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As snow train approaches, preparations commence

The former Mountain and Boardertown space is getting fixed up for an artisan’s bazaar that should give cold-weather tourists a place to warm up and browse local goods. Mike Bowers, co-chair of the Business Alliance, is heading the effort.

The former Mountain and Boardertown space is getting fixed up for an artisan’s bazaar that should give cold-weather tourists a place to warm up and browse local goods. Mike Bowers, co-chair of the Business Alliance, is heading the effort. Photo by John Grybos.

— Most of the former store's design elements will remain, with a major exception being the climbing wall that was opposite the entrance. That was dismantled and taken away when the store closed.

But the autumn trees and false storefronts lining the walls will remain, and should add to a street mall ambiance once tenants are found.

The success of the railroad surprised even Iowa-Pacific. Ed Ellis, president of the company, said at a press event in Saratoga that projections were outmatched by nearly 50 percent.

“The railroad's arrival to us is like seeing the cavalry that never came to rescue Custer,” said Bowers.

The Business Alliance will run a shuttle around town for the snow train, including stops at Tannery Pond, Goose Pond Inn, Basil & Wick’s Restaurant, Cunningham’s Ski Barn, Roaring Brook Lodge; and the Val Haus, according to the Dec. 16 Business Alliance meeting notes. There are plans to make signs to mark stops. The railway will also run a pair of refitted school buses, though only one will be ready for the snow train's opening, said Bowers. The railway plans to paint the buses to match their locomotives.

The Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce has produced flyers with tips for travelers on where to go, including local business summaries and a North Creek map on the reverse.

Bowers said the business community is very grateful to the railway for their efforts in promoting North Creek. Their advertising buying power is at its weakest during the ramp-up to the ski season, and that's just when the railway has made a push with advertising and press events. All those ads and stories mention North Creek. It’s a lot of promotion that Johnsburg businesses couldn't have generated on their own.

In turn, the Business Alliance has made efforts like running a shuttle and planning complementary downtown promotions — like the street fair that coincided with Gore's Harvest Fest in October — to give event-driven tourism traffic a direction.

“It shows the railroad that though we can't match you for money, but we can match you for enthusiasm,” said Bowers.

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