North Creek Rail Depot rich in history
Deep in the Adirondacks, roughly 40 miles from Glens Falls, sits a piece of history that's often overlooked: The North Creek Rail Depot. In part one of his report, YNN's Matt Hunter takes a look back at the historic site where Teddy Roosevelt learned of the biggest promotion of his life.
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NORTH CREEK, N.Y. -- Known for his love of the great outdoors, it's not surprising Teddy Roosevelt would visit the Adirondacks. Unfortunately, the then Vice President's visit in September 1901 was marred by an assassination attempt on President William McKinley, who was visiting Buffalo.
"A few days later, McKinley took a turn for the worse and they sent word for Roosevelt to return to Buffalo immediately," said Bert Miner, who sits on the North Creek Depot Museum’s board of directors.
With the automobile net yet a reliable form of travel, Roosevelt's only option was to take a train from nearby North Creek to Albany, before heading west to Buffalo. Sadly, before his train left Warren County, he received dire news about McKinley's condition.
"They came to the train station and he was met by his secretary and he was informed he was the new president because McKinley had died at 2:15 that morning," Miner said.
The North Creek Rail Depot's distinction as the site where Roosevelt learned he was assuming the presidency may be a bit of history locals take pride in, but the station and railroad have a much greater significance.
First built in 1871 by Union Pacific and later operated by the Delaware Hudson Railroad, the line became an economic engine when it was extended 29 miles to the Tahawus mine near Newcomb during World War II.
"It was what we called local freight,” said Billy Bibby, the museum’s co-president. “It took care of all of the businesses up and down this line and there were several."
While passenger and mail service were discontinued in 1956, crews continued to ship more than 8,000 tons of ore out of the mine each day. After reaching North Creek, it would be sent south for manufacturing in Schenectady and Mohawk Yard.
At 19 years old, Bibby began his 37-year career on the railroad in 1963. Today he helps manage the museum and it’s scale model of the rail line.
"No one had the forethought at all to think this won't be here,” Bibby said. “That includes all of us."
Unfortunately that's what happened. When it became cheaper to import ore from overseas, the mining operation and rail line were shut down in the late 1980s. Currently, both sit dormant, offering a sobering reminder of the prosperity that once was.
"I saw it at its best and I saw it when it was terminated and it was very, very, very hard to now drive into the Tahawus region and see nothing but nothing," Bibby said.