This letter is being submitted to show our support for a recreation trail on the defunct railroad line between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, and to let the elected officials of Tupper Lake know that there are community members who strongly support the idea of converting this railroad corridor into a recreational trail.
We live adjacent to this corridor and access it on a regular basis for hiking, running, skiing and snowmobiling; however, these are difficult activities given its current condition. We have watched this corridor go unused, and continue to deteriorate, for more than 30 years and believe it is time for the corridor to become an asset to the communities through which it passes.
Before we go on, we must recognize the time, energy and monies that train supporters, specifically the Next Stop Tupper Lake committee, have put into the rail restoration project. The Tupper Lake community has managed to finance and rebuild a train station located along this corridor in hopes that train service can someday be re-established in the area. This is a remarkable accomplishment; however, we do not believe the new station would go unused if the tracks were to be replaced with a recreation trail.
We know that some longtime train supporters are upset with this proposition, but we support removing the rails and converting the corridor into the "Great Adirondack Recreation Trail," as proposed by the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates. We have utilized many trails such as this in the past and have found them to be a popular attraction for both tourists and locals alike. The bottom line is, we know a good idea when we hear one. It's that simple for us.
We have watched and listened to both sides of the "rail and trail" argument and do not see any downside to having the proposed trail system in Tupper Lake. We have discussed this topic with many community members and found two who have actually ridden the Lake Placid-to-Saranac Lake tourist train, with no plans of ever riding it again. The majority of the people we have spoken with are just not interested in riding a train, and we don't see that changing by extending the tourist train to Tupper Lake. We believe most people come to the Adirondack Mountains to experience outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, biking, canoeing, skiing and snowmobiling. They are not coming to the Adirondacks to ride a train.
One consistent argument we hear is that we can have a rail and trail together. This is unrealistic thinking, and we challenge anyone who supports this idea to travel the entire route before we debate the issue. The majority of the corridor is narrow and travels through wilderness areas that include wetlands, rock cuts and private properties. The mere idea of building another trail alongside the current one, so that a train can run alongside a bike path, is not environmentally or economically possible, and those people who even remotely support this idea are simply attempting to keep a tourist train running and effectively destroying any hope of ever making this a world-class recreation trail. The rail-and-trail proposal would simply cost millions of dollars that are not available, and it should not even be discussed as a viable option.
We have lived in the Tri-Lakes area our entire lives and challenge our community leaders to do what is right with this corridor. Tupper Lake has been referred to as a "railroad town" in the past, and we know that it has many train supporters. We have also supported the train in the past, but we recognize a good idea when we hear it and now hope this corridor can someday be used to its fullest potential as a world-class recreation trail. We believe our community should rally under a new campaign titled "First Stop, Tupper Lake" and utilize the restored train station as a gateway and welcome center to greet outdoor enthusiasts as they begin their journey down the Great Adirondack Recreation Trail!
Chris and Mary Keniston live in Tupper Lake.