Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Take A Ride Up The Sanford Lake Branch



 Take A Ride To Sanford Lake!

    Earlier this year I posted some photos of a trip I took on the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad on May 24th, 2014.  We traveled from North Creek to Saratoga Springs and back via a track speeder. It was part of a run sponsored by the NARCOA track-car group. What an awesome ride that was.  Here's a link if you haven't seen it!     What I wasn't lucky enough to be a part of was the trip they took the next day to Sanford Lake.  Someone fortunate enough to was Russ Nelson, a fellow Railroad-Archeologist.  Russ loves crawling through the woods in search of lost railroads and signs of railroads that were never even finished.  He was nice enough to share his photos from that trip.  I used his captions whenever possible!  My reason for sharing these photos is for those fans who are interested in seeing where the stone-trains will operate on The Saratoga And North Creek Railroad.  Enjoy!

All Photos 2014 Russ Nelson



Just North of the Yard at North Creek is the first milepost for the Sanford Lake Branch (Tahawus).


 Crossing Bridge Over Thirteenth Brook


Milepost SL 24/NC 5 (SL= North to Sanford Lake, NC= South to North Creek)


Crossing the Upper Hudson River



Stillwater Siding.   
Russ: They put a passing siding on the top of the hill so they could cut a train in two to get it up the hill, and then reassemble it.



 A long string of railcars!

 Preparing to cross NY-28


 Russ: Second crossing of Tahawus Road, heading north. This is the only "virgin" crossing I was able to photograph, which still has all the sand in the flangeways.


 Russ: The southern end of the Tahawaus yard. There is a four-track yard here. Only the two right-most tracks have been cleared out by the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad. The other two tracks look perfectly fine. They're just clogged with brush.




Russ: The southern end of the Tahawus yard. They had us split out into two groups. Motorcars without a turntable underneath them were on the leftmost track (the main line). Motorcars with a turntable were sent to the second track. Clearly, nobody was going on the third or fourth tracks (where I'm standing).


 Sunken track at Sanford Lake


Russ: The wye track on the right is still brushed over. There's also a washout closer to the tail switch. Not a problem for our motorcars, but they couldn't run a full-size locomotive over it. More to the point, though, is the snowplow fouling the other leg of the wye, making the whole wye unusable.


Russ: The northern end of the Tahawus yard, at the switch for tracks three and four. Still needs a bit of work before it can be used.


Russ: This switch point is bolted shut, and for good reason -- the tracks on the other side of the frog have been pulled. Used to go further into the mine, serving a building there that doesn't exist anymore.



Russ: The tracks that the flatcar is on stop between me and it. I think this used to be the main line into the mine. At least it looks that way from the configuration of the switch. The other tracks that I'm standing in the gauge of, continue for another few hundred feet.


Russ: Two things. First, you can see where the tracks went through the grass by the discolored grass, stressed by the lack of organic matter in the railbed beneath it. Second, in the soil pulled up by the fallen tree, you can see a rail clip.

RUSS: The tracks used to go this way. In the brush, you can see a flanger sign. That was a warning to snowplows that the flangeways were obstructed ahead, probably by a crossing, and they had to raise their equipment.

Russ: The Saratoga and North Creek's motorcar, pulling up the rear of the consist, switching back on to the main line.


Russ: Justin Gonyo, general manager of the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad, rode with us in their own motorcar. He's waiting for us and one other car to clear the switch so he can realign it to the siding where their motorcar is sitting. 


First crossing of Tahawus Road, looking south.

First crossing of Tahawus Road, looking north.


Russ: Stillwater siding, with a self-guarding frog. This is a problem for a speeder, because it could pick the point, go to the right, and dump us on the ground. Not a big deal for our little speeder, which we could simply pick up and put back on the tracks. A more serious problem for the motorcars that you can only turn with a turntable.



Russ: Here's where the rockslide was in earlier years that kept speeders from traversing the whole line. Fixed now, of course, along with a washout further to the south. Apart from brush, these were the only two impairments to the Sanford Lake Branch!


Passing Milepost SL19/NC10


Bridge over Racquette Brook, not far from Barton Mine's plant.


Just North of North Creek along the Hudson River.

A BIG thanks to Russ Nelson for allowing me to share his photos on my blog!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stone Trains Begin

 


Saratoga And North Creek's 821 and BL2 54 head North at Ordway's Siding, north or North Creek (PHOTO: Bradley Peterson)
 




 

More train rides, new freight deals boost railway’s prospects



QUEENSBURY — With a new freight-hauling contract, and a surge in sales of passenger trips, the Saratoga-North Creek Railway is enjoying a prosperous conclusion to 2014, railway general manager Justin Gonyo said this week.
A new themed passenger excursion called the Pumpkin Patch Express is to occur this weekend, with as many as 1,000 children and adults participating.
The trip features children a choosing a pumpkin to take home and visits to North Creek shops, billed as a walk down “Trick of Treat Trail.”
This fall-themed excursion is selling quite well, Gonyo said, noting it was sold out for Sunday Oct. 19 and filling up fast for Saturday Oct. 18 — at a price of $20 per ticket.
Leaving at 10 a.m. from Saratoga, the train — accompanied by a story-telling scarecrow character — arrives in North Creek at 12:15 p.m. for a three-hour layover. During this time, children paint their pumpkin, win prizes, taken a pony or hay ride as well as visiting the local stores for treats. Vendors of crafts and other wares are to be on hand, Gonyo said.
“We aim to boost foot traffic in the local businesses,” he said.
The railway already has 10,000 passengers booked for its 2014 Christmas-themed Polar Express excursions. Last year, these special trips occurred during late November and throughout December. For this year’s Polar Express, a additional double-decker dome car will join the existing two in order to boost the number of passengers, Gonyo said.
While ridership was light on this summer’s new North End Local which aimed to give Lake George visitors a ride from Thurman Station to North Creek, the railway is taking action to build the passenger traffic next year. Efforts are already underway to partner with businesses and boost publicity for this short-run tourist service, Gonyo said.
The railway’s special trains on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5 to Thurman Station were sold out, Gonyo said. These runs transported bargain-seekers from Saratoga to Thurman for Warrensburg’s huge World’s Largest Garage Sale event.
“Overall, we’re very pleased about the response to our North End Local during it’s first year,” he said, noting he and other railway officials expect growth for 2015. In late summer, Gonyo told supervisors that ridership overall during 2014 had increased by as much as 25 percent, year-to-date.
New rail freight contract signed
The big news, however, is a new freight contract the railway secured — to haul 2,000 tons of high-grade gravel per day via rail from Tahawus to Taunton, Mass., where the material is to be used for railroad ballast under the rails.
Another pending contract calls for 6,000 tons per day to be hauled by rail to Corinth, and trucked from there to Fall River, Mass.
Gonyo said Tuesday Oct. 14 that freight cars in Tahawus were already being loaded with the gravel, and that the freight trips to Taunton would begin the week of Oct. 20.
The high-friction gravel is from the abandoned NL Industries mines.
Another contract, calling for millions of tons of gravel to be transported to Long Island for road construction, is still being negotiated. This customer is seeking to have as much as 20 million tons of gravel hauled via rail over the next two decades.
Additional rail freight traffic over the Warren County-owned railroad is welcome news, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Geraghty said Tuesday.
“There has been some concern that getting the freight underway was taking longer than expected, but this is good news because it’s important to the finances of the railway operations,” he said.
Warren County and the town of Corinth, which jointly own the track and stations, receive a portion of the railway’s revenue.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Save the Adirondack Scenic Railroad!


http://www.savemrwebbsrailroad.com

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is one of the most beautiful train rides you will ever take!  Right now a group is wanting to tear up the historic rail line and create yet another recreation/snowmobile trail.  The Adirondacks has got plenty of those, but it only has one railroad that passes through the heart of it.  Most of all, it's a foolish idea to tear up a working railroad.  There are other rail beds to convert, but keep the historic rails in place.  
Some say the scrap value of this railroad is enough to build the trail.  Perhaps scrapping all of the snow mobiles in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake could build a nice little walking path outside one of those villages.  And the idea of a parallel trail to the rail line?  Absolute foolishness!  It will destroy the scenery outside of the coach's windows.  Please support this historic operation and visit http://www.savemrwebbsrailroad.com...

Please enjoy some fine photos of the Saranac Lake Depot taken by rail photographer Greg Klingler.  A mountain bike arriving at this station won't have the same impact....






All Photos: Greg Klingler

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

RAIL OR TRAIL?

From The Observer Dispatch, Utica, New York

By DAVID H. LINK
October 05. 2014 3:15AM

RAIL OR TRAIL? Railroad a wilderness gateway for all

Forty years ago the New York state Department of Transportation, showing bold leadership, stepped in to block the abandonment and scrapping of the Adirondack Railroad. The argument was the line was a valuable rail transportation asset and should be preserved.

Looking back, that decision was wise and foresaw the trend of increasing passenger rail travel and freight development on branch lines across the country.

In 1992, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad commenced operation of a four-mile segment of the Utica-Lake Placid Line on a 30-day permit from the DOT. Operating on that same permit 22 years later, the railroad now operates over 70 miles of track, has carried what is now approaching 1.5 million passengers, and continues to market and explore economic opportunities in the Adirondacks and Mohawk Valley.

Three years ago, a self-labeled “steering committee” emerged and held a meeting in Tupper Lake to propose ripping the line out to build yet another trail. The justification was an economic study paid for by the backers of the proposal which showed huge economic, social and environmental benefits, while misrepresenting any factual accounting as to the cost’s and benefit’s of their scheme. The trail “advocates”, known as ARTA, have continually attacked the volunteers, employees and supporters of the railroad in an unprecedented and well-funded effort to destroy what is today the longest National Register Historic property in the country.

Hiding behind ARTA’s nonprofit status and funding the battle are familiar names who over the last 20 years have fought to stop and delay projects related to public access and economic development. Development of retail stores in the North Country was thwarted, forcing the public to drive many miles out to shop. A resort project has been stalled in Tupper Lake, and other projects have been challenged or delayed.

Now the effort is to try and rip out the railroad, using the ruse of increased trail access and economic benefits.

The rail line from Utica to Lake Placid is a unique asset with not only an important link to our past history and culture, but more importantly an economic factor in the future of the region and the park. As our population continues to grow and fuel supply becomes more and more an economic and social factor, the efficient rails will continue to make a comeback as the transportation mode of choice. The Adirondack railroad is the only line into and through the heart of the wilderness to the world-famous resorts of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. This rail puts the Northeast metropolitan region within a day trip by rail to these resorts and Utica, Old Forge, Tupper Lake as well. The lumber and wood industry has long depended on rail to move products to market, and to say that lumbering is over is being a little too overconfident. Trees are still growing and people are still building, furnishing, and heating houses.

The 1.5 million riders the railroad has hosted come from all over the country and overseas. They are young and old, fit and not so fit. Many want to see the wilderness from a comfortable and safe seat, many prefer to travel in groups, not sit on top of a machine or battle black flies, snow or rain. Whoever these visitors are, they all spend time and money in this region that would be spent elsewhere if the rails were removed.

It is time for the DOT to actively support and develop this world-class transportation asset. Our elected officials need to be asking some hard questions about the spin put out by a few advocates who want to destroy our transportation infrastructure to add a few more miles of costly and underutilized trail.

David Link is a founding board member of the Adirondack Scenic Railway Preservation Society. He lives in Blossvale.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hadley Trestle in The Adirondacks





Speeder run over the Hadley Trestle on the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad.

Hadley Station Runby





Speeder trip on the Saratoga North Creek Railroad in Hadley, NY

Stoney Creek Golf Course





Speeder Ride On The Saratoga And North Creek near Stoney Creek, NY

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NARCOA Mid-Atlantic Meet On The Saratoga And North Creek Railroad 5/24/14

  This past Saturday I had the pleasure of catching a ride in a Speeder Car from North Creek to Saratoga Springs and back.  What a great adventure cruising The Saratoga And North Creek Railroad!


It's all due to this guy, the one and only Mad Dog Bill Kozel!  When Bill asked me if I'd like to join him, how could I refuse!!!!
 

 Here's a shot of Mad Dog's Canadian National Speeder.  Not a replica, but the real deal! 
What a great ride!


We had to layover a few minutes in Thurman so a North Bound passenger train could get through. Not a bad place to take a break, plus we got to see the new Thurman S&NC Station.
 

 Hooray, The New York Central!!!!!!


Here's some of the cars lining up at the North Creek Depot.  Someday I hope to own one of these cars.  The people in the group are great and they travel all over North America to explore railroads, like no other way!


Some cars are a little more luxurious than others.  The Cadillac on the left was scratch built by a member and it can hold around 6 people.  The horn on this contraption was louder than any loco running on this line!

Workers from the S&NC flagged every crossing all the way up and down the line.  Safety is first and foremost in everyone's mind!  Operators need to licensed to join the group, their Speeders need regular inspections and all rules of the railroad must be followed!


 Everyone wears special gear so you stick out in all conditions!  Hey, here is a shot of the new Thurman Station I was talking about!


All cars are equipped with multiple safety devices!

 The cars are from a variety of railroads.  I enjoyed the CN speeder I rode in, but there was a neat Pennsy Car and a couple of Suzy-Q rides that I'd love for myself!










Even the employees of the SNC were impressed with the Speeders!

If you'd like more information about this great organization, check out their National site at NARCOA.org.

Also check out The Mid-Atlantic Motorcar Association, the group that sponsored this S&NC Trip!