summer operating schedule for 2012. Daily passenger service will begin this Saturday, May 26 and continue through late October. SNCR and its parent company, Iowa Pacific Holdings, expect ridership this summer could approach 24,000 passengers – double last summer’s number - due to a longer season and expanded schedule.
At a news conference last week announcing the summer schedule, Town of Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow stated “Last year when trains began rolling, the results surpassed our wildest hopes. It saved businesses and provided an economic boon to our area.”
Photo credit: Times Union
Track upgrades planned for later this year could help broaden appeal and increase ridership, particularly for the winter Snow Train. According to the Times Union, the railroad plans to improve 18 miles of track to boost train speeds to 40 mph from the current 30 mph. Those upgrades would reduce the travel time between Saratoga Springs and North Creek from two hours to 90 minutes each way.
Tourists arriving in North Creek this summer will find some new activities. The large retail space on Main Street that was formerly occupied by the Mountain and Boardertown ski shop has been has been renovated and is expected to open next month as The Exchange, a marketplace featuring items produced by local craftsmen.
expanded schedule of summer operations. Scenic gondola rides will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays May 26 through July 1 and September 8 through October 7. The gondola will operate daily July 7 through September 2. Train / gondola packages are available at SNCR's website. The gondola can be used to access downhill mountain biking as well as guided and self-guided hikes. There will be a climbing wall, disc golf and other activities at the base area. An extensive schedule of events is being offered at the mountain, including yoga retreats, mountain biking camps, photography camps and cooking classes.
Last year, before the Saratoga North Creek Railway began its inaugural summer season and amid a wave of North Creek business closings, ORDA and Gore were criticized for failing to support summer tourism in North Creek. When I later spoke with Gore's Emily Stanton about the role Gore envisioned for itself during the summer months, Emily stated "If the town continues to see this (summer operations) as a priority, we’d be happy to underwrite a plan with them." Gore and ORDA deserve a lot of credit for coming through with a substantial calendar of summer activities for 2012. Between the railroad and Gore's summer operations, North Creek seems positioned for one of the best summers it has seen in a long time.