Other than a seasonal tourist train between Lake
Placid and Saranac Lake, the former New York Central line from Lake
Placid to Remsen (Old Forge) has been unused for passenger service
since 1965 and freight since 1972.
The seasonal tourist train between Lake Placid
and Saranac Lake was provided for in the 1995 Unit Management Plan
as an experiment that had to prove itself through market development
for the benefit of the local economies. In addition, the operator
was committed to upgrading the entire line from Lake Placid to Old
Forge to Class III service (60 MPH max) at its expense. This
experiment has failed: ridership has never exceeded 14,000 per annum
and the New York Department of Transportation continues to expend
massive amounts to keep the corridor open and the limited train
An attempt by the Town of North Elba is to
construct a parallel bike trail from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake at
a cost of no less than $4.4 million failed. A 2010 study by Camoin
Associates presented data showing that a rail-trail would be the
better option, but said that anything but the status quo would be an
improvement. A subsequent Rails-to-Trails Conservancy study of the
34 miles between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake said to expect 256,000
visitors and $20 million in new revenues if that section of track
were removed and converted to recreational uses. They suggested
that the entire conversion could be paid for from the steel
Between 2011 and 2015 roughly 13,000 people
petitioned the State asking that the corridor be converted to
recreation. The Towns of Harrietstown and North Elba, the two ends
of the seasonal tourist train, petitioned the State for removal of
the rails and construction of a hike/bike/ski recreational trail.
They were joined by the Town and Village of Tupper Lake, the Village
of Lake Placid, the Towns of Piercefield and Colton, St. Lawrence
County, and over 400 businesses.
The New York Snowmobile Association strongly
supported removal of the unused rails since the corridor north of
Old Forge is a key connector to Tug Hill and Montreal, as well as to
the Saranac Lake/Lake Placid area. The rails present a serious
hazard to sleds when there is less than a foot of dense snow, which
is increasingly the case. They claim another $7 mm in winter-time
benefits to local businesses if the rails are removed.
Multiple hearings in 2014 and 2015 supported the
conversion of the corridor to recreation. The result has been a
decision by NYSDEC and NYSDOT to convert the 34 miles between Lake
Placid and Tupper Lake to recreation and allow returned rail service
north to Tupper Lake from Utica. The scenic railway people
have said that they do not want to come to Tupper Lake and the
recreational trail people say they want the rail-trail to connect to
the Old Forge area, but the State appears to be holding to this
‘compromise’. A final UMP revision
was released on November 6, 2015 for review by the Adirondack Park
Agency, who then voted to approve the plan subject to public comment
on its legitimacy under the State Land Use Management Plan.
While we think
it is time to re-examine the entire premise on which the tourist
train was permitted. We want a contiguous recreation trail from Lake Placid to Old Forge.
This means that if the tourist train continues to operate it will
have to do so from Utica to Remsen, freeing the remaining 90
miles for recreation use.
corridors have been converted with great local benefits, click here
for some samples.
And here are
press reports on twenty rail-to-trail conversions, all with superb
With the added benefit that property values near trails are always
Finally, an editorial note: why does our Articles tab not link to pro-train restoration
articles? We can publish what we write because we have the
copyright, but we cannot without permission publish contrary
opinions. If anyone with a contrary published opinion would
like us to link to it please send us a release so we can do so.
for the latest information. Please send
comments to the State if you want this to be a fair
and open process based on facts!
The official website
for the Adirondack Rail Trail is now live, with an interactive
trail map, connecting hiking, biking and snowmobile trails, local
businesses, etc. Over time, all local amenities along the
trail - restaurants, motels, bike shops, healthcare facilities,
beaches, etc. will be added as icons with interactive links
describing the business, service, or amenity. If you want to
have your business or a local amenity added simply go to our sign-up
tab and you will find a separate place to indicate your interest at
the bottom of the form.
The town boards of Tupper Lake and
Harrietstown both voted unanimously to change their request from
asking the State to review the corridor management plan to asking
the State to go directly and immediately to creating the recreation
trail between Lake Placid and Old Forge.
The town board also shelved plans to spend $2.6 million on a new
trail that would have run parallel to the train tracks.
Full story here.
ARTA releases its detailed proposal
for the Adirondack Rail Trail
On September 6th, 2013 ARTA released a
detailed proposal for the construction
of the Adirondack Rail Trail and an associated
At the same time, ARTA sent printed copies of this proposal to all
of the relevant State agencies, Assemblymen and Senators, Town
Supervisors, and news organizations along with a
In addition to the detailed proposal, ARTA released a large-format
flyer showing the proposed trail and amenities along the way, as
well as a detailed trail map.
ARTA is calling on its members to write to the corridor management
review team (see below) in support of the Rail Trail proposal.
How we are accomplishing our goal
- We gathered signatures to demonstrate the public
interest in a recreation trail. Over 13,000 people have signed so
- We sought and received support from the towns and villages who will
most benefit from the trail. The economic benefits have been
made clear in multiple studies, and we are conducting additional
studies to show the feasibility and benefits of rail conversion.
- We asked NYSDOT and NYSDEC to modify the Unit Management
Plan to adopt the 1995 alternative to rail service, i.e., a
recreational trail. They have attempted a compromise,
giving us just 34 of the 90 miles. We will happiy take
that but want the entire corridor converted and will continue to
press for that.
- We will continue to work with the state agencies to create
an operating manager for the new recreation trail and to oversee
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The trail will initially run from Lake Placid to Tupper Lake via Ray
Brook, Saranac Lake, Lake Clear, and Floodwood. A second stage
will connect Tupper Lake to Old Forge.