Railroads in the Catskills busy this Memorial Day weekend

Ben rounds, Catskill Mountains, new york, trains, upstate new york

With CMRR’s Great Train Robbery event, DURR’s first Rip Van Winkle charter run of the season and the new Rail Explorers USA opening weekend in Phoenicia, both Ulster and Delaware Counties proudly demonstrate to visitors the rails are the place to be this holiday weekend.

DURR Rip Van Winkle Flyer charter run on Thursday, May 24.

In Delaware County, although the official opening weekend was held up due to weather induced track repair, Delaware and Ulster Railroad (DURR) ran its first revenue train of the season, a private charter. Folks were all smiles on the beautiful 75 degree Thursday as they gently rocked through the mountains on the the Rip Van Winkle Flyer. A round trip from Arkville to Roxbury and back passes through the quaint hamlet of Halcottsville and provides passengers with bucolic views of Wawaka Lake, the Round Barn and several farms along the way.

June 2 is the official kick off for public rides. Get your tickets at DURR.org. Pricing is:

• $18.00- Adults

• $12.00 – Children (ages 2-12)

• $15.00 – Discount Adult (Senior/Military/Veteran)

• Dogs are free!

In Ulster County, you can participate in the creatively curated Great Train Robbery on Saturday, May 25. This is my personal fav. The website describes it as follows:

“Board our exciting journey back in time as the Catskill Mountain Railroad celebrates the legend of the Great Train Robbery – the classic 1903 silent movie by the same name – shot on the New York state rails. This interactive adventure will kick off at the Westbrook Station in Kingston, NY and travel up the Hurley Flats. Expect the unexpected as this excursion includes a stop at a local festival with live music and vendors serving up some of the best local flavors in town. Seating is open, so it’s suggested you arrive approximately a half hour early and pick your spot in one of our covered flat cars or inside one of our historic coaches. Please make our crew aware in if someone in your party may have difficulty navigating steps and require additional assistance or enjoy and alternate detour.”

The Ben Rounds Band will be waiting for you as you break along the way, playing their recognizable mix of country and rock covers. Ben is a major supporter of saving the rails in Ulster County and has played several fundraisers contributing to the cause, and his music never disappoints!

This is an event for the whole family and not to be missed. Visit CatskillMountainRailroad.com for more details and to purchase tickets. Pricing is:

• $18.00- Adults

• $12.00 – Children (ages 2-12)

• $16.00 – Discount Adult (Senior/Military/Veteran)

•  $0.00- Toddler (Under two on lap)

If you have a little more coin, and energy, you can ride the new Rail Explorers USA rail bikes through scenic Ulster County. Boarding takes place at the historic Phoenicia station, aka the Empire State Railroad Museum.

Rail bikes lined up for their inaugural run following the Rail Explorers USA Catskill Division Ceremony this past Wednesday. Please ask permission for photo usage.

In fact, trail without rail advocates, UC politicians Mike Hein and Kathy Nolan, who some consider to be the driving force behind the currently segmented (interrupted, compromised, decimated, however you choose to view it) rail line, stood on this hallowed ground on Wednesday during the ribbon cutting ceremony for Rail Explorers. Paul LaPierre, on the board  of  the ESRM*, in an unexpected gesture, wholeheartedly welcomed them, thanking Ulster County for its assistance in cleaning up the museam property and for the promise of a permit to keep equipment and cars on the property for repair and display purposes.

I digress.

My point is, if you miss riding along the mighty Esopus, as the CMRR has not been able to operate there since the loss of their lease in 2016, you can still do an eight mile round trip pedal through Mt. Tremper, across Rt. 28, stopping just a mile shy of where the tracks now end. Bring plenty of water and snacks. The beautiful tour, though electric motor assisted on the way back, is still a workout, so eat your wheaties! Bring your rain gear too, as Rail Explorers operates in mild to moderately inclement weather.

For all details and to book, go to RailExplorers.net. Pricing is:

• $42.50 pp (2 persons on Tandem Rider)

• $37.50 pp  (4 riders on not Quad Explorer)

• 10 % Discount for groups of 10 or more

*****
Please stay tuned for full, objective coverage of the Rail Explorers USA Ribbon Ceremony. In the meantime, enjoy this weekend safely, be thankful for every moment given to you and those you love, never forgetting the price paid by those who fight for our country, and their families.

*Please note a previous version of this article referred to Paul LaPierre as “head of the ESRM”. He has since brought to attention he is only a member of its board.

8 thoughts on “Railroads in the Catskills busy this Memorial Day weekend

  1. Theres a couple of things I don’t understand here. Paul LaPierre head of the museum. When did that happen? Ulster county helped clean up the museum? Just what did they clean up? I could say a few more things here but Ill bite my tong.

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    1. Hello dvd – I stand corrrected. Though I remember Mr. LaPierre being introduced as in charge at some point, I must have been mistaken and will fix. UC did come in, as mentioned during Mr. LaPierre’s speech that day at the RE ribbon cutting, and help clean all the brush around the ERSM. Members of the museum worked tirelessly inside in prep for the big day, and should also receive due credit. Apologies for just seeing this comment! Its presence got lost in the Ethernet tangle that is wordpress. Thank you for you interest and for reading my article. Best, Rebecca Andre

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  2. Aahhhhh, how great indeed to see the rails alive and well.
    Once the season gets in geer the rails will be shiny once again. It is a wonderful sight to see, though even better in person, but alas, I wasn’t able to be there. Well, when I finally relocate to Ulster county, I do hope to be around the tracks more often.
    A big thank you goes out to all the wonderful people who are doing a fantastic job in keeping this line alive.
    – Dr. Robert A. Cospito.

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  3. Just a small correction—-I am not the president of the Empire State Railway Museum, as stated in the part about Rail Explorers, but I am a member of the Board. Also, the mentioned permit is to allow the ESRM use of the track from Bridge Street to the east end of our station for car movement and display. In exchange we are to keep the weeds in check. Our cars should not to be confused with the cars and equipment of the Catskill Mountain Railroad, parked across from the station on their property.

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    1. Mr. LaPierre – Thank you for your interest and response. I must apologize, the short editor version of WP did not alert me to all of these comments! Logging on today in the main editor I saw 3 comments pending. I also apologize for calling you the “head of the ESRM”, I am almost positive we had been introduced that way in the past, back when Ben Rounds and I approached you regarding our work on Disappearing Rails. I will correct ASAP. I am not confusing the CMRR equipment with yours. Lastly, I believe I explained the permit correctly, and I have on record the fact that UC came in and just prior to the RE event and helped clean up the brush. The good folks at the ESRM also worked tirelessly in prep for that day, please correct me if I am wrong. Best, Rebecca Andre

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