A few years ago I moved to upstate New York and made Plattsburgh my home for a short time. While I had little time to get out and about I did find a few old railroad histories. One was the Chateaugay Railroad (or Railway) which was created by the Chateaugay Iron Company in 1879 to build a narrow-gauge rail line from Lyon Mountain to Dannemora to move ore and charcoal for its iron-making operations.
The mine was started in 1871 by the Bethlehem Steel Company and produced 5,000,000 tons of ore between it’s opening and 1919, after 1903 it was owned by the Chateaugay Ore & Iron Company. It was said that it was some of the finest ore in the world and some of it was even used on the Golden Gate Bridge. The mine was closed in 1967.
The railroad line was extended to Standish in 1885, to Loon Lake in 1886, and to Saranac Lake in 1887. The Delaware and Hudson railroad financed the section to Saranac Lake, and then organized the dual-gauge Saranac and Lake Placid Railroad in 1890, and the first train ran on August 1, 1893; the standard-gauge section was run as a branch of the New York Central.
The rail line was leased to the Chateaugay Railroad company. In 1903, the two companies were merged, becoming the Chateaugay and Lake Placid Railroad Company; within the year, the new company was bought by the Delaware and Hudson railroad company, and the line was operated as the Chateaugay Branch of the D & H.
The depot in Lyon Mountain was originally setup with narrow gauge trackage on one side and standard gauge trackage on the other. After the D&H took control of the railroad they converted the entire line to standard gauge. The Saranac Lake to Lake Placid section was sold to the New York Central in 1946, and finally abandoned in 1972.
The depot is now open as the Lyon Mountain Mining and Railroad Museum and the mine can be investigated at your own risk. Stretches of the old roadbed can be seen along NY Rte 374 between Lyon Mountain and Dannemora.
For more information: Lyon Mountain Mining and Railroad Museum