To the editor:
After giving it some thought, maybe the comments expressed recently indicating that snowmobiling on the rails is just fine are correct after all. Perhaps there's an economic benefit to the region we're all missing. If we just play up the excitement of snowmobiling down a trail with steep banks on both sides on 40-inch front skis that are trapped between exposed steel rails, we could attract a whole new crowd of thrill seekers. When you add in the possibility of encountering a barely covered siding or switch that could stop you instantly, propelling you over the handlebars while bending your legs in a direction nature never intended, it makes bungee jumping and skydiving look tame by comparison. And imagine the rush when you meet another snowmobiler coming in the opposite direction while you're both trapped inside the bare rails with those ever-present ditches on both sides. Promoted properly, I think we're talking billions here.
Seriously, attempting to ride a snowmobile on a rail line is a harrowing experience 90 percent of the time, and most sensible snowmobilers would rather risk falling through the ice while riding on the lakes than take a rail line.
But of course the bigger question is, would a trail system be more beneficial to the economy and Adirondack residents in general than the train? "Expert" financial estimates aside, here's what I know: After spending six years up here and having dozens of guests visit us in this beautiful place, no one has ever taken us up on the suggestion of riding the tourist train. No one. Most want to hike or bike or kayak or snowmobile or ski or snowshoe or visit the shops or whatever, but no one wants to ride the train. All the people I have ever asked about it have either never done it or done it once and offered the opinion that it might be worth doing once in the fall, if that. It simply is not the draw for the area that having an extensive trail system would be.
Sure, holes can be punched in any estimate offered up, but personal experience and simple logic tell me and should tell most that removing the rails in favor of a trail system would be much more beneficial to the economy and them personally than a rarely used train.