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Old 07-06-2021, 09:56 AM   #1
Crash
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Rail Trail Status - Between Tupper and Saranac

We'll be camping at Rollins Pond next week - our 21st consecutive year. We are excited at the prospect of eventually biking all the way around Rollins Pond and also biking all the way to Tupper Lake for lunch.

Does anyone know the status of the railbed? I thought I heard that in some places the tracks have been removed. Is it ready for biking yet? And any information on the status of the two planned trail links between the old rail line and the campground?
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Old 07-06-2021, 10:17 AM   #2
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The tracks have been removed all the way from Tupper Lake to Lake Placid. The surface is now coarse ballast. This would be bikeable to some extent with a mountain bike, but maybe not yet an enjoyable ride to Tupper and back. There is also no good connection between Rollins Pond and the rail trail. And there doesn't appear to be an easy way to create one, although some effort has been made in that regard.
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Old 07-06-2021, 10:33 AM   #3
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I guess my hiking that a few years ago was a tad premature. NPT-west here ya come!
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Old 07-06-2021, 12:37 PM   #4
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According to the plan I read, they plan to hook both ends of the campground to the rail trail. That would require bridging the outlet.

tgoodwin, thanks for the info. Maybe it'll be ready for our biking next summer.
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Old 07-06-2021, 02:42 PM   #5
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I was just there last week around Little Green Pond and Hoel Pond.
The former rail bed is firm enough for a MTB tire, road bikes would just plow a furrow.
Beware there is still demolition and recovery efforts ongoing, I saw a 6 x 6 flatbed with crane rumbling along as I carried from Hoel to Turtle, not much space to duck out of the way...Once it’s all done it’s gonna be great!!

Last edited by stripperguy; 07-06-2021 at 04:44 PM..
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Old 07-06-2021, 03:06 PM   #6
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I heard somewhere also that they were planning to run a big magnet over the tracks to grab anything with iron in it out of the gravel... No idea how accurate this statement is, but it might not be a bad idea to stay off until it's been "officially" opened to bikes to avoid the potential for flat tires.
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Old 07-06-2021, 04:47 PM   #7
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I have a collection of spikes, date nails, tie plates, and such from a rail trail near me.
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Old 07-06-2021, 06:18 PM   #8
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I wonder what they do with all the rotten ties. The rails are presumably scrapped or reused, and the ballast will make a roadbed for the rail trail, but all those old ties must have a lot of unpleasant chemicals in them that kept them from rotting completely away, and the amount of material to be removed must be tremendous.
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Old 07-06-2021, 07:02 PM   #9
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Yes; creosote.

If the USFS Performance in NH is any indication, they will leave the creosote pile in the woods for years.
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Old 07-06-2021, 07:29 PM   #10
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Yes; creosote.

If the USFS Performance in NH is any indication, they will leave the creosote pile in the woods for years.
I did some limited reading on the hazards of creosote on the environment.

In a lot of cases it is used directly in water e.g. piles. I know it's also used on low load bridges on any wooden beams. I think also used on wooden break walls.

It doesn't seem particularly great for the ecosystem. It becomes more toxic as it breaks down and bioaccumulates. It is only mildly soluble in water and those are probably of an era when the ties were pressure impregnated. Apparently that makes it more difficult for the oils/tars to come into contact with water.

Those ties have been exposed to water and have been leaching something into the watershed for as long as they've been there. It's hard to say if they'll be any worse in a pile as they were sitting on the rail bed. I think grinding them up or doing anything to expose the innards will increase the rate at which they leach and eventually rot.

There doesn't seem to be a good way to dispose of them which is any better than leaving them there.

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Old 07-06-2021, 08:03 PM   #11
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Pile of ties near the fish hatchery



Pile of rails near fish hatchery



BFT (Big Freakin' Truck) on railbed near Hoel Pond

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Old 07-06-2021, 09:46 PM   #12
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Looks like a big industrial project in the wilderness. I thought we were all instructed to oppose things like that...
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Old 07-06-2021, 10:20 PM   #13
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Looks like a big industrial project in the wilderness. I thought we were all instructed to oppose things like that...
So this response seems like the last one to me.

I think you are trying to nitpick problems with this, but in reality I think the problem was created initially with putting in the tracks, and now we are simply "sleeping in the bed we made".

Boy - sure would be damn nice if we had the technical expertise and foresight to think of the end game of any chemical we toss into the environment, but that surely ain't the case. And the past 4 years we surely haven't moved in a direction that was making that any better.

FWIW - we have been using a primitive method of this treatment for a long, long time. I don't have a number, and probably no one knows for sure because eventually the wood does rot, but charring the ends of logs creates creosote and if you want to stick it in the ground for a pole and keep it from rotting, this is one way of doing that. Apparently the form of creosote from wood is slightly less toxic than that from coal, but it's something humans have been around in the past.

In the past there was a big stink about it causing cancer, because in lab rats, it would. And I remember this as a kid and always kept away from it. But now there are studies that say that there's little evidence that humans develop cancer when working with it. So who knows? Everything causes cancer in high enough concentrations.
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:00 PM   #14
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Stripperguy, thanks for the pictures. Did you see what the truck was carrying, or set up to carry? It seems like something like that would be handy for picking up the old rails, but I don't know much about such things. I suppose running trucks like that over the ballast will help compact it, at least where the wheel ruts are, and make a better base for the fine gravel.
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Old 07-07-2021, 08:14 AM   #15
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Zach,
That particular truck had a mounted hydraulic crane at the rear of its flatbed and some room between that and the cab for carrying some sort of payload. The crane looked to be the type that was made for picking up heavy loads, not for reaching high spots.
I would guess that that truck would work in conjunction with another vehicle that was built for carrying piles of metal and/or wood.
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Old 07-07-2021, 11:47 AM   #16
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As assbackwards as the state often is, it's hard to imagine the contract would be awarded if it didn't have a disposal (of the ties) component, especially since the work will be observed and scrutinized by many. But if anyone is truly concerned, I'm sure you could ask or FOIL the work plan.
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Old 07-07-2021, 11:59 AM   #17
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As assbackwards as the state often is, it's hard to imagine the contract would be awarded if it didn't have a disposal (of the ties) component, especially since the work will be observed and scrutinized by many. But if anyone is truly concerned, I'm sure you could ask or FOIL the work plan.
I'm not sure what the concern is.

Are the ties going to be better if we move them to someone else's backyard? I'm sure if any are salvageable they'll be used and snatched up by landscapers and used for retaining walls. You can buy creosote treatments to put on any wood for piles, retaining walls, poles, whatever you want to treat it for rot resistance. It's not like this stuff isn't common and in our water already.

The ones pictured look like they've been pretty damaged by removal and are already rotting. Where they move them to let them degrade the rest of the way is relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

If you want to get mad about leaving something there that has been sitting there for 100 years and is not readily recycleable, then I think you need to re-evaluate your environmental concerns. Perhaps it's a bit of an eyesore, but it will degrade faster than a lot of other "historic" stuff we let sit in the wilds.
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Old 07-07-2021, 02:58 PM   #18
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Stripperguy, that makes more sense than what I was thinking. I was imagining a truck that was designed to load and unload itself like a log truck.
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Old 07-22-2021, 06:37 PM   #19
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I read a story in the Daily Enterprise this morning that said the rotten ties are being chipped or ground, and will soon be hauled away to landfills. In the meantime nearby residents are having trouble with the smell, and health concerns.

https://www.adirondackdailyenterpris...ts-that-smell/
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Old 08-25-2021, 12:33 PM   #20
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Does anyone know what's going to happen at the Tupper end? I was there last week and at the station, there is no change (of course, that's where the train is still planned to go). I drove north to the end of Washington Street, which is next to the railroad, and could see some work on the roadbed. Of course, the planners need to accommodate both the bikers (and snowmobilers), as well as the train in that area. As an aside, the docent at the Historical Society, which is housed in the train station, said that the rail trail is going from Lake Placid to Saranac Lake (!).
At the St. Regis Outfitters, in Floodwood, the rail trail seems to be complete, with a complete layer of course ballast, perhaps bikeable with a fat tire bike.
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