Adventurers in New England
Saratoga Springs to North Creek
Text and Photos by Author
The author retains all
rights. No reproductions are allowed without the
June 15, 2015
with early breakfast in the motel's breakfast room. Today's
adventure will begin at the Rutland VT Amtrak station with us
boarding the Ethan Allen Express at 8:00 A.M. and arriving at
Saratoga Springs at 9:37 A.M. After arriving in Saratoga Springs
we will board The Saratoga & North Creek Railroad for a trip
along the Upper Hudson River. After our round trip we will board
the Ethan Allen Express at 6:50 P.M. for the return trip to
Rutland with arrival at 8:48 P.M.
breakfast Chris and I drove to downtown Rutland and the Amtrak
station (RUD). We arrived with extra time to look around and
take some pics.
Ethan Allen Express waiting to start its day run to New York's
Rutland station and platform.
Ethan Allen Express provides daily service between New
York City and Rutland, Vermont, by way of Albany. The train
starts in New York City and operates on the former New York
Central route to Albany and Schenectady. From there, its
operates on track owned by Canadian Pacific through Saratoga
Springs to Whitehall to Rutland. The total distance is shown
by Amtrak to be 241 miles.
The train was created in 1996,
with the first trains running in December of the year. The Ethan
Allen Express was the first New York-Rutland passenger
train since 1953, and the first on the Rutland-Whitehall line
since1936. A major part of the creation of the Ethan Allen
Express was the rebuilding of the former Delaware &
Hudson Rutland Branch, today's Clarendon & Pittsford
Railroad. The rebuilding was accomplished using state and
federal funds, obtained by the state of Vermont. At first, the
train included a baggage car for skis and other outdoor gear,
but today it runs with four or five coaches and cafe/business
class, all the traditional Buss-built Amfleet cars from the
The train is still
subsidized by the state. With this funding have come a number
of studies to extend the route on to Burlington. Two basic
proposals have come about. The first would simply extend the
train from Rutland to Burlington. The second would reroute the
train north of Albany, taking it east to Hoosick Junction and
then north along the Vermont Railway to Rutland and
Burlington. Several funding packages have been obtained and
used to make improvements to both routes. In 2013, the state
received additional funding to pay for the replacement of
jointed rail with continuously welded rail, the a goal of
extending the Ethan Allen Express from Rutland on to
Burlington by 2017. However, an additional funding request was
Amtrak operates the Ethan
Allen Express on several different schedules.
Southbound, train #290 departs Rutland Monday through Friday
at 8:00 A.M., #292 on most Saturdays at 11:00A.M. and on
Sunday at 5:05 P.M. as train #296. Northbound, train #293
operates on Fridays only and arrives at Rutland at 11:13P.M.
The rest of the week, train #291 arrives at Rutland at
8:48P.M. To complicate things further, train schedules are
often swapped during the horse racing season at Saratoga
Springs and on many holidays.
before 8 AM, the Ethan Allen Express
backed down the
siding to the switch to cross over to the main and put it on
the track next to the platform for boarding. This morning was
rain with light showers on and off and would be the rule for
today. No shadows in today's photos.
101.6 Rutland Amtrak - Location is the
current Amtrak station in Rutland.
MP 99.73 Center
Rutland - Welcome to the station with two identifications. On
the former D&H, it is CR ant milepost A99.73. On the
former Rutland, it is CR at milepost 56.00. Center Rutland was
the junction between the D&H line west to Whitehall (NY)
and north along the former Rutland Railroad to Burlington
(VT). Between the two lines is the
old Rutland Railroad train station. Built as a railroad depot
in 1912 with two agent bay windows, one on each railroad. The
station was last used by the railroad in 1961. The depot is
now a museum and includes displays about area railroad and a
model of the Rutland Railroad.
Former wooden Rutland Railroad caboose # 45.
MP 99.62 Otter
Creek Bridge - Otter Creek is the longest river in
Vermont, and had been a major waterway for centuries.
However, it is also a geographical challenge and a
frequent cause of flooding.
77.35 Whitehall - Welcome to the birthplace of
the United Stated Navy, or at least the one that State of New
York recognizes. Whitehall gets that distinction because in
1774, American forces captured an English facility here. Philip
Schuyler, Major General of the Continental Army and commander of
the Northern Department (and a senator from New York), was given
the job of fighting off a major English force marching south
from Canada. Part of the plan required that Benedict Arnold
build a fleet of ships to confront the British forces. After the
battle, the American boats returned here to be destroyed to keep
them from falling into enemy hands. Thus, this is reportedly the
first "navy" of the United States.
Whitehall still has daily
passenger service provide by Amtrak. Two train routes actually
pass through Whitehall, but the Ethan Allen
east at CPC 77 to Rutland just south of downtown and misses the
Whitehall passenger station. The other train, the Adirondack,
is a New York financed train that stops at the small Amtrak
55.49 Fort Edward/Glens Falls - This location
is known for the twin communities that formed near a series of
falls on the Hudson River. The location of Fort Edward has been
a center of transportation and warfare for thousands of years.
It was located on the Native American "Great War Path," later
used by French and English colonists during their own warfare,
especially during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The
location is also know as the "Great Carrying Place" as it was a
portage around the falls on the Hudson.
The first fort here
actually dates from 1709 during Queen Anne's War. Housing 450
men, Fort Nicholson has been described as little more than a
crude stockade built to protect storehouse and log huts. Fort
Nicholson was soon abandoned and later replaced by Fort Lydius,
the trading post of John Lydius, a fur trader from Albany.
During the French and Indian War, General Phineas Lyman
constructed Fort Lyman here in 1755. The fort was renamed for
Prince Edward, the grandson of King George II, in 1756 by Sir
William Johnson, the British Superintendent for Indian Affairs
in the region. Fort Edward and the related facilities on Rogers
Island gave full control of the Hudson River at this point to
whoever controlled the forts.
Amtrak stops at Fort
Edward, serving the historic D&H station. The station is on
the west side of the mainline. Just south of the station is the
south leg of the wye that connects to the Glens Falls Industrial
Track. This track serves several major customers to the west
along the Hudson River.
Fort Edward historic D&H station.
arrived on time in Saratoga Springs, NY
at 9:37 A.M.
A37.10 Saratoga Springs - This is the
Amtrak station for Saratoga Springs, a rebuilt version of
the station from the 1950s. The "A" mileposts, based upon
the distance from Albany, are used on early track profiles
and in the current FRA grade crossing milepost data base.
The station you see
today at Saratoga Springs actually dated from the reroute of
the railroad around Saratoga Springs. The Amtrak station was
originally built in 1956 for the Delaware & Hudson
Railroad, but was rebuilt and modernized , reopening in 2004
after undergoing extensive renovations. With little of the
original building actually still existing, it was rebuilt
unto a modern, high-ceiling facility with offices for Amtrak
and a number of other businesses. The station is served by
two different Amtrak routes, the Ethan Allen Express
Rutland and the Adirondack
Approximately 35,00 passengers use the station annually.
The reason for the
large station and ridership is that Saratoga Springs is a
well-know resort and horse racing community. Saratoga Race
Course is the oldest continuously operating sporting venue
in the United States, having opened on August 3, 1863. Since
1864, the track has been the site of the Travers Stakes, the
oldest major thoroughbred horse race in the United States.
The city is also the
origin of the potato chip. According to several sources,
"while working as chef at the elegant Moon Lake Lodge's
restaurant in 1853, Native American George Crum responded to
repeated request by an annoying customer for thinner potato
fries by frying potato slices so thin and crunchy that they
could not be eaten with a fork. This proved so popular an
invention that the restaurant made their Saratoga Chips a
house specialty. Crum opened his own restaurant in Saratoga
Springs in 1860, featuring his chips, and catering to
The Ethan Allen Express
stopped at Saratoga
Passengers disembarking and boarding the Ethan Allen
Saratoga and North Creek Railroad
During July 2011, The Saratoga & North Creek Railway
took over operation of this line, operating passenger
train trips between North Creek (NY) and the Amtrak
station in Saratoga Springs (NY), serving a total of
nine different stops along the line.The S&NC is part
of the Iowa Pacific Holdings(IPH) empire of freight and
passenger railroads, which included the San Luis &
Rio Grande, Mount Hood, Texas State Railroad and Cape
Cod. As a part of their rail operation, the S&NC
operates a number of special trains, including their
winter Snow Train, Polar Express and various festival
The Saratoga &
North Creek is also attempting to build up a base of
freight business on the line. A part of this is opening
the line north of North Creek to the former mine at
Tahawus to potentially move existing mine tailings, to
serve mines south of there, and logs for several area
logging companies. On May 14, 2012, the railroad
received permission from the Surface Transportation
Board (STB) to restore freight service on this as far as
Newcomb, 12 miles north of North Creek.
This rail line has played an important role in history.
In September of 1901, President McKinley was shot at the
Pan America Exposition in Buffalo, New York. At the
time, Vice-President Teddy Roosevelt was speaking in
northern Vermont and rushed to Buffalo. However, he was
told the McKinley was going to be okay and that he
should return to his vacation. Roosevelt spent the next
two week in the Adirondacks. However, President McKinley
took a turn for the worse and Roosevelt was needed. He
was found hiking on Mount Marcy, the highest mountain in
the state. Through a series of all-night wagon relays,
he arrived at the North Creek depot at 5 A.M. Standing
on the North Creek depot platform, Vice-President was
handed the telegraph informing him that President
McKinley had died at 2A.M. and that he had to go to
Buffalo to take the Oath of Office.
After the Ethan
departed for Manhattan, we waited
in and around the station for our next train to arrive.
The hungry ones overwhelmed the small cafe counter with
non-stop business. Then after twenty minutes our train
arrived on the track next to station. Today I'll be
riding in the dome car. I booked this dome ticket last
November to be sure to get on. These dome seats sell out
fast and Chris said that this and the Bellows Falls trip
were the two best of this year's convention. It was near
10:00 A.M. when we left the station.
Today's ride would be in car # 508 - Dome. This
full-length dome was built by Budd in 1954 as ATSF #508. The
car became Auto Train #520 in 1971. Pullman-Standard
refurbished and reconfigured the car with 51 coach seats in
the dome, with the original bar and 28-seat lounge on the
lower level. The dome went to Westours and was
rebuilt for its McKinley Explorer train in Alaska. Renamed Matanuska,
the car was the first rebuilt and was used in a publicity
event in Seattle to promote the new Alaska service. The car
was sold to Iowa Pacific in 2009 and renamed Canyon
although the name Matanuska
on the side of the car.
Inside the dome Matanuska
we were getting under way, we were offered beverage
Soon we were
coming to our first photo runby: Corinth.
Corinth - This location was known as Jessup's Landing until
about 1891. The first station was built here as a combination
freight and passenger station in 1865. In 1891, the building was
rebuilt into a freight house. It is not clear what passengers
did when the station was converted, but a new passenger station
didn't open until June 1911.It was located on the east side of
the tracks. The last of the freight house was torn down in 1984
while the passenger station was removed in 2007.
At one time, Corinth was a
busy industrial town. E.H. Benway had a pulp mill to the west of
the tracks just south of the station. Several miles south,of the
station was White's Sand, a significant shipper. Additionally, a
spur left the branch just south of the station and headed east
to the International Paper facility at Palmer. The spur was
about 2.5 miles long but the mill began closing in 2002. By
2003, the International Paper Mill in Corinth completed closing,
ending all freight service on the line. In 2006, the Town of
Corinth, to save the railroad, purchased the 16 mile stretch of
track in their town for $2.2 million.
Site of our photo run by.
Dome car Matanuska.
BL2 This locomotive was built as Bangor and Aroostook
#552 by EMD in March 1949 with serial number 8163. It became
#52 in 1953, and was sold to Glen Mohart and painted as
Janesville & Southeastern #52 when it was retired. Next
it was sold to Mineral Range Inc. as MRAX 52 and then sold
to MidAmerica Rail Car Leasing as MRLX52. In 2011, it was
sold to Iowa Pacific as San Luis & Rio Grande, then
Saratoga & North Creek #52.
#52 with power car.
The General Motors Electro-Motive Division (EMD) BL2 is
a rare locomotive; only 59 units were built between
September 1947 and May 1949. The BL2 was the first
production step by EMD to build a locomotive with
additional visibility to the rear. EMD realized that the
hood of one of their locomotives could be cut down
around the diesel engine, providing a better view to the
rear. However, the result was a locomotive considered to
be ugly by many people, and one that didn't provide the
hoped for visibility. Alco was building their RS series
of locomotives and EMD soon followed with their GP
types, so the BL2 was a short production experiment.
The BL2 was sold
for both freight and passenger service. The key
indicator of the locomotive's intended purpose was the
presence of an exhaust stack between the two windshield
panes. This exhaust stack was for the steam generator on
passenger service units.
Dome SLRG 508 Matanuska.
SNC photo run by at
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we finished our photo runby, we continued north with views
along the Hudson River.
As I first boarded, I
looked around to see what was available and open. I
found a table with one side vacant and the other with
two gentlemen. Asking if it was taken, they replied no,
it was open. So I invited myself to sit down and join
them. We chatted and I found out they were English chaps
from the UK. Clive lives south of London and railfans in
the UK and on the continent and the other gentleman,
Simon was from the UK but now transplanted to our
Midwest. They both had done a lot of traveling and had
many interesting stories of railfanning to tell as we
passed the time on the cloudy drizzly day. Later I was
to meet a friend of theirs, Martin also from the UK here
at the convention.
Simon checking today's itinerary.
MP A94.6 North
Creek 57.1 from Saratoga Springs. - According to a
plaque in the front of the station, erected by the
Johnsburg Historical Society in 1976:
North Creek Railway Station
At this site early in the morning of September 14, 1901,
Theodore Roosevelt received the message that President
McKinley had died in Buffalo and that he had become
president of the United States.
After a hard
ride over muddy roads from the Tahawus Club, he arrived
at a special train at North Creek at 5:22 AM, were he
learned the President McKinley had passed away at
Buffalo at 2:15 that morning. Reportedly, within one
minute, Roosevelt boarded the special train which at
once pulled out of the station in the direction of
Buffalo via Saratoga and Albany. The station was built
in 1872-1873 and was restored during the early 1990's.
Among the businesses once operating
at North Creek were many hardwood and related
industries. These included companies like North Creek
Handle Company, Russell Heel Corporation, North Creek
Kiln Drying Company, and Elliot Hardware Company.
Additionally, North River Garnet Company originally
moved ores through the North Creek facilities. In 1928,
Barton Mines bought North River Garnet and their storage
sheds at North Creek. According to their website.
"Barton Mines is a family owned business that has
produced the world's highest quality garnet abrasives
for over 5 generations. Founded in 1878 to mine and mill
garnet for the sand paper industry. Today, Barton
produces garnet abrasive products for many diverse
applications such as water jet cutting, blasting, bonded
and coated abrasives and specialty lapping and grinding
In 1941, the freight yard facilities
at North Creek were greatly expanded to handle titanium
ore shipments from National Lead Company's new mine near
Tahawus. This yard, known as South Yard, included four
tracks designed to hold 64 ore cars, built on a grade of
more than 2% to allow gravity loading.
It was lunch time
when we arrived in North Creek and today you were on
your own for lunch. One of the options was to prepay for
a box lunch offered by the Copperfield Inn located
across the street from the station. This was the option
that I chose. Other options were a buffet lunch at the
Inn or maybe a short stay at their bar. Also there were
several local restaurants along Main Street to choose
from. Some of experienced travelers already had a spot
station I walked up the grade to Main St and across
it to the Copperfield Inn. There was my box lunch
(Roast Beef & Cheddar Wrap) ready to be pickup.
I took it and the can of soda and walked back across
the street to a grassy spot with a picnic table with
a view of the station and the tracks. I was then
joined by a couple of gentleman with their box
lunch. We sat enjoying our lunch, the view and the
fresh air. After a good lunch break it was time to
walk the length of down town.
View from the picnic area. Station in background.
A head turner.
Main Street, North Creek, NY
Love this name.
Back at the station, ready to board.
In 2003, the turntable installed in 1944 was restored
by the community.
Hudson River peeking thru top of rail.
River and main line tracks.
At mid afternoon
it was time to reboard and begin the return trip
back to Saratoga Springs. On the way back there was
time for one more photo runby. For this one I
remained in the dome car staying warm and dry.
Photo line up for run by on the golf course.
heading back to Saratoga Springs, we were
informed that the Ethan Allen Express
was running over one hour late into SAR.
Therefore our arrival into Rutland would be
close to 10:00 P.M.
It was near 6:00 P.M. when
our Saratoga & North Creek train arrived. We
had a two hour lay over here in Saratoga Springs
due to the late Ethan Allen Express.
At 7:56 P.M. we bid
adieu to the Adirondacks, Saratoga Springs and
New York state and head for the Green Mountains
Final look and last good bye to the Saratoga Springs
Along the way
back to Rutland, it was announced that the Holiday
Inn's kitchen would stay open to accommodate their
late arriving guests. A collective sigh of relief
was sounded by the hungry travelers.
It was 10:10 PM when Chris and I
arrived at our room. As we drove to the station, we
were able to leave right away and bypass the bus
shuttle. Although late I decided I needed a snack to
hold me till breakfast. I then walked across the
highway to the Taco Bell and ordered a Cheesy Nacho
to go. That seem about the right amount to eat
before bed. After my snack and then getting ready
for tomorrow, it was then lights out.
Saratoga & North
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