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Middle solution for railroad

To the editor:

As a longtime property owner in both the Beaver River and Old Forge areas, the town of Beaver River is a landlocked region. Unlike Old Forge, there are no roads accessing this area ever since the reservoir was flooded around the turn of the last century. This is both a draw and a drawback to the region.

Except for a short-lived “Olympic Train,” which I once rode in 1980 for a single time only, there has been no railroad service between Big Moose to Tupper Lake, despite many hollow promises over the past half-century. I remember as a kid watching the banner that waved stating this was the “last train” to travel down the tracks about 1974 (passenger service ended a few years before the freight service) and following that last train as a 13-year-old on my motorcycle in the Beaver River area. Ever since that episode, time and money have been spent on sections of the track from Remson to Big Moose and in the Lake Placid corridor, but this section has been relatively forgotten, although it is the longest and most beautiful section of the corridor.

Now that there is more definition to the “travel corridor” and the current unit management plan rail-trail “solution” is playing out, I would still like to address the issue of the corridor between Big Moose and Tupper Lake. I understand that there are political, economic, environmental-wetland and escarpment-access issues as well as funding issues to be solved regarding this section of the corridor. I am still a strong advocate of a side-by-side rail AND trail solution to this area of the corridor.

There is a 100-foot-wide corridor, which lends itself to a multi-use solution. This would not only support hikers, bikers, snowmobilers, perhaps equestrians, etc., but also allow “canoe trains,” “bike trains,” handicap access as well as short- and long-term transportation. People didn’t understand the economic benefit that snowmobiling alone would bring to the North Country. Prior to the widespread use of the snowmobile, the North Country would essentially slumber during the winter months in the past. Connecting the northern segment of the trail to the Old Forge snowmobile trail system as well as the already approved adjacent rail would pay for itself in increased travel, business, restaurant, support businesses, etc. Snowmobile access alone would rival those in Vermont and Canada (where many of my friends now ride). Year-round access to the less-used Pidgeon Lake, Five Ponds, Ha De Ron Dah, Fulton Chain and Sargent Ponds areas would increase visitation to this underused area of the park and bring the dollars that come with the increased use.

Let’s keep BOTH the rail and trail options open between Big Moose and Tupper Lake. This should not be a zero-sum situation. It has always been and still remains the best use of the corridor. Keep the northern (Tupper to Lake Placid) a trail. Keep the southern (Remson to Thendara-Old Forge area) a rail. The middle section actually requires a “middle” solution of BOTH rail AND trail. That’s what is called a win-win-win in business.

Edward M. Gosselin, MD, FACEP

Bridgewater, New Jersey

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