Adirondack Rail Corridor Protection

As a passenger, member or volunteer of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, you’re probably already familiar with our heritage railway, but that’s not all we do!

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society (ARPS), a nonprofit organization, operates the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, a former New York Central line located in upstate New York and the Adirondack region. Since 1992, we have built a successful tourist attraction, operating on track owned by the State of New York. In 1996, the State pledged to restore the track, allowing for rail operations between the mainline in Utica and the world-class destination of Lake Placid.  The State has only partially restored the track which has, in turn, created a contentious rail vs. trail debate.

Since our inception, ARPS has worked to preserve the state-owned Corridor. We cut brush, inspect track, maintain switches and control the beaver activity throughout the Corridor. We have helped to preserve the stations in Thendara and Saranac Lake as working pieces of railroad history. As part of our mission to create a multi-use recreational Corridor, we have worked with other businesses to provide our passengers with the opportunity to hike, bike and float through parts of the Adirondack Park that are seldom seen by the casual visitor.

The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society is a volunteer-based organization. Together with our staff, volunteers have donated approximately 300,000 hours to protect our historic railway and enrich the Adirondack experience for tourists and residents of our region. They have helped this railroad to grow from a four-mile excursion in the Old Forge area to a business that carried over 74,000 passengers annually on hundreds of trains in Utica, Thendara, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Our total ridership has surpassed 1,500,000 people.

All of our efforts to preserve our history and grow our future haven’t been enough to convince the State of New York to complete the restoration of the rails and develop a network of trails that would make this Corridor the envy of the tourism industry. Instead, they are proposing to remove the tracks north of Tupper Lake and replace them with a trail. This not only eliminates currently operational track, but would only allow us to bring families, senior citizens and people with physical challenges to Tupper Lake and tell them to walk the last 34 miles to visit the Olympic sites in Lake Placid.

We need your help to continue the fight to restore the rail service for the entire Corridor. We have been able to support our operation with ticket sales and tax-deductible donations, but we can’t fund the inevitable legal challenge to this ill-conceived proposal without additional support. Please consider a contribution to our Corridor Protection Fund. We need to raise $100,000 to wage a credible legal defense and your donation will help us reach our goal. It isn’t an exaggeration to say the future of the railroad depends on our success and widespread support.

Please send checks to: ARPS, 421 Broad Street, Suite 7, Utica, NY 13501 or donate online at AdirondackRR.com.  Thank you, in advance, for your support and spreading our message.

Please donate, any amount and every dollar helps!

Donate Here!

Can’t Donate? Please Write!

Governor Andrew Cuomo,NYS Capitol, Albany, NY 12224

Basil Seggos, Acting Commissioner, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233

Matthew Driscoll, Commissioner, NYS DOT, 50 Wolf Road, Albany, NY 12232

Robert Palmieri, Mayor, City of Utica, 1 Kennedy Plaza, Utica, NY 13502

Utica Common Council, 1 Kennedy Plaza, Utica, NY 13502

Oneida County Board of Legislators, 800 Park Ave #1, Utica, NY 13501

Clyde Rabideau, Mayor, Saranac Lake, 39 Main Street, Suite 9, Saranac Lake, NY 12983

Local News Publications, Elected Officials, Advocacy Groups

Please Help Save the Railroad

Your help is needed – New York State has recently issued a proposed “Alternative 7” to the Unit Management Plan that governs the Remsen – Lake Placid Corridor calling for revitalized rail service to Tupper Lake and ripping up the rails to create a recreational trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid. Please join us and offer your input to New York State in favor of a multi use rail and trail program which allows for revitalized train service not only to Tupper Lake but beyond.

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Please Attend: Additional public hearing in Utica – July 20th 
 
Your input is needed. An additional public hearing regarding the future of the Remsen – Lake Placid Travel Corridor has been scheduled for Monday, July 20th at 4pm at the State Office Building on Genesee Street in Utica. Originally, New York State had only planned on holding one public comment period in Tupper Lake but after a press conference and vocal support from Assemblyman Brindisi, Oneida County Executive Picente, Utica Comets’ Rob Esche and Oneida County Tourism’s Kelly Blazowsky, New York State has agreed to hold another hearing.
We encourage all of our supporters to attend this meeting and speak on behalf of restoration of the full rail corridor from Utica to Lake Placid and the development of recreational trails that weave in and out of the corridor. It is critical that our supporters speak on behalf of the railraod.
Tips: You’ll need to bring your ID to enter the State Office Building. One person at a time will speak in the front of the room with a microphone, arrive early so that you can sign up to speak, plan on 2-3 minutes of speaking time which is closely monitored. Please be courteous of everyone in attendance regardless of whether or not you agree with their opinion.
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Written Comments: 
Written comments may be submitted until July 25th to: John Schmid, Natural Resources Planner, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4254 or adirondackpark@dec.ny.gov
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Talking Points: 
Your help is needed – New York State has recently issued a proposed “Alternative 7” to the Unit Management Plan that governs the Remsen – Lake Placid Corridor calling for revitalized rail service to Tupper Lake and ripping up the rails to create a recreational trail from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid. Please join us and offer your input to New York State in favor of a multi use rail and trail program which allows for revitalized train service not only to Tupper Lake but beyond.
Please consider the following talking points:

-The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has carried over 1.5 million passengers and ridership has been steadily growing, expected attendance for 2015 hovers around 85,000 passengers.

 

-ASR is operated by a group of about 350 volunteers who give a collective 15,000 hours per year to the RR, serving as conductors, engineers, board members and others who maintain the 119 mile corridor. Volunteers not only keep the Railroad running but lower corridor maintenance costs substantially.

 

-Already offers “Canoe & Rail” and “Bike & Rail” packages which are successful and could be expanded with a fully operational line. There are already plans in place to offer similar packages between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake – one of the most scenic and diverse areas of the corridor.

 

– Brings a significant economic impact to the region, the RR is not only a job creator but has an annual operating budget of $2 million and works with local vendors, suppliers and merchants. A tourist attraction with an operating budget generates more economic impact that a passive tourist attraction.

 

-Draws tourists to the five counties through which it operates. Most riders originate from outside the county of their departing location. In the year 2014, ASR has visitors from all 50 states and 12 countries.

 

-The corridor is already a multimodal corridor! The RR operates seasonally, snowmobiles to have exclusive use of the corridor in the winter months.

 

-Will reach its full potential with rail service restored over the entire line, linking tourist towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Old Forge with Amtrak and national rail service in Utica. Stopping in Tupper Lake stops short of connecting the two largest population centers in the Adirondack Park. Rail service in Saranac Lake allows for the preservation of the historic depot as a multimodal hub.

 

-A restored rail line and enhanced trail system north of Tupper Lake provides trailways for both snowmobiles and non-motorized forms on winter recreation which would not be feasible in the trail-only scenario.

 

-A rail and trail program provides more comprehensive range of economic and recreational opportunities for people of all ages and capabilities.
-Can accommodate trails north of Tupper Lake, all of which have already been mapped out by a group of community leaders (Trails and Rails Action Committee). These trails are compatible with the rail corridor in place and provide a scenic route for hikers, bikers and skiers.

 

-Maintaining rail infrastructure north of Tupper Lake allows for greater ease of trail construction, rail access will allow for the delivery of materials as well as provide a core group of volunteers and infrastructure to easier maintain remote areas.

 

-Restored rail service provides for a smaller taxpayer investment in the corridor and will reap immediate economic benefits.

 

-Service extended north of Tupper Lake enhances marketability (name recognition) and connectivity between New York, Chicago and other metropolitan areas, via Utica, to the heart of the Tri-Lakes area.

 

-Will offer a unique tourism opportunity with train service allowing for drop off points for hikers, paddlers and outdoor enthusiasts in the most remote parts of the Adirondack Park.

-Is listed on the National & State of Historic Places, is a protected landmark and the longest historic district in the nation.

 

-Allows for access to remote Forever Wild areas of the Adirondack Park. In many places, these areas do not have cell phone service, businesses or other amenities. Train service allows the young, elderly, people with disabilities and people from all walks of life to see and experience these areas in a safe manner. Otherwise, these areas are only accessible to a very small number of people.
-Is owned by the People of the State of New York and should be enjoyed by all, regardless of their physical capabilities or age.

Thank you for the support!

Save the Railroad Through the Adirondacks!

Save the Adirondack Railroad PDF Flyer

trainBridge

 

Dear Friend of the Railroad,

We are in the final stretch! The political battle regarding the future of the Remsen—Lake Placid Corridor is coming to a head, the State of New York has recently announced four hearings to solicit public opinion on amending the Unit Management Plan of the Corridor—particularly from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid, while revitalizing the rail south of Tupper Lake.

Despite the success of the Railroad and the historic value of the line, a small and well-funded group advocates ripping up the railroad, destroying our past and limiting our future.

We encourage you to attend one of the public hearings and submit your written comments to the DOT and DEC in support of an entirely restored rail corridor and developed trails where compatible.

 

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad:

-Has carried over 1.5 million passengers since its inception in 1992, with a 35% ridership increase in the last five years alone.

-Is operated by a group of about 350 volunteers who give a  collective 15,000 hours per year to the RR, serving as conductors, engineers, board members and maintain the 119 mile corridor.

-Already offers “Canoe & Rail” and “Bike & Rail” packages which are successful and could be expanded with a fully operational line.

-Brings a significant economic impact to the region; the RR is not only a job creator but has an annual operating budget of $2 million and works with local vendors, suppliers and merchants.

-Draws tourists to the five counties through which it operates.  Most riders originate from outside the county of their departing location.

– Supports a system of rails and  parallel and interweaving trails, first called for in the original 1996 UMP.

The Remsen—Lake Placid Corridor:

-Is a multimodal corridor! The RR operates seasonally, snowmobiles to have exclusive use of the corridor in the winter months.

-Will reach its full potential with rail service restored over the entire line, linking tourists towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Old Forge with Amtrak and national rail service in Utica.

-Can accommodate trails north of Tupper Lake, all of which have already been mapped out by the Trails and Rails Action Committee.

-Will offer a unique tourism opportunity with train service allowing for drop off points for hikers, paddlers and outdoor enthusiasts in the most remote parts of the Adirondack Park.

-Is listed on the National & State Registers of Historic Places, is a protected landmark and one of the longest historic district in the nation.

-Is owned by the People of the State of New York and should be enjoyed by all, regardless of their physical capabilities or age.

 

Public Hearing Dates:

 ______________________________

 UTICA

State Office Building

207 Genesee Street

 October 28, 6—8pm

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 OLD FORGE

View

3273 State Route 28

 October 29, 1—3pm

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 TUPPER LAKE

Wild Center

45 Museum Drive

 November 6, 6—8pm

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 LAKE PLACID

ORDA

2634 Main Street

 November 7, 1—3pm

Written comments may be submitted until December 15:

Email NYSTravelCorridor@dot.ny.gov or write to:

NYS Travel Corridor, NYS DOT Freight & Passenger Rail Bureau, 50 Wolf Road, Albany, NY 12232

 

Thank you for supporting the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society and Adirondack Scenic Railroad!

Please call or email with questions. Our missions statement, economic impact study, as well as a summary of our business plan can be found at http://www.AdirondackRR.com

__________________________________________________________________________________

Bethan Maher

Executive Director

Adirondack Railway Preservation Society

Email: bethanmaher@adirondackrr.com   Phone: 1-800-819-2291

 

 

Eulogy for Harold Pier

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Harold, 77 earned a B.S. in chemistry at Penn State, an M.A. at Columbia University, and a Ph.D. at the University of Delaware.  He taught chemistry at Utica College for 40 years and was an avid biker, hiker and skier after retiring in 2000. 

He started his volunteer work with the ADK RR as a car host in 2007.   He volunteered at our Utica, Thendara, Saranac and Lake Placid Stations…I first met Harold at our RR rules class in Remsen in the spring of 2008 and we began as Student Trainman together that year.  I immediately took a liking to Harold and his laid back approach to life. I quickly learned that he was an avid hiker and all around outdoor enthusiast.  Every time I worked with Harold I would always end the day by saying…”so where you hiking this weekend Harold”…the guy amazed me because I knew that he had me by more than a few years but I never learned his real age until I read it in the paper…and then I was truly amazed!… 

Later that same year we were certified as official Trainman on the ADK RR.

Harold and I enjoyed many assignments together working on the train crew…An interesting and somewhat humorous ADK RR incident occurred our first summer working together…on a trip south from Thendara we arrived at the Snow Junction switch…now this switch is about 22 miles north of Utica in the middle of nowhere and it’s the merging of the M A & N tracks and the ADIX track…at this junction a crew member calls the train to a stop, gets off, unlocks and throws the switch and then re-locking the switch and re-boarding the train…Harold realized about half way to Utica that he inadvertently left his keys in the switch…unfortunately he had to drive north after finishing his train duties, park his vehicle and walk about a mile into the woods to get to the switch…of course for anyone else this might have been a big inconvenience but for a guy like Harold that hikes “for a living” this was like taking a busman’s holiday…needless to say every time Harold was on a crew that passed Snow Junction he always took some good natured ribbing at the hands of the crew…I don’t think I’ll ever throw that switch at Snow without thinking of Harold….

He was the President of the Utica Tramp & Trail Club and submitted several blogs which I found interesting reading.   Two of his co-authors and fellow club members left the following tributes after his passing.

“Harold was a strong man, in action as well as in thought.  But strength can be fleeting, and all stories come to an end sooner than we would like. Harold became ill and left us, but he never became old! (Dianna Morris)”

“Harold had many words left to put on paper, many memories left to share and I for one feel cheated that we will never be able to reads nor hear them.  Harold, wherever your soul may now be, your memories will live on. Thank you for your contribution to our lives. (Lu Blanchard)”

In one of Harold’s final blogs this past fall titled, “Autumn” which was written shortly before his death, he ended it with the following:

“I visited the spring that once fed my home’s water supply but now is responsible only for an easement that allows me to trespass with impunity upon the property of the Barneveld Horseman’s Society.  The spring still provides water for horses and I suspect may also slake the thirst of some equestrians.  Again, musing on Frost and clearing the pasture spring I turned and wandered slowly homeward.”

I suspect many of us only wish we got to know Harold a little better.  Sadly, I learned more about Harold after his passing than I knew about him in life… He truly was a special person and a great volunteer.  He also wanted any donations made after his passing to go to the ADK RR.  He requested that his family remember him by scattering his ashes at the site of the Kinzua Bridge, a tall railroad trestle near Mount Jewett, PA.

 –Don Marino

Santa’s Visit to the Polar Express

We run 33 Polar Express trains from November 16th through December 22nd with approximately 13,500 riders. Santa Claus is one of our biggest supporters and he makes sure to visit with all the children on every single train! We often get emails from happy customers, sharing about their experience on the Polar Express and sometimes Santa even shares his favorite letters. Here’s a selection:

 

From: Becka

Dear Santa:

Please make sure all of our family, friends feel love this Christmas.

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Hello.   I am writing to inform you of what a great person Santa is. 
 
My family and I were visiting family in New York for Thanksgiving and we took our 2 children on the 7pm Polar Express.  I have a 3 year old boy and a 20 year old daughter who is Mentally retarded, non verbal and suffers from a seizure disorder.  She may be 20 years old but she is mentally 8. She lives for Christmas and seeing Santa every year. 
 
This was our first year ever taking the train ride and they loved it.  From playing the games at the station to hot chocolate afterwards.  When she saw Santa out the window in Holland Patent she was so excited.  We had no idea that Santa would come around to each child and talk to them.  Well when Santa came to my daughter and sat down across from her she was so happy she cried.  He took his time with her and tried to communicate with her as best he could.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I have never in her 20 years had anyone outside the family or her school treat her like that.  As I sit here now tears are rolling down my face.  She takes her bell with her everywhere.  My son even commented on it that night when we went to bed that night.  He said “mama….Santa was so nice to Sami.”
 
I just wanted to share our experience with you and let you know what a WONDERFUL man Santa is.
 
Sincerely,
 
X

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Dear Santa,

This Christmas I would like you to help potty train Daniel. I told him that he could get a new lego set for Christmas if he was potty trained. Maybe you can ask him how potty training is coming along?

Thanks,

Daniel’s Mom

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Iowa Pacific and Adirondack Scenic Railroad Announce Partnership

The Adirondack Rail Preservation Society (ARPS), operators of current tourism rail services on the Adirondack Railroad, and Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a major new working partnership going forward. A key goal of the agreement is the establishment of high end excursion passenger service between New York City and Lake Placid, utilizing restored Pullman railcars and sleeping cars.

“This MOU has been the subject of several months of effort as our two organizations established the basis for a working relationship and as Iowa Pacific fully assessed the potential of the Adirondack Railroad as the next in their continuing series of successful rail service developments across the country,” states Bill Branson, President of ARPS.

  Iowa Pacific Holdings is based in Chicago and is the parent company of several successful passenger and freight railroads around the U.S. and internationally. These include the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad in the eastern Adirondacks and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad, the Mt. Hood Railroad, High Iron Travel, the Texas-New Mexico Railroad, and the West Texas & Lubbock Railway, as well as the Machuu Picchu Train in the Andes in South America.

In addition, Iowa Pacific owns the Pullman Sleeping Car Company. Under their leadership, Pullman is actively engaged in the acquisition and restoration of historic Pullman passenger, dining and sleeper cars, with approximately 70 currently in various stages of restoration. This year, they have announced and are about to initiate Pullman Rail Journeys, operating high end overnight excursions similar to those operated in many areas of Europe such as the famous Orient Express. The first tour venture will begin in early November from Chicago to New Orleans.  

“We are grateful to ARPS for the opportunity to work together on a project that can bring a dramatic rail service improvement to the Adirondacks,” said Ed Ellis, President of Iowa Pacific Holdings. “Iowa Pacific has been working to revive rail corridors across the US and in other countries for freight and passenger service for over a decade, and our recent success with the Saratoga and North Creek is an indication of what can be done in the Adirondack market. We believe the higher-end travel audience in New York City is ready to respond to a first-class overnight experience on historic Pullman cars through the Adirondacks to Lake Placid. While we are quite aware of the structural challenges involved in developing this kind of service, we believe we are uniquely qualified to assist ARPS and this agreement is a first milestone in working toward the vision.”  

The MOU further states that “Iowa Pacific Holdings, Pullman Sleeping Car Company and the Saratoga and North Creek Railroad also concur with ARPS and the other parties that, based upon our broad national experience, the Adirondack railroad offers numerous opportunities for rail service development in the future in addition to the Lake Placid-New York City operation, including other expanded tourism rail operations along its length, rail access to trailheads and waterways, and future freight potential. The parties therefore also commit to the joint identification and shared exploration of these and all other forms of rail activity which appear achievable as a part of the future of this singular and irreplaceable infrastructure.” 

“This interest by one of the nation’s premier rail companies in resuming service along the Utica-Lake Placid rail corridor is very exciting news,” states Kate Fish, Executive Director of the Adirondack North Country Association. “ANCA has been a long time supporter of retaining rail infrastructure in the Adirondack North Country region as a vital component for our economic future. We applaud the commitment of Iowa Pacific, the Adirondack Railway and other important partners in this significant initiative.” 

“The revival of rail as an engine of tourism is evident across Europe and now all over America,” states Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “People are hungry for new kinds of experiences, and new ways to see and enjoy spectacular areas like the Adirondacks. Hopefully everyone will come to the table to do all that we can to move this venture forward and then to develop all of the other possibilities waiting to unfold. Onward, upward and on track!” 

Under the agreement, the parties will work together on the full development of a joint plan that can be submitted to the New York State Dept. of Transportation and form the basis of business discussions with Amtrak and other stakeholders. Iowa Pacific will bear the equipment and operating costs and risks, and will be open to partnering in the costs of capital improvements required on the rail line, to be defined as part of the full plan. According to Branson and Ellis, the full plan will also include outreach to several of the major hotels and resorts in Lake Placid to determine their interest in becoming partners in hosting future visitors. 

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For more information about Pullman Rail Journeys visit: www.travelpullman.com