Transit Adventures

The Scenic Adirondack to the namesake and old Ferry Champlain (across its namesake lake) to Burlington

I track the Adirondack using my technology and notice it has arrived in Albany 25 minutes late. I unfortunately have no idea how long the engine change will actually take so I return to Schenectady station at about 11:17. I don’t want to wander away further since I don’t know how long the engine change will take in Albany and the app doesn’t update itself fast enough to be useful in this situation. Knowing just how much of a city is around the Schenectady Station it is a place I’ll have to plan another (probably longer) layover in. I finally wander into the AmStation. It is empty, including the ticket window. I get a photo essay before the agent reappears with a baggage cart and tells me the train will be 10-15 minutes late and that everyone is already up on the platform waiting. I get a full photo essay of the platform, including a Norfolk Southern freight stopped in the station.

At 11:39 we get an announcement on the crisp pa system that Adirondack Train #69 should arrive in the next few minutes on track 2, the only one it can to head north to Montreal.

At 11:43 the train pulls in, with a northeast regional cafe car and I notice just blue seat checks for those going to Montreal. There very few in my section of the train all put into the front 3 cars. The consist consists of the P42 Locomotive (a P32AC-DM pulled the train north to Albany). The train has gotten an extra car since my last trip with three Amfleet Is in the front, two Amfleet IIs with a Northeast Regional branded Amfleet I cafe car in between. Strangely I’m directed to the last car a more comfortable (and wider windowed) Amfleet II. I snag what are the last set of seat. We leave at 11:45, 15 minutes late and immediately curve away from the usual Syracuse line. I notice a couple of just blue seat checks and most written out with destinations. None are going to Montreal, they must all be in the front 3 Amfleet I what makes no sense. The longer ride should be the ones getting the more comfortable ride, not smaller windows and less legroom.

  • 11:49 — Cross the Mohawk River, I’m fairly sure hearing the clicky-clack of jointed rail. The conductor scans the app, the final time for this trip. It seems like in two weeks it’s now second nature.
  • 11:54 — Go over a bridge being rebuilt slowly in East Glenville and through trees. This is most of the scenery and I can’t wait to try and take the dome car foliage special this fall.
  • 12:10— Pass a nice, old rusty Delaware and Hudson Locomotive.
  • 12:11 — Pull into Saratoga Springs where a lot of my car is getting off. I go find a better seat on the right Lakeside of the train as a few people board but many more detrain.
  • 12:16 — Hear the door and trap slam as we leave. Someone asks the conductor the standard “How fast do we go?” it is 50 north of Albany and up to 110mph south.
  • 12:26 — go through trees and fields seeing a deer off the one side in the trees.
  • 12:36 — cross the Hudson (I believe) as we enter Fort Edward. The station has gotten a new platform with modern signs in front of the neat yellow depot. There is an Amtrak information panel across the tracks. I notice a sign saying the train is subject to delay at border.
  • 12:48 — The train keeps rocking its way along the jointed rail.
  • 12:56 — Go through Fort Ann and follow water of the Lake Champlain Ship Canal. This I remember from my one previous trip on the route.
  • 12:59 —  We pass milepost 69, the number of the train it has both an old stone marker and a new modern number.
  • 1:02 — Pass a quarry of some sort
  • 1:05 — Lock C11 along the Lake Champlain Ship Canal

At 1:15 we arrive in Whitehall. This stop should have be photographed last summer if only my Dad had let me stop the car stop for 5 minutes. We let one person off at a station. It has received new little platform signage and a wheelchair lift enclosure. I notice two yellow stools have been left on the platform. There is the same little brick station as my trip past here 4 years ago. The nice green mountains of the Adirondacks are now visible of in the distance. We cross what I believe is the southern end of Lake Champlain and start following the boarder with Vermont.

  • 1:25 — slow down along the edge of the lake.
  • 1:29 — pass Dresden Station, NY with a little shack with a sign on it (no longer a passenger stop)
  • 1:32 — go between cliffs running very slowly.

At 1:47 I doze off for ten minutes, crucial to keeping me awake. I see a CP rail runner on a road near the train line. Last two cars only again. We leave the lake and enter more trees. I see a sign for ferry to Vermont at the exit from the fort. We arrive at Fort Ticonderoga to a another small brick enclosure. This tiny little stop has also received new signs and a wheelchair lift enclosure.  There a bunch of, like ten city kids going to a job core program in Port Henry sitting around me, thinking they have arrived We go through another town.

  • 2:11 — see a neat bird swooping down with a nice view of the lake. I forgot how neat and scenic the Adirondack is.
  • 2:15 — slow down for Port Henry and enter town. It has a nice old depot now a senior center. I see the job core kids unload tons of luggage and put it in a van with us government plates. The stop has gotten new signs, one in a field of dandelions.
  • 2:13 — keep following the lake. It on one side with trees and cliffs on the other.

At 2:36 we get the announcement for Westport with one exit by me again. My car is nearly empty now. It has modern signs and a nice old station. The platform is quite crowded with people waiting for the southbound train #68 running an hour late delayed at the boarder. 40 minutes to Port kent my stop.

  • 2:46 — we pass #68 stopped on a siding for us, running about an hour late. This happens unannounced as we follow a stream.
  • 2:51 — pass a tiny community and some cows
  • 2:59 — cross a river on a high bridge and pass a few more houses. I regain cell service. We pass some UP maintenance vehicles.
  • 3:03 — start running slightly high above the lake I’ll soon be crossing. We go through a tunnel. Here the lake is labeled Willsboro Bay because of an inlet that is visible.

At 3:11 continue along the cliffs, the inlet ending and briefly run inland. There is a camp of some sort beneath us. We follow Corlear Bay Road around that inlet and pass the Rockland siding. We run above houses along the lake. I just hope I can get on the ferry before forecasted thunderstorms. The train follows Water Edge Road.

The train arrives at the small Port Kent Station at 3:20, a half-hour late. The conductor opens the one door and I get off (with two the people, one other catching the ferry, one visiting family on the New York Side) the now nearly empty two Amfleet-II cars (the front 3 Amfleet-Is are bound for Montreal). The platform has been made ADA complaint with a wheelchair lift enclosure, a modern sign and a tiny modern parking lot with two ADA van compliant parking spaces. The wooden shelter that I have seen in photos is luckily still there. I get a picture of the Northeast Regional cafe car stopped over the grade crossing of Front Street (the access Road) and the train leaving the station.

I get my photo essay of the simple platform with one of the best station views I know of, an excellent view of the lake. Soon I am walking down Front Street the 350 yards straight downhill to the ferry dock, a maybe 5 minute walk. I stop at the same ticket window as the entering cars to buy my $5.05 ticket across Lake Champlain to Burlington. The agent is chatty and asked me if I just got of the train. I say yes and she responds “At least it wasn’t that late today.”

I then wander around the little ferry terminal (only open during the summer) it consists of a small gift shop and ice cream stand (with the most tired looking hot dogs) and I enjoy some soft-serve. There are also multiple pavilions and even a shelter with more Vermont tourism information than you possibly need. The view of the lake though is great and I’m tempted to go swimming at a small beach just north of the dock full of children.

The ferry soon approaches, it’s late because it has to come to a complete stop because of sail boat in the way. Eventually it comes into the dock and unloads it’s foot passengers and cars. As a foot passenger, along with some cyclists, we are allowed to go first. The boat’s name is the Champlain and it is over 80 years old, commissioned in 1930. I think its the oldest vehicle I have ridden during my year of traveling. We leave the dock at 4:20 as I get some pictures of the Port Kent shelter from the lake as we have a slow and scenic ten mile crossing across the lake. Approaching a city from water is so different than by rail.

I’m the first one off when the ferry arrives in Burlington and find my friend who is picking me up, disappointed the arrival times for the ferry were posted nowhere at the downtown dock.