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Ski trains, and growing pains

Notes from the North Woods

Unfortunately, it often seems that whenever there is a slight chance that an appropriate industry or project has the potential to provide a bit of economic vitality to the region; there immediately appears to be an advocacy group, with the threat of a lawsuit to shut the opportunity down. Although I understand, and respect the need to protect against unscrupulous developers, and to fend off the advancement of inappropriate industry, I also wonder what the future will hold.

When there are no opportunities, there will be no workers; and where there are no workers, there will be no communities. I do not favor turning a blind eye to incursions on the Forest Preserve, but an appropriate wink and a nod, may be in order on occasion.

Such was the case when I first learned that Iowa Pacific Holdings, the outfit responsible for restoring the Gore Ski Train, was also interested in revitalizing a 30-mile section of track that connects North Creek to Tahawus.

Inexpensive ski passes won’t be so popular, when the price of gas tops $10 a gallon. Neither will traditional tourist activities as hiking, biking or paddle sports, without reasonable transportation costs.

Although Iowa Pacific’s rail restoration efforts center primarily on the transport of tailings from the National Lead Mines in Tahawus, and the Barton Mines in North River, the company has reportedly petitioned the Surface Transportation Board for a permit to operate as a federally regulated common carrier on the same rail line between Tahawus and North Creek.

This 30-mile section of rails, which spans from the Tahawus Mines to North Creek, was built in 1940, prior to World War II. At the time, federal wartime exemptions trumped New York’s Article 14, the Forest Preserve Act, and trees were removed from the Forest Preserve in order to provide strategic materials for the war effort, and to save the country.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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