The former NL Industries mine at Tahawus hasn't seen rail traffic since 1989, but the Saratoga-North Creek Railway has plans to carry freight on the long-dormant rails.
Newcomb With environmental groups airing their concerns about re-opening the rail line to Tahawus, Newcomb Supervisor George Canon and the North Country Chamber of Commerce have chimed in with letters supporting the line.
Canon was very critical of Protect! the Adirondacks opposition to moving freight along the old Tahawus rail line. The environmental group has been lobbying to the Surface Transportation Board against opening the tracks into the former National Lead mine.
The Saratoga-North Creek Railway, following a successful launch of passenger service, is looking to start freight operations in the area. Freight’s been part of the railway’s plans for profitable operation since they signed up to run their service.
Canon said he wants to make sure the board is hearing from more than just Protect! the Adirondacks.
“It's economic development in the park, we can't have that,” Canon said sarcastically.
Though his town government isn't in the loop on rail development locally, any new developments in the 481-citizen town are welcome, said Canon.
Canon lived in Tahawus as a youth, when his father worked at the mine's mill as an operator. Canon worked for NL Industries there for 30 years, mostly as a computer programmer. His son worked at the mine briefly, making the total three successive generations of Canons who worked at the mine.
When Canon worked there, the mine had a payroll of about 500 employees, as large as the town's current population. People came from North Creek, Tupper Lake, Long Lake, Pottersville, “Basically every town in the area had at least some people working at the site,” said Canon.
“I'm not anticipating that anything like that is in the cards,” he said. But even two, five or 10 jobs are very important to the small community, he noted.
North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas also chimed in at the board with a letter of support, citing his regional economic development council's strategic plan that called for preserving and developing rail assets across the North Country.