RAILS TO TRAILS CONSERVANCY FEATURES LOCAL BUSINESS
Fortress Bikes Subject of Magazine Article
by John Conway
HURLEYVILLE, February 2022—Fortress Bikes, one of Hurleyville’s newest business ventures, has caught the eye of the Rails to Trails Conservancy. The business and its owner, Hal Simon, were featured in a January article in “Rails to Trails” magazine and on the organization’s website: railstotrails.org.
The article was written by Laura Stark, a lead writer and editor for Rails to Trails magazine, “responsible for highlighting trails and the people working hard to support them across America.”
“Nestled in the mountains of Upstate New York, Hurleyville was one of several rural hamlets along what was nicknamed the “Milk Train” that, beginning in the late 19th century, ferried dairy products (as well as coal and passengers) on a route stretching from the New York metropolitan area to Oswego on the Lake Ontario shoreline,” Ms. Stark writes. “Today, this former corridor of the New York, Ontario & Western Railway—the centerpiece of life here for decades until its demise in the 1950s—has been transformed into the O&W Rail Trail, a project spearheaded by Sullivan County and heartily supported by local municipalities and organizations.”
Mr. Simon is quoted throughout the article, and spoke about the Milk Train Trail in particularly glowing terms.
“It’s seven miles of beautiful, flat pavement,” he said. “You’ll see bodies of water, farmland and forest. And the colors are gorgeous in the fall—you have foliage, history and wildlife.”
In fact, Mr. Simon has said the idea for opening the bike business came to him while he was on the Milk Train Trail one day.
“I love that rail-trails have been converted from old unused train tracks to provide opportunities for people to get out in nature,” he told the magazine. “It’s a great thing for the communities they run through, bringing in tourism and commerce. I especially love what our little section of the O&W Rail Trail does. It reconnects towns and people the way the railroad did originally.”
Mr. Simon told the magazine the business, which opened last summer, enjoyed “a tremendous first season.”
Fortress Bikes, located on Main Street in front of PartyMaster, is open all year around, and in addition to bicycles, the business also rents snowshoes.
The Rails to Trails conservancy is a non-profit based in Washington, DC, whose mission is to build a nation connected by trails. The organization’s mission statement further reads, “we reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors.”