Last week, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a proposal that could bring big changes to the region and potentially enhance both recreational and tourist opportunities between Adirondack communities.
The proposal concerns the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor, a 119-mile strip that winds from the southwest corner of the Adirondack Park to the northeast corner. The corridor was originally home to a railroad that was built in the 1890s to bring wealthy families to their seasonal Adirondack estates, but parts of the line began falling into disrepair in the mid-1900s. By 1975, the line had been completely abandoned, and was taken over by New York State.
In 1992, a 4-mile stretch of the track opened from Thendara to Minnehaha, and it was so well-received that it was taken over by the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in 1994. After overseeing the repair of additional portions of railway, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad began operating rail service in two sections, as it still does today: between Big Moose and Remsen and between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Unfortunately, the middle section of the rail line from Big Moose to Saranac Lake is still in a state of disrepair.
The combined proposal from the DEC and DOT is an effort to compromise between those who are in support of further railway restoration and those who would like to see the tracks ripped up in favor of a multi-use recreational trail. The proposed changes were described on the DEC’s website as follows:
- Removing the rail infrastructure within the Corridor between the Village of Tupper Lake and the Village of Lake Placid and establishing a multiple-use recreational trail
- Maintaining the existing rail infrastructure and enhancing train service between the village of Remsen and the Big Moose Station
- Rehabilitating the rail infrastructure between the Big Moose Station and the Village of Tupper Lake to allow passenger train service to be restored for a contiguous 85 miles
- Developing a community connector snowmobile system both within and outside of the Corridor, which will attract additional snowmobilers to the Adirondacks and Adirondack communities
In total, the proposal will cost approximately $20 million to carry out, with $11 million going toward rail rehabilitation and another $8-10 million required for ripping up the tracks and converting the 34-mile section into a recreational trail, according to the Associated Press.
The Times Union reports that Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald “said the rail extension would ‘provide train passengers an opportunity to view parts of the Adirondacks very few have seen,” which could bring more tourist dollars to the Adirondacks. The region would also presumably see an economic benefit from more widespread recreational opportunities in the corridor all year round, including hiking, biking, nordic skiing, and snowmobiling.
Interested in learning more about the proposed changes or want to make your opinion known? A public hearing will be held in the Tupper Lake Middle-High School auditorium on Wednesday, July 8 at 7:00 pm, and all are welcome to attend.
- DEC: DEC & DOT Issue Proposed Amendment to the Management Plan for the Remsen to Lake Placid Travel Corridor
- ABC News (AP): NY Plans Tourist Train Upgrade and New Trail in Adirondacks
- The Times Union: Adirondack rail line survives, but shrinks, in state trail plan
- Adirondack Scenic Railroad: History