Letter to the Editor: The Unprofitable Catskill Mountain Railroad Company, Inc.

Dear Editor:

The Catskill Mountain Railroad Company, Inc. (CMRR) Is a for-profit company. It was organized in 1983 to make money for its owners. Its main asset was a lease of the rail line from Ulster County. The goal of the company, as I understand it, was to make money by running trains, both passenger and freight.

Like many start-up companies it has failed to realize the profitable dreams of its founders. And like many start-up companies, it appears that the CMRR was undercapitalized from the start. It never did make the investment in the road bed, capital equipment or marketing that would allow it to achieve what its investors hoped it would.

Also, like many start-up companies, Catskill Mountain Railroad Company, Inc. has depended on people working for little or no pay. It is not, and never has been, a non-profit working for the public good. Sometimes people work for stock in a start-up, hoping that someday the shares they were paid would soar the way Facebook did, or Google. Sometimes, like the boys who whitewashed Tom Sawyer’s fence, people work for no pay because they are playing not working.

Just as the United States has Yosemite and Yellowstone which each delight millions of visitors a year, and just as New York State has the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls attracting many visitors, I think it is a great idea for Ulster County to develop the trail network envisioned by County Executive Mike Hein. The Catskill Mountain Railroad Co. Inc. is not now delighting nearly as many visitors as such a network would. It is time for them to let go of their dreams of big profits for the good of the County.

Stuart Auchincloss