Friday, May 09, 2008

Cambridge Life 5/9/08 Cambridge Life 5/9/08

Photos by John Carlson and June Mohan)

Weekend Happenings in Cambridge, NY:
1. Saturday, May 10, is the annual Mother's Day Clean-up
2. Saturday night Hubbard Hall presents an Evening of Jazz with local resident Bruce Williamson and Art Lande - tickets still available
3.Sunday is Mother's Day - you can find wonderful gift ideas for the Mom in your life at one of our many local shops.

The Cambridge Buzz received an interesting email that I'd like to share with all our readers.

Dear Cambridge Buzz,

What can you tell us about the railroad tracks that link Cambridge to neighboring towns? I've heard that a passenger train once ran between Salem and Cambridge. Why did it stop? The tracks are there.... The freight trains are there (so the tracks can't be in terrible shape).... So why has the public transportation niche remained empty? I would expect plenty of enthusiasm for a local passenger train! - Salem Reader

Photos courtesy of the Community Partnership

A train ran, run by NE Rail and the Battenkill Rambler, ran for 2 years from 1999-2001. The Battenkill Rambler was a not for profit linear museum with two passenger cars. Due to the high cost of running the train it stopped.

Additionally, there is a portion of track in Shushan that is not qualified for passenger traffic – this is being address now. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of demand for the passenger scenic train – for a variety of reasons. The terrain is not as attractive as other nearby scenic passenger trains, it was run by volunteers, the engine and fuel was rented from NE Rail and each trip cost approximately $1,000 per run – meaning that a minimum of 100 passengers, at $10 a ticket, had to ride just to cover costs – per day.

The train did have wonderful ride and dine packages with the Cambridge Hotel and Fort Salem Theater – which were successful (though the trip was long), the Salem Chamber of Commerce did an amazing Christmas and Halloween train – meaning that on specialty occasions the train did well, but alas this was not enough to support the ongoing costs to run and maintain the train cars.

Photos courtesy of the Community Partnership

The good news is there is a group of organizations including the Salem Chamber of Commence, the Community Partnership and the Towns and Villages of the Battenkill Valley who are eager to get the train moving again. The area has more service than it did 10 years ago, and a focused effort to bring tourism to the area is underway. So it is possible now with a larger broader community involved that the Battenkill Rambler could once again make a go of it.

However, all of this is contingent on the tracks in Shushan becoming compliant for passenger traffic and some serious fundraising to get the passenger cars up to code and fix some vandalism that occurred while they sat stationary.

If any of the our readers have questions about the area's history, send them to Debra Pearlman and I'll try and get you an answer.


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