Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stone Trains Begin

Saratoga And North Creek's 821 and BL2 54 head South 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!

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

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


From The Observer Dispatch, Utica, New York

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

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

Birth Of The Cooperstown And Charlotte Valley Railway

Feast your eyes on some great rail-photos.  

Taken in April of 1971, Chris Lord, CMO of the Current Cooperstown And Charlotte Valley Railroad Scenic Ride rode the equipment move from The DO Line in Oneonta to Cooperstown.  The DO Line, which ran a small operation on a piece of the former Ulster and Delaware Railroad was forced to relocated after the State abandoned the line so they could build Insterstate 88.  A recently abandoned D&H spur-line was the perfect place to set-up shop!

Go to Gino's Rail Museum to see the whole set of photos!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Spine Cars on the Battenkill!

Spine Cars on the Battenkill……Er….let me change that....Spine Cars On The Hudson!

I had heard that spine cars have been stored on The Battenkill Railroad.  Imagine my surprise to find them pushed all the way to the end of the line in Thompson.  This is the first time in decades that cars have been stored this deep on the BKRR.  Heck, it's been years since they've served H&V at Ondawa , which is a few miles up the line.  The last I remember a train going to Thompson was for a demonstration on the line when there was talk of shipping GE sludge by the BK.

If anyone has photos of these cars being pushed to Thompson, please let me know!

These cars are monsters!

And brand new!!!!