I took the time this weekend to contact my Governor and two US Senators on the issue of removing the Northern Portion of The Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Here is what I wrote them...
Please save the Adirondack Scenic Railroad from Lake Placid To Tupper Lake!
I am a Railroad Historian and author from Upstate New York and have written a book titled "Trolleys Of The Capital District." My current project is writing a book on the rich-railroad history of Saratoga Springs.
Anyhow, as you can imagine, I love the history of New York's railroads. The first passenger line in America connected my hometown of Schenectady with my college town of Albany. If you love rail history, then New York is for you. What bothers me is the lack of importance our State shows towards keeping railroads intact. Railroads aren't only our history, they are our future. In the past, the State has created trails on abandoned railroad right-of-ways (Scrapped rail) and this indeed has preserved it's legacy.
The talk of taking abandoned right-of-ways (Intact railroads) and scrapping them to create a recreation trail is incredibly short sighted. Look at the Delaware and Hudson's Adirondack Branch. It sat dormant for over 20 years, but was somehow saved and brought back to life. I have rode between Saratoga and North Creek and am amazed by the rehabilitation of this line. This couldn't have happened if we let people convince our leaders that removing the rails and replacing it with a trail is in everyone's best interest. A trail only serves the physically fit. It does nothing to provide our elderly and physically handicap with the spectacular beauty which is The Adirondack Mountains.
I'm sure you've been spoken to about this matter, but am hoping I can encourage you to take a closer look at this situation. Some uninformed individual has decided that they will try to please both sides of this trail vs. rail issue by scrapping the Northern Portion of the great Mohawk And Malone Railroad. The current custodians of this historic byway, The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has invested countless hours and energy in trying to restore the entire line from Utica to Lake Placid. This is a task that should not be interrupted until complete. On it's historical value alone, (One of only two railroads that reach the heart of The Adirondack Park) this has been designated a New York State Historical Site and demands preservation.
Naturally, I take the side of history here, but I'm not one to bash trail advocates. I love bike-paths and hiking trails. As mentioned earlier, the practice of converting unused right-of-ways is a great way to preserve the history of a rail-line. The removal of rails is insane and not beneficial to all. The only people who would benefit here are the physically fit. Also, snowmobiles would benefit, but they have the use of this corridor now and have enjoyed it for 40 years. Their thought is 'we want it in the Winter, we don't care what happens in the Summer.' Of course if creating a trail brings in supporters of trail recreation to bolster their cause, why not join together to destroy history.
If you've made the trip on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (I sure hope so) then you know the scenery is incredible. People have been making the journey anyway possible for centuries. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is the best use of the corridor and ensures that people from 1 year to a hundred and ten can enjoy the untouched beauty of the Adirondacks.
The snowmobile fans can still ride the corridor in the winter and they also have the option of enjoying over 100 miles of trails in the Adirondacks. Hikers and cyclists have miles of choices right now without destroying the railroad. Who wants to hike on even ground? With all the mountains in this great State, there are plenty to climb up! Trail fans have suggested the financial windfall of scrapping the rail. Would anyone consider scrapping The Statue Of Liberty for it's metal content? Of course that's a preposterous notion, but not much different in my book!
So sorry to run so long, but this is very important to me and lovers of history. I lose sleep thinking about the prospect of tearing up the tracks near the beautiful Saranac Lake Station. It would lose so much without a railroad next to it! If God-forbid the railroad would be removed in Placid and Saranac, then The railroad-stations should be removed also! (Once again, preposterous!)
Saratoga Springs, NY