The Adirondack Scenic Railroad commemorated its 20th year of service to the area with a series of rail-themed events on Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2 at Thendara Station.
Don Chaurdruc, Adirondack Railroad road foreman and coordinator of the event, said he was overwhelmed by the number of people who turned out to enjoy the caboose rides, tours of a private rail car, excursions, historic slideshow presentations and other railroad-related activities.
“The turnout was so great that I don’t know where to start. People were lined up both days to experience the locomotive stimulator, and the caboose rides sold out both days as well. We estimate that about 1,400 people came out for the celebration. We are extremely pleased,” Chaurdruc said.
Of that estimated crowd, 500 took advantage of the bus shuttle service into Old Forge to tour the village, shop and eat, he added.
The slideshow at Thendara Town Hall, featuring the Adirondack division of the railroad from the 1930’s to the present, drew so many railroad and local history buffs that they had to run out and borrow more chairs for seating, according to Chaurdruc.
Among the passengers on one of the rail trips was a group of representatives from the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) who turned out in support of the railroad’s current expansion effort of laying 12 miles of new ties between Carter Station and Big Moose.
“Due to the expansion, people will be able to reach Big Moose by rail by mid-October. The extension of tracks is great for tourism because the train will now be able to take people back and forth to bike, fish, kayak, and hike who would otherwise be unable to get up there,” said Dick Bird, vice-president of ANCA.
Chaudruc said that what struck him most about the weekend was not only the outpouring of enthusiasm by “railfans,” but also the number of railroad curiosity seekers.
“I believe we really opened the eyes of a lot of people who have never been on a train before. That’s what we’re trying to do here,” Chaudruc said.
And there will be plenty of upcoming opportunites for rail veterans and newbies alike to take advantage of.
Weekend fall foliage tours have begun and special Pumpkin Train trips are scheduled for October 13, 14, 20 and 21.
The Adirondack Scenic Railroad also takes part in the annual Adirondack Christmas on Main Street event, bringing trainloads of folks to the area from Utica’s Union Station on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.
This year’s event has been extended into the next weekend as well and train transportation will be available on Saturday, December 1.
More information can be found at the website: www.adirondackrr.com.