Tahawus: Railroad to a Mine, Does it have a Future?
One of the most interesting railroads I have encountered runs from Saratoga Springs, New York;
through North Creek to the old McIntyre iron ore mine in Tahawus (Township of Newcomb).
History of the McIntyre mine:
It was the first railroad to go into the interior of the Adirondack Mountains. Begun in 1865, just after the Civil War, it was an attempt to tap the iron ore resources near Sanford Lake and connect with Great Lakes shipping at Sacketts Harbor (or Ogdensburg). It never reached the St. Lawrence but did finally reach the McIntyre mine - in 1944!
Railroad history in the area:
We have previously covered the old Delaware & Hudson route between Saratoga Springs, New York and North Creek with an industrial trackage to Tahawus (Newcomb).
The "Sanford Lake Branch" as the Delaware & Hudson Railway called the railroad north of North Creek was built by the D&H during WW II for the account of The Defense Plant Corporation, an Instrumentality of the United States. The mine was also built and owned by the same entity, and operated under contract by National Lead Corporation. The D&H operated the railroad as an industrial plant track for the account of National Lead, so material from McIntyre Mine was billed from North Creek, not Tahawus. The operation of the Sanford Lake Branch was paid for by National Lead on a time and material basis, not as a freight charge. Defense Plant Corporation paid the D&H for track maintenance. The ownership of the Sanford Lake Branch remained with the Federal Government, and was transferred to the General Services Administration after Defense Plant Corporation was disbanded.
New Iowa Pacific short line seeks to operate New York route
Where is Tahawus?
Defense Plant Corporation
Locomotives and Rolling Stock
What is buried in "them thar hills?
Tahawus reference section
, The federal government gave its approval May 14, 2012 for plans to reopen a 30-mile stretch of Adirondack rail line connecting North Creek with a former mine at Tahawus near the High Peaks. The federal Surface Transportation Board approved a request by the Chicago-based Saratoga and North Creek Railway to resume freight traffic on the line, which has been shut down since 1989.
By Ken Kinlock at email@example.com
Check out some of my blogs on Tahawus.
Freight to Roll Down North Creek tracks soon
Tahawus: Railroad to a Mine. Does it have a Future?
North Creek, NY
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|See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History|
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New Iowa Pacific short line seeks to operate New York route
Saratoga and North Creek Railway L.L.C. recently filed an exemption notice with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to operate a 29.7-mile line, known as the Tahawus Line, between North Creek and Newcomb, N.Y.
The private track is owned by NL Industries Inc., which plans to sell the line to Saratoga and North Creek in the near future, according to the STB filing. The short line plans to provide common-carrier rail service over the line connecting to its existing track at North Creek and extending to a connection with Canadian Pacific in Saratoga Springs. The transaction could be consummated by late November, according to the filing.
Saratoga and North Creek is owned by the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad, a subsidiary of Permian Basin Railways Inc., which in turn is owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings L.L.C. Permian Basin and Iowa Pacific formed Saratoga and North Creek to operate the entire Tahawus Line between Newcomb and Saratoga Springs. In two previous STB proceedings, the board authorized the short line to operate between Saratoga Springs and North Creek.
Iowa Pacific Holdings (IPH) was formed in March 2001 to acquire railroads and create rail-related businesses. IPH has focused on smaller feeder railroads with annual revenues of $10 million and less. IPH has successfully acquired and operated six railroads – while working to increase their value to rail customers and the communities they serve, through improvements in services, facilities and equipment.
IPH formed Permian Basin Railways (PBR) to acquire the Texas – New Mexico Railroad and the West Texas & Lubbock Railway in May 2002. In December 2005, PBR acquired the San Luis & Rio Grande Railroad. Chicago Terminal Railroad opened in 2006 and Mount Hood was acquired in 2007. British American Railway Services, including the Dartmoor Railway and the Weardale Railway, opened in 2008.
IPH management is a diverse group, collectively with hundreds of years of rail-industry experience. IPH managers have backgrounds with class I railroads, shortlines, Amtrak, railroad supply, intermodal, trucking companies; transloading, car repair and much more. With such wide-ranging expertise, IPH is uniquely capable of devising creative solutions to transportation problems.
IPH continuously seeks opportunities to increase rail freight business on its railroads through growth of existing traffic, adding contiguous lines, relocation of new customers on-line or in conjunction with trucking to non-rail-served sites. In addition, IPH continues to explore expansion of its portfolio through development of passenger business, car storage, car repairs, car leasing, property development, as well as continuing to seek additional rail acquisitions.
EDITORIAL: Freight line can benefit Adirondack Park
The last time environmentalists fought freight rail service from North Creek to Tahawus, there was a war on.
Early in the 1940s, the federal government sought to put an industrial rail spur in to Tahawus to mine ilmenite, a strategic mineral used in the production of titanium, needed for the war effort.
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North Creek is famous for being home to the first downhill ski center in New York State.
North Creek is surrounded by the foothills of the southern Adirondacks and offers visitors
a wide choice of hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Nearby lakes and rivers accomodate canoers, kayakers and rafters.
The Gore Mountain ski area has been expanded greatly over the past five years, with new trails,
gondola, and quad chairlift, which has increased trails by 40%.
North Creek is famous as the destination of the original 'Snow Train' in the early 1930's. The North Creek Railroad is remembered in history as the place where Theodore Roosevelt learned of the death of President McKinley on September 14, 1901 and of his own succession to the presidency of the United States.
Check out the North Creek Depot Museum
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An old postcard of the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs purchased from
Saratoga Springs, also known as simply Saratoga, is a city in Saratoga County, New York. The population was 26,586 at the 2010 census. The name reflects the presence of mineral springs in the area.
Another site about Saratoga
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If you have "GOOGLE EARTH©" installed on your computer, you can "fly" these routes with these "PLACEMARKs"
The New York Central's Mohawk Division
Harlem Division New York Central Railroad
The West Shore of the New York Central
The New York Central along the Hudson River
The New York Central Adirondack Division to Lake Placid
What's left of the New York Central's Putnam Division?
The Peoria & Eastern Railway
Troy & Schenectady Railroad
New York Central Catskill Mountain Branch
Iowa Pacific replaces the Upper Hudson River Railroad as Warren County's official rail operator.
Joint negotiations between Iowa Pacific, the town of Corinth and the Canadian-Pacific Railroad,
which owns the rails south of Corinth, have brought trains from North Creek to Saratoga for the first time since 1956.
Read more about tourist trains in Warren County.
Shown below are maps of where the tourist trains go in 2011. These maps are from the Saratoga and North Creek Railway L.L.C.
|Where does the Tourist Train Go/Stop?|
Saratoga and North Creek Railway L.L.C. begins
in Saratoga Springs
(usually just referred to as Saratoga)
It features an AMTRAK connection, is on an Interstate Highway (starts in New York City, Buffalo or Binghampton)
It has other attractions (the Saratoga racetrack and others).
Lots of great places to stay: start with the Adelphi Hotel.
NOTE: following stops are mile markers from my OLD Delaware & Hudson Railroad employee timetables which several of you bought from me on EBay (thank you). The mile markers are different from the actual Mileage because the D&H trackage was relocated from the center of town to the outskirts.
|Corinth: (16.3 miles) (641 feet above sea level). A station until at least the end of passenger service, it was previously known as Jessup's Landing. There is/was a large International Paper plant here. More about Corinth.|
|Hadley/Luzerne: Hadley (Lake Luzerne) (21.3 miles) (640 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948, was an important stage coach connection with a bridge over the Sacandaga River just south of the station. One of the most breathtaking sites in all of the Adirondacks takes place between the towns of Hadley NY and Lake Luzerne NY. This is the site of Rockwell Falls. The Hudson River is the source of the beauty, turning and rolling down cliffs as it runs through the Adirondacks. Learn more about CorinthHadley/Luzerne|
Stoney Creek / 1000 Acres Ranch
Stony Creek (28.9 miles) (604 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948.
Enjoy Adirondack horseback trails,golf courses, ranch activities, and more at 1000 Acres Ranch Resort!
Thurman (34.6 miles) (618 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948.
See what Thurman has to offer.
The Glen (Friends Lake) (42.9 miles) (749 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948.
Authentic Adirondack lodge and market located on the Hudson River.
Ripartius / Riverside
Riverside (48.9 miles) (885 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948, it was known as Riparius Station. Stages left from here for Schroon Lake, Pottersville, Chestertown.
North Creek (56.5 miles now but 57.2 miles in 1875) (1028 feet above sea level).
A station until at least 1956 (end of regular passenger service), it had numerous stagecoach connections.
"Milepost 60" (2.8 miles beyond North Creek station)(1037 feet above sea level). End of tracks until 1944.
NO, the toursit train does not go here YET!
Sanford Lake (Tahawus) (90 miles) (1740 feet above sea level).
This extension was built by National Lead Co. and the Defense Plant Corporation (Federal agency) beginning in 1941. It was owned by the government for a long time because New York's Conservation Department protested sale.
|Here is a picture of a locomotive in the museum before heading for the new railroad to Tahawus. It has not, of course, been repainted yet.|
|Tahawus Reference Section and Links to Important Information|
|The Tahawus mine site is located near the abandoned town of Tahawus, New York, in the High Peaks region of the state. The mine has a long history in the area, beginning with the construction of the Mcintyre blast furnace in the area in the early 1800's. Iron ore was mined nearby and iron and wrought iron were produced from the furnace and works. That operation was abandoned when the impurities in the ore were making it difficult for the existing technology to properly process it. Those impurities included titanium. During WW2 National Lead opened the Tahawus mine for processing the titanium that was found there. The operation closed in 1982, and the buildings were demolished in 2005-2006.|
The End of the Tahawus Plant
It was reported that there was still about a billion dollars worth of ore in the ground and that NL Industries had discovered two rich titanium ore veins in the big open pit in 1989. It would, however, probably take another national crisis to re-open the mine.
The Adirondack Branch
Learn its fascinating history. In addition to the facts and photographs, there are also many scale drawings available of stations and other structures for those making scale models. See news and current events.
|North Creek route improvements presentation to the Warren County Board|
|Saratoga & North Creek Railroad Oct 2011 videos|
|Firm seeks to revive old railway, make railroad improvments|
Proposed bike trail:
As much as I see the recreational value, and tourist dollars a rail trail will bring, these people are out of touch. The railroad will bring much more value, in that it will not only pay taxes, but enable a vital national resource to be exploited to our benefit (rather than China's). This has far greater usefulness than an easy place to ride bikes.
|Scientists Discover New Method of Rare Earth Extraction from Titanium Dioxide|
|Sanford Lake Branch on the Surface Transportation Board|
|Delaware and Hudson Railroad Adirondack Branch Memories|
New rail operator thrilled with results (December 2011)
While passenger business has been strong, Iowa Pacific has acquired 30 miles of track connecting the existing rail line to a former titanium mine at Tahawus. It plans to rehabilitate the track so that it can begin hauling tailings left over from mining operations from the site.
The tailings, now being hauled by truck, are used in aggregates to make paving materials for highway departments.
Iowa Pacific estimates it will take six to 12 months to rehabilitate the line to Tahawus."
Snow trains on right track
Rail company sees solid niche market in local seasonal lines
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Snow trains haven't carried skiers to North Creek since the 1940s. But come Dec. 30, a Saratoga and North Creek Rail Road train will pull into the historic North Creek station with a load of passengers and their skis.
The railroad will operate snow trains Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March.
The summer excursion trains, which operated on a regular schedule and connected with Amtrak trains at Saratoga, carried 15,000 passengers. On their busiest day, they took 450 people to North Creek.
|Our favorite Short Lines|
|An old TRAINS MAGAZINE from the "old days" shows D&H ALCO road switchers going to Tahawus (Sanford Lake as D&H called it). About how Steve Scullen, a highway contractot from Cohoes, NY built the railroad.|
|Interesting Railway Stations|
|A great site, lot of New York State Author & Publisher: Richard O. Aichele|
|Some great pictures of Tahawus|
|North Creek is attracting NY City tourists|
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What is buried in "them thar hills?
Could the abandoned mines at Tahawus once again fill a critical national need?
A source of iron ore as early as the 1820s, the mines during World War II provided titanium used in manufacturing aircraft. To mine the titanium, a 30-mile federally funded rail line was built. The war ended, the mine eventually shut down, and in 1989 the rail line was abandoned.
Now, with a new owner, Chicago-based Iowa Pacific Holdings, which operates the North Creek snow trains, the rail line is expected to re-open in the next six to 12 months.
There are three million tons of tailings. Barton Mines (in North Creek) has another two million tons. The tailings, rocks left over from mining, are in demand as road aggregate.
But, the mine also contains rare earths, elements that have a range of applications from batteries and lasers to wind turbines and energy-efficient lighting.
China provides about 97 percent of the world's rare earths but has been reducing its exports, apparently to supply its own growing technology sector.
Now, with a new owner of the rail line that has also been aggressively, and successfully, expanding its passenger business to the Adirondacks, and rising costs for iron ores and rare earths, the time may be right.
Read More about Tahawus
What's with these "environmentalists"???
The quarrel over re-opening the rail line to Tahawus is driven by a not-in-my-backyard protest from the environmental groups, contends the Saratoga-North Creek Railway (SNCRR) lawyer in filings to a rail regulation board.
#The 6-million-acre Adirondack Park held in forever wild trust, but more than half the land inside the Blue Line is still private. It's a place where nature and people coexist. People don't dominate the landscape, and the landscape shouldn't dominate the people.
#Though the tracks running out to the remote, high-peak wilderness in Newcomb have been quiet since 1989, that's not so distant in the memory of people who've spent their lives in the region. Newcomb Supervisor George Canon was featured in an article from the Adirondack Park Agency when the state purchased thousands of Tahawus acres in 2003, where he remembered a childhood in the company town at the mine. Canon, who also worked at the mine, has sent a letter of support for SNCRR, calling the redevelopment of the rail crucial to the economic future of his 500-citizen township.
#The North Country Chamber of Commerce, which spearheaded the proposal for competitive granting in the New York Open For Business campaign, earning $103 million in grants for regional projects, tossed its hat in the ring early this month with a letter of support for the rail. President Garry Douglas said rail preservation and development is a necessary part of the region's future.
#The easement for the rail line is active until 2062. The state DEC worried that the rail runs over 13 miles of the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest. So does 28N, a well-traveled road that connects the centers of all the local communities, and is driven by many passenger vehicles, large recreational vehicles, logging trucks and other heavy equipment. It's already a people-frequented area.
#As asserted by SNCRR's lawyer, reopening the line would alleviate some of the heavy equipment traffic from the roadways. National Lead still hauls 30,000 tons of screened rock for construction and 3,000 tons of magnetite from the old mine site every year.
#Taking that volume of stone off the roads and putting in on the unused rail line would give SNCRR a dependable place to launch their freight interests, an important part of their business model.
#And, it is better for the environment.
#In the early-to-mid 19th century, and again in the mid-to-late 20th century, the open mines bustled with activity, producing high-quality ore and good jobs. The towns where operations were housed, Adirondac and Tahawus, are now only skeletons of their former selves, but still serve as attractions for tourism. Economic development can encourage interest in nature.
#The mines still hold a rich deposit of ore. Monetizing that ore may be difficult, but more efficient removal from the deep wild is key to ensuring its success. A similar problem with the cost of production kept Russian oil, much of it locked in tar sands, from being a viable business prospect. Once refining methods improved and demand grew, Russia became a major exporter of oil.
#If the National Lead mine could be reopened, it would need a reliable, cheap way to get the ore out. Shipping mine tailings out with SNCRR could be a precursor of much greater things to come.
#The environmental groups should not impede that progress
Location Maps - McIntyre Mine (National Lead Company mine), Newcomb (formerly Tahawus), Adirondack State Park,
Essex County, New York, USA
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 44° 3' 14'' North : 74° 3' 29'' West
Latitude & Longitude (Decimal Degrees): 44.0538888889 : -74.0580555556
Latitude & Longitude (Degrees plus Decimal Minutes): 44° 3.23333333333': -74° 3.48333333333'
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Defense Plant Corporation (DPC)
History: Established, August 22, 1940, to finance and supervise construction and equipping of industrial facilities operated, for the most part, by private concerns sponsored by federal agencies administering defense and war programs. Dissolved, July 1, 1945. Functions, assets, and liabilities were merged with the RFC. The RFC Office of Defense Plants was established to liquidate DPC assets.
Records of the General Services Administration (GSA)
History: Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1957, effective June 30, 1957, transferred certain functions of the RFC to the GSA for liquidation.
See also Jesse Jones, a confident of FDR
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|See a news story on the first ski train on the revived railroad. Includes a comparison with and recollections of the original 1934 trip.|
Railroads On The Rebound
Over the last 50+ years, railroads have changed a lot. Now they are about to change again.
It is all about a combination of economic factors and climate factors.
Since 1950 , railroads have consolidated. Freight moved from a "box car mentality" to a "unit train,mentality". Passenger went from a robust business to a "caretaker" arrangement called AMTRAK. This happened as everybody could drive for free on the Interstate Highway System or fly on an airline system where the government subsidized both airlines and airports. In the meantime, railroad express and railroad post offices went "down the tubes". The old Post Office Department and the Railway Express Agency could not adjust to the new way. UPS and Fex Ex could.
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