36.84 km 120874.56 feet 22.89 mi 11337.00 seconds 188.95 minutes 3.15 hours 7.27 mi/hr
Went down to Watertown to keep my daughter company on her trip to take the GREs. Since the weather report looked good, I brought my bike. Went exploring the Black River Trail. Started in downtown Watertown. Found lots of great things. I wasn't sure where the railbed was ridable, so I started at the beginning. The rails are still in Central Street and N. Hamilton St.. The railbed is gated on the west side of Hunt Street, but is (mostly) free of brush on the east side. I was able to ride from there to the Black River Trail trailhead. Two bridges were out. The first stream was jumpable. Just to the east of the stream was a granite memorial to "John B. Goehl" dated 1846-1877. The memorial looked quite new. Strange! I had to wade through the water that the second bridge used to cross. Took my shoes off for that. It's just to the west of the new trailhead.
The Black River Trail
The Black River Trail starts in Huntingtonville and nominally ends just short of Black River (pictures above left and right). There's a trailhead in Huntingtonville and Black River. The Black River end is crushed stone and isn't marked as a trailhead. It's labelled as a picnic area and canoe carry. For whatever reason they didn't pave the trail all the way into Black River. Also, the unpaved portion leaves the railbed and re-uses a portion of the abandoned Woodard Hill Rd. The railbed is used as a farm road by a farmer. It's passable but quite muddy in places.
Past Black River the railbed is used as an ATV trail. I entered the trail from SR3 just east of Black River. As is typical of an ATV trail, they have carved out muddy spots which accumulate water and become puddles. A power line enters and leaves the trail going towards Felts Mills. There is a beautiful stone bridge crossing Felts Mills Creek. UPDATE: a year later, in September 2007, I rode to this point from Carthage. UPDATE: the trail paving will be finished soon.
Back in Watertown, I found the Black River Paper Company. They have a boxcar out in front of their building, sitting on an old siding. The railroad it was connected to has been gone for at least ten years now. It seems to have been painted about three years ago. It has standard railroad markings, but the side is labelled "Blue Diamond Hardware" with smaller "Black River Paper Company". I suspect that the owner of Blue Diamond Hardware is a railfan.
See Flickr for more photos.