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Iowa Pacific bounces rail bike business from tracks

From left, Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino, Warren County Tourism Department Group Tour Promoter Tanya Brand, Warren County Tourism Director Joanne Conley and Gore Mountain Marketing Manager Emily Stanton ride a Revolution Rail Co. rail bike on July 26, 2017. (Photo — Lisa Lehman, for The Post-Star)

JOHNSBURG — The company that has run a “rail bike” operation on railroad tracks in Johnsburg during the past two years has been told it will not be able to use the rails next year.

Several Warren County officials said Revolution Rail Co.’s founder notified them last week that Iowa Pacific Holdings has terminated the rail bike company’s contract for 2019.

An effort has begun to find a new section of rails where the company could operate locally.

Revolution Rail co-owner Michael Dupee said Friday that the situation was “fluid” and his company was reviewing its options.

“We want to be back and we are doing everything we can to make sure it’s possible,” he said. “We are aware of and super appreciative of everybody’s support.”

The company ended its season late last month. It has drawn thousands of people to North Creek, North River and Minerva over the past two years to ride pedal-powered, four-wheeled cars on a picturesque stretch of rails that crosses the Hudson River.

Revolution Rail operated from an office at the North Creek train depot, which is owned by Warren County. But the tracks on which customers ride are owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings, which operated Saratoga & North Creek Railway for more than six years before shutting down last spring amid financial issues.

Iowa Pacific has been negotiating to sell the rail line, which runs between North Creek and the former NL Industries mines in Tahawus.

Calls to Revolution Rail Co. were not returned Thursday or Friday. Iowa Pacific’s president, Ed Ellis, did not respond to an inquiry for comment, either.

Warren County Public Works Superintendent Kevin Hajos and Johnsburg Supervisor Andrea Hogan said they received notification from Revolution Rail about the contract termination, but no explanation was offered by Iowa Pacific.

Warren County leaders were working to figure out if the company could instead use a section of rails owned by Warren County between North Creek and Hadley next spring, if its contract with Iowa Pacific is not reinstated.

Bolton Supervisor Ronald Conover, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said county Administrator Ryan Moore is looking at the county’s potential options to assist the company.

“It’s private property. We don’t own it,” he said.

Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino said a section of rails in Hadley, just across the Hudson River from Lake Luzerne, had been under consideration by the company before it settled in North Creek.

Merlino said a crossing on the famed Bow Bridge over the Sacandaga River would make for a scenic ride.

“We want to try to do something for them,” he said.

“Whatever we can do for them, we should be cognizant and move something forward,” Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer said.

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