LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A 9.4-mile stripe of bike-friendly pathway cuts through parts of Glens Falls and Queensbury on its way north to Lake George. Today, anyone who rides the Warren County Bikeway will pass by old-growth trees, the feet of mountains, and eventually a sparkling view of Lake George. What they may not realize is that many others saw similar views from the same points along the path, long before any of it was paved.
The Warren County Bikeway runs from Platt Street in Glens Falls to Lake George Battlefield Park, spanning a path once traveled by trains traveling the Delaware & Hudson Railroad line connecting the two communities. The railway would prove to fuel the engine of Lake George’s tourism industry, which still thrives in the village today.
The first train came to the village of Lake George on May 29, 1882 – Memorial Day. It came to the first of two train station iterations that would come to the village – the latter of which still stands today, opposite the Lake George Steamboat Company, currently home to a gift shop. It replaced the original station in 1910, 28 years after the first train rolled in.
When it arrived, that first train to Lake George could have carried many things. Banks and the U.S. Postal Service used the train to transfer valuables and mail. The former Martin’s Lumber sawmill used it to transfer logs south to Glens Falls, Fort Edward and beyond. More than anything, though, Lake George historian Margaret Mannix says it’s fairly certain to say that the train moved a lot of people.
“I think it probably had to do with how much money you had, whether you were a day-tripper or you stayed for the summer,” said Mannix. “Mostly, people would come to town on the train and board a steamboat, and then end up at one of the hotels along the lake.”
And so the railroad thrived, connecting Lake George to the other routes that passed through Fort Edward. The majority of visitors to the so-called Queen of American Lakes rode those trains up from Albany and New York City.
The lake itself even came into contact with the trains – though in a less disastrous way than the thought may sound. Some trains carried boats ready to hit the water. At the village’s southern point, east of the steamboat company, Mannix says that the edges of the tracks are still visible where they met the water, for boats to be deployed directly onto the lake.
The Lake George-Glens Falls saw its last passengers off in 1957, by which point ridership had diminished to single digits per day. The tracks were torn up, and things went dormant at both the Lake George train station and the Maple Street one in Glens Falls.
The next almost 20 years are historically unclear. Railway stretches left out of use become overgrown, falling into swift disrepair. It wouldn’t be until the late 1970s that a future was secured for the path by Warren County.
In 1978, the first section of the Warren County Bikeway was created at the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Route 9 in Queensbury. That fall, it was joined as construction began a long a stretch running from Bloody Pond Road to Fort George.
Although that sounds like a strong start, it would take decades to finish the bike path. After the initial sections wrapped up at the end of the 1970s, it wouldn’t be until 1999 that another stretch was added, connecting Glens Falls properly to the project. On June 17, 2000, a bikeway bridge was installed over Quaker Road to connect the path as it heads into the city. When installed, the bridge was dedicated to Gerald B. Solomon, a Queensbury resident who served on the Warren County Board of Supervisors before serving in the House of Representatives.
The final stretch of the bikeway was finished on Platt Street in Glens Falls in 2000. That completed a project first started by Keith DeLarm, former Town of Hague Supervisor, for whom the trail as a whole was dedicated after his passing.