Snowmobile Club Licensed to Use Former Saratoga & North Creek Railroad Line | News, Sports, Jobs

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A Saratoga & North Creek Railway locomotive is parked on tracks near North Creek in September 2017. (Company Photo – Aaron Cerbone)

Snowmobiles will again be able to use part of the Warren County rail line starting this winter, and some are calling for more public use of the rail line as no rail activity is expected in the immediate future.

The Thurman Connection Snowmobile Club had used a section of the railroad right-of-way for a snowmobile trail for years when there were no winter trains.

Saratoga & North Creek Railway restarted winter trains in 2012 and ran them in 2018 before deciding to withdraw from the area this spring.

The Athol-based snowmobile club has applied for permission to return to areas along the trail in recent weeks, and the county’s public works committee accepted the request on Thursday.

With some pushing for the conversion of the railway line to a multi-use trail, the development of the snowmobile has sparked a wide discussion about whether those who want to walk the tracks should be allowed.

Johnsburg supervisor Andrea Hogan said people “Will use it” when there are no more trains around.

“It is a public good”, said Claudia Braymer, supervisor of Glens Falls 3rd Ward. “I would like it to be open to the public.

Horicon supervisor Matt Simpson, chairman of the public works committee, said there was still rail activity on the line as SNCR moved equipment. And there are liability and safety issues regarding the public use of the rails that do not exist with the insured snowmobile club.

“Right now it’s an intrusion. It is an open and active railway line ”, Simpson said.

Opening it up to walkers could create confusion if rail activity resumes, as some of those walking the tracks may not know the trains are returning, Simpson said.

He pointed out that there are many walking and hiking trails in the area which are accessible to the public where there are no railroad issues.

The tracks are also difficult to navigate, as are the right-of-way and gravel bridges, and the railway ties are coated with dangerous creosote.

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