Sat, 09 Sep 2006

Ride starting Fri Sep 8 13:13:23 2006

55.82 km 183142.20 feet 34.69 mi 12925.00 seconds 215.42 minutes 3.59 hours 9.66 mi/hr

This is part of my series on Riding the Rutland.

Longest ride this season for me: 35 miles. Felt like a wimp on the way back because I was riding into a 15 mph wind, and hit a bonk. Ouch. But the way out was simply marvelous, riding with the wind. Hit the Rutland railbed shortly after crossing into Clinton County. I rode all the way from Chateaugay because I wanted to make the ride longer (mistake), and because I wasn't sure quite where I could get on the railbed. There is practically nothing left of the railbed all the way from Chateaugay to the Clinton County border, because it ran so close to the highway. In many cases it ran straight through people's back yards. No way they would tolerate use of it as a trail. It could only have survived if somebody had bought it and preserved it as a trail, but nobody was doing that in 1963.

Going east from Chateaugay, the first point at which the railbed is still a right of way is at County Line Road. Unfortunately, it's also gated and posted no trespassing. I went to the next road, CR 9, and found it gated and posted on both sides. Got the owner's name going east, and went back to the convenience store at the corner of US 11. Called the owner, Richard Decoss. Too bad -- not home. I thought I'd ask the store clerk if she knew him. She was nonplussed because .... he's the owner of the store, Dick's Country Store and Music Oasis. and he was over in the other room. Asked him for permission and got it, no problem!

I was able to ride from there straight through to Churubusco. It's labelled as snowmobile trail 8C. In the hamlet, the railroad went through people's front yards, so they went to the effort of obliterating any trace of it. No problem since there's a road parallel to the railbed about 70' to the north. Hopped back on the railbed, which is now a full-fledged dirt road. It's used to get to a stone quarry which used to be rail-served. East of Clinton Mills, the railroad goes through a short (10') cut. Somebody is mining the stones from the edges of the cut, putting them on pallets and shrink-wrapping them.

The railroad heads due south at this point, continuing on through field, forest, and wetland. Lots of wetlands. Goes about 30' over a small creek on a fill. Good thing it was a fill and not a bridge, although .... I'll bet that if you dig down into the fill, you'll find that it was originally a wooden trestle. As the trestles got old, the railroads would build a culvert over the stream, and use dump cars to bury the trestle. Cheaper and less disruptive of railroad operations than building a new trestle.

At Bull Run Road, the other side of the road was posted "No ATVs", and was severely grassed-over. Somebody mows it; you can see that, but I think they're associated with the snowmobile club. I went in a little ways, since I wasn't riding an ATV, but the grass got too tall for me beyond Brandy Brook, and I could see that the railbed was brushed over beyond that. So I turned back. I took a look at Brandy Brook to see if the bridge abutments had any USGS bench marks, and found one on the north side of the west abutment.

Turned around and headed home. On the way, I ran into Ellenburg Depot to see if the southern end of that section was accessible. No hope. The depot itself is an active business strongly signed "No Trespassing. All Visitors Report to Office." It's likely that they're trying to discourage ATVers or snowmobilers from attempting to use the railbed. Other than the depot being an obvious depot (and on Station Road, to boot), there is no sign of the railroad. The highway crews took out the north abutment of the bridge over US11 and the Great Chazy River, but the south abutment remains as a beautiful cut stone structure.

I turned and went home, uphill and upwind. The rest of this posting comes from other research (automobile) trips.

The Rutland railbed is completely overgrown on the south side of the river. There is essentially no sign that a railroad ever went through the area all the way through Dannemora Crossing, Forest, Irona (although there are ruins of rail-served buildings there), Altona, and Woods Falls. Finally, in Mooers Forks you can see several rail-served buildings, and on the north side of town some snowmobilers and ATVers have been able to carve out a few miles of the railbed. It continues on to Mooers, where it becomes overgrown again. The bridge over the Great Chazy River at Twin Bridges is out, and somebody has used the railbed as their driveway. Very little of the railbed is open between Mooers and Rouses Point.

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