CORINTH -- All the involved parties are on board in the effort to bring a scenic rail line from the Adirondacks to Saratoga Springs. The only question now is when the train will reach the station. If everything goes right, leaf peepers could be making their way from the Spa City to North Creek at this time a year from now, but many hurdles are still left to clear. 'We're doing preliminary engineering as we speak,' said Steve Fisk of Canadian Pacific Railroad. Last spring, CP Rail sold a 16-mile stretch from Corinth to Saratoga Springs to the Town of Corinth for $2.2 million. Warren County owns and has already upgraded another 40 miles from North Creek to Antone Mountain Road in Corinth. For trains to reach the Spa City, the rail bed from Corinth to Saratoga Springs must be upgraded to allow for speeds up to 30 mph. The project was sidetracked this summer when beaver dams in a remote area of Greenfield let go, washing out a 250-foot section of rail line. 'The critical issue is getting the hole filled,' Fisk said. 'Hopefully work will begin this fall.' Operated by John and James Riegel, the Upper Hudson River Railroad has been making 14-mile round trips from North Creek to Riparius since 1999. The Riegels have a lease agreement with Warren County that runs through 2008. This winter, Corinth and Warren County will jointly issue a request for proposals allowing firms to bid on the rail line's operation. John Riegel said the number of riders has dropped considerably since the line first opened, from about 24,000 per year to fewer than 18,000 this year. The novelty has worn off among local residents, and skyrocketing gas prices have affected many tourist operations throughout the region. 'That's why it's so important to have the whole thing open,' Corinth Supervisor Richard Lucia said. 'Once the line reaches Saratoga Springs, Corinth will be open to the world.' Plans call for extending the season and running ski trains from the Spa City to Gore Mountain. New York City residents could enjoy winter getaways from Grand Central Station to North Creek without ever needing a car. CP Rail has retained freight rights to the line and Lucia said several businesses, including construction firms, have already expressed interest in shipping goods and products to the North Country via rail. This summer, tourist trains made several longer runs to 1,000 Acres Resort. Riegel said a 'River, Raft and Ramble' package is possible, allowing people to kayak the Hudson River from Thurman to 1,000 Acres and ride the train back. Getting the line up to speed For the tourist line to become fully functional, however, stations must be built or renovated at several stops along the route. 'You want stops because you want to pick up people,' Riegel said. 'It would be ideal to have stations, but temporary facilities could be used before the final stations are built.' Warren County is in the process of buying the Riparius station. New stations are planned for Thurman and Hadley, and an engineering firm has been hired to evaluate whether Corinth's dilapidated station can be preserved or a new one is needed. Located somewhat outside the village, the historic old structure has fallen into major disrepair with rotted ceilings, floors and walls. 'My own personal recommendation would be to tear it down and rebuild, and try to capture as much of the original character as you can,' Lucia said. Albany-based Creighton Manning Engineering is expected to release a report this fall. 'I remember when I was a little kid, taking the train from here to Saratoga with my mother and then to Whitehall,' said 70-year-old Byron 'Pete' Guy, of Corinth. 'My father used to work on the railroad. I used to run up to the coal yard at noon and bring him his lunch.' Like many people, he can't wait for tourist trains to start making their way north again, bringing much needed revenue to local shops and stores. 'I think it would be great,' Guy said. 'I really do.' Some officials say the railroad could reach Saratoga Springs late next summer. 'My hope is that this time next year we'll be starting fall foliage runs into the Adirondacks,' said Jack Kelley, of Saratoga Economic Development Corp. Kelley also knows how slow the wheels of government can turn, especially when bids must be evaluated and approved not just for a rail operator, but for train station construction projects as well. So his optimism is tempered with experience when predicting the railroad's completion date. 'Five years ago I stopped guessing,' he said. Rich with history, beauty For people who have ridden the train, there's no doubt about the rail line's scenic beauty. Paralleling the Hudson River much of the way, it takes people deep into the woods, traveling to places motorists never get to see. 'These are unbelievable rides,' said train engineer Steve Wildermuth of Hadley. 'The view is breathtaking. It's so relaxing to ride along the river.' In Hadley, the railroad crosses the Sacandaga River on a high trestle, overlooking the newly reopened Bow Bridge, and there's also a great deal of history to the line. Theodore Roosevelt boarded a train at the North Creek depot en route to Buffalo where he was sworn in as president following the assassination of William McKinley. The railroad itself dates to the 1800s when summer vacationers would make their way would to grand old boarding houses throughout the Adirondacks. During World War II, the line was extended from North Creek north to Tahawus where minerals used in making armor were found. The future lies with the railroad's ability to attract and retain customers over the long haul, especially with the rising cost of operations. The train's massive diesel engine has a 1,500-gallon tank, which has accounted for $10,000 weekly fuel bills. 'We're struggling but I see light at the end of the tunnel,' Riegel said. 'If the ski train happens and we can extend the season, our numbers should grow.'