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Ride the Ski Train
by Dick Healy

Skiers from downstate New York, particularly metropolitan New York City, will be repeating skiing history this winter by riding Amtrak trains to Saratoga Springs, 30 miles north of Albany, the state’s capital. At Saratoga skiers can board the North Creek Rail Road to North Creek, site of the lengendery Ski Bowl where shuttle buses will transport them to nearby Gore Mountain Ski Center, the second largest New York State ski resort. Gore is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) an authority that also operates Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid and its several other Olympic venues.

Ski trains made the same journey in the early 1940s, however, that was long before Gore existed. Those pioneer skiers grasped onto fast moving rope tows to reach the Ski Bowl’s top, and did their sliding down on long wooden skis on take-what-you-get natural snow. There wasn’t any snowmaking or fancy snow grooming in those days.

Fast forward to 2011, with Gore celebrating its 50th year, and now connected to the original Bowl via the Hudson Chair that was opened in 2010, adding 900 vertical feet to Gore’s trail network, the mountain boast 2,500 vertical feet and some 422 acres of ski/board terrain.

Ed Ellis, president of Iowa Pacific Holdings, the man behind North Creek Railroad’s revival was in town this past week, letting everyone know that the new rail service, based on the number of riders on the company’s “The Polar Express” train is exceeding all expectations. Ellis further expects that the trains scheduled to run Friday through Sundays – beginning December 30 to March 31, 2012 from Saratoga Station to North Creek would attract thousands during that key ski period.

I’ll be in North Creek Sunday, Dec 18 where I’ll have an opportunity to ride the train’s dome car –breakfast included- on that northern portion between North Creek and Thurman, approximately a two-hour round-trip. New York’s scenic Adirondack Mountains (part of the six million acre Adirondack Park) offers spectacular vistas.

The bottom line is that you can leave your vehicles in New York City and have a relaxed weekend of travel and fun on Gore’s slopes, or even at nearby cross-country resorts. There’s plenty of bed-base in North Creek and an equal number of fine dining establishments to be had. We will be staying at the Copperfield Inn Resort in downtown North Creek where the free shuttle bus to Gore, or to the Ski Bowl, comes by about every 45 minutes. Oh, yes, check out the several ski & Stay package deals now offered in North Creek.

More by Dick Healy




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