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"The Adirondack" Utica to Carter May 18, 2011

Sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum

by Chris Guenzler

I walked down to the Adirondack Scenic Railroad platform and boarded the train. There I found Sarah Jennings who checked me in for the trip. With that done I was off to photograph.

Mohawk Adirondack & Northern C-420 805 came from the engine facility to be put on the point of our train for the trip today.

Now the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern C-420 805 is heading to the point of our train and would be running long hood forward to Carter today.

A Brief History

This story begins with a man called William Seward Webb {1851-1926} who was the chief financier and developer of this rail line that we will be operating on today. He joined a Wall Street investment firm which by 1888 became the W.S. Webb Company. Soon after his marriage to Eliza {"Lil1"} Osgood Vanderbilt, youngest daughter of William H. Vanderbilt of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, Webb himself became interested in railroading. In 1888, he became president of the Wagner Palace Car Company, which he transformed into one of the foremost coach manufacturers in the railroad industry. In addition to his direct role in the founding and overseeing of the construction of the Adirondack line, Webb as also president and chairman of the Rutland Railroad, as well as director of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and the Central Vermont Railroad. Webb established the Adirondack Route in part for his personal convenience; traveling in his private palace car, Webb used the railroad as his personal route to Nehasane Park, his vast wilderness summer estate at Lake Lila in Hamilton County. The railroad was built in 18 months across the 142 miles of rugged terrain through the mountains and bogs, across numerous rivers and streams. When resistance to building his railine on the public lands, Webb came up with a plan of buying most of the land along his route and to swap private land for state land to form a right-a-way through the woods. This plan resulted in Webb owning 200,000 acres of prime timberlands, much of which he organized and managed. In fact, much of his timber was sold to logging companies, who were required to ship their products over Webb's railroad. In the spring of 1881, after the spring thaw, Webb put more than 400 workers in the field working from both ends of the route. In June of 1892 Webb consolidated all of his railroad organizations into the Mohawk and Molane Railroad. By July 1, 1892 the railroad reached Thendara from the south and Tupper Lake from the north. On October 12, 1892 the line was completed at Twitchell Creek. The first through New York to Montreal passenger train operated on October 24, 1892. On May 1, 1893 the line was leased to the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad as their Adirondack Division. In 1943 the New York Central abandoned the Adirondack Division between Prospect Jct and Poland. In 1961 the NYC abandoned the line from Malone Jct to Gabriels, just north of Clear Lake Junction. Utica to Lake Placid passenger service ended on April 24, 1965. The end came in early 1972 when a washout below Tupper Lake stranded several freight cars on the upper end of the tracks. Rather than repair the tracks, the Penn Central placed an embargo on the line and removed the rail cars by highway down to Potsdam. By 1975 the Penn Central abandoned the Adirondack Division and the Tupper Lake and Piecefield Spurs. By 1975 the State of New York took possession of the PennCentral abandoned Adirondack Division. Finally in 1976, the Penn Central abandoned the last remaining section of the Adirondack Division, the original line between Poland and Herkimer.

Adirondack Scenic Railroad Brief History.

Today's Adirondack Scenic Railroad operates a number of trips, from Utica Union Station, Thendara Station near Old Forge, Saranac Lake Union Depot and Lake Placid Station. The scenic railroad operates on routes built by three different railroads, the Adirondack & St Lawrence Railroad, Black River & Utica Railroad and the Chateauguay Railroad. With the 1980 Winter Olympics coming to Lake Placid, transportation planners supported restoring the line for its original use - hauling tourists into the Adirondacks. In 1979, after several years of restoration, the Adirondack Railway operated over the former Adirondack Division to Lake Placid and the Tupper Lake Spur. However the expected tourists didn't show up to ride and the Adirondack Railway closed in August 1980 to fix their tracks. The railroad reopened in September but shut down again in November for the Winter. The following year the Adirondack Railway declared bankruptcy and was abandoned. However the tracks owned by the State of New York were not torn up. In 1992 the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society was started by a group of devoted preservationists who banded together and proposed to fix and operate a four mile demonstration from Thendara to Minnehaha and on July 4 1992 the Adirondack Centennial Railway ran its first train. With a positive response from the public, the New York State allowed the railroad to operate again in 1993. In July the Adirondack Centinnial Railway became the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and operations have continued ever since. With the success of the operations, the routes have been expanded. In 1995 the railroad opened from Thendara and Carter. In 1998 the railroad opened from Minnehaha to Snow Jct and obtained trackage rights over the Mohawk Adirondack & Northern Railroad between Snow Junction and Utica. Finally in the year 2000, the line from Saranac to Lake Placid opened. Recent grants and fund raising has the railroad planning additional track work with a long term goal of connecting the track between Carter and Saranac Lake. The Adirondack Scenic Railroad is the only rail option to tour the Adirondack Park. The Park encompasses over 6 million public and private acres and includes 9,350 square miles of area, 2350 lakes, 100,000 waterfalls, 131 dams and hydro plants, 540,000 acres of wetlands and the headwaters of 30 major rivers.

The Trip

My ticket to ride today. The train's consist was Mohawk Adirondack & Northern C-420 805 and GP 9 6076, Adirondack Scenic Open Baggage Door Car 521, Adirondack Scenic Coach/Concession 3600, Adirondack Scenic Coach 5430 Remsen and Adirondack Scenic Coach 5321 Tupper Lake.

That New York Central Steam Engine looks good in the morning light.

First the GP-9 had to be refueled.

Once that was done we left Utica for Carter.

Passing the Adirondack Scenic Railroad 1500.

The Ontario & Western Railroad Freight Station in Utica.

Leaving Utica behind.

A Susquehanna Railroad Unit was switching their yard as we left Utica.

We ran by a Geese Farm.

The Susquehanna Railroad RDC's.

The train took the first major curve on the line to head northward.

Approaching the Mohawk River Bridge.

Our crossing of the Mohawk River.

Milepost U1.

We ran by a lake on our way out of Utica.

Our crossing of the Erie Canal.

Trees and Blossoms would be the order of the day.

The train took another curve on the line.

Milepost U5.

More blossoms.

Milepost U7.

We took another curve.

We went under this unique bridge.

Rolling along by the trees.

Central New York Scenery.

The blossoms on the trees are everywhere.

A Red Barn.

A Blue Barn.

Crossing Nine Mile Creek.

Holland Patent Creek Station.

The track gang is out of our way this morning.

More blossoms on the trees.

The train took this curve.

Then the rain began.

The train pulled into Remsen where we did a Photo Hault.

New York Central Wooden Caboose 19509.

Our train in the rain at Remsen.

New York Central Wooden Caboose 19509.

Our passengers photographing our train at Remsen.

Another view of our train at Remsen.

Mohawk Adirondack & Northern C-420 805 ex BC Rail .

Mohawk Adirondack & Northern C-420 805 and GP-9 6076.

Remsen Depot Water Tower.

Passenger car at Remsen.

Bart is always the last one as he checks that we did not leave any one at Remsen.

Click here for Part 3 of this story