This section takes a look at the economic profiles of each county through which the rail traverses in an attempt to understand the economic perspective from which residents approach the rails or trails debate. It might help explain why this is such a hot topic in the Park. All data is gleaned from the 1996 Unit Management Plan, so some of the statistics may be out of date.
Some of the largest villages within Franklin County are Malone (population 6,777 as of 1996), Tupper Lake (4,087), and Saranac Lake (5,377). The southern two-thirds of Franklin County lie within the Park, and it boasts a sparse population density of 28 people per square mile. The leading sources of employment (in order from highest to lowest) are government, services, retail trade, and manufacturing, with the median income at $26,328 and 17.7 percent of residents below the poverty line. According to the UMP, "Franklin County suffers from chronically high unemployment, due in part to the seasonal nature of employment in tourism and recreation."
St. Lawrence County encompasses the city of Ogdensburg and the villages of Massena, Potsdam, Canton, and Gouverneur, and the county has a population density of 40 people per square mile with the population largely concentrated in the northern and western parts. The major sources of employment are (listed from highest to lowest) government, services, retail trade, and manufacturing. As of the 1990 census, St. Lawrence's median family income was $29,004, and 17.2 percent of residents lived below the poverty line. The UMP does not describe unemployment as being especially seasonal.
Essex County encompasses Ticonderoga (population 2,770 as of 1996), Lake Placid (2,485), and Port Henry (1,263). It lies entirely within the Park and largely within the Forest Preserve. At the completion of the 1996 Unit Management Plan, it had a population density of only 20 people per square mile. The leading sources of employment are (in order from highest to lowest) services, government, retail trade, and manufacturing, with the median income at $29,809 and 12.3 percent of the residents below the poverty line. According to the UMP, "Tourism and recreation are major activities in the county." The UMP also claims that seasonal tourism leads to higher unemployment in the winter months but that the recent growth of winter sports, such as snowmobiling, has helped to decrease winter unemployment.
All of Hamilton County lies within the Park, and a large proportion of land is state-owned and in the Preserve. The only village in Hamilton County is the Village of Speculator, and it has a population of only 400. Hamilton County has an overall population density of 3 people per square mile, but this number is deceptive, since the population is not evenly distributed. Most of the residents live in a few hamlets. The major sources of employment (from highest to lowest) are government, services, retail trade, construction, and manufacturing. The median family income, according to the 1990 census, was $27,284, with 8.7 percent of residents below the poverty line. As in many of the other counties, much of the employment is dependent on tourism and recreation, so unemployment rates are higher in the winter seasons. According to the UMP, "unemployment is relatively low in the June-September period, but at double-digit levels in remaining months."
Herkimer County encompasses the villages of Ilion, Herkimer, Mohawk, and Franfort, and it incldes the city of Little Falls. The county has a relatively high population density of 46 people per square mile, and its population is concentrated in the southern part of the county. The leading sources of employment (listed from highest to lowest) are manufacturing, government, retail trade, and services. However, in the northern part of the county tourism is an important source of income, so employment is more seasonal. The median family income is $28,718, with 13.1% of residents below the poverty line.
Oneida County encompasses Utica, Rome, New Hartford, and Whitestown, and it has an overall population density of 205 people per square mile. The major sources of employment are (from highest to lowest) government, services, retail trade, and manufacturing, and the median income, according to the 1990 census, is $32,557 with 11.9% of residents living below the poverty line. Though Oneida County has a high unemployment rate, employment is less seasonal than in the other counties.
|County||% Service||Median Income||% Below Poverty Line|
|Franklin||25.5% (#2)||$26,328 (#6)||17.7% (#1)|
|St. Lawrence||21.2% (#5)||$29,004 (#3)||17.3% (#2)|
|Essex||28.7% (#1)||$29,809 (#2)||12.3% (#4)|
|Hamilton||21.5% (#4)||$27,284 (#5)||8.7% (#6)|
|Herkimer||18.7% (#6)||$28,718 (#4)||13.1% (#3)|
|Oneida||22.3% (#3)||$32,557 (#1)||11.9% (#5)|
(All information is gleaned from the Unit Management Plan)