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Adirondack Scenic RR to catch a break from NY State ?

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, February 04, 2017 6:40 AM

LocoEngineer7
Sorry but it is not a railroad subject to STB Jurisdiction. It is irrelevant that it connects to the National System. That question only counts for FRA jurisdiction.

FRA has jurisdiction, trust me.  But not STB.

Caboose - this 34 miles of track (and the rest of it, for that matter) is important to them because it's a blight on their pristine forest.  They just want everyone out of their woods...

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, February 06, 2017 7:38 PM

Tree, on the subject of Adirondack area rails, today's NewsWire says that NY is giving funds to re-establish rail access to Benson Mines.  Is the mine actually re-opening, or are they just going to reclaim the wasterock.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, February 06, 2017 7:46 PM

With the closure of the on-line paper mill in Newton Falls that was supposed to be a user of the outer portion of this line that's being rebuilt, reclamation of the waste rock left over from the iron ore mine is the immediate reason why they're making this investment.

Secondly is that it's a rare industrial zoned area amid a depressed area of the Adirondacks and it's hoped that by restoring this infrastructure, that something will locate there someday down the road after the environmental remediation that's underway is complete and bring a few well paying jobs to the Star Lake area.

Alas, iron ore mining won't be coming back. What's left was too expensive to recover back in the 1970's and is much too expensive to even consider going after today. 

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, February 06, 2017 7:47 PM

MidlandMike
o Benson Mines.

What Leo said....

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Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, February 06, 2017 8:12 PM

Iowa Pacific was also hoping for a grant to rehab the former D&H branch north of North Creek to the Tahawas mine to reclaim waste rock.  I wonder if they were considered?

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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, February 06, 2017 10:02 PM

MidlandMike

Iowa Pacific was also hoping for a grant to rehab the former D&H branch north of North Creek to the Tahawas mine to reclaim waste rock.  I wonder if they were considered?

 
 
 
 

             Again, here is one of the (bullet points), noted in the previously quoted article on the $25 million dollars awarded to various NY State Rail operators in the NEWSWire article of 02/06/2017:
FTA:"...St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Authority, St. Lawrence County: $500,000 to re-establish rail access to Benson Mines..." 
 
This is the area of Operation for the Iowa Pacific Saratoga & North Creek tourist railroad. The extension, noted as receiving funds from NY State would be to access the old Benson Mines area (?)
 
I was curious as to what the attraction was at Benson Mines, and found the following website with a brief description and color photos @ http://loucksap.smugmug.com/Adirondacks/The-Benson-Mine/
 
Star Lake is apparently, the flooded Open Pit mining area; a lake 2.5 miles long, and a depth of some 190'/200'. No mention is made of length of the rail link from the current end of track to get to the Lake area(?)
 
 

[/quote]

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 3:24 AM

I never knew of the abandoned coach.

That's actually not Star Lake. Star Lake predates the iron ore mine and is the name of the village and of the lake that's just southwest from the old mine, on the south side of Route 3 (The mine with the water filled pit is on the north side). 

And the Iowa Pacific operation in the southeast edge of the Adirondacks and Star Lake on the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern line from West Carthage where it connects to a CSX branch off the St. Lawrence Subdivision, are actually not terribly close.

It's probably 80 miles or so as the bird flies, and many more by highway or rail. Despite living in the North Country my entire life, I've been to Lake George once for instance. Yet I've been to Star Lake and other nearby communities like Lake Placid hundreds of times. 

It's hard to appreciate from aerial views off sources like Google, but there are large mounds around the mine that are now covered by vegetation and look like hills, that are all the overburden from the mine that they want to sell as gravel for construction purposes. That's the immediate attraction to rail restoration with the paper mill now gone for good. 

And Benson Mines/Star Lake isn't quite the end of the line. Nearby Newton Falls is the end of the line and is where a shuttered paper mill is which is another site they hope to locate a new industry to. All together, I believe it's 43 miles from the CSX connection to Newton Falls (The last 23 of which are within the Adirondack Park). 

Check out the November 1997 issue of Trains if you want to learn more about the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern and this rail line. It's a bit out of date, but still a good read.

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 7:10 AM

I'm pretty sure there was some intention to continue the old Carthage, Watertown, and Sackets Harbor on across the Adirondacks, although it may not have been planned to connect to the Tahawus line.  

Trivia - Mileposts on the line to Benson Mines are measured from Sackets Harbor.

I have an issue of the NYC alumni (?) magazine "Searchlight" with a picture on the cover of an ore train coming out of Benson Mines as it approaches the Arsenal Street overpass in Watertown, led by ALCO FA's.

In the recent past, MA&N used the line for car storage.  Motive power at Carthage generally consists of an ALCO (former EL/BCR) and a 44 tonner.  For a while, it was the "Atomic Engine," from the movie...

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 11:49 AM

tree68

Trivia - Mileposts on the line to Benson Mines are measured from Sackets Harbor.

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20090730/NEWS03/307309976

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Posted by samfp1943 on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 2:08 PM

Leo_Ames

I never knew of the abandoned coach.

That's actually not Star Lake. Star Lake predates the iron ore mine and is the name of the village and of the lake that's just southwest from the old mine, on the south side of Route 3 (The mine with the water filled pit is on the north side). 

And the Iowa Pacific operation in the southeast edge of the Adirondacks and Star Lake on the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern line from West Carthage where it connects to a CSX branch off the St. Lawrence Subdivision, are actually not terribly close.

It's probably 80 miles or so as the bird flies, and many more by highway or rail. Despite living in the North Country my entire life, I've been to Lake George once for instance. Yet I've been to Star Lake and other nearby communities like Lake Placid hundreds of times. 

It's hard to appreciate from aerial views off sources like Google, but there are large mounds around the mine that are now covered by vegetation and look like hills, that are all the overburden from the mine that they want to sell as gravel for construction purposes. That's the immediate attraction to rail restoration with the paper mill now gone for good. 

And Benson Mines/Star Lake isn't quite the end of the line. Nearby Newton Falls is the end of the line and is where a shuttered paper mill is which is another site they hope to locate a new industry to. All together, I believe it's 43 miles from the CSX connection to Newton Falls (The last 23 of which are within the Adirondack Park). 

Check out the November 1997 issue of Trains if you want to learn more about the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern and this rail line. It's a bit out of date, but still a good read.

 

Add acouple of note to what Leo_Ames mentioned:  "Star Lake" was mentioned/named(?)in the linked photo spread of the lake.  It may be an unofficial name locally used because of the lake's proximity to the like-named village(?) . Apparently, it is the lake formed by area rainwater or snow run-off into to the former magnetite mine's abandoned open pit.

 This is a link to one of the photos of the abandoned railroad coach on the property @https://loucksap.smugmug.com/Adirondacks/The-Benson-Mine/i-4dXz6gB/A To the right side of the photo is the railroad track (MA&N (?).  

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 2:19 PM

There is an actual lake named Star Lake N 44 9' 25" W 75 2' 41" (it's kinda star shaped).  The lake and hamlet are south of the mine complex.

None of the ponds in the complex are named on the topo map.

Newton Falls, home of the former paper mill, is north of Benson Mines.

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Wednesday, February 08, 2017 2:42 PM

I guess he didn't believe me when I told him that. :)

Since Sam seems interested but a bit confused on what's local geography for the two of us, the lake's first western name was Point Lake, which dates back to at least 1885 according to a local history site. By 1894, it took on its current name of Star Lake.

Benson Mines didn't even start until 1889 and was regularly idle throughout the early years, with it not becoming a big deal until Jones & Laughlin acquired the site at the start of World War II with the mine then regularly active until closure in 1978.  

The pits that you thought are named Star Lake, didn't even start to fill with water until the 1980's when the pumps were turned off. The real Star Lake in fact is largely responsible for a community being established there in the first place back in the late 19th century,

A resort village formed on the shores of it thanks to the new rail line that had reached Star Lake in 1889, which was long before the mine had amounted to much of anything.

Edit: Here's a topo from 1916. Note the name and location of what's labeled as Star Lake.

The future mine pits are out of view to the east, with some of the mine property shown and noted as such on this map. 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, February 10, 2017 10:55 AM

 Leo_Ames said [in part]:"... guess he didn't believe me when I told him that. :)

Since Sam seems interested but a bit confused on what's local geography for the two of us, the lake's first western name was Point Lake, which dates back to at least 1885 according to a local history site. By 1894, it took on its current name of Star Lake..."

Ok, Leo, I owe you an apology!  Bow  You are correct, the information I had on the area, concerning the Star Lake, The Village, ( The Abondoned Mine Pit), and area came from the websites I had looked at, and the one linked, and posted, apparently, some of MY copnfusion was an echo of the information posted by the individual who photographed the Mine property(?) . 

I am interested in that Upstate area, having traved through it, while making deliveries in, and around Upstate New York. It is really beautiful.  I am hoping to make a Fall Trip, in the future, up into the Northest to let my wife see that country.

 

 

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 10:47 AM

PBS program about rails to trails in New York State briefly (8 minutes) discusses the Adirondack situation, starting at 33:00.

http://www.wliw.org/programs/treasures-of-new-york/rails-to-trails-uztsz8/

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Posted by samfp1943 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 12:03 PM

wanswheel

PBS program about rails to trails in New York State briefly (8 minutes) discusses the Adirondack situation, starting at 33:00.

http://www.wliw.org/programs/treasures-of-new-york/rails-to-trails-uztsz8/

 

Thanks, Mike (wanswheel):  Interesting video.. The Hudson River bridge (@Poughkeepsie,NY)  is quite a project, and seems to be successful in attracting crowds of users over and above expectations. I would suspect that the ease of access to both ends of it, make its success possible.

 The line inquestion The Adirondack Scenic RR, is in itself a means of public access,not only for tourists, but 'locals' as well. (tree68)Larry can make those points, very well.

      Watched the linked video, it is well produced, and informative, but IMHO, pointed to the side of the trail advocates;particularly, where the ASR is concerned.     It seems to ignore its' own stated facts that the area of the West end of the old NYCRR line is slowly dying, and lays the blame squarely at the fact of the railroad's continued existance(?). School enrolements down by 35% and several instances of closed business properties..

 School enrolement can drop for any number of reasons, but usually declining enrolements can point to folks leaving because of lack of employment. To aging populations as younger generations seek more opportunities,wlsewhere. As well an inadequate State and County road network that makes travel for tourists difficult, and also locals hard to accomplish.

 Tourists require some type of 'draw' to want to get to an area. Small inconveniences can be overcome if there is sufficient draw.      The ASR is already in place, and mostly, requires maintenance to maintain its equipment and ROW, funding itsd current operations seem to be able to provide.  To tear it out would require major investment and undertaking,     Should there become a need, in the future, to replace it (ie: Federal Rail toTrail legislation, and those  Regulations) it then becomes then a political dance to see who will pay for that reinvestment(?).

It seems to be a very short sighted move on the part of the R toT folks, to isolate their area between the Tupper/Saranac, and Lake Placid-34 mi of 'trail less rails'. Especially, if another event such as the Winter Olympics would want to come back for a future visit.   

The area appears to be sparcely networked with roads, particularly, high capacity roads.  Removing the ASR seems to be a futile, punitive act on the part of the trail advocates ; sort of like having a house full of children, and killing and eating the milk cow.  My 2 Cents

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 12:18 PM

samfp1943
Removing the ASR seems to be a futile, punitive act on the part of the trail advocates ;

It's worse than that - it's an act of a priviledged few who want the Adirondacks for themselves.  One must keep in mind that one individual has been funding virtually the entire effort to lift the rails.  Some say the money has reached into Albany...

That's why I always put "trail avocates" in quotes - I firmly believe they want a trail even less than the railroad, but they can't get anyone out of the woods as long as the rails are in place.

And there are those who steadfastly believe that the entire Adirondack park should be "forever wild."  A railroad hardly fits into their point of view.

At least two local governments that bought into the initial hype have since withdrawn their support for the proposed trail.

If you've seen the ads for the railbikes now running in Connecticut - those ran in Saranac Lake for the past two years - and were sold out every single day.  Imagine how much business that brought into town!  Apparently, however, that business isn't important...

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 10:39 PM

Nice drone shots of your train tree68. Were you in any of the shots. All I can say is that I wish you the best and hope some sanity will prevail. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, May 25, 2017 8:32 PM

wanswheel
PBS program about rails to trails in New York State briefly (8 minutes) discusses the Adirondack situation, starting at 33:00.

http://www.wliw.org/programs/treasures-of-new-york/rails-to-trails-uztsz8/

To me it played like a hatchet job to undercut the rail interests.

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Posted by challenger3980 on Thursday, May 25, 2017 11:40 PM

BaltACD

 

 
wanswheel
PBS program about rails to trails in New York State briefly (8 minutes) discusses the Adirondack situation, starting at 33:00.

http://www.wliw.org/programs/treasures-of-new-york/rails-to-trails-uztsz8/

 

To me it played like a hatchet job to undercut the rail interests.

 

There was no doubt about the point of view of the producers, what was surprising was that they even acknowledged, never mind gave screen time to someone who didn't think Rail Trails were a Great idea.

Doug

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Posted by wanswheel on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 2:04 PM
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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, August 08, 2017 2:26 PM

Word is that he's had personal issues - specifically family health has been mentioned - that have delayed his decision.

The trail people, of course, are going to make all they can of the preparations.  

None of the foes of the trail (beyond the pro-rail folks) have spoken up yet.  I suspect they are holding their tongues until a final decision is rendered at which time they'll get quite vocal in their opposition.  It wouldn't be the first time the building of such a trail has been vehemently opposed.

I'm still predicting that the trail will never be built.  The heavy hitters among the "trail advocates" simply want the rails up.  After that, they'll disappear.  

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Posted by tom569 on Thursday, August 10, 2017 8:21 PM

Most hunters, fishermen, hikers, skiers and ATV users who live near or in this Park hate the Adirondack Park Agency. Decisions that should be made on the basis of conservation and science are instead made by NYC politicians. Locals' views and desires rarely even get to the table.

The right-of-way has been shared quite successfully by trains, hikers and ski-doo users for years. Why change it now?

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 10, 2017 8:51 PM

tom569
Most hunters, fishermen, hikers, skiers and ATV users who live near or in this Park hate the Adirondack Park Agency. Decisions that should be made on the basis of conservation and science are instead made by NYC politicians. Locals' views and desires rarely even get to the table.

The right-of-way has been shared quite successfully by trains, hikers and ski-doo users for years. Why change it now?

Politician thought - If it isn't broken, break it and be a hero and fix it.

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Posted by schlimm on Thursday, August 10, 2017 11:12 PM

tom569

Most hunters, fishermen, hikers, skiers and ATV users who live near or in this Park hate the Adirondack Park Agency. Decisions that should be made on the basis of conservation and science are instead made by NYC politicians. Locals' views and desires rarely even get to the table.

The right-of-way has been shared quite successfully by trains, hikers and ski-doo users for years. Why change it now?

 

If it's a state park the opinions of all state taxpayers should be considered, not just the locals.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, August 10, 2017 11:44 PM

The whole trail effort is the work of a small group, financed by one who has plenty of money.  Despite their claims, it's my conviction that their goal has nothing to do with a trail - they just want everyone out of their woods.  At least two of them have a longstanding dislike of the railroad - dating to even before the Adirondack Scenic came to be.

Keep in mind that a group put together a well-thought-out alternative that included both rail and a trail, with the trail taking alternate routes where it wasn't practical for the two to be side-by-side.  The "trail advocates" turned it down cold.

Many believe this group also wants to get rid of the snowmobiles, at least on the corridor.  To do that, they have to get rid of the rails.

Sadly, this group has plenty of money and time to pursue this goal.  If the judge rules against them, you can bet they'll have an appeal filed before you can blink an eye.  All of this takes away from the railroad's ability to direct its resources to running a railroad.  

Considering that the "trail advocates" want all of the tracks north of Thendara taken up, it's going to be a long road.

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Posted by schlimm on Friday, August 11, 2017 9:02 AM

I do not know NY state laws, but let all the people decide in a referendum, not loud voices and special, vested interests.

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Posted by RME on Friday, August 11, 2017 9:18 AM

schlimm
I do not know NY state laws, but let all the people decide in a referendum, not loud voices and special, vested interests.

The situation is much more complicated than has been described here, but I don't think impossibly so.

I recommend that you read the 'relevant' threads over on RyPN, making the necessary adjustments for fervor and inherent rail-preservationist bias, and sketch out a little diagram of the various players, their biases, and their goals in this.  I cannot help but add that you should look at some of the lies that have been told, some of which are true whoppers, most if not all originating on one side of the debate.

At this point -- not to be overly cynical -- much of the local argument has been that the trail decision should be made by locals, for locals, and certainly not from out-of-staters (who are not welcome to contribute opinions, but will certainly be expected to contribute dollars to the various piker store-owners along the trail route who are apparently so prominent in ARTA).  The true 'vested, special interests' have not really been heard from yet; they are the 'forever wild' people, some of whom I know, who have bought up large tracts of Adirondack woodland already to 'preserve' it and are looking at legal methods of retrieving more.   These people might well want a mixed-use trail less than the prospect of a tourist railroad, but they are quietly waiting for the trail people to discover that the land rights for a railroad-in-being don't apply at all to a railroad converted to a trail, and that no amount of squalling by the New York State DEP or local politicians can or will change that.

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Posted by Falcon48 on Saturday, August 12, 2017 10:23 AM

CandOforprogress2

Did Penn Central ever abandon the railroad under ICC rules?

 

I don't know this as a fact, but I suspect this line may have been abandoned as a ICC regulated railroad as part of the Northeastern RR restructuring in the late 1970's (I think it was 1976).  Under this process, lines of the bankrupt NE railroads which were not included in Con Rail could be abandoned without going through normal ICC abandonment processes.  Someone else on this thread may have more definite information.

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 12, 2017 4:13 PM

RME
The situation is much more complicated than has been described here, but I don't think impossibly so. I recommend that you read the 'relevant' threads over on RyPN, making the necessary adjustments for fervor and inherent rail-preservationist bias, and sketch out a little diagram of the various players, their biases, and their goals in this.  I cannot help but add that you should look at some of the lies that have been told, some of which are true whoppers, most if not all originating on one side of the debate.

I suspect one would find an abundance of half-truths, lies and nastiness like many sites on the internet.  All I suggest is if referenda are allowed in NY State, have one to allow all residents, including taxpayers, to have a voice in the outcome.

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, August 12, 2017 9:03 PM

schlimm
I suspect one would find an abundance of half-truths, lies and nastiness like many sites on the internet.  All I suggest is if referenda are allowed in NY State, have one to allow all residents, including taxpayers, to have a voice in the outcome.

When one considers that the metropolitan NYC area can outvote the rest of the state, a statewide referendum would be less than representative of the opinion of the resident stakeholders.  And it would come down to who has the money to mount the necessary campaign.  So far, it's been the "trail advocates."

A new wrinkle has been added, no doubt to the chagrin of the "trail advocates."  A group representing the Lake Clear area has come out against a trail.  The reason I suggest that the "trail advocates" may not be happy with this is the timing - I'm sure they'd prefer that such opinions be voiced after the tracks are up, and before the actual trail can be built.

A good many of the "trail advocates" claims in favor of building said trail have been found, if not bogus, then stretches of the truth.  In one case, the number they gave as total users of a trail just happened to include attendance at two adjoining (but not connected to the trail) state parks.

They spent a lot of time throwing things at the wall to see if they'd stick.  Unfortunately, no one scraped them off the wall when they should have been...

The comment about the unheard voices is significant - because there are folks at one extreme who think anyone crossing the "blue line" should be on foot...  And, as can be seen by the Lake Clear group's distaste for a trail, those who would just as soon see the corridor return to wilderness.

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