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Heavy metal memento

DEC gives rail slice to Tupper Lake town

A segment of a rail from the new Rail Trail project was gifted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to the Tupper Lake Town Board. (Provided photo — Patti Littlefield)

TUPPER LAKE — The town of Tupper Lake received a segment of a steel rail from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, a heavy gift now sitting in the town office.

It’s a symbol of the state’s ongoing project to upgrade part of a railroad and replace the rest with a trail in the corridor it owns through the Adirondacks. Tupper Lake would be where the upgraded train tracks meet the new rail trail.

Town Supervisor Patti Littlefield said DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Judy Drabicki dropped off the gift last week.

The piece of rail bears the words “ADK Rail Trail Oct 2020” and came with a letter from DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

“Please accept this slice of the Adirondack Rail Trail as a memento in recognition of your role in the development of this extraordinary recreational trail,” Seggos wrote. “It couldn’t have happened without you.”

Littlefield showed the segment off at a Dec. 30 board meeting over Zoom. Littlefield said the rail segment is the real deal.

“It’s very heavy,” she said. “It would hurt if you dropped it on your toe.”

She said she will find an appropriate place for it.

The Adirondack Rail Trail has has a long and controversial history, but after years of planning, disagreement and legal feuds, the state departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation broke ground on the project in October.

The tracks extend from Utica to Lake Placid, and the state owns the 119 miles north of Remsen.

The initial $1.9 million portion — removing tracks from Tupper Lake through Saranac Lake to Lake Placid — clears the way for a shared-use path for skiers, hikers, bikers and snowmobiles.

The $19.1 million track rehabilitation will restore 45 miles of train tracks between Tupper Lake and Big Moose, connecting to Utica, over 100 miles away, for scenic train rides.

Both segments, rail and trail, are part of the 2020 Remsen-Lake Placid Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan along the 119-mile travel corridor which follows the path of a rail line built in 1892 and operated until 1972. The state of New York bought both the line and its right of way in 1974, after the Penn Central Railroad went out of business.

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