In 2010, Warren County Supervisors — frustrated with the lack of success of their existing railroad — solicited proposals nationwide for ideas to develop it with an eye of boosting the county’s tourism.
That November, a top executive of Iowa Pacific Holdings appeared before the board and told of an ambitious plan to boost passenger traffic through aggressive advertising, negotiating passenger connections to Albany and New York City, providing gracious dome cars, and making a massive investment into the railroad’s infrastructure.
A most important element of their plan — development of rail freight service into the Adirondacks — was then portrayed as a mere footnote.
And despite wranglings with environmentalists, who dragged the railway through a long federal approval process, Iowa Pacific was successful in gaining access to the rails on the 30-mile Tahawus Line. They plan to haul tailings from National Lead Industries’ Tahawus mine and garnet products from Barton Mines in North River to markets downstate.
After a track upgrade project was completed, the 6-mile rail line between North Creek and North River officially opened Aug. 8 for freight service.
At the ribbon-cutting event, Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis noted that the railway sold 60,000 tickets during its first year, and he predicted that the passenger traffic would be increasing by 20 to 25 percent in its second full year of operation.
Saratoga & North Creek Railway officials have said they plan to partner with other rail carriers to bring the area’s bounty of minerals to market, and freight could begin moving within a year.
We at Denton Publications laud Iowa Pacific executives for their vision, local supervisors for their lobbying effort, and our state and federal representatives for listening and responding.
The benefits of resuming rail freight traffic into the southern Adirondacks go far beyond the cleanup of mine tailings and the 20 jobs that would initially be created.