feeds you & you may not like the outcome.

    • Larry Roth says:

      John – cutting off your nose to spite your face isn’t exactly a great idea either.

      While ARTA will never admit it, the ASR and the Rail Explorers are creating jobs, bringing in tourists, and working with other businesses in the region to spread the money around. Their advertising helps promote the region – AND it brings in people who might not come otherwise. They are a net benefit for the area – and that’s above and beyond the tourism draw from living history on display.

      • Boreas says:


        Rail supporters seem to be expending a lot of effort to turn this debate into an ASR/RE vs. ARTA fight. But most rail supporters ignore the fact that there are a LOT of people and towns who support none of these organizations and simply want a year-round, multi-use trail between LP & TL – and have wanted it for decades. In fact, they are probably the silent majority of people within the Park and across the state. I give the DEC credit for considering us and coming up with the compromise plan. But I guess now we’ll have to wait and see what the courts decide.

        • John says:


          Neither the ASR or Rail Explorers run to Tupper Lake right now & probably never will. The state HAS never decided to rebuild the rails north of Big Moose Station under the old UMP, so what makes ya think they expend the funds to do it now. I’m betting you idiots keep pissing the state off & those pesky little leases you have now may just 1 day disappear themselves.

          • Larry Roth says:

            Hi John –

            Interesting take you have on things, if a little behind the times. Rail Explorers are now getting ready to start day runs between Tupper Lake and Lake Clear, including adding more rail bikes and staff.

            You may have missed the group of rail speeder owners who went to the time and trouble to run their private vehicles all the way from Remsen to Lake Placid and back by rail. Imagine how many people would do it if the tracks were rehabbed by the state to allow the ASR to do that with passenger trains.

            Of course, if the state goes ahead with its plans, all of that will go away: the visitors, the jobs, the money they bring into the area – and the history that shapes the unique character of the region. I get the impression you can’t wait for that to happen.

            I wonder that you appear to hate Tupper Lake and the rest of the area so much. Are you by any chance a snowmobiler? I can see how the total lack of snow last winter – and possibly the same again this coming winter – would make you cranky. Just because the rails are going to be pulled if the court doesn’t stop it does not mean you’ll get any more snow.

            I do applaud your optimism that the state will actually build the trail as promised. They never delivered on 20 years of promises for the railroad previously, but perhaps this time will be different.

            I believe ARTA is aware that the state’s plans for the trail are only the bare bones of what will be needed to make it work. They’re already trying to figure out to fund bathrooms, parking areas, and put a crew of volunteers together to keep the trail open. I’m surprised they haven’t made more of a public stir about how much more will have to be done before all the promises they’ve made actually stand a chance of coming true. Perhaps it doesn’t matter, because no one will hold them responsible if they don’t.

            Possibly they figure the 3 years until the basic trail is done will be enough time to hit everyone up for the rest of the money that will be needed to flesh it out. I do hope the region is going to be able to cope with the loss of visitors and money from the rails while they wait on the state to deliver.

            Have a nice day – and you should really ride the rail bikes and the train while you still can.

            • John says:

              don’t need to ride some BS rail bike, I’d rather ride a real bike on a real trail. And yes I am a snowmobiler & I would have ridden on a trail last year with the snow that was present. There was enough snow to ride on what should be a trail, but we as snowmobilers are limited until there is ENOUGH snow to cover the rails before we ride. Get rid of the rails & 3-6 inches would be enough. As for loss of visitors/money it’s a drop in the bucket right now. Just look at the average number of riders per train & it’s not worth the train moving on some days. As for the rail explorers they knew what they were getting into when they opened the business. They knew there was a good possibility the state could make the decision they did. Piss poor planning isn’t my problem.
              Maybe this time WILL BE DIFFERENT and maybe it won’t. Ya had your chance at the rails, now move aside & let someone else try something else. Even if the decision is reversed, the rails will still sit unused between Big Moose & Saranac Lake. It’ll be YOUR WASTE then, not mine!

              • Larry Roth says:

                Well John, you have a problem.

                Rail user numbers keep going up, snowmobile numbers keep going down, and ADK winters keep getting shorter and warmer.

                Piss-poor planning is the state throwing more money at sledders – especially when it’s for just 3 months of the year, and shrinking. You might want to start thinking about trading in your snowmobile for a dirt bike or an ATV.

                • john says:

                  when you guys come close to generating 868 million a year in economic stimulus across the state or even come close to the estimated 245 million in the ADK alone that snowmobiling generates, maybe then we can talk. Until then your just hot air and a piss poor business eating up space that could & WILL be put to better uses.
                  And I’m quite sure you’ll come back with the usual old pithy comment that snowmobiling is declining; it”’ have to decline quite a bit more before it comes even close to how low the rail line use by ASR is right now.
                  I believe it is time for the DOT to put a tired ol rail line out of its limited business, so the future can begin to happen now!

                  • Larry Roth says:

                    Let’s see. You have hundreds of miles of trails across the state – or is that several thousand? The state spends how much money catering to you and your lobbyists? And it’s still not enough for you?

                    What is wrong with you? Do you really have to have it all?

                    This is the last rail line into the Central Adirondacks, the only one that goes to Lake Placid. It’s over a century of history, a unique economic resource, something that serves thousands of people every year without requiring them to spend thousands of dollars for the experience. All ages, all capabilities.

                    You’d throw all this away for just 34 miles of trail, 34 miles that’s only usable because the railroad people brought it back? A corridor they share with you despite the little help you give them in return? You, speaking for a declining, aging group, have the nerve to talk about the future? A future where we are going to need every resource to cope with changes that are already reshaping the Adirondacks? You’d cripple the line for your interests over the best interests of every community along the line and everyone who wants to ride those rails, people not just from the state but the rest of the country and the world? You’d do this just for your own pleasure for just 3 months out of the year?

                    You are a remarkable person.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Here is my assessment of what has become the Rail vs. Trail argument – no longer the Rail/Trail discussion:

                      DEC decided a compromise was the best answer for the taxpayer’s property. Railers object with a reasonable argument but dubious statistics on ridership and speculative potential for the ASR. Any time a different Trail user group (bikers, runners, walkers, skiers, snowshoers, rollerbladers, birders, photographers, snowmobilers, people with disabilities, vacationers, locals, villages, etc., etc. ) voices their opinion, they are separated from the herd of different multiple user types and chased to exhaustion with the same dubious figures but fairly reasonable argument by the Railers.

                      But if one looks at the BIG Picture, one sees there are MANY, user groups in MANY areas, not to mention MANY villages and communities that want to simply see the DEC compromise come to fruition. The vast majority of these MANY groups are not for ripping up the entire line. They just want access to 34 miles of it free of charge, any time they wish. Lacking a vocal organization to represent all of these user types, Railers will continue to marginalize each group every time they speak up.

                      DEC should not allow the organized and vocal Railers to dominate the discussion, as they are just ONE interest group among dozens that are vying for the use of an underused corridor through the ADK Park.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Well this comes back down to a couple of assumptions – 1) that the only way to do this is by taking out the tracks. (With the ‘claim’ there is little to no value from them.) and 2) the trail will be a a better deal because it will be ‘free’ – which it won’t. You talk about dubious rail numbers, but there is a lot about the claimed trail numbers that don’t look too solid. The railroad is attacked for not making enough money – but no one has a problem with a trail that will suck down funds year after year?

                      I suspect a lot of people just want it over regardless, and are willing to settle for a compromise that’s a bad ‘solution’ to end it. They should be careful what they wish for.

                      There’s also the fact that the primary objective behind the trail group has always been to get rid of the tracks – and they won’t accept the compromise. They will continue to work to get the tracks pulled all the way back to Thendara. This means they will undermine efforts to get the maximum benefits for Tupper Lake from the restoration of rail service , and make the trail much less than it could be. And, they’re happy to drive the rail explorers out of the area,

                      There is a determined effort to portray rail advocates as working against the interests of the community – but the trail advocates are even more determined to get their way.

                      Note this difference: rail advocates are willing to support a trail system – always have been – but not at the price of pulling up the tracks. Trail advocates are pursuing their goal for a narrow segment of the Adirondack community; rail advocates are working for the benefit of everyone along the entire rail line. If you are going to talk about what ‘most’ people want, let’s be honest about that.

                    • john says:

                      I’m glad you recognize that I am a remarkable person, because I am!

                      Now to address your points: The state spends no money catering to me. I make do off the registration dollars spent by snowmobilers to register their sleds. I can apply for any grant money just like an other non profit business or entity can in the state. I survive off money generated by the local clubs to maintain their trails in their areas. Unlike you I don’t run to the state every time something along the corridor needs to be fixed. The local snowmobile clubs maintain the corridor in the winter. We make it safe for snowmobilers to ride on.
                      And yes, I would throw away the part of your puny little rail system that makes no profit & provides no benefit to the communities in the area. I would prefer to end your rail line in Old Forge, but I like the REST of the TRail community is willing to accept a compromise. Run your train from Utica to Old Forge, rehab the rails to Tupper Lake (if/when you find a rail operator/manager & the states funds it) & let the rest of the world have their trail.
                      And I don’t have to give the ASR anything in return for using the corridor. THEY DON’T OWN IT. The DOT does!

                      And again thanks for recognizing that I am a remarkable person, because I am!

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      There you go again.

                      “…I would throw away the part of your puny little rail system that makes no profit & provides no benefit to the communities in the area.”

                      Funny that – I keep hearing trail people complain the rail line is too long now. If it’s so puny, why are you obsessed with adding it to the several thousand of miles of trail you have now? Oh wait – you already get to use it in the winter, IF it snows. If the coming winter is as hot and dry as the summer has been, good luck with that.

                      No benefit to the community? Thousands of people ride that line. It keeps them in the area, gives them something to do when it rains, let’s people enjoy the Adirondacks in a way that has minimal impact. It keeps history alive and delivers people right into the towns. When you limit visitors to those who can only arrive by road, you have no way of knowing if or where they’ll stop, or when. You are throwing away to the ability to use the rail stations to draw people into your community and connect them to the businesses there. Those stations are de facto visitor centers. You want to close them down?

                      And of course you don’t want to mention the rail bikes. They plan to keep operating into November, conditions permitting. They’re seeing so much demand, they are expanding. You really want to eliminate them for the 12 weeks you get to use the corridor? You really want to drive a successful business out of the region? You really want to send that message to anyone else who might want to invest in the area?

                      Tell me exactly how many people the trail is going to hire directly. Tell me how much business will it do with local vendors. Tell me what kind of advertising budget it’s going to have, and who is going to be out there managing it every day. Tell me what kind of partnerships it’s going to enter into with other businesses in the area.

                      The rail road is self supporting; it generates enough income to keep operating and maintain the corridor, barring major events like a hurricane coming through – and that hits everyone hard. Despite your claims, every spring the rail volunteers find they have to clean up a lot of snowmobiler trash – and they never seem to see you guys out there helping them. When was the last time you climbed into a freezing lake to clear a beaver dam out of a culvert? The rail road volunteers do a lot of work on the corridor – so when the trail ends that, does ARTA have a crew lined up yet to replace them? They’re talking about it, but it is still just talk. Given how much ARTA emphasizes the wonders of the trail for individual users, how do they expect those individuals come together for everyone else?

                      You talk about applying for grant money? Good for you. The railroad does too – but it’s hard to get any grant funding while the state will only issue operating permits good for no more than 30 days at a time. In case you missed it, the state has tacitly admitted this is a problem, because the compromise has a section calling for multi-year lease agreements. NOW they finally get a clue…

                      And don’t give me that nonsense about you settling for the compromise. Are you willing to tell ARTA to back off and accept it? Because they sure haven’t said that anywhere I’ve seen. Let me know when you get them to do so.

  8. Chris Rohner says:

    Besides all this talk about rail, or trail, I am very glad to see that Tupper Lake folks are stepping up and looking at this new trail as an opportunity for redevelopment and expansion of local businesses. As a long-term seasonal resident of Long Lake and avid cyclist downstate, I brought my bike up last year to ride the Black Fly Challenge… and I will bring my bike up again to ride the trail once it is open. And I am sure I will be visiting Tupper more as new businesses open and offer new services and goods. While not in the thick of the debate, I believe the trail will be good for the town and region, and I look forward to more visits in the future.

  9. Kellie Savage says:

    Awesome story! Tupper Lake is the worlds best kept secret, full of things to do, beautiful scenery and the most giving ppl ever!

  10. john says:

    It is just way to easy to spin the rail folks up. Do I want to see the compromise. Yes! Can I live with the compromise? Yes! Would I prefer the entire line north of Old Forge be removed: Hell YES!, but I’ll live with the compromise the state made. Rail folks cannot say the same thing. Either figure out a way to get on board with this updated plan, or I HOPE the state just shuts you down all together the next time those pesky 30 day leases come up.
    And just so you know, I can drive my car from my house to Old Forge, onto Inlet, Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, Tupper Lake Saranac Lake, and into Lake Placid & spend less in gas than the cost of a 1 way ticket from Utica to Old Forge. And I get to see more of the Adirondacks than if I was sitting on that puny little piece of shit train!

    • Larry Roth says:

      Bingo. Your last paragraph finally gets to the gist of the matter. It cuts through all the superficial concern, the easy distortions, the false narratives.

      Because it’s all about you and what you want. Because you have no need for anything more. Because you can’t imagine anything more or anything different, or even consider that you don’t speak for everyone. Because you are happy with the narrow limits on your world. Because what you do not value does not matter – even if others disagree.

      The casual contempt on display is all too common these days. Thank you for finally getting down to it.

      • john says:

        Let’s see driving my car: I can go to Utica; I can go to Old Forge; I can go to Great Camp Sagamore; I can go to Blue Mountain Lake Museum; I can go to the Wild Center: I can go to Saranac Lake & Even Lake Placid.
        Let’s see the train, gets me into Old Forge, but then I’m stuck in the town proper because there is no internal town shuttle to take me anywhere outside of the town. The current town shuttle only runs a limit stop schedule. BY train I CANNOT GO TO: Inlet, Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, The Wild Center or anywhere else up/down Rt 28.
        It’s not all about me: I can see more & do more in the ADK park by car than by train. I can spend more time at different locations by car, than by train! IN short simple terms I can do more in the ADK by car than by train! MY car expands my limits, allowing me to go places & see things NO ONE on the train can!
        Like I said above, the trails folks can accept the compromise, the rails folks cannot! You are the ones that want it all, & dam to anyone who believes different!
        Here’s the real sad story though: If the rails folks win in court, they end up loosing in the end. The rail will never get built north of Big Moose, but I will still get to ride my snowmobile on the rail in the winter!
        Try to keep what ya got, because if you keep pissing off the DOT, you may end up loosing it all in the end.
        Snowmobilers we work with the DOT/DEC to make snowmobiling on the corridor better, the rails folks just piss & moan at the DOT!

    • Boreas says:


      C’mon, tell us how you really feel!

      Maddening, isn’t it? Railers are perfectly willing to compromise, as long as they don’t have to give up anything and continue with full, exclusive use of the entire corridor. It is just like compromises in Washington. Meanwhile the residents and taxpayers have been locked out of using the corridor for decades to allow seasonal use excursion train/rail-bikes to continue to operate on just a small section of the corridor. It becomes wearisome…

      Until the various trail users that want the DEC compromise actually ORGANIZE as a group and speak up for their rights as taxpayers, these pre-packaged robo-arguments will continue ad nauseum – or until the trail is actually started.

      • john says:

        it’s fun to just spin their asses up though! I want a trail & I want them to have their rail where it works: Utica – Old Forge. They would prefer to have it all & be the only users of the rail line.

        • Larry Roth says:

          Nice of you to admit this is all a big joke to you.

          It’s not a joke to people who have literally given years of their lives to something you’ve never lifted a finger on, one way or another.
          It’s not a joke to people who’ve seen the restoration of the rails make a difference to the community.
          It’s not a joke to people who’ve gambled on coming to the region to try to make a living with a new business.
          It’s not a joke to people who are tired of having to drive everywhere to do anything.
          It’s not a joke to people who want something a whole family can do together regardless of the weather.
          It’s not a joke to people who think betting the local economy on just snow and bikes is a real risk.
          It’s not a joke to people worried about a sustainable future.

          No point in trying to get you to think differently about this I see. No point in trying to get you to see past your own nose or wrap your mind around anything wider than the space between your ears. No point in trying to get you to look at anything farther away than tomorrow. No point in trying to make you see anything you don’t want to. No point in trying to make you realize this is bigger than just the local residents, or that you are the only taxpayers that count.

          It’s easy to heckle from the cheap seats. Well, if you think this is all a joke, I can only repeat the words of Dr. Emilo Lizardo.

          “Laugh-a while you can, monkey boy.”

          It may not be so funny, sooner than you think.

          • Boreas says:


            It isn’t us you need to convince – it is DEC/DOT. The lawsuit should allow you to state your case yet again – albeit now as an antagonist. But bottom line is, it is their decision to make on the disposition of the corridor.

            Without an existing rail NETWORK within the park, rail service in terms of a commuter line is a non-starter. For people who don’t want to drive, commuter and sightseeing bus service would be cheaper, more practical, and wouldn’t require building a rail network throughout the Forest Preserve. So that part of your argument is simply dreaming.

            As others and myself have said, trying to get everything you want may end up getting you nothing at all. Best think about it. Filing suits against the the state, who is your only chance of obtaining any/all future leases, may have been ill-advised.

          • John says:

            See I got ya all spun up. I said you can have your rail where it makes sense & where it is currently working; you just continue to want it all. There is no compromise with you, that’s the sad part. If you get lucky & win in the courts, in the end, the rail will still end up loosing, the state WILL NOT INVEST any more money into rehabing any further rails.
            Like I said above either way I win. Court agrees with the DOT, I get a trail that I can hike on, bike on, walk on & SNOWMOBILE ON & you loose!
            You win, & a railraod that continues to suck money on a failed enterprise; the DOT continues to put NO MORE MONEY into rehabing any further rails; Tupper Lake suffers because of you, but I STILL GET TO SNOWMOBILE IN THE WINTER, because I have a lease for winter use & YOU DON’T!

            SO ya this is a joke, because people like you make this fun!

            • Larry Roth says:

              Again, thank you for this.

              Your own words show better than anything I could say about the character of the people who want the trail, and just who exactly is selfish here.

              Class job, really.

              • john says:

                awh are Larry’s feelings hurt! The rail community has had over 20+ years to try & make it work. You complain about the 30 day leases; but if you had truly been a well worth effort, I bet the DOT would have done longer leases, heck they offer that in the new updated UMP.
                But again, we are arguing a moot point, because it’s real simple:
                If the court rules in your favor, you continue to be a little engine that can’t. The state won’t put anymore money into the rails! I still get the rails in the winter to snowmobile & you cannot do anything about that!
                If the trails win, I get a year round trail, and you get to keep your little engine that cann’t & maybe you’ll find a rail manager to take over managing the line & they will work with the state to get money to rehab the rails to Tupper Lake. I Still have my snowmobile trail. but now the rails are gone.
                So keep arguing with the state, you’ll loose either way in the end! I on the other hand WILL STILL HAVE A SNOWMOBILE TRAIL, what ever the court decides!
                And as a ending note here, keep jumping up & down, someone somewhere might care, I don’t!

              • Boreas says:

                “Your own words show better than anything I could say about the character of the people who want the trail, and just who exactly is selfish here.”

                Larry, I think you are painting with a pretty wide brush here. Alienating ALL people who want a trail – regardless of length – probably isn’t in your group’s best interest.

              • Bill Hutchison says:

                I just think it’s very interesting that the snowmobilers and other trail people were nowhere to be seen until the railroad volunteers cleared years of overgrowth and rebuilt the tracks, bridges and washouts. They got to use the right of way the railroaders cleared but that wasn’t enough. Now they want to destroy the railroad.

                I’m sure this statement will draw some responses, but I don’t care. They trot out all manner of justification for the indefensible in their quest to squash the railroad and still want to destroy it all the way to Old Forge. It’s just greed, plain and simple.

                • john says:

                  you rebuilt it, so what. The state owns it and as such they can lease it out to whomever they want. The snowmobile community & clubs along the trails expend a lot of money, time & resources to make the tracks safe for our use in the winter; we then go thru & remove all evidence we were there in the spring. So I thank the STATE for upkeep of the rails & I THANK THE STATE for allowing us to use the rails in the winter.
                  If you did such a good job rebuilding the rails, why aren’t you running all the way north then.
                  I guess since your volunteers did such a bang up job clearing the over growth & fixing the rails, maybe we should ask the state to stop funding your little enterprise and you can foot the entire bill for track maintenance & fuel.
                  The state has no vested interest in using the rails, so I don’t think the state should spend another dime on upkeep.

                  • Larry Roth says:

                    John, I suppose I should cut you a little slack, because it’s clear you really know nothing about the way the railroad operates. Do you really think the state is paying the railroad to run trains? Guess again.

                    The state has no vested interest in using the rails? There’s this thing called tourism that brings visitors and their money into the area. (As a local, your money doesn’t count because you’d be spending it anyway.) Things that bring people in from elsewhere are what state has a vested interest in – and that includes the rails as much as the roads and trails.

                    Here’s what you and the rest of the region stands to lose:

                    • john says:

                      Ya keep throwing crap out there. If the state thought you were doing such a bang up job, they would have spent the money under the old UMP & fixed the tracks the entire length. I guess they have a BETTER IDEA & made a decision to do a trail & rail. You get to keep the part that actually has some hope of growing, and the rest gets turned into a trail.
                      But you’re to narrow minded to see that. Easiest way to sum it up is this:

                      I have snowmobile trail no matter what the court decides!
                      You have a rail no matter what the court decides. But how well that rail survives all depends on the court decision. They go one way & you continue to limp along with no hope of the state putting another dime into expanding your rail line; or the court decides the other way & maybe the state finds a rail operator to come in & take over long term management of the line & they put money into rehabing the line all the way to Tupper Lake.
                      Either way I give you 5 more years at the most with the rail business. According to State Law, UMPs are supposed to be reviewed every 5 years, so if the trail folks loose, I’m sure in 5 years we’ll be right back at it again. And your little engine that may by limping along may finally be put out to pasture!

                      But in the mean time I STILL HAVE MY SNOWMOBILE TRAIL & I’LL STILL PUMP MILLIONS & MILLIONS & MILLIONS of dollars in the local ADK economy while you still try to find your ass amongest the rotting rails!

                    • john says:

                      Here’s a simple question for ya: What kind of lease partner do you want in the state: Do you want one that is willing to work with ya to improve your rail line between Utica-Old Forge; or do you prefer one who sees you all as spoiled little school girls, who as no intention of putting another dime into improving the rails; and could possibly just not renew your lease the next time it runs out.
                      You keep throwing out other places & rails that are examples we should try to be, well here’s one for you to go look at: Its the Western MD Scenic Railroad. It’s much better run, cost less & is more of a roundtrip type event. Maybe if ASR tried to be like them, your parking lots wouldn’t be so empty most of the time.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Thanks John for helping make the case for the rails! I don’t know who showed you how to use Google, but the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad example is instructive.

                      They do very well – but they operate over just 16 miles of track – and they didn’t have to rebuild it starting from scratch, like the ASR. I’m also guessing they have a lot more control over their trackage. Even at that, they are having some issues; part of the line is out of service because of a land slip. Their ridership is being hurt because even a small gap on a short line like that matters. That the ASR has been able to grown ridership in the tri-lakes despite a bigger gap shows the potential of the line if it is finally brought into full service.

                      They operate diesel AND steam; the ASR would love to operate steam, but DEC would have a fatal hissy fit over a potential fire starter like that in the summer months – they’re already paranoid about diesels. If you want to contribute to build the shops and servicing facilities steam power would need – AND find a working steam locomotive, I’m sure something could be arranged. WMSRR puts a lot of resources into maintaining a collection of historic RR equipment; ASR has been focused on restoring track and running trains. WMSRR has shop facilities; ASR has had to make do.

                      They don’t have to shut down every year to let snowmobilers play on their line – and they also offer freight services for additional revenue. If the ASR offered freight, Federal Regulations as a common carrier would require them to offer it year round IIRC – no snowmobiling for you!

                      They share facilities with, and are near to other major tourist attractions, major highways, and major population centers, plus their short line makes their track maintenance less of a challenge (barring landslides). That makes attracting ridership easier – and before you say that shows the ASR just can’t draw the same crowds in the Adirondacks, the same argument also applies to all of the visitors ARTA claims will show up for the trail.

                      Speaking of which, “The Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland, part of the Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail from Cumberland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, runs along the route of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Cyclists can make reservations with the railroad to put their bikes on board for the climb up the mountain to Frostburg, then cycle back down to Cumberland.” Rails AND trails in other words.

                      You seem to have this idea the railroad people should just shut up, and let the state go ahead with the compromise, or they risk the state doing nothing for anybody. Well, if you think the state is run by petty vindictive politicians, that’s a possibility. As you point out, you lose nothing because you can still use your snowmobile whatever happens – so why are you so concerned?

                      Rail supporters – and that includes a LOT of people in the region, not just the ASR – know that there is a great deal more economic value from investing in a complete rail AND trail solution, because it will make each better than they could be alone. We’re not willing to settle for a cheap half-measure plan when the area needs and deserves the same kind of effort the state is putting into projects elsewhere. Settle for being bought off like a cheap backwater, and that’s how you’ll get treated.

                      BTW, the track to Tupper Lake could be restored in just a few months; trail construction will take 2-3 years for the bare basics to be built. Build the trail around the rails, you’ll have no down time, and you’ll get the benefits of both. While trail supporters love to claim how much money the trail will bring in, they never mention the cost – all the money that comes from the rails now needs to be subtracted from that number for the true measure. If they were truly concerned with the best use of the corridor and not just their obsession with getting rid of the track, they’d acknowledge it.

                      Why didn’t the state do track upgrades before? My understanding is that they actually came close several times, one reason a new station got built in Tupper Lake in anticipation. The money was in the pipeline, but got redirected when 911 happened. You could ask if the trails under the 1996 UMP were such a great idea, why didn’t the state build any of them? You could also ask what happened when Governor Cuomo came into office and what he is really trying to do. Why did what was working slowly but steadily for 20 years, despite limited investment from the state, suddenly get thrown out?

                      John, we’d love to see the state be a real partner in this, instead of a relationship that all too often seems like dealing with a frenemy. The corridor is jointly controlled by DEC and DOT; you think it’s bad trying to work with just one state agency at a time? The idea that rail supporters are being selfish is a lie. We’re working to get the best deal for everyone – including the trail people. We’re looking at the big picture, all the way from Utica to Lake Placid, trying to serve everyone one – not just a vocal, local bunch of special interests only thinking about their own backyards. (Literally true in some cases.)

                      In case you’ve forgotten, this all started with my comment up top that Hebden Bridge could be a real model for the region. That’s the kind of thinking the area needs, not some patchwork Frankenstein monster of mismatched bits. Why, after all, is ROOST so excited about having rails AND trails in Tupper Lake? It’s because they get it – even if you don’t.

                      Here’s hoping you get all the snow you deserve this winter – and more.

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      John makes some very interesting comments about the Western Maryland Scenic.

                      The first thing to note is that it is, indeed, rail with trail the whole length of the line. WMSR has an advantage in that the line is mostly a former double tracked route. However, the last three miles into Frostburg are the former Cumberland & Potomac Railroad (merged into the former “real” Western Maryland in the 1940s), and that section was always single track; bike riders use the road system in that stretch.

                      Even with the advantage of double tracking, it’s also extremely interesting to note that trail interests wanted the railroad gone anyway! The claims at that time revolved around the safety of people sharing the right of way with trains, in particular while going through a tunnel that’s over 900 feet long. It took a lot of fighting and a petition to keep the railroad, and it has worked out quite well, Among other things, the railroad is also a bike hauler–you ride the train up the hill (which is the longest and steepest part of the Great Allegheny Passage trail), and you can ride back downhill or else use Frostburg as the jumping off point for the trail westward to Pittsburgh, having let the train do that long, steep initial climb for you.

                      The bike ferry operation has been particularly good for a bike shop operator in Cumberland, who rents bikes for that ride the train up, ride the bike back deal.

                      And curiously, the trail crowd, in spite of this, STILL has some people who want “that smelly old train” to go away!

                      That sounds a bit like extremism to me.

                      Western Maryland, also known to those who lover he as “Wild Mary,” in recent times, with No. 734 running up the hill and through the tunnel, with bikers listening for the whistle on its approach and staying out of the tunnel, like staying off the tracks at a crossing. . .just common sense, which sadly seems to be lacking for a lot of people.


                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      By the way, I would love to see the Adirondack Scenic manage to run steam in New York. . .while expensive to operate (which is why the railroads got rid of them in the first place), steam locomotives are amazing crowd pleasers and people magnets. . .and they sound good and, for me, even smell good!

                      Nothing like the mix of coal smoke, steam, and valve oil . . .

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      “But in the mean time I STILL HAVE MY SNOWMOBILE TRAIL & I’LL STILL PUMP MILLIONS & MILLIONS & MILLIONS of dollars in the local ADK economy while you still try to find your ass amongest the rotting rails!”

                      Heh, heh, heh, I think we have someone in a twist.

                      What is really funny is John’s comment about the economic impact of the sled biz. Truth is, it’s down, and not just over a season or two, either. It’s been in decline for at least the last 16 or so years, enough to be a trend.

                      From a peak of 163,635 sleds registered in 2002-2003, the number of sleds has dropped to only 91,542 in 2015-2016, according to the New York Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Snowmobile Unit, as per this report from them on Page 13:


                      That’s a decline of 72,093 sleds over a period of 13 years, which also works out to a horrific drop of 44% over 13 years!

                      Now John also cited an economic impact from sleds of some $200 million per year. That’s based on an economic study commissioned by the sled trade that was released in 2012, with data from 2010-2011, when there were 134,442 sleds registered. Since then, the registrations have continued to decline by 42,900 units, or just under 32%; that would suggest an economic decline of a similar amount.

                      And in addition to that, you have the effect of really poor snow conditions in the past season for all trails; I would estimate your snow season was half of what it should normally have been. Between those two factors, we’re looking at a decline in economic impact of closer to 60%!

                      The sled biz doesn’t seem like the economic powerhouse its proponents claim it to be.

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      It’s not just New York; sled sales have had an even greater decline, as shown by these numbers for US New Sled Sales from the International Snowmobile Congress from 2015:


                      Anyone taking an honest look at these numbers should be shocked at the decline that’s represented. The sales figure for snowmobiles, while improved in 2014, is but half of what it was in 2004, and only a third of what it was in 1996!

                      Tell me, really, is the sled business that good? Or is it any wonder the winter trade business has been so bad in the last few years?

                  • Bill Hutchison says:

                    Correction: It’s just greed, plain and simple and a bad attitude to go with it.

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      Not only a bad attitude, but poor knowledge besides.

                      I like John’s earlier comment to Larry. . .”Ya keep throwing crap out there. If the state thought you were doing such a bang up job, they would have spent the money under the old UMP & fixed the tracks the entire length. I guess they have a BETTER IDEA & made a decision to do a trail & rail.”

                      In view of the numbers I have in a couple of posts above, who do you think is “throwing crap out there?” Do we really think the State of New York is making a wise decision based on the actual facts?

                      Those numbers seem to indicate otherwise.

                    • Boreas says:

                      Now we are back to the divide & conquer tactics by the rail group. Rails vs. sleds. Rails vs. bikes. The rail argument keeps illustrating how the rails are “better” than each individual user group that speaks up, which I can understand because alternate user groups are not organized and have no one other than ARTA and on their side.

                      But DEC/DOT has wisely seen that each user group has merit, and there are a potentially lot more year-round trail users (read $$ and fitness) than there are seasonal rail riders. Should they ignore the wishes of more than a dozen other user groups? Should they ignore the communities that DO want the trail only to maintain the status quo? In my view, taken as a whole, the year-round trail users seem to be a much larger group in terms of numbers of users, as well as being a more powerful positive force for change in the area.

                      If all of these disparate trail groups were to organize under ARTA, the rails may likely disappear entirely. If they organize a group that prefers the compromise (most likely), then the compromise will likely be the result. If they don’t organize with a single voice, the decision will likely be up to “lawyers, guns, and money” (sorry Warren). Trail advocates should not sit idly by and assume the compromise is a done deal.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Boreas argues: “But DEC/DOT has wisely seen that each user group has merit, and there are a potentially lot more year-round trail users (read $$ and fitness) than there are seasonal rail riders. Should they ignore the wishes of more than a dozen other user groups? Should they ignore the communities that DO want the trail only to maintain the status quo? In my view, taken as a whole, the year-round trail users seem to be a much larger group in terms of numbers of users, as well as being a more powerful positive force for change in the area.”

                      That argument only holds up if you pretend this is only about the tri-lakes. It ignores the fact that the rail line serves a much larger population. Should all of the rest of those people be ignored? Should the larger interests of all of New York be ignored, even though their tax money is used to support the line AND all of the other things the state has to support in the area it can’t support on its own? This is special-interest politics over the larger public interest.

                      It’s also the false narrative that it has to be an either or choice. It doesn’t.

                    • Boreas says:


                      “That argument only holds up if you pretend this is only about the tri-lakes. It ignores the fact that the rail line serves a much larger population.”

                      What rail line are you talking about here? The ASR? Or did you mean “served”?

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Although the ASR can’t run passenger trains the full length of the line (yet) they still use the entire length of the line for their operations. That means moving equipment around, maintaining the entire corridor, advertising for the whole region, partnering with local businesses, and so on. Plus, don’t forget the Rail Explorers are currently making use of the line where the ASR can’t yet run passenger service.

                      Even though there’s not full run-through service yet, it still affects all of the communities on the line.

                      Taking the tri-lakes forever out of the picture reduces the economic value of the line for everyone, not just Utica. It will have an effect on Old Forge, Thendara, and the other places on the line waiting for track upgrades.

                      It also impacts Amtrak – being able to advertise a rail connection to Lake Placid is something they have expressed interest in. That would give the entire region access to a national marketing program as well as the national passenger rail system.

  11. john says:

    And just some more hot water on hoe bad the scenic railroad business is: Iowa Pacific owns & runs the scenic railroad over between Saratoga & North Creek & they want to unload it since it cost them a million+ a year in operating loss. Their trains are in better shape, cost less for a ticket, actually go to a town that has a big ski business & they still cannot get people to ride it. Doesn’t day much for trhe scenic railroad business.
    Everyone wants to keep talking about snowmobiling numbers decreasing & that may be so, but we still pump 200+ million into the ADK every year, good or bad snow.
    The scenic railroad cannot say the same; without state aid, you wouldn’t survivie now.

    • Larry Roth says:

      Without the huge investment the state makes in keeping snowmobilers happy, you would not be doing all that well. You keep boasting about the big economic impact you have – and you do – but you need to drill down a bit to see where it actually lands and who ends up with that money.

      “…snowmobiling statewide contributes more than $428.5 million annually in direct spending, but much of that money is spent in Adirondack feeder markets on sleds, trailers, maintenance, and equipment.”

      And… “The study suggests that the vast majority of annual spending may be occurring at or near home. About $44.5 million (10% of the total) was spent on meals and overnight trips in hotels/motels and about $1 million on snowmobile rentals (.2%). An additional $56 million (about 13%) was spent on fuel (snowmobilers are eligible for a rebate of highway fuel taxes paid for snowmobile fuel, which may skew that number).”

      When you look at just the money spent on snowmobile tourism, and not on buying the machines, trailers, maintenance, etc. the actual amount you bring into the area is nowhere near as big as you would make it seem and it’s seasonally limited. What good are you to anybody the rest of the year? And if you’re not coming in from out of the state, if you’re local, this is money you’d be spending regardless, so as far as impact on tourism goes, it doesn’t count.

      The rails are there for the rest of the year, and they aren’t limited by the weather to generate tourism dollars. No snow, no snowmobile dough. Ditto for all the other winter sports-based tourism. Snowmobilers chase the snow – if you don’t have it, they won’t show up. The region’s economic base is narrow enough as it is; the small investment needed to build a rail AND trail system would be a bargain of an insurance policy against a continued downturn in winter weather. In case you haven’t been watching the news lately, that scenario is already getting too big to ignore.

      The trains will always be there – as long as the tracks are there. There’s a constant refrain that nobody who lives in the area rides the train (or the rail bikes) more than once – so what? The thousands of riders they DO have every year are visitors – the people you are trying to bring into the area. It doesn’t matter if they only ride the trains once as long as new ones keep coming – and they do. And in fact, there are repeat riders. Give them a ride all the way to Lake Placid, even more will come.

      As for any extra snowmobile revenue from turning 34 miles of rail into trail in a corridor you already use, it’s going to be minimal – nowhere near the amount of money that will be lost with the rails. You’ve got so much now – and you accuse the rail supporters of being selfish? Seems to me if you really give a damn about anything but your own interests, you might want to be a little more flexible in your priorities.

      The North American railway preservation industry includes more than 250 organizations that operates trains. Their annual expenditures are about $400 million and they are primary users of about 2,300 route-miles of track. Considering that this is a largely volunteer-driven effort without major corporations and their lobbyists backing it, that’s not chump change. (Trains Magazine, May 2016)

      If the Saratoga & North Creek is such a money loser, why did Iowa Pacific negotiate a five year lease, and why have they invested money and equipment in new services? If nobody want to ride the rails, why are so many places looking to get rail bikes to come in and set up operations?

      And don’t forget one more thing. Without state aid, there will be no trail. It’s going to be an annual money pit needing to be filled, needing people to maintain it. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The tickets visitors buy to ride the rails pay for keeping them up – and keeping the corridor open for you to use in the winter. How much of your snowmobile millions are you willing to kick in to keep the cyclists happy when they’re not paying a dime?

      • Boreas says:

        “The thousands of riders they DO have every year are visitors – the people you are trying to bring into the area.”

        I can understand this. But how many of these riders would have come to the area even without the rails? How many came ONLY to ride the ASR or rail bikes? It seems more likely these visitors have come to enjoy everything the area has to offer – outdoor activities, streams, woods, snow, trails, waters, shopping, food, lodging, and entertainment. I would consider the majority of rail riders as simply using the rails for entertainment while they are in the area – not as the main purpose of their trip. I am sure there are rail aficionados that come to add the ASR to their list of excursions they have enjoyed, but are in the minority of all the visitors to the area.

        The income from rails are just one small piece of the economic pie in the area. I foresee more income generated from numerous year-round users of a trail than what the rails offer. And what the rails offer hangs entirely on tentative DEC/DOT monthly leases which can go away at any time.

        • Larry Roth says:

          The point is it may be a small piece of the economic pie – but it’s the only item like it on the menu. It’s also pie that’s growing, between the ASR and the Rail Explorers.

          No one is arguing there won’t be an impact from the trail, but there’s reason to doubt it will be anything like the claims ARTA has been making. There’s also the point that those gains must tempered by subtracting the current contributions from the rails and the loss of the potential from a fully restored line. That’s not negligible.

          There’s also the point that a rail AND trail combination would multiply the economic impact of both. The ASR is already running joint rail and bike programs; 34 miles of trail with a railroad to support one-way rides or rides on targeted sections would be more effective than a 34 mile trail that connects to nothing else. The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shows how that works, as does the Hebden Bridge example.

          Under the compromise, DEC will no longer be in charge of leases – DOT will. And the Alt 7 plan specifically calls for longer leases. The state has admitted its 30 day leases have had a negative impact. That’s one of the things that will change going forward, regardless of what happens.

          What will not change will be ARTA’s continuing efforts to eliminate the line. That opposition will actually hurt the trail by making it less than it could and should be. I have no reason to believe ARTA would accept any plan that kept the rails, since they’ve been determined to throw out the 1996 plan that called for both ever since they were founded.

          That’s one of the things that keeps getting lost in the discussion. Rail supporters are fighting to get the best possible solution for everyone in the region, including people who want a trail. The people determined to kill the railroad are deliberately working to make that impossible – so everyone ends up with much less than they could have and deserve.

          • Boreas says:


            I can’t argue whether ARTA will want elimination of the rails because I am not part of their group, but I suspect you are correct. The question is, will the other people who want at least a section of trail join ARTA or will they support the compromise?

            • Larry Roth says:

              It also depends on what the court rules.

              If Alt 7 is thrown out and the 1996 UMP remains in place – or at least has to go through a new round of study, then much will depend on what narrative prevails and what choices are given to people to choose. It will also depend on how the state responds. Will they abandon the line entirely or appeal the decision? Will they insist on restarting the review process – and will they handle it any better? The APA has changed too. What will they decide?

              There is one thing that could be done regardless. Upgrading the rail line as far as Tupper Lake would allow everyone to see what effect that would have on the community and visitorship. It’s part of both plans in any case, so why not? As the rail explorers are expanding to Tupper Lake, they could link up there with the ASR as well. DOT would have control of that part of the corridor. It would be useful to see how well they administer it when DEC isn’t constantly sticking its finger in on everything. They’re already prepared to offer longer term leases.

              The work could be done in 90 days or so without disrupting anything currently going on – as opposed to the 3 years to build the trail. Would the entire 34 miles be out of service for that time? Would that stop snowmobile use while construction was going on?

              I’ve spoken with ARTA members and they’ve admitted the trail is just the first step. They’ll need to do more – adding rest rooms or equivalent, parking areas, signage, enlisting volunteers to work on trail upkeep, local government actions on emergency services, etc. It’s nowhere near as simple as just ripping out the tracks.

  12. John says:

    Larry, what investment does the state make into snowmobiling? Do tell!

    • Larry Roth says:

      John, at this point you could save yourself a lot of time by limiting your comments to Neener Neener Neener! That’s prettty much all they amount to.

  13. John says:

    And just off your last paragraph. Your ticket sales don’t provide enough dollars to keep the line open without state aid! You don’t provide me any support. I spend my club dollars in the winter on the rails to keep them open, remove any beaver dams, cut down any blow down. You give me nothing, but lip service.

    And without massive state aid, THERE WILL BE NO RAIL EITHER!

    • Bill Hutchison says:

      Moot point. The state will have to spend taxpayer dollars for the trail as well.

      • Boreas says:

        “The state will have to spend taxpayer dollars for the trail as well.”

        Exactly – so that all taxpayers and visitors can use the trail anytime, not just people with the means to afford a fare and leisure time that coincides with the rail schedule.

        • Larry Roth says:

          If you’re arguing the state should start paying for free full time rail service for everyone who shows up, I can certainly agree to that.

          However we both know that ALL taxpayers and visitors will NOT show up to use the trail whether or not it’s free. It’s a question of how many will actually do so. I can climb all of the 46 peaks any time I want, for free. That doesn’t mean I’m going to.

          I’m also of the impression that there are already a lot of free trails in the area for taxpayers and visitors now. It’s not as though people are being deprived of outdoor experiences and exercise.

          There are even places to ride bicycles. How did this go today?

          What about this?

          Or this?

          Here’s something you can’t do with just a trail:

        • Bill Hutchison says:

          Nope. There are already 3,500 miles of trails. We are talking about the LAST railroad in the Adirondacks and it merits consideration for that reason. Build the trail next to the tracks, on nearby roads or elsewhere. DEC is cutting all new trails with heavy equipment elsewhere. It can be done in this case as well, unless your agenda is to destroy the railroad and never mind the circumstances.

          • john says:

            before you sprout off about building a trail next to the rails, why don’t you go review what NY State law says about trails next to active rail lines. I believe a trail CANNOT be within 50 feet of a active rail line. So we’d be totally outside of the corridor & why don’t you go ask Protect what they think of the DEC cutting any trees to make a trail. They just got a court to stop the Newcomb to Minervia trail.
            And to a L.R comment, if the court throws out Alt 7, then the old UMP remains in effect, which means the DEC/DOT still control the rail line & I doubt they’ll put any more money into the line.

            • Larry Roth says:

              I hope you’ll excuse me if I don’t take your word for what the state says about trails next to active rail lines, given how much else you have not quite right.

              As for going back to the old UMP, I thought you said were perfectly fine with that since YOU CAN STILL RIDE YOUR SNOWMOBILE and that’s all that matters to you.

              I doubt the state will be able to walk away from this, after all of the hopes it has raised along with the frustration. IF the people who honestly want a trail get together WITH the people who are trying to save the rails, between them it should be possible to do it right this time. It will be a test as to whether or not the trail was ever their primary goal, or if it was just something cooked up as an excuse to get rid of the tracks.

              If the court rules against Alt 7, and the state refuses to put any more money into the line, then it will be a pretty clear admission that this was all based on political considerations and not an honest effort to come up with a new approach to the corridor.

              The court is supposed to decide on the basis of whether or not the state followed its own laws and regulations on this. If it rules it didn’t – and there IS a case to be made on that – then it follows that everyone trying to push the Alt 7 plan through has to admit that they were about to set a very bad precedent for the park and the systems that are supposed to manage it.

              As for what Protect thinks, I can’t speak for them, but I’d suspect the case for a combined Rail and Trail system in the tri-lakes area is strong because of the concentration of towns along the corridor in that stretch.

              Here’s hoping you get all the snow you deserve this winter.

            • Bill Hutchison says:

              This is a truly historic railroad. It opened the way for the Adirondacks to become the tourist destination it is today. As such, it must be preserved and improved. Sacrificing one venue for another is never right.

              As to “spouting off”, that would be you, John. Your attitude is indicative of the entire haughty mindset of ARTA and its supporters.

              • john says:

                who said I was a member of ARTA! I sure didn’t! Seems to me the railroad folks are the ones being anal & wanting it all. I’m quite happy with option 7. The railroad gets something & the trail people get something, but that’s not good enough for you all! Your comment that it must be preserved & improved is being done with option 7: You get long term management on the Utica-Tupper Lake end; it’s get improved; you hopefully get a management company that can come in & run the railroad correctly; And I get a trail on the other end of the corridor that meets the needs/desires of the folks on that end of the line. It’s a win win solution, but that’s not good enough for the rail folks.

                But again the courts will decide here soon. The state made a decision, they didn’t break the law in doing it. You just don’t like the decision!

                And again, never said I was a member of ARTA!

                • Larry Roth says:

                  I for one didn’t think you were a member of ARTA. I may have disagreements with them, but I find they are usually much smoother and more polite in their public statements.

                  You as you admitted just came here to have fun shooting your mouth off. I think you may have gotten your foot as well.

                  Class job all around.

                  • john says:

                    I don’t shoot my mouth off or foot as you like to post, I JUST THINK OPTION 7 IS THE BEST CHOICE RIGHT NOW, but you rail whiners just don’t know a good thing when you see it. Keep up your bad fight, in the end the state may just put you out of your misery!
                    And if you don’t like the fact that I keep yanking your chain, here’s a simple solution: DON’T RESPOND!

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Considering how fast your own butt must be spinning at this point, I admire your ability to find the caps lock key.

                    • Bill Hutchison says:

                      Tsk tsk…you may not be a member of ARTA (how would we know?), but you do seem to fly off the handle quite easily. It isn’t my fault that you become agitated when you get a response you don’t like.

                      Meanwhile, I’ll say, as I have all along, that it’s wrong-headed to all for the end of the last railroad in the Adirondacks, especially when it’s already in use.

                      Both sides could have worked for the common good, but ARTA’s goal (and yours, even if you aren’t a member) is, as it has been all along: the destruction of the railroad. No discourse, no attempt to reach out.

                    • Phil Brown says:

                      I just want to point out that this is not the “last railroad in the Adirondacks.” There is a railroad line running from Saratoga Springs to Tahawus, and the Amtrak runs trains along Lake Champlain. Moreover, the state’s plan would not be the end of the Adirondack railroad in question. More of the line would be in use than is the case now.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      It’s the last railroad in the central Adirondacks, it’s the only line that goes to Lake Placid, it’s on the National Register because of it’s significance, and all of the line is active and in use. The compromise will cut off a prime destination and drive the Rail Explorers out of the area. The entire line could be restored to full service with about 3 months work for about the cost of the compromise, making a direct connection between Lake Placid and Amtrak at Utica.

                  • Phil Brown says:

                    It’s a stretch to say the entire line is active and in use. The stretch from Big Moose to Saranac Lake is not used by trains except when ASR moves cars to and from Lake Placid at a snail’s pace.

                    • Bill Hutchison says:

                      If the railroad is using the line to move equipment, it’s obviously active and in use.

                    • Boreas says:

                      “If the railroad is using the line to move equipment, it’s obviously active and in use.”

                      Occasionally shuttling rolling stock along a dilapidated section of railway wouldn’t be my definition of an active rail line. It would also not be the definition of an active railroad that most taxpayers would endorse. Jeep trail vs. highway.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Doesn’t work that way – the Federal Railroad Administration has different categories of track based on what kind of use they can support. That is, physical condition of the track, what speeds are allowed on it, whether freight only or also passenger.

                      Industrial sidings might go months between car movements but still be considered active. The FRA considers the whole line active – it was only a few years ago that work on the line brought it up to where the FRA would permit equipment moves up to Lake Placid. It’s not how often that matters – it’s the condition of the track.

                      It was just a couple of weeks ago that people ran track speeders up to the end of the line and back. You also forget Rail Explorers are using the track.

                      Think of it like a highway that has a bridge with a weight limit. The road is usable and in service – upgrade the bridge and you remove the bottleneck.

                    • David P. Lubic says:

                      These latest comments about the railroad, in particular claiming it’s abandoned when it really isn’t, remind me of my job as an auditor.

                      I deal with business owners all the time. Half of them shouldn’t even be in business. They can be smart people, good people, but they are not good business people.

                      In addition to that, I firmly believe that while general principles are always the same, the “touch” required for each business is different. For instance, the man running an auto repair shop wouldn’t know how to run a restaurant, the restaurant owner wouldn’t know how to run a jewelry shop, the jeweler would be lost running a gymnasium, the gymnasium operator couldn’t run a book shop. . . and none of them would know anything about running a railroad, which in many ways is a rather strange beast in the business world, partially because of certain limits in the equipment (such as stopping distance), and also the Federal regulatory environment that has few counterparts in anything else.

                    • Phil Brown says:

                      The question is how much train use does the rail line see between Big Moose and Saranac Lake. The answer is almost none. I didn’t say it was entirely abandoned.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Well, the rest of the question is how much use it could see. You can’t criticize someone for being slow if they’ve been hobbled – and that’s the case here.

                    • Boreas says:


                      We are talking about the overall section between BM & TL here, not the entire corridor. Residents of Beaver River have always used the rails for rail scooters, but I wouldn’t consider that active use of a railway.

                    • Larry Roth says:

                      Boreas – You said: “We are talking about the overall section between BM & TL here, not the entire corridor. Residents of Beaver River have always used the rails for rail scooters, but I wouldn’t consider that active use of a railway.”

                      No. We ARE talking about the entire corridor here, not just the section between Big Moose and Tupper Lake – and from Tupper Lake to Saranac Lake for that matter.

                      You might not consider this an active railway – but the Federal Government and the state do. The ASR has both the legal right, the regulatory right, the right as lease holder, and the physical ability to move equipment the entire length of the line – as needed. That’s what active means in this context. It’s not about how many or what kind of trains you see, or how often. You are arguing semantics here, not the actual situation.

                      If the ASR had to move equipment from Thendara to Saranac Lake tomorrow or vice-versa, it could do it. If it had to do it every day, it could do it. It’s a component of ASR daily operating plans. They do it as they need to do it when they need to do it.

                      If the line was allowed to move freight – it’s not – you would see trains moving freight as needed, as often as needed. If the line were upgraded – as the state plans to do up to Tupper Lake – you would see passenger service up and down the entire length of the line, not just the short Lake Placid – Tupper Lake run in the tri-lakes.

                      You’d see more. You’d see dinner trains, special event trains, chartered runs, and through passenger service to Utica. You would see other operators looking to come into the area, special packages for visitors, more partnerships with local businesses.

                      The need to upgrade the tracks is the only thing keeping the line from seeing more use – but it is still active.

                      It’s a chicken and egg argument that has been going on for years. “There’s no point fixing up the rails because there aren’t enough riders” versus “If we’d just fix the rails we have more riders.” So what do we know?

                      What we’ve seen is that as the ASR has added more service, and added new services, ridership has grown. The Rail Explorers had a great first year as a new business, and this year they are getting more rail bikes, are expanding what they do in the tri-lakes, and are being actively courted to operate rail bikes elsewhere.

                      This is something those who want the rails gone deny is happening. You can believe them or you can believe your lying eyes.

                      Let’s look at it another way. Last winter, there were a lot of snowmobile trails in the area that saw little to no traffic. Old Forge had to hold a snowmobile festival without snow. So, since so many miles of trail saw so little use, would you consider them inactive?

                      The tracks can be upgraded. Guaranteeing snow is not possible – and it’s going to be a bigger problem in years to come, not to mention declining snowmobile registrations. Don’t just look at numbers now – look at the trends.

  14. Todd Eastman says:

    The Best EnduroRant evah!

    • Boreas says:


      ‘Twon’t be over ’til the rails are rusted away…

      • Larry Roth says:

        Long before the rails rust away people will be wondering if there will ever be snow in the Adirodacks again. It’s not just that snowmobilers are in decline, it’s that it keeps getting warmer. 2016 is on track to be the warmest year yet – and the trend isn’t slowing down.

        A plan which is based in large part on catering to snowmobilers is making a bet on the wrong future. Keeping the rails is like having insurance, not putting the economic eggs of the region all in one basket. Rails AND trails.

  15. john says:

    Again spinning up L.R. is just fun now! If he would just adhere to my last comment & NOT RESPOND, I would continue to have my fun with him, but he doesn’t know when to shut up!
    MY goal has never been the end of the railroad. At NO POINT IN ANY OF MY COMMENTS have I advocated for it. The railroad has a somewhat useful purpose between Utica & Old Forge & no further, but I AM WILLING to agree with the UMP update that they go all the way to Tupper Lake.
    You all jump up & down like it’s the end of the world! It isn’t. you still have a scenic railroad to work at improving & the trail folks get a trail to work on building/improving. It’s a win-win solution. Some want to argue that the state broke the law or rules just because they didn’t get their way. The updating a UMP process was followed just like any other UMP update. If the shoe was reversed & you got your rail line all the way to Lake Placid, you’d be jumping up & down singing the praises of the process. You’re just mad because the state choose to not listen to you! Plain & Simple!

    And here’s the kicker, you guys have been running around now for months trying to raise the cash for a court case; the state on the other hand is using STATE provided lawyers (which you are paying for) with your taxes. So in a way you are paying the states bill to argue against yourselves!

    • Larry Roth says:

      Keep going John. You’re holding up just fine, though I do worry how much longer your caps lock key can take the strain.

      • john says:

        You just don’t know when to quit. How entertaining!

        hmmm, I can take the AMTRAK train out of Albany & be in Lake Placid quicker (train/bus combination), than if I go to Utica & take a slow-slow-slow scenic train.
        Hell I can drive a car from NYC to Lake Placid quicker than if I take a SLOW-SLOW-SLOW SCENIC TRAIN FROM Utica.

        And debating you larry provides no strain, just entertainment.

        So again, if you want to keep this witty banter up, go ahead, but then again you could just NOT RESPOND!

        • Larry Roth says:

          It’s a public service. Keeping you tapping out comments keeps you out of trouble while you wait for the 12 weeks of the year you actually use the corridor for anything.

          Besides which, it’s a good way to keep track of all the bogus talking points out there. Just as you aren’t interested in taking the train to Utica, there are also people with no interest in climbing on a snowmobile – but they would ride a train. That’s the point of this you keep overlooking – it’s not just about what you want – it’s also about tourism.

  16. john says:

    And Larry, just like I said above: It’s not that the decision or the process was flawed, its just you don’t like the decision. If the State had made the decision to extend the railroad all the way to Lake Placid, you all would be jumping up & down telling everyone how good the DOT/DEC/APA & the Governor were in making the decision they did. Now the fact that they made a good compromise decision that goes against what you TOTALLY want, they must have done something wrong, broken some law, violated some rule. They followed the ESTABLISHED procedures for updating a UMP. If I would fault the DOT/DEC/APA anywhere it would be that the UMPS are supposed to be updated every 5 years & this one was way past due (as in it had never been updated).
    So again, the process for updating a UMP worked the way it was designed & supposed to work, you just don’t like the outcome. Its really that simple!

    • Larry Roth says:

      Thanks John

      I think I’m done here. You are repeating yourself, you have nothing new to add, and you’ve descended to potty mouth language and personal insults because you’ve got nothing left.

      Mission accomplished.

  17. Dave says:

    I agree with John. The process worked as designed & expected. The rail folks just don’t like the decision. If the roles were reversed, the rail folks with be saying everything went the way it should have gone. They’d be celebrating the process, not bad mouthing it. The DOT/DEC/APA & governor all compromised & did give everyone the rail/trail compromise. It’s just not what the one side wants!

    • Larry Roth says:

      Oh I quite agree. The process worked as designed and expected – because it was deliberately structured to produce the outcome the powers that be wanted.

      Having read through the multiple versions of the proposed Alt 7 amendment, I can tell you that there were things that were deliberately omitted, both from the published records and from the process behind the scenes. The original public hearings were scheduled to concentrate input from the area where trail supporters were strongest, and the weight given to public input in the summary of those hearings was also skewed to favor the outcome. Further, the way the state has interpreted its own laws and regulations tilted the scales – which is why there is a legal challenge underway.

      Let me point out something that is getting overlooked in this. It isn’t just the people who want to keep the trains running who are against the Alt 7 plan, it also includes people who think it makes economic sense to keep the rails, people who value the history at stake, people who think the process was seriously bent out of shape, and people who think the 1996 plan is still the best use of the corridor.

      Let me point out another thing. The legal challenge isn’t being brought out of spite or being sore losers; the rail supporters don’t have that kind of money to throw away on petty gestures! They’re fighting it because they think it’s the wrong decision made the wrong way, and a fair hearing in an impartial court will confirm that opinion while there is still time to correct it.

      One final point. The 1996 plan called for rails AND trails. The rail supporters still support that, including the trail part. The compromise gives everyone a piece of what they want – but not what they really need. The 1996 plan was also a compromise (something people forget), but one that realized the value of the intact corridor. The Alt 7 plan fails in that regard. The end result is going to be a patchwork Frankenstein of a corridor, never quite able to reach its full potential.

      As to your point “If the roles were reversed, the rail folks with be saying everything went the way it should have gone. They’d be celebrating the process, not bad mouthing it.” – well DUH!. It would be the trail folks who would be having conniptions if things had gone the other way.

      As it is, they regard the compromise as just the first step in their goal to get the tracks pulled all the way back to Thendara. I can pretty well promise you they will fight that part of the compromise that calls for the rails to be upgraded into Tupper Lake, and they will do nothing to encourage use of the rails – even things that would make the trail better. Their overall aim has not changed. For a number of them, the trail is not as important as getting rid of the tracks. Keep that in mind.

      So tell me, if the compromise is what you think is the right decision, does that mean you fully support what the state promises to do for the rail side of the compromise?

      It’s not just what the one side wants!

  18. Dave says:

    I’ve got no problem with what the state wants to do for the railroad folks on their side of the UMP update. Do I think it will be accomplished. Nope! I don’t think the state can find a rail manager to come in and run the rail line from Utica to Tupper Lake, and until that is done, the state will never expend the funds to upgrade the rails to Tupper Lake from Big Moose. The ASR is not equipped with either funds, personnel or equipment to handle that length of tracks on their own. They barely make ends meat now with what they have. Their tax records are proof of that. But if the state can find the rail manager & both the new manager & state are willing to put the funds into it, I wish them the best.
    As far as some of your other comments: The process was fair! The rails folks had 4 opportunities to attend meetings to have their voices heard. They had plenty of opportunities to write in to the DEC with their comments/concerns. As far as how the state interprets the law, that’s what the elected/appointed officials are suppose to do. The rail folks are just mad, because they decision or how the law was interpreted was not in their favor. I see you didn’t state that the DOT, DEC, or APA did BREAK the law, they just didn’t interpret it the way you liked. Arguing that in a court is a high hurdle to climb.
    Alt 7 is a compromise, neither side gets what it wants, but IT IS a rail/trail compromise. Why not try to make what rails you have left the best it can be because, I believe if you got it all, we’d be right back here in a few years, but then the decision would be how to get rid of the rail assets because you’d be broke & out of business. And why can I say that” Just look at the tax records for the ASR, they barely make a profit; they are one emergency or disaster away from going out of business; they aren’t raising the funds totally necessary to even argue this case in court; and if the state didn’t loan/buy them fuel on a reoccurring basis, or if members didn’t make them low interest loans they would be surviving now. The state if it chooses can bankrupt you with this court case. And like John said above: You & all the rest of the rail supporters are paying the state lawyers who may/can put you out of business.

    • Larry Roth says:

      What part of non-profit do you have trouble with? It all goes back into the railroad.

      How much profit is a free trail going to make? Why must one but not the other?

      There were no public hearings scheduled outside of the Park until protests forced them to add one in Utica.

      I raised some critical issues in written comments; I know they were read because at least one point I raised was addressed – but others were completely omitted, and they were issues DEC is required to consider by its own regulations. They didn’t even mention them. I suspect it was because it would have severely weakened the justifications for Alt 7 and pissed off a major political force in the state.

      Tell me – what will happen if the trail fails to meet expectations? Who will be held accountable for the loss of economic benefits in that case?

      You and the trail supporters are forcing the state to spend your money defending a flawed process. How do you like that?

      • Boreas says:

        “How much profit is a free trail going to make? Why must one but not the other?”

        One would be open to use by the public 24/7/365 free of charge while the other…wouldn’t….

        • Larry Roth says:

          With all due respect, that argument is bogus. The trail will no more be free than the highways that run through the region.

          If you want the trains to run year round and be as free as the roads and the trails, I’m all in favor of that. Just have the state fund the rails like it does everything else. If cyclists and snowmobilers and drivers can have the state pay for their pleasure, why should people who want to ride the rails be discriminated against?


          • Boreas says:

            How do you figure it is bogus? Who is going to be charging me admission? Who is going to charging out of state visitors admission? Taxes? I’m OK with those as long as I can use the resource without paying a fare as well. You WILL be charging admission for use of the trains and rail bikes, correct? Can I jump on that train 24/7/365?? No!

            Larry, I’m sorry for your group if you cannot see anything positive coming out of the compromise. If you don’t keep an open mind, you may lose the entire corridor. I am done here. Have a good day.

            • Larry Roth says:

              We’ve never denied there were positive elements in the compromise – we just think the price is too high.

              This has become a bacon argument.

  19. Dave says:

    I totally understand non profit, but the ASR has zero money to make any capitol investment in improving what they currently have. As a non-profit, when you make just enough to survive, in my opinion you are not doing great! A free trail makes no money, are you that stupid, but it does afford the opportunity for many people to come to the area & try many different activities on the trail & then go off & spend money at the many different business along it. I guess you would argue that the Erie Canal trail that runs from Albany to Buffalo is a waste of money. I guess all those free hiking trails up in the ADK are a waste of money, because they are FREE!
    As far as no meetings being held outside of the park, there IS/WAS NO need to in my opinion. The UMP deals with a activity inside the park. No other UMP update anywhere else in the state has a requirement to run all over to get points of view. There were 4 opportunities to make your voice heard. If you were too lazy to get off your fat ass & attend one of them, to bad!
    As far as your last comment, you & your rail supporters are in my opinion trying to force the state to continue to fund a so so rail effort. And we won’t know if the trail meets expectations until it’s built. Would you say the Erie Canal Trail is a bust?
    You seem to want to live in the past, the Dot, Dec, APA & governor made a decision to move into the future. Why not grasp that, take what ya got & try to make it work, because, I bet in 5 years we be right back here with another UMP update & like I said above it won’t be discussing weather the state did/didn’t rehab the trail to Tupper Lake, it will be how to get rid of the FAILED rail assets!

    • Larry Roth says:

      You really don’t understand what the situation is at all, do you.

      When you claim the ASR is barely surviving, you are deliberately ignoring the fact that over 20 years they’ve gone from a couple of miles of track at Thendara to using the entire line. They have a revenue stream from the thousands of visitors that ride the rails – money that is not coming out of your pocket. Their efforts have made the Rail Explorers possible, an entirely new business in the area.

      I’m not arguing that the trails you cite are a waste of money – but I don’t see you bragging that they are cash cows either. Face it – you have no trouble with taxpayer money propping up what you like.

      Take your comment about the UMP. You do know the corridor extends outside the blue line, right? It runs from Remsen at the border of the Park to Lake Placid, and the 1996 UMP considers the entire length of the line all the way to Utica as one unit, for transportation purposes, for historic purposes, and for planning purposes.

      Governor Cuomo’s compromise is like King Solomon’s decision on the baby. Cutting it in half would have satisfied the woman who was just jealous – but it wouldn’t have done the baby any good. The compromise is a cheap political attempt to score points with everybody, but it’s shortchanging the future of the area. Cuomo gets to claim he’s looking out for everyone – but it’s well short of the investment the area really needs.

      You have probably never seen what a real world-class trail system looks like. I have and the people who use it would probably think the state is nuts to chose to cripple the one they plan to build. This isn’t about living in the past – this is about building a new future. Your snowmobilers, bikers, and hikers are the ones who refuse to move with the times.

      For your information, I’ve been busy on this. I couldn’t get to any of the hearings because I didn’t find out about the last one until the last minute (I don’t live in the corridor) – but that didn’t stop me from submitting a lengthy public comment well before the deadline and making my views known. I’ve been following it up ever since.

      We’ll have to see what the court decides. It ain’t over till its over.

  20. Dave says:

    The ASR is barely surviving, just look at their tax returns. They barely break even every year, if that. If the state didn’t give them grants each year, they wouldn’t survive. If members didn’t make loans to them, they wouldn’t survive. You don’t use the entire line, that is a joke & you know it. You only run a train north of Big Moose to Lake Placid, if the tracks are safe to be used. I believe two years ago, the equipment on the north end was forced to stay there the entire winter, because the tracks were unsafe the equipment. You had a train derail what two years ago up in Saranac Lake & the state had to come in & fix it. As far as the Rail Explorers, they knew what was happening on the corridor & they knew a decision was forthcoming that could affect their business & they still went forward. Their loss, if/when they have to move. I don’t feel sorry for them at all!
    I guess since you want to make the comment that I’m ok with taxpayers propping up what I like, I can say the same for you. Taxpayers prop up maintenance of the corridor ever year. Tax payers pay to maintain the tracks.

    And again, you said Governor Cuomo compromised, he didn’t break the law. Even you cannot site 1 law that was broken. You just don’t like his decision!

    Ya just keep falling back on blaming snowmobilers, bikers, & hikers, like the rail folks have no blame in the decision that was made. You run a piss poor enterprise & you want everyone else to be at fault. Maybe if you rail folks would look in the mirror, you’d see your just as responsible for the decision that was made.
    My advice in closing is don’t stand in the way of progress, because all that will happen in the end is you’ll become a speed bump to moving the corridor forward.

    And if the court decides in your favor, I guess the status quo is ok for you all, because that is what you’ll get! There will be no expansion into Tupper Lake.

    • David P. Lubic says:

      This brings up something that still gets swept under the rug.

      Why is there a double standard for a railroad vs. anything else? Why must a railroad, and ONLY a railroad, make a profit, but it’s OK to spend money on roads and trails, and not expect them to pay for themselves?

      Think of the damage that has done over the years, as we replaced what were tax paying, profitable railroads, undercutting them and forcing abandonment, while hiding the costs of driving (and of trails). That cost, by the way, includes our oil dependence (which is largely from our transportation system), and has in turn lead to all sorts of problems such as oil wars.

      I’ve been following that for a long time, too, and I’ve seen commentary to the point that driving is “the American way of life.” Well, that “American way of life” has become and still remains the great American security threat, and in more ways than one. . .