Saratoga-North Creek Railway General Manager Justin Gonyo smashes a bottle of champagne on the front of a locomotive June 26 to christen the new North End Local service on the railway. Wincing from the impact of the bottle are train conductor Mark Salis and railway publicist Kristen Hanifen. This new short-haul scenic train ride between Thurman and North Creek is intended for tourists, particularly from Warrensburg and Lake George, who want to experience the scenery along the upper Hudson River and a unique view of rural communities along the way.
As a bottle of champagne was smashed against the front of a locomotive June 26, the Saratoga-North Creek Railway’s new short-haul passenger service was inaugurated.
The new 50-minute scenic trip from Thurman to North Creek is expected to bring 12,000 or more tourists from popular Lake George Village into North Creek this summer, bolstering the latter community’s economy.
The railway’s new “North End Local” service is features two departures per day every weekend from Thurman Station, which was also christened during the June 26 celebration.
Tourism and governmental officials hailed the new service that offers a half-day, full-day or overnight getaway at a low price.
Lake George Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Consuelo said the new run — to be promoted heavily in Lake George Village — would offer new options to tourists. Consuelo said that visitors to the village would undoubtedly enjoy traveling in the vintage dome cars along the historic railway, as well as discovering the small-town charm of North Creek.
“This new train service offers tourists something really different, and it brings North Creek closer to everyone,” he said. Consuelo noted that tourism officials are seeking to launch a shuttle service for Lake George visitors, which can number as many as 50,000 per week during summer.
Town of Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow predicted that the short runs would indeed be popular, considering their low price.
“There’s definitely a market for it,” he said, noting that the railroad’s former operator had carried 12,000 to 16,000 passengers annually between Riparius and North Creek, a short trip of 7 miles or so.
Laurie Arnheiter of Hudson River Trading Co. said the new short-haul train service would be popular, as it only required tourists to commit a portion of a day rather than a full day.
“If they can draw as many tourists as they plan to, it will be phenomenal,” she said.
Emily Stanton of Gore Mountain said it would be a boost to the ski center’s summer business. Gore features basketmaking, painting and photography workshops as well as craft fairs and cooking classes during summer weekends.
“This service will provide an easy way for all Lake George visitors to visit North Creek and take our scenic gondola rides and attend our workshops,” she said.
Tanya Brand of Warren County Department of Tourism said the county would be marketing bus tours that featured the new short-haul trip.
“We can now offer groups and leisure travelers visiting Lake George a new alternative — discovering the “hidden gems” that lie along the rail route,” she said.
The service is to operate each weekend in July and August, Fridays through Sundays. The trains are to depart from Thurman Station northbound at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and and return southbound from North Creek at 11:30 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., allowing passengers to choose their length of stay — even overnight or for a few days, for the same low price. Meanwhile, the railway will be operating trains leaving Saratoga Springs at 10 a.m., arriving and North Creek at 12:1 p.m.. This longer scenic run leaves North Creek at 3:45 p.m. and arrives in Saratoga at 5:57 p.m. For details, call (855) 724-5714 or see: the railway’s website at: www.sncrr.com.
New Thurman Station hailed
Perky Granger of the Thurman Station Association, which has lobbied for the station’s reactivation and worked for decades to boost tourism in her rural town, expressed enthusiasm over the new service as well as the train station being virtually completed.
“This is a landmark day,” she said. “For decades, we’ve been advocating for an active train station,” she said. Granger noted that collaboration was needed between businesses, local officials and railroad management for commerce in Thurman and North Creek to benefit. “This is not only an opportunity but a challenge,” she added.
Railway general manager Justin Gonyo said that the christening of the new Thurman train station was a milestone in transportation for northern Warren County, noting that this was the first time that Thurman had an active passenger station in 81 years.
He observed that the station, about 800 square feet, was fully insulated, included rest rooms, and within a few weeks would feature a ticket counter, benches and a gift shop offering railway memorabilia.
“This has been a tremendous dream and vision of many people over the last several decades.”