Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Saving the rails is a no-brainer

Save The Adirondack Scenic Railroad's Saranac-Placid Line and The Catskill Mountain Railroad!

From The Utica Observer Dispatch

http://www.uticaod.com/opinion/20170402/guest-view-saving-rails-is-no-brainer

GUEST VIEW: Saving the rails is a no-brainer
Posted Apr 2, 2017 at 4:00 AM


By LARRY ROTH
Editor’s note: This column appeared March 23 in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
The news out of Justice Robert Main’s court has not been good for the anti-rail special interests currently huddling behind closed doors with the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Transportation.

The state has been forced to admit it was wrong about its title to the corridor. It’ll have to buy several parcels or make other arrangements before it can start ripping out the tracks.
The Justice has not been impressed by the lack of plans to meet Historic Preservation laws either. The state’s argument that they can’t complete them without starting the project first is an admission they still don’t really know what they’re getting into, and do not really care.
The state has been found in the wrong on two key elements of the Alternative 7 plan. (Alternative 7 is the state “compromise” plan that would rehabilitate Adirondack railroad track between Big Moose Station and Tupper Lake and tear up track between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid to build a 34-mile recreational trail. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has filed a lawsuit to stop that action.)
What else is the state wrong about?
The state now claims to have identified all potential title problems, with no more issues all the way back to Remsen. Considering how strongly they claimed that there were no problems at all previously, should we believe them?
The state has claimed that removing the rails doesn’t mean removing the rail line’s designation as a travel corridor – allowing continued use of motorized vehicles like snowmobiles. Would that hold up to a legal challenge? There are those who want all motorized access banned – not just trains. They’re ready and waiting.
The state’s economic case for Alternative 7 ignores the Rail Explorers (a tourism rail bike company that operated in Saranac Lake, Lake Clear, and Tupper Lake and brought 37,000 customers, the majority of whom were new visitors, to this economically challenged region in just two seasons), ignores continued ridership growth on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, and ignores what full passenger service to Lake Placid would mean for the whole corridor. It ignores the value of a direct connection to a major Amtrak route at Utica – and that Amtrak’s ridership continues to grow as well.

It ignores the continuing decline in snowmobile registrations. It ignores the increasingly freakish winter weather that makes investing in winter recreation increasingly risky. It ignores the fact that the region’s limited travel options are too easily compromised by weather, accidents, natural disasters, and congestion.
The Adirondack Park Agency should be facing serious questions about this. Their job is to review state plans and make decisions in the best interests of the people of New York – ALL the people.
Why didn’t they catch the problems now being called out in court? There were those who tried to warn them Alternative 7 has serious flaws. Why didn’t they listen?
The core flaw of Alternative 7 is this: The 1996 plan recognized that much of the economic and historic value of the corridor is because it IS intact, and is best managed as one unit. Cutting off access to the premier destination at the end of the line diminishes the value of the entire corridor, perhaps fatally. It makes no more sense than it would to allow Bolton Landing to secede from the rest of Lake George, or ending the Northway at Plattsburgh.
It’s getting harder to ignore the suspicion Alternative 7 was written to justify removing the tracks at the behest of well-connected local anti-rail activists, instead of as an honest review of the 1996 plan.
Let’s tally what the anti-rail forces have accomplished so far. They’re driving two businesses out of the area, along with their jobs, the money they spend locally, and the visitors they attract. They’ve deliberately framed the issue as an either/or choice between rails and trails – when rails WITH trails would make both stronger than either by itself. They’re putting their interests ahead of everyone else on the corridor. They’re creating serious economic uncertainty for the region.
Unlike the rails, their “free” trail will not be directly supported by the people who use it – it will all have to be funded by taxpayers. Saranac Lake is planning to spend several hundred thousand dollars to build access trails around it – through grants and local taxpayer funding, IF they can get Federal money to pay for the rest of it. (Good luck with that in the Trump era.) And where is the money to maintain all of this going to come from, or the funding for the public safety needs it will create? Meanwhile, using the trail for Olympic training has been dropped, and paving it is now an extra-cost option.

It’s no wonder they’re meeting behind closed doors, out of public sight and accountability, away from hard questions.
There are larger questions about what the Cuomo administration is doing. Governor Cuomo likes to propose big-sounding programs to boost the state economy, but they’re too often uncoordinated patchwork efforts with poor execution. There have been repeated questions over where the money goes, who gets it, and how. Pay to play stories keep making the news.
The governor has called for millions to upgrade the state’s Olympic facilities. Lake Placid will be getting new year-round attractions – while the state prepares to remove the rail line that could bring visitors to them. One step forward, two steps back.
Rail improvements at Albany and Schenectady will soon make it practical for Amtrak trains from New York City to routinely run through to Saratoga. Via the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, this could feed rail travelers right up to Gore Mountain – also being upgraded – but the state would need to give more support to Amtrak to make it happen.
Belleayre in the Catskills is also supposed to get a boost – and restoring the rails between Kingston and Phoenicia would be one way to get more people up there. The cost of rebuilding the line would be trivial compared with improving the roadways.
This year Amtrak revived weekend trains between Denver, Colorado, and the Winter Park ski resort. They’ve had sold out trains and filled hotel rooms. The newly restored Union Station in Denver has become a destination in its own right, and a multi-modal transportation hub that ties the area together.
The only thing keeping the Empire State from similar renewal is lack of vision, small-minded petty politics, and a failure of nerve. Abandon Alternative 7. Return to the 1996 plan. Save the rails. Easy as 1-2-3!

Larry Roth lives in Ravena.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Questions about future of Adirondack tourism trains

Here's an article from North Country Public Radio discussing the going-ons with The Adirondack Scenic Railroad and The Saratoga And North Creek Railroad...


The Future Of Adirondack Tourist Trains

Letter to the editor: The rail, not a trail, brings in the money

Here is a great editorial to The Glens' Falls Post Star News Paper.  The recent decision to cancel Snow Trains has caused many to question the proper use of the rail-line from Saratoga Springs to North Creek.  A trail is certainly not the best use in my opinion...

Here is a link to the editorial:  The Rail, Not A Trail, Brings In The Money

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Last Run Of The Saratoga Line...75 Years Ago Today

December 7, 1941 marked three milestones in Upstate New York.  The most famous being the sneak attack on the US, Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the second being the first run of The Empire State Express on the New York Central between Buffalo and New York City and third being the closing of the Schenectady to Saratoga Springs Branch of the Schenectady Railway's Electric Division.  Although the final trip left Nott Street and Park Place on Saturday night, December 6th, it's return trip at 1am on the 7th that is most noted.  It's also when the power was shut down at the Ballston Lake Sub-Station...


This is one of the last daylight runs to stop in Ballston Spa.  This took place on Milton Ave. looking South.  The crew stopped to pose with one of Ballston's finest.
(Frank Dodge Collection)


Conductor Milton Van Atta collected fares on the last run.  He joined The Schenectady Railway in 1917.



Motorman Earl C. Wheeler ran the last car to Saratoga Springs and then back to Veeder Yards on Van Vranken Avenue in Schenectady.  Earl started with the Company in 1923.  Both he and Milton Van Atta were assigned to other runs on the Railway.  They probably took over a bus route, since there was only one electric route left after 1941.



A full house was on board for the last trip.  Fan used the occasion  to strip whatever souvenirs they could find at the Stops along the line and on the trolley herself!


Another crew and some of the revelers pose in front of the car before she leaves Schenectady on the Night of the 6th.



 The next morning busses would start making the run between Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, but not before 1:30 am on December 7th when power would be shut down at The Ballston Lake Sub-Station.



Eventually, most Schenectady Railway Cars ended up behind the Veeder Barn on Van Vranken Ave. to burn and scrap the cars.  From what I've been told, smoke filled the air at the bottom of Goose Hill in Schenectady for months.


Not much time was wasted in tearing up the rail for scrap.  


Here's a high-rail traveling the line during the scrapping.


Frogs are removed on a crossover.



Scrap rail was loaded into gons for shipment by Steam-Railroad.



Here is a shot of the scrapped right-of-way between Ballston Spa and Saratoga Springs.  The two track main of the Schenectady Railway paralleled the Delaware and Hudson in several spots creating a four-track mainline.  'RP 158' on the mile marker stands for 158 miles from Rousses Point on the D&H's Canadian Main.

Special Thanks To The Kingston Trolley Museum for sharing these photos from their archives.
Check them out at http://www.tmny.org/









Monday, September 19, 2016

"RAILROADS OF SARATOGA COUNTY"

"RAILROADS OF SARATOGA COUNTY"


Thursday, September 22, 2016

7:00 p.m.

Hadley Town Hall
Hadley, N.Y.




PHOTO: Joseph A. Smith/Ken Bradford Collection

Please join us in welcoming author, photographer and  adjunct lecturer in transportation history at H.V.C.C. and SUNY Adirondack, Gino DiCarlo.    Mr. DiCarlo is the author of Trolleys of the Capital District, an historical perspective on the trolley systems that once canvassed the Capital District.  His next book will feature the history of  the Saratoga and Mt. McGregor Railroad.
It should be a very informative program.  So please mark your calendars and join us on September 22.
The program is free and open to the public.  For further information please call 518/696-3494 or email kinnearmuseum@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

West Lebanon, NH

West Lebanon, (Westboro) New Hampshire...Railroad Town

I recently brought my son to Dartmouth for a doctor's appointment.  With a little time to kill I decided to do some railroad exploring...



Just across the Conn. River from here is White River Junction.  This side of the river is a 2.8 mile stretch of former B&M Trackage that serves several customers.  Their power being a Geep and S4.


In July of 2000, our friends at Guilford Railroad Corp. sold this small piece of track (Former B&M Mileposts 140 to 142.78) to the State of New Hampshire.  The Claremont and Concord Railroad was chosen as the designated operator.


This ALCO S4 is the back-up power to the C&C Geep-9, Number 1907.  Cars are delivered to White River Junction via the NECR and moved across the river to West Lebanon.


Here's a shot of the 1907, the main power on the Spur.


Originally this was built as The Northern Railroad which eventually succumbed to the Boston And Maine.  The abandoned trackage is a Rail-Trail from Lebanon, NH to Boscawen.  A total of 59 miles.


The ALCO's history is seen coming through the paint.


New owners of the Claremont and Concord, The Genesee & Wyoming have a small shop here.  The track extends through the building for another 200 feet, or so.


This former B&M Freight House is located right along the Yard, but was moved from a different location.


A former B&M Roundhouse sits on the East-end of the yard.  Years of abuse are showing, but the state is trying to secure funds to preserve the building.


All Photos Gino DiCarlo 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Railroads Of Saratoga County

-- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

HADLEY-LAKE LUZERNE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
 
presents
 
"RAILROADS OF SARATOGA COUNTY"



Thursday, September 22, 2016
 
7:00 p.m.
 
Hadley Town Hall
Hadley, N.Y.
 
 
Please join us in welcoming author, photographer and  adjunct lecturer in transportation history at H.V.C.C. and SUNY Adirondack, Gino DiCarlo.    Mr. DiCarlo is the author of Trolleys of the Capital District, an historical perspective on the trolley systems that once canvassed the Capital District.  His next book will feature the history of  the Saratoga and Mt. McGregor Railroad.
 
It should be a very informative program.  So please mark your calendars and join us on September 22.
 
The program is free and open to the public.  For further information please call 518/696-3494 or email kinnearmuseum@gmail.com
Hadley-Luzerne Historical Society
Box 275
52 Main Street
Lake Luzerne, N.Y.  12846
518/696-4520
Visit our web site:  www.kinnearmuseum.blogspot.com

Monday, February 1, 2016

Saratoga and North Creek 8524


New in the Atlas Model Railroad Catalog.


The perfect addition to your HO layout!



Available soon in HO Scale!!!!! For more info, check out their web-site: http://www.atlasrr.com/