After rains wash out Adirondack Railroad lines, state to rebuild

Damage disrupts busy first season for train service to Tupper Lake

Rains washed out a portion of the Adirondack Railroad train line between Old Forge and Tupper Lake last week. The state is contracting with a company to repair the rails, and train operators hope to resume service in the coming weeks. (Provided photo)

TUPPER LAKE — Severe rains last week washed out two sections of the railroad between Old Forge and Tupper Lake, leaving tracks hanging in midair. The damage has disrupted what Adirondack Railroad President and CEO Frank Kobliski said had so far been a successful first season for the tourist trains, which have been bringing passengers into Tupper Lake by rail weekly.

“There are two large-scale washouts where the rushing water scoured the bed out from underneath the rail and the ties,” Kobliski said. “The rail and the ties are literally suspended in the air.”

He estimated the washouts at 80 feet long and 130 feet long. They’re located in “the middle of nowhere,” he said, toward the south end of the line closer to Thendara and Beaver River. They were caused by heavy rains on Aug. 8.

Kobliski said the railroad is contacting passengers who had purchased tickets on the trains that have been canceled. They are offering a choice of refunds or ride credits for trains usable within one year.

The state owns the right of way, so it is in charge of hiring contractors. Kobliski estimates that service to Tupper Lake could begin in September or October.

“I can’t make any promise with certainty because there are a lot of variables,” Kobliski said.

The timing is “tragic,” he said. Tupper Lake is a brand-new market for the nonprofit train organization, and he feels bad that the season has been disrupted.

Kobliski said they are working with the state to restore service as soon as possible to “salvage” the fall foliage season.

Adirondack Railroad has been running three different types of trains to Tupper Lake this summer.

There are two trains bringing riders to Tupper Lake every Sunday.

The “Adirondack Mountaineer” travels from Thendara to Tupper Lake in the morning. Riders spend four-and-a-half hours in Tupper Lake and the town provides buses to bring people around to different attractions. Kobliski said ridership on this trip averages around 30 to 40 people each weekend.

The “Explorer” is a two hour midday Sunday trip from starts in Tupper Lake and turns around in Sabattis.

Kobliski said this trip has been going “gangbusters” and nearly selling out every weekend. Last weekend, he said they had to add another coach car to deal with the capacity and it was still sold out with 150 people riding.

“The High Peaks Limited” is a long-distance runner, from Utica, through Old Forge to Tupper Lake. Kobliski said he rode on the last trip in late July and the cars were “loaded.” There are two more scheduled in September and two in October.

Adirondack Railroad will announce the restart of Tupper Lake service at its website adirondackrr.com.

Kobliski said there was “relatively minor” damage to the rail south of Old Forge, and that the Adirondack Railroad was getting stone and track ballasts delivered on Monday. He anticipates the rail there will reopen for service from Utica to Old Forge by Thursday.

He said rail bike service in Old Forge and Tupper Lake is not affected by the damage. The railroad is also continuing to operate its Beer and Wine trains that do not travel over the affected parts of the corridor.

The Adirondack Railroad uses the corridor until Dec. 1. at which point it is turned over to snowmobilers to ride in the winter.

Kobliski said the state has been “outstanding” to work with. It doesn’t want to see economic development opportunities squandered, either, he said.


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