To the editor:
I attended both the Ray Brook and Old Forge public forums, but we thought it important that the state's opening presentation should include the recreational uses on the corridor (snowmobiling and skiing primarily) which have been very important since the '60s. All the opening presentation reviews the rail history while overlooking the very important economic role played by the dormant railroad as a recreational corridor.
There is a book called "Adirondack Snowflakes," I believe, that talks about the early snowmobile adventures on the corridor, and our drawers are filled with photos and home movies from those fun-filled days. Joan Dumas and family from Childwold and Dumas's Restaurant thrived on corridor snowmobile traffic for many years. Cranberry, Ham's Inn, South Colton, Long Lake's businesses, to name a few, have all been a part of the recreational history of the corridor without rail use.
A snowmobiler rides in 1976 on the then-abandoned railroad tracks between Horseshoe Pond and Beaver River.
(Photo courtesy of Russell Thompson)
At the Norridgewock in Beaver River, we bought our own groomer in 1970 and have groomed the corridor ever since, barring a brief, disastrous time during the 1980 Olympics while the train ruined the snowmobile use. Even the town of Webb used to groom the tracks occasionally in the '70s and '80s until they damaged too much equipment on a no-fee trail to continue.
During those years and presently, the corridor has been maintained and used continuously every year: dead falls cut, ice storm's damage cleaned up and even bypass trails around corridor damage constructed without state aid or maintenance grants. Thankfully, the New York State Snowmobile Association grants from registration fees have been very helpful in recent years.
People should be aware that there is a cost associated with expanded rail use.