The tourist train offers three different excursions.
What if you could take a scenic, two-hour train ride through the Adirondacks while enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner? If a day on the rails is something you’ve never done (or always wanted to do) then all aboard the new Saratoga and North Creek Railway’s excursion train.
“Apparently, the Adirondacks seem to be a place that people are attracted to,” said Steve Torrico, a general manager for the railway in Saratoga.
The “tourist train” welcomed its first passengers at the end of July and Torrico said even in the short time its been operating, there’s a definite interest.
There are three different trips to choose from and they all run between Saratoga Springs and North Creek.
The Hudson Explorer leaves Saratoga Springs in the morning and returns in the late afternoon with time to enjoy destinations along the way, like farmer’s market, craft fairs, museums and shopping. Breakfast and lunch is available.
The Merganser is a more leisurely option and offers north and south bound scenic rides between North Creek and Thurman before its return to Saratoga Springs. Lunch is available.
The New York Express leaves early in the morning from North Creek for Saratoga Springs. Breakfast and dinner is available.
“North Creek is a charming community and right now we run one train that departs Saratoga at 10 a.m. to North Creek and lays over there a little over three hours. That train seems to be our most popular,” said Torrico. “What’s unique is we have a dining car and offer full breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
Passengers can ride in a coach car, which is much like a classic train car, or a dome car, which was built in 1954 for the Santa Fe railroad and has an upstairs where riders sit under dome glass.
“There are tables up there, white tablecloths, flowers, vases, a waiter with a white coat and you can enjoy a meal or cocktail while riding the train,” said Torrico.
The train is billed as an excursion train but Torrico said it actually functions just fine as a qualified passenger train.
“We meet all the qualifications and required things you have to do in order to be considered to be a qualified passenger railroad just like Amtrak,” said Torrico. “It’s different than other tourist trains that don’t have to meet these higher standards.”
Torrico said the railroad has already seen people use it as an easy travel option.
“We connect with the national rail system at Saratoga and already had passengers come in on Amtrak and transfer to ours and continue taking it north to spots along there,” said Torrico. “A lady came in on Amtrak the other night, got on our train and went to Hadley. A couple of women from Germany went from New York City to Saratoga to our train to North Creek.”
The Saratoga and North Creek Railway might not have happened without a marketing study called “First Wilderness Corridor.” A tourist train ran along the same line for about 12 years until the contract expired last year and was not renewed, said Torrico. Warren County and the Town of Corinth, owners of the tracks, wanted to preserve the rail corridor and a study was launched to see how it would be best used while still preserving it.
“It’s considered to be the ‘first wilderness’ because guys like Teddy Roosevelet came here and saw this and were like ‘Wow, we’ve got to preserve this,’” said Torrico. “The market study talks about how these little towns along the railway and river—Thurman, Hadley, Sonty Creeek and the little communities that sprung up when it was built—the town and county are looking at developing these for recreational purposes and felt an important part of that was rail.”
When the county and town went out to bid for a company to operate the railway, Iowa Pacific Holdings, LLC secured the bid.
The railway will also feature special events like the upcoming “Day Out with Thomas” on Aug. 27 and 28 and Sept. 3 and 4. A replica Thomas the Tank Engine will be on hand and kids can take a 25-minute ride behind Thomas. There will also be storytelling, live music and more.
In November, a Polar Express train will run. The railway is also bringing back a formerly popular “ski train” that takes skiers from Saratoga to the mountains north of Saratoga.
“Delaware-Hudson [former owners] started it in 1935 and stopped running it in 1945. It ran during the winter … in 1936 they were hauling 3,000 people a week to North Creek to go skiing and that’s a lot of people,” said Torrico.
“We’re restarting that train … just bring your skiis to Saratoga, get on the train, have breakfast, and late in the afternoon the train will go back and you can have a cocktail or dinner.”
For more information about trips, a schedule and pricing visit www.sncrr.com.