Railroad switches director
New one used to manage Saratoga & North Creek Railway
UTICA — Jack Roberson has resigned as executive director of the Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization that oversees the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, and Justin Gonyo, former general manager of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, has been appointed interim director.
The ASR Board of Directors announced Roberson’s departure and Gonyo’s appointment in a news release Thursday. Roberson served as ASR executive director for less than a year. According to the board, he resigned citing a “difference in management styles.”
Gonyo is the fourth railroad man in his family. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather also worked for railroad companies, according to a 2012 profile in the North Creek News-Enterprise. He comes to the ASR from Hudson Consulting & Project Management, a company he created.
He also served as the general manager for the Saratoga & North Creek Railroad, a now-defunct railway owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings that is being sued by Warren County for allegedly breaching a contract prior to ceasing operations. The railway shut down last year amid financial problems, according to a recent report in the Post-Star, and following a controversy over the company’s decision to store tanker cars on a section of its line north of North Creek.
Adirondack Railway Preservation Society board President Bill Branson did not immediately return a call requesting more information about the transition but confirmed in a news release that the railroad’s offerings would “continue as scheduled, including (the) Polar Express,” a series of special Christmas rides.
ASR has run excursion trains between Utica and the Old Forge area since the early 1990s. From 2000 to 2016, it also ran trains between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, but the state, which owns that rail line, stopped that when it decided to replace 34 miles of tracks between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake with a multi-use trail for biking and snowmobiling, and to upgrade 45 miles of track from the Old Forge area north to Tupper Lake. The railroad sued and won over the track removal, but since then the state has changed its “travel corridor” definition, supposedly allowing the trail, and is moving forward with those plans. It remains to be seen whether the railroad will sue again.
The ASR recently purchased a former Union-Pacific dome car and received a recently retired dining car from Amtrak. ASR board Vice President Frank Kobliski said the cars will “add a whole new dimension to (ASR’s) rail operations.”