Letter to the Editor: Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

To the Editor:

I am writing a letter in support of keeping a railroad line from Kingston to Roxbury. Wait, where? Roxbury? Yes. The line used to go beyond Roxbury all the way to Oneonta and even further. Many years ago the line between Roxbury (in Delaware County) and Stamford was torn up and a rail trail was put down. It’s great, but it’s certainly not a destination hot spot as many think a rail trail would be.

The heritage of the Catskills is tourism. And that heritage was made possible through the rail road. There is a true lack of public transportation that links NYC to Ulster County and the Catskills. Imagine this: a young couple rides the bus up from NYC to Kingston, and then takes the historic tourist train through the western part of the county, stopping at places like Olive, Boiceville, Phoenicia and Shandaken, where shops and restaurants are clustered around the old restored rail road station. Maybe they eat dinner at the Peekamoose Restaurant in Big Indian. Or spend the night just over the county line in Fleischmanns.

Trains evoke the past, a time that is long gone. And once these rail road lines are torn up, they are gone for good. The rail to trail idea is short sighted. Who will maintain the trails? Local cash strapped municipalities? Yes, the railroad is in need of major repair, and the idea of a train from Kingston to Roxbury is a long way off. But grand ideas call for long term planning, not a short term easy solution. With a group of dedicated railroad enthusiast volunteers, they can continue to reach out to state and federal agencies for restoration funding, while maintaining the tracks over a long term basis. Will we regret not ever having the railroad again? Will future generations wish they could have had a voice to preserve this thing of the past that will never return once it is gone?

Please, don’t destroy our history. Let’s figure out a long term solution to save and preserve the past that we may ride it into the future.

Respectfully submitted,

Benjamin Fenton