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100 years and counting

Train station exhibit marks Northville-Placid Trail centennial

A large map shows the route of the 138-mile Northville-Placid Trail in a new exhibit marking the trail’s centennial at the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society’s History Museum in the train station. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Many people have heard of the Northville-Placid Trail, even though they may not have hiked any section of it — or the entire 138 miles — or know the trail’s history.

That can change with a visit to the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society’s History Museum at the train station on Station Street. The new two-year exhibit, marking the trail’s centennial, was a collaboration between the historical society and the Adirondack Mountain Club, which was formed 100 years ago. ADK members began their first major project that same year: building the Northville-Placid Trail.

Sophie Morelli, director of the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society, said she hopes the exhibit can connect different communities — residents and visitors of Lake Placid, historical society members and patrons, the Adirondack Mountain Club and Northville-Placid Trail hikers.

Ben Brosseau, ADK director of communications, said he hopes visitors to the exhibit learn about the significance of the trail to northern New York.

“It helps to bring outdoor recreation to the Adirondack Park,” Brosseau said. “ADK’s founders saw an opportunity to improve access in the Adirondack Park at that time.”

Scene from the Northville-Placid Trail centennial exhibit at the Lake Placid train station (News photo — Andy Flynn)

There’s also the aspect of learning about ADK’s broader history.

“That fact that it is a century-old organization that has done a significant number of things both in the local area and broadly across the Adirondacks and New York state. And it all started with that one trail,” he added.

The Northville-Placid Trail is the longest continuous trail in the 6-million-acre Adirondack Park. Through-hikers can walk it from Lake Placid in the north to Northville in the south, but Northville has always been considered the beginning of the trail.

The trail was built between 1922 and 1924. The pathway mostly travels through the state-owned Forest Preserve, but sections have been located on private land (accessed by property owners’ permission) and some roadways. Over the years, with the help of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, sections of the trail have been re-routed to steer clear of roadways and make it more of a wilderness experience.

The train station (site now under water) at the west end of the bridge over the Sacandaga River at Northville was the official beginning of the Northville-Placid Trail in 1922. It was convenient for hikers traveling to the trailhead via the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad. The Lake Placid train station was the official end of the trail, making it a convenient escape from the Park on the railroad (with trains on the Delaware & Hudson’s Chateaugay Branch and eventually the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad’s Adirondack Division).

Photos from hikers (News photo — Andy Flynn)

For many years, since the walk from Northville to Upper Benson was along the roadway, it was considered OK to walk 133 miles from the Benson trailhead to the Chubb River trailhead on Averyville Road in Lake Placid. Purists would still walk from the Northville bridge to the Lake Placid train station.

Today, the trail officially begins at the Waterfront Park archway on South Main Street in Northville. The archway was installed in 2014.

While it is still OK to end a through-hike at Averyville, a new end-of-the-trail register was recently placed at the Lake Placid train station, which technically is the northern terminus of the trail. It is a 1.7-mile walk from the Averyville trailhead to the train station.

The Northville-Placid Trail exhibit features a large map of the trail on one wall (almost from the floor to the ceiling); a camping scene with tent and camping equipment, then and now; photos from Lake Placid photographer Nancie Battaglia, who lives on Averyville and had hiked many sections of the trail in all seasons; and photos from ADK members who have hiked the trail.

The Northville-Placid Trail traverses through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest, Silver Lake Wilderness, West Canada Lake Wilderness, Blue Ridge Wilderness, Blue Mountain Wild Forest and High Peaks Wilderness.

Photos of the Northville-Placid Trail from Nancie Battaglia (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Northville-Placid Trail guidebooks (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Northville-Placid Trail guidebooks (News photo — Andy Flynn)

New trail register and sign at the Lake Placid train station (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Northville-Placid Trail (Provided photo — Andy Flynn)

Sign at benson along the (Provided photo — Andy Flynn)

Cold River on the Northville-Placid Trail (Provided photo — Andy Flynn)

Sign at the Northville-Placid Traill trailhead on Averyville Road (News photo — Andy Flynn)

Northville-Placid Traill trailhead on Averyville Road (News photo — Andy Flynn)