"On Track to Saranac... Rails and Trails" is the name of the new campaign by Next Stop! Tupper Lake to raise money for the repair and restoration of the Adirondack Railroad line between here and Saranac Lake.
The local train station-building committee signed on in recent weeks to start the fundraising effort to restore train service between here and our neighbor to the east as part of an expanded excursion operation that currently is limited to Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. To do that means fixing the tracks and ties. Many of the ties are in very bad condition and must be replaced if a train is to run the line on a regular basis.
There are approximately 1,100 ties per mile of railroad track- and probably half are in need of replacement.
There are many levels of gifts in the new campaign, beginning at the sale of railroad ties for $50 and railroad spikes for $25.
During a fundraising meeting last week, the Next Stop! Tupper Lake volunteers came up with a number of other gift levels. A 30-foot length of rail, for example, can be purchased for $500. A donor could sponsor a one-tenth of mile section of track for $2,000. An entire mile of track is available for $18,000.
Switches, crossings and bridges along the 24 mile length of rail also have price tags associated with them: $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000, respectively. All of these one-of-a-kind naming opportunities will be posted on http://nextstoptupperlake.com over the coming weeks.
In the case of each donation a plaque or sign will be affixed to the particular structure. The buyers of ties will receive a small plate they can attach to their tie or ties. Mile sponsorship signs will be posted at regular intervals along the corridor. Individuals or organizations who sponsor a mile of track will have their names listed on the concrete mile markers.
All donors will be listed in a book of donors prepared and available for public scrutiny at the Tupper Lake train station at the conclusion of the three-year campaign.
The information in the station will also contain an index of the location, by mile, of each rail item donated by supporters of the initiative.
Committee Member Charlene McCulloch will chronicle all the donors and their donations for publication in the Tupper Lake Free Press and in the new book of donors as the campaign advances.
"Our aim is to start locally, where we know there are many railroad supporters, and proceed out into the neighboring communities of Saranac Lake and Lake Placid," Next Stop! Tupper Lake Vice Chairman Dan Mecklenburg said this week.
The committee members hope to have meetings with organizations in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid which are interested in the revival of the corridor to accommodate both the train track and a multi-use recreational trail beside it in upcoming months.
The local train station volunteers signed on as the fundraising arm of a new initiative to restore train service to Tupper Lake, led by the Adirondack Railroad Preservation Society, directed by Bill Branson, and the North Country Chamber of Commerce, headed by Garry Douglas.
Several years ago Mr. Douglas and supporters launched the Adirondack On Track Partnership" a coalition of communities and organizations which support the revival of the entire 106-mile line from Remsen to Lake Placid.
The new campaign, launched by Mr. Branson and Mr. Douglas at a meeting hosted by Next Stop! Tupper Lake at the train station last month, is expected to cost about $1.2 million for all the materials needed.
ARPS is in the process of applying to the U.S. Army to bring as many as 300 reservists from a special construction unit based in Wisconsin to begin replacing the ties and other structures along the corridor beginning next summer and continuing for two more summers.
Next Stop! Tupper Lake is hoping to raise in the next three years $350,000 towards the $1.2 million goal. The balance will come from grants, from ARPS, and from the state DOT. The Adirondack North Country Association, which recently won a $1.2 million grant to develop a combined rail and trail corridor between Lake Placid and Ray Brook, is also a sponsor of the current rail restoration effort that is beginning here. The group's goal is to push the combination trail to Saranac Lake, and then eventually to Tupper Lake.
The plan is to widen the railroad's ballast to accommodate both the trains each summer, and hikers, bikers and snowmobilers in the various seasons. Many railroad operations in this country and Canada offer rail and trail facilities.
Donations to "On Track to Saranac...Rail and Trail" can be made online at
http://nextstoptupperlake.org or can be sent to Next Stop! Tupper Lake, PO Box 842, Tupper Lake, NY 12986.
Information about the fundraising campaign can be obtained by visiting http://nextstoptupperlake.org, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting any of the following committee members: Chiprle and Dan Mecklenburg, Tom and Susan Lawson, Beverly Brownell, Don Dew Jr., David Tomberlin, Faith Bedore, Charlene McCulloch, Sandy Strader and Dan McClelland.