NORTH CREEK - Last week's four-day 75th anniversary celebration of the first "snow train" arriving in North Creek was described by local officials as a fitting testament to an event which stands as a prime-mover in the creation of modern Johnsburg.
"The train is a big part of what made North Creek what it is," North Creek Train Depot Museum Director Michelle San Antonio said. "Tourists began flocking here and many stayed - it was the second influx of population to the community."
Originally constructed in 1871, the North Creek Train Depot first served as a hot-bed of commerce, moving men and goods into area logging camps, as well as transporting the harvested timber out of the region.
It was also the site where Theodore Roosevelt learned that
he would be President of the United States following William McKinley's assassination in 1901.
The early 20 century saw the birth of Gore Mountain and
See SNOW TRAIN, page 3
the beginning of the winter tourist economy that continues to be a prime-mover of local commerce.
"We as a community will continue to strike a balance between our economic development, our environment and our history," Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said. "The snow train and the mountain pulled us out of one economic crisis, and I propose it will pull us out of another." Goodspeed added as he compared the current national economic downturn to the Great Depression.
In 1956, passenger service to the depot ceased, followed by a cessation of commercial service in 1990, said Helen Minor, President of the North Creek Train Depot and Owens Outreach Center.
"This community really came together," Minor said. "People worked so hard to bring the Depot back to life."
A group of like-minded citizens began rehabilitating the depot in 1994, Minor said.
On hand at the Wednesday ceremony was Jane Castaneda, an original snow train passenger, who eventually became a resident of Johnsburg.
"I remember my first trip on the snow train," Castaneda said. "It was in 1938 and I was in eighth grade - the ticket only cost 25 cents."
Castaneda said that in the bygone days she gladly sacrificed her allowance to ride the train from Schenectady in order to enjoy a day at the North Creek Ski Bowl.
The North Creek depot is also part of a larger effort by Warren County to reconstruct a railway through the county to increase tourist traffic in the communities of Thurman, Stony Creek, Luzerne, Riparius and Johnsburg.
Over the last several years the county has spent approximately $2.2 million in constructing passenger platforms at several stops along the rail line..
Advocates of the railway have contended that passengers on regularly scheduled trips will exit the trains at the stops and patronize local businesses.
In recent weeks, some Warren County Supervisors have questioned the expenditures, stating that the return may fall short of expectations.
Glens Falls Supervisor-at-Large Bill Kenny, an opponent of the railway, has referred to the Thurman platform as a "glorified manger" that won't see much traffic.
But Goodspeed, a staunch supporter of the tourist train endeavor, argues that the local economy requires the rail expansion. The train is a vital element in Johnsburg developing a vibrant four-season tourist economy, he said Thursday. For the Johnsburg Supervisor, the local economic indicators are impressive, especially within the backdrop of a national recession.
"This is such a remarkable community," Goodspeed said. "If you drive through Main Street on a Friday night you will see that we are a viable town and this train will only work to strengthen that viability."