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KELLY'S KORNER: Smooth ride to Tupper Lake

Joe Kelly
Sentinel columnist
Posted 9/25/22

As the special Adirondack Railroad train, which everyone was calling the “Inaugural Train,” pulled into Tupper Lake station, something red on a telephone pole caught my attention.

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KELLY'S KORNER: Smooth ride to Tupper Lake

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As the special Adirondack Railroad train, which everyone was calling the “Inaugural Train,” pulled into Tupper Lake station, something red on a telephone pole caught my attention. Red roses had been nailed high up on the pole. 

I was sitting on the left side of a passenger car. The train was close to the station and going slow. I’ve ridden many trains and seen lots of curious things, but red roses on a telephone pole was a first.

The train was crossing a main street in Tupper Lake. Police officers were holding back vehicles. People on both sides of the train were taking pictures. It was after one o’clock.

We had left Thendara station, just outside Old Forge, at 11:05. Our engine — operated by Peter Gores, who has forgotten more about railroads than most people will ever know — was pulling six cars, including coach cars, a dining car, dome car, and a first class lounge car.  

The way north was scenic. Most of it wild and beautiful with no signs of civilization. From a train is the only way most people will ever get to see this portion of the Adirondack Park.

The tracks up north, owned by New York State, have been improved. The ride was smooth, so smooth that many people, including me, commented. We were surprised at how smooth.

I’ve ridden every long distance Amtrak train in this country. If ever I was on a smoother ride I’ve forgotten, and I’ve got a good memory.

At crossings and places where camps were within walking distance to the tracks, people stood and did what people have always done when a train passes them. They waved.

Many people along the way to Tupper Lake had cameras. After all these years they wanted a picture of history being made.

The reason people were calling this the “Inaugural Train” to Tupper Lake was because this was the first time the train had run here since 1981.

A couple of points:

1) The Adirondack Railroad will be running more trains to Tupper Lake and regular scheduled service will start next summer.

2) Trains running back and forth from Utica and Thendara and Tupper Lake won’t be an overnight economic bonanza for the communities involved, but train passengers and their dollars will sure help. I noted that Kelly Blazosky, president of Oneida County Tourism, was a passenger on last Tuesday’s inaugural run. She looked pleased as did other dignitaries.  

3) There are a few paid employees on the Adirondack Railroad, but most are volunteers. There wouldn’t be an Adirondack Railroad without the volunteers. Many have been involved for years. There is something addicting about trains. 

4) The first-ever passenger train, operated by the Mohawk and Malone Railroad arrived in Tupper Lake on July 16, 1892. That was 130 years ago.

As for those red roses on the telephone pole, many people were convinced the train would never return to Tupper Lake. In fact, one community person, whose name I don’t know, was quoted back in 1981 as saying this: “Trains will come back to Tupper Lake when roses grow on telephone poles.”

The train returned last Tuesday and the roses are growing.  

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