No good reason to keep the train

To the editor:

I have yet to hear a sound reason to have rail service in the Adirondacks, tourist or otherwise. Most of the arguments for restoring and extending railroads in this region represent the wildest kind of wishful thinking, concocted by hobbyists who love any and all trains but are totally divorced from economic reality. The costs of, and need for, running trains through the Adirondack Park seem not to enter at all into their thinking.

One pipe dream is to restore overnight Pullman service from New York City to Lake Placid, as in the Good Old Days before modern automobiles and highways. This restored Pullman train wouldn’t stop until it got to Lake Placid, 12 hours later, so none of the “high scale” passengers would be spending money anywhere along the line – they’d presumably be sleeping.

Another pipe dream is that rail service should be restored from Lake Placid to Thendara so that nonprofit organizations (museums, historical societies, arts groups, hunting clubs, even conservation groups) can charter the train for educational and recreational purposes. But who, I wonder, would find riding behind a noisy, smelly diesel locomotive, peering through dirty windows 10 feet off the ground at 20 mph, hour after hour, an enjoyable outing? Quite the contrary, most visitors to the Adirondacks would prefer a slow-paced, quiet, close-to-the-ground experience. My experience as a nature appreciator is best served when I can stop to check a resource, confer with an associate or quietly examine or observe something.

We should be way past the economic arguments about a rail vs. trail. The “rail trail” wins every time. It is the only viable solution for the future use of this corridor through the heart of the Park. The only question is how we make it happen. One way is for everyone who cares about the economic well-being of the region to sign up with Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates at the group’s website,

Business people in Old Forge, Eagle Bay, Inlet, Big Moose, Long Lake, Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid – this will make a difference to your bottom line. We, as visitors and part-time residents, will only enjoy the trail (and spend money while we’re at it). You, as business people, will enjoy and profit from it.

It’s just too good an opportunity to ignore any longer.

Doug Ralston

Big Moose and Chagrin Falls, Ohio