|The Adirondack Branch|
|of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad|
|About This Site|
Fast Rides on the Adirondack Branch
In the history of the Adirondack Branch, there were three recorded fast rides. Ironically, even though two of the incidents were 18 years apart, they both dealt with the death of an occupant of the same house!
On October 5th, 1885, Dr. T. C. Durant (pictured at left top) was on his deathbed at his home in North Creek (second photo) when a special train was made up in Saratoga to bring his son William West Durant (third photo) to his side. William told the engineer that he had to be in North Creek by 9 pm, 57 miles away. It was 8:03 when they left and 8:57 when they arrived. An average of over 63 mph on a road definintely not designed for it!
Fifteen years later a local doctor named Lee Somerville (bottom photo) purchased Durant's large mansion in North Creek, then called "the Gables". He was married to L. Blanche Baker on August 6th, 1902 and they settled in to married life in the house. On December 23rd, 1903, she was taken suddenly ill and a special train was ordered which took her with all haste to the Albany Hospital. The trip of 94 miles was made in one hour and forty minutes, an average of over 56 mph. Not quite as fast as Durant but pretty close. Unfortunately, she died a few days later due to complications from appendicitis.
No worries that history will repeat itself as the house burned down in 1959.
The last speed run on the branch occurred in 1926. The July 29th North Creek Enterprise gives the account of Alphonse Allard, a worker for the railroad, who was working in the yard at North Creek when part of the baggage car broke, allowing him to fall under the car. One arm was severed and the other nearly so. He also received a broken leg and fractures to the skull and spine. Two local doctors attended him on a special train that rushed him to Saratoga in 64 minutes. He survived that day but died the following Thursday.
At the opposite end of the speed record is the slowest ride known. From The Sunday Razor of 1887 we are told that, "A. C. Emerson is delighted with the rapid transport that the Adirondack Railway affords. Leaving Saratoga at 10:10 am, Thursday, he arrived at Thurman Station at one o'clock Friday, having been 27 hours on the road. There were no buffet cars attached to the train and fasting was compulsory. Over a day without food is not what Mr. Emerson is accustomed to, and he is willing to have this experience rendered conspicuous by its novelty."
The story behind this slow trip comes to us from The Sun, dated February 27th, 1887. A snowstorm on the 26th dumped five feet of snow in one day. Superintendent C. E. Durkee remarked on March 2, "There comes that train which has been seven days making the round trip from this station to North Creek and return. That train left here last Thursday morning at 10 o'clock and we fairly had to tunnel and shovel our way to North Creek [which took 48 hours]. Besides the immense drifts to overcome, the ice attached itself to the flanges with such tenacity that they were compelled to move slowly and cautiously in order to keep the rails. I have ordered another train and a new crew to start north at once, so as to get the road again in working order as soon as possible."