In 1878 the State of New York authorized the construction of a railroad from Plattsburgh to Dannemora to transport men, supplies, fuel, and other necessary materials. The following year, the Plattsburgh and Dannemora was leased to the Chateaugay Railway Company. On December 5, 1887 the track was open for traffic from Plattsburgh to Saranac Lake, a total distance of 73 miles. Changes in the corporate name pursued during the next five years but the Delaware and Hudson Company had a substantial interest in the road from the beginning.
The Saranac Lake and Lake Placid Railroad became organized in 1890. At first, it was a standard gauge railroad running between the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid stations. Eventually, a third rail was laid, allowing the Chateaugay trains to run over the ten mile new road all the way to Lake Placid. In 1903 the Chateaugay Railroad Company and the Saranac and Lake Placid Railroad Company were consolidated and the Delaware and Hudson became in control of the new company known as the Chateaugay and Lake Placid Railway Company. The rebuilding of the railroad to standard gauge occurred in 1902 and was completed in 1903. The line was leased to the Delaware and Hudson for a period of 500 years.
Saranac Lake’s Union Depot was built in 1904 by the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. It consolidated the passenger operations of the Chateaugay Railroad from the east, and the New York Central Railroad from the west. Union Depot handled 18 to 20 scheduled passenger trains per day during its busiest years, 1912-1940.
On November 1, 1946 the Interstate Commerce Commission gave permission to the Delaware and Hudson Railroad to abandon all of the line beyond Lyon Mountain and to sell the ten miles of track that consisted between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake to the New York Central. In 1957 when passenger service north of Lake Clear Junction became discontinued, the trains ran to Lake Placid as a terminal.
New York City closed Union Depot in 1965 when passenger service had ended. Union Depot was restored in 1997 with help from ISTEA funds administered through New York State’s Department of Transportation in anticipation of renewed tourist rail service.
Today, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid are part of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and run tourist passenger trains between the two stations.