NY funds to boost First Wilderness Heritage Corridor projects

Saratoga-North Creek Railway at the North Creek train station

Saratoga-North Creek Railway at the North Creek train station Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Yet, in order to be successful, the corridor needs to be promoted a whole, not by individual communities on a town-by-town basis.

“The way for this to work is each town has to complement each other and not compete,” LaMothe said. “If everybody did the same thing, there’s only so many that come here, and if everybody had a golf course or everybody had a ski hill, there wouldn't be enough business for everybody.”

Tourism promotion is designed on a regional approach by looking at the strengths of each community and designing day trips or vacations based on those activities. For example, Stony Creek golf course on the rail line; Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg offers a different experience than Gore Mountain; North Creek has a vibrant downtown, cross-country skiing at Garnet Hill Lodge, downhill skiing at Gore, and whitewater rafting on the Hudson River; and the Lake Luzerne-Hadley region has horseback riding at the old dude ranches.

While the former tourist train — the Upper Hudson River Railroad (1999-2010) — offered excursions between North Creek and Riparius, it never had the connection to Saratoga Springs. And that helped burst the bubble of early optimism in the southern end of the First Wilderness Heritage Corridor, according to LaMothe. Since Iowa Pacific Holdings opened the Saratoga & North Creek Railway in July 2011, things have been much different.

“What Iowa Pacific has brought to the table is they have capital to invest, they are railroad people, they know how to run a railroad, and they know how to market and promote,” LaMothe said. “Now Iowa Pacific comes in, we have the connection to Saratoga, and all of a sudden in the other communities along the corridor it's, ‘OK, something is finally going to happen.’”

Warren County set up a website to help promote the corridor — www.firstwilderness.com — and assigned the promotional duties to a staffer in the Planning Department, Pam Morin. She is trying to be the central nervous system for promoting the corridor and connecting all the different entities, and it’s a challenging job. But LaMothe said businesses and communities can help with promotion if they have an effective communication plan.

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