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Railroad Officials Discuss Vandalism and Future of Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Jack LaDuke

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a tourist train that provides scenic rides in the Lake Placid and Utica regions. In early October, a locomotive was vandalized. The damage is being investigated as a deliberate attempt to stop the train’s operations. North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley spoke with two of the non-profit railroad’s officials about the incident and how it is impacting future plans for the rail line.

In early October it was discovered that wires were cut in the locomotive that operates the Adirondack Scenic Railroad’s Lake Placid line.  The wires had been put back in place to mask the damage. Adirondack Railway Preservation Society Director and Board President David Link says it took about three days to determine the extent of the problem. But once determined, was easily fixed.

Credit Jack LaDuke
Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Adirondack Railway Preservation Society Director Bill Branson says it’s not the first time the train or its tracks have been tampered with or damaged.

There is an ongoing effort led by a group called ARTA - Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates - to create a Rails to Trails recreational corridor and pull out the tracks the Adirondack Scenic Railroad uses. Link says it’s created a healthy discussion about recreation in the Park. He points out there are thousands of miles of hiking trails in the Adirondacks and the old Delaware and Hudson line has already had its tracks removed and could become a recreational trail.

The Adirondack Scenic Railway operates on two disconnected segments between Utica and Big Moose and Saranac Lake to Lake Placid. Link explains their goal is to complete the connection from Utica to Lake Placid by upgrading the segments that currently do not meet minimum passenger track standards.

Branson adds there is substantial potential.

The long term plan, according to David Link, is to link with Amtrak and the national rail system.

Bill Branson says they are developing resort and tourism packages to enhance ridership and link communities. He says it’s something that the state included in the Unit Management Plan.

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has been in business over 23 years, carrying 1.3 million passengers, with annual ticket revenues approaching one million dollars.