2018-07-11 / Editorials

All Aboard!

On Saturday evening a train passed behind the Catskill Mountain News office. The whistle blew. Then the music of Blues Maneuver drifted into the window along with the familiar clack of the wheels on the rails. Later, a look down the street revealed scores of cars parked at the station on Rt. 28, a visual demonstration of the number of people attracted to the region for a step back in time.

Make no mistake, the Delaware & Ulster Rail Ride (DURR) is back, and it’s once again, a major force in the tourism infrastructure of the community. We are very lucky to have our past and our present married so effectively in this operation.

One need only look east to Ulster County where trains no longer run in Phoenicia and where track is being torn up for a “rail trail” that will have no rail, and perhaps not even a trail.

The community owes a debt of gratitude to Donald Bishop and his extended family at the A. Lindsey and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation. Without Bishop’s unwavering belief and steadfast support, the DURR would not be here today.

The community owes a debt of gratitude to Wes Coates, whose leadership has brought a failing infrastructure and lackluster operation roaring back to life. His passion and vision are a breath of fresh air.

The community owes a debt of gratitude to Vic Stevens, Kyle Holden and everyone else on the team who makes the trains run on time and to all those who help to create experiences like the Teddy Bear Flyer, Cabaret on the Rails, Murder Mystery Express and of course, the Great Train Robberies of the Catskill Mountain Bushwackers.

The presence of this attraction, benefits everyone whether they actually ride the train or not. Economists estimate that for every dollar spent on a ticket for an attraction like this, at least two dollars more are spent somewhere else in the community. Gas. Snacks. Meals. Souvenirs. Hotels. For an attraction like this it amounts to about $1 million a year spent in the area.

So if you see Don Bishop, or Wes Coates, or any of the “cast and crew” at the DURR, give them a high five and thank them for their vision and their tenacity. And some time this summer, get out there and take a ride on the railroad. That minor investment will bear dividends for the entire community.

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