OTHER Adirondack Scenic news...

John Barnhill May 18, 2007

  1. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member


    SARANAC LAKE, NY -- As an avid volunteer on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, I was disenchanted with the conditions we found in our railroad yard this spring. Evidence of vandals was throughout the yard.

    We found that water had been poured into the crankcase of the locomotive that we stored up north this year. Ten gallons or so had been dumped in by someone obviously bent on seeing this beautiful old engine self-destruct. For what reason -- one can only guess. It would have been a multi-thousand-dollar repair on a privately owned piece of equipment. The only kind of people who would ever do such a thing are people who wish to see the railroad fail and to have it gone. Who could that be, one wonders? I seriously doubt that kids are behind this act since the person(s) knew exactly where to dump the water. Suffice it to say that an official police report of this vandalism is to be made at the Lake Placid Police Department by our general manager upon his arrival this week. Furthermore, 24-hour surveillance cameras will be in use very soon in the yard, as well as watchmen.

    Other vandalism took place on the private cars that are left in the yard over the winter. People tried to break into at least two of them for some reason. Telephone wires had been hacked through with a knife, and the cable for our TV satellite had been cut. The lights that were mounted on the electrical entrance panel had been bent and broken off as well, and damage had been done to a lawnmower. A police report was filed upon discovering this damage. The police suspect that juveniles were responsible for this damage, however. It’s too bad that some kids have so little to do with their time and that their parents are unable to keep them busy enough to keep them from destroying someone else’s property. These cars are privately owned and used to allow weekend volunteers to stay over in the yard, thus saving the railroad the cost of hotel rooms when these volunteers are good enough to donate two or three days in a row to work on the trains. It’s sad to think that there are people in Lake Placid who would do this. I always had looked at the village and town as a place that had escaped this sort of thing.

    The Adirondack Scenic Railroad has met with opposition on several counts. The snowmobilers have wanted the railroad gone since it first started back up in 2000. The fact is -- it’s always been a railroad since 1887. It have never NOT been a railroad since that time. So why do the snowmobilers think that they automatically own it? It’s no different than having someone drive through your front yard and stop to tell you to tear down your garage because it’s in their way. As far as the operation of the line goes, it is fully self-supporting, contrary to what some people think. We survive due to our ridership, memberships, grants, gift shop sales, etc. No tax money goes into the actual operation of the line. What tax money goes into the line goes in to maintain it in its present condition -- this is the stipulation of the National Historical Register in which the railroad is listed, and the state is legally bound by this.

    All that being said, I would like to say that I hope the persons responsible for the damage listed above find something better to do with their time. We mean no harm to anyone and are genuinely trying to accomplish a huge feat to restore a railroad of this size and to offer tourists something from the past, as well as the hope that one day we may run trains all the way to Utica again. Tupper Lake is now just around the corner. We need support. Not vandalism. We need to save money. Not spend in on needless repairs caused by other people. We’re trying to be a part of the great and magical village of Lake Placid -- the village that indeed owes so much of its very existence and growth to this railroad. Rest assured that should anyone be found vandalizing anything in the railroad yard, if caught, will be dealt with in the best legal way. This will include paying for damages to my own private car as well as the other two and the locomotive.

    One more thing: It would be nice if the snowmobilers would pick up the right-of-way for a change instead of leaving it for us to do every year. This includes the signs and all the rugs and building paper they put all over the bridges, along with the litter that is left behind when the snow melts. If they want to use it, they should be just as responsible to clean up after themselves when they’re done. We don’t leave it like that in the fall, and they shouldn’t leave it like they do in the spring. - Opinion, Doug Vensel, The Adirondak Daily Enterprise

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