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The Warwick Valley and other railroads west of the Hudson


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The Warwick Valley and Other Railroads West of the Hudson

Lehigh & Hudson River No 29 at Warwick
The Warwick Valley Rail Road Company became the Lehigh & Hudson River.
Shown above is Lehigh & Hudson River No 29 at Warwick.

Welcome to our Lehigh & Hudson River Railway WebSite

Including some "West of the Hudson" Neighbors

Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:

Our feature article is how the Warwick Valley became the Lehigh & Hudson River RR .

Find out about Switch Station XA: Where was it???

Why did the L&HR end?

Lehigh & Hudson River RR Map

Find out about Lehigh & Hudson River "Firsts" , and learn about Campbell Hall .

We cover the New York, Susquehanna & Western , sometimes called New Jersey's Answer To Tehachapi .

We cover the NYS&W Hanford Branch , the Lehigh & New England Railroad , the Central New York Railroad , and the Rahway Valley RR

Don't miss our reference section .
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New Jersey's Answer To Tehachapi:
Right almost in our backyard is the biggest event in railfanning in years.
It is the route that the Sealand container trains take from Buffalo to New York

Instead of taking the smooth, modern CONRAIL main across central New York through the Mohawk Valley, Selkirk, etc; these trains go from Buffalo to Binghamton on the Delaware & Hudson (really CONRAIL, but D&H has rights and runs trains). Then they go the rest of the way via the New York, Susquehanna & Western.

That's right, the once decrepit and bankrupt NYS&W now runs trains of over a mile in length. Of course, a lot of things have changed. The NYS&W is now owned by the Delaware Otsego System of Cooperstown.

From Binghamton, trains follow CONRAIL's ex-Erie main to Maybrook, but are hauled by NYS&W diesels (primarily ex-Burlington Northern SD45s).

At Maybrook, trains enter CONRAIL's branch to Warwick. This was once the Lehigh and Hudson River. Because of all the tracks that have been ripped up in recent years by Erie-Lackawanna, Penn-Central and CONRAIL, the trains have to change directions here (i.e. locomotives do an end-for-end move). At Warwick, ownership changes from CONRAIL to NYS&W. This line continues across the border into New Jersey and meets the old NYS&W at Sparta Junction. It was formerly part of CONRAIL's Hudson Branch.

At Sparta Junction, the L&HR line ends. It used to continue on to Pennsylvania. The "old" New York, Susquehanna & Western begins at this point.

The NYS&W goes from Sparta Junction to the Hudson River at Little Ferry. This seems fairly simple except that the western portion of the line was closed for 15 years. The fact that this railroad is operating at all, no less running container stack trains (5 car articulated sets which are 19 feet high and 265 feet long) from Long Beach, California, is incredible. Before reopening, NYS&W traffic went from Binghamton to Passaic Junction on a "per car" arrangement with CONRAIL. Passaic Junction is only a few miles from Little Ferry but not only didn't CONRAIL want the business, but New Jersey Transit kept the line busy.

The big railfan spot on all this is a good-sized hill on the NYS&W just past the junction with the old Lehigh & Hudson River called Sparta Mountain. East-bound trains must do a lot of work in climbing to the crest of the mountain. Six miles of 1.2% grade is a lot of pulling to do.

Best viewing spot is a grade crossing between Sparta and Ogdensburg.

The company behind all this is the Delaware Otsego of Cooperstown which is headed by Walter Rich. His railroad empire has grown from a tiny tourist line running less than three miles in 1968. The "DO System" owns and runs several other lines in New York and Pennsylvania. In 1980, they purchased the then-bankrupt NYS&W. In 1982, they purchased from CONRAIL the old DL&W branches from Binghamton to Syracuse and Utica. At the same time, they got 13 miles of the Lehigh and Hudson River from Warwick to Franklin (this included trackage rights from Binghamton to Warwick). Until the SD45s, motive power was mostly Alcos. In the early 1980s, the Delaware Otsego ran ex-Autotrain domeliners in excursion service.

Having seen the NYS&W from Oakland to Little Ferry, I decided to see the western portion that had just been returned to service and find out what this big railfan "thing" was at Sparta Junction.

From the NY Thruway at Suffern (actually in Mahwah), I headed down Route 17 and US 202 to Oakland. The NYS&W crosses the road at Oakland. After crossing US 202, the railroad was hard to follow so I detoured off the main road to follow it better. Immediately after Oakland, I arrived in Pompton Lakes. It took me about a half hour and 17 miles to get here. The old station at Pompton Lakes is now a Christian Science Reading Room.

The New York, Susquehanna & Western broke away from the Erie in 1940 after being owned by it for 48 years. Upon gaining independence, the road bought some gas-electric cars and began to shuttle passengers from North Bergen, NJ into Manhattan in order to build its service. The so-called "Susquehanna Transfer" ran shuttle busses to Times Square, Some of the gas-electrics were new from ACF while others had seen service on the Illinois Central, Boston & Maine and the Cumberland and Pennsylvania. The road was dieselized shortly after World War II with Alco RS-1s and S-2s. Some GP-18s were added later. In 1956, nine trains departed Erie's Jersey City station. Eight of these went as far as Butler. By 1964, only two went to Butler while a third went to Hawthorne.

Running time from Butler to Susquehanna Transfer (near the North Bergen area) was a little over an hour. The distance was 36 miles and there could be as many as 18 stops (several stations were "flag stops" only). At Susquehanna Transfer station, passengers were transferred to/from busses for the hop into Manhattan.

Passenger service at one time was run with several RDC-1s and some Budd streamliners which were sold to Central of New Jersey well before service was discontinued in 1966. Passenger service ended with the NYS&W using some old Boston & Albany coaches.

Returning to the west-bound highway. I encounter a grade crossing at Riverdale. The track is rusty and looks like the NYS&W used to look. This is only a spur off the main line to serve a grain and feed operation. It joins the main line at Pompton Junction and used to belong to the Erie. It was part of the Greenwood Lake Division and had automatic interlocking signals at the NYS&W junction back in the 1950s when both railroads still carried passengers. The Erie-Lackawanna operated this branch into the 1960s.

At Bloomingdale, I see lots of signs of the restorations that have taken place on the line (fresh ballast, unrotted ties, etc).

Butler has a coal and feed mill. The station is now a town museum. There was a junction with the Central of NJ at Green Pond Junction. Actually, the connection was with the Wharton & Northern Railroad. This 15 mile CRRNJ subsidiary ran freight-only from Lake Junction as part of the since-abandoned High Bridge branch. Near Newfoundland, the railroad follows alongside Route 23. At Oak Ridge, there is a 48 mile marker. I presume this is the distance from Little Ferry.

The Sussex county line has taken me an hour to reach and is 34 miles from my starting point. Ballast work and brush clearing are clearly evident along this portion of the right-of-way.

Before Franklin, I follow Route 517. The NYS&W is on the hillside to my right. After I pass through Ogdensburg there is a grade crossing. A hot dog vendor has set up nearby (how convenient for train watching!). This crossing has a sign about how trains are now using crossing.

Following Route 181 past Sparta, the railroad is now to my right. Past the junction with Route 15, it crosses the road. I take a left onto Route 669 just before the old Lehigh and Hudson River crossing. I follow this road to the Sparta plant of Eastern Propane where the tracks have been bent northward to the L&HR and the old section has been abandoned. Sussex County purchased the old L&HR from Franklin to just below Sparta Junction and is reselling it to the Susquehanna on the installment plan. CONRAIL has abandoned the trackage south of here. Until recently, the NYS&W joined the L&HR heading in a southerly direction. As part of the rebuilding, the route now heads north which saves running backwards. There are a couple of section cars and an old box car on the abandoned section.

Sparta Sand & Gravel Co. has a siding as well as the propane plant. The Limecrest quarry is the southern-most point served by the NYS&W. I leave the side roads past the Sparta Recycling Center and rejoin Route 15. I turn right on Route 94 and follow it north to an unmarked road to Franklin and back to Route 23.

At Hamberg, the L&HR crosses to my right. Near the Great Gorge ski area, it crosses to my left and follows the road up the valley.

70 miles and 2 hours from my start, I cross into New York State. I pause at Covered Bridge Road and Onderdonk Road which are off Route 94 near Warwick. South of Warwick is an end of block sign for CONRAIL and a sign that NYS&W begins here. At Warwick, CONRAIL engine 1962 and a caboose are parked in the yard along with many stored hoppers. The old Lehigh & Hudson River headquarters is now a booksearch company. In town, an old caboose serves as a tourist information booth.

The Lehigh & Hudson River began in 1860 when the Warwick Valley Railroad started to build from Warwick to Greycourt (on the Erie). It was then extended to serve the iron mines in the vicinity of Franklin. It went all the way to the Delaware River in 1882 and became the Lehigh & Hudson River. After the Poughkeepsie Bridge was built, an extension was built in 1890 to Maybrook. The New Haven's purchase of the Poughkeepsie Bridge turned the L&HR into a bridge route for agricultural products and coal. The road served as an important route between the New Haven and the DL&W at Port Morris. It also connected with the Lehigh Valley at Phillipsburg and the Jersey Central at Allentown.

The importance of the Lehigh & Hudson River Railway resulted from its location: connecting the Middle Atlantic States with New England by a direct line.

In 1958, it ran five freights each way daily. In the days of steam, coal-burning Consolidations plus three heavy Mikados built in 1944 handled the tonnage. It dieselized in 1950 with Alco and also was the first fully radio-equipped road in the northeast. It paid dividends from World War I through 1969 and was able to keep its operating ratio under 70%.

Obviously, the closing of the Poughkeepsie Bridge and the creation of Erie-Lackawanna killed this railroad. It could no longer function as a bridge line when the same railroad owned each end of the "bridge". In 1972 it was forced into bankruptcy. 2 million tons of coal in 1964 had shrunk to 200,000 by 1970. PC and Erie-Lackawanna no longer needed it. Before its 1976 sale to CONRAIL, it was owned by Central of New Jersey, Reading, Penn-Central, Erie-Lackawanna and Lehigh Valley, It was a 95-mile line which had 6 locomotives in 1975. It was not noted as a passenger carrier.

I leave the L&HR at Warwick and follow Route 17A through Greenwood Lake back towards my starting point.

Returning to Route 17, I follow the NY Transit (CONRAIL;ex-Erie) route towards Suffern. At Tuxedo, the station is also the police station. This line, like the NYS&W and L&HR, was quiet like you might expect for a warm Spring Saturday afternoon.

By Ken Kinlock at

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Switch Station XA

Gail Rich Nestor wrote us June 18, 2006:

The Chester Historical Society Subject: Photo of L&H Railroad switch tower XA.

My husband has ancestors from the Chester area who worked for the L&H Railroad. Clif Patrick and I have been sending notes back and forth and he suggested that you may be able to help me date an old photograph I have of a switch station.

Our answer:

I have a list of L&HR Railroad towers as of 1964 and XA is gone.

See the full list.

Here are the towers I have:
BK = Maybrook
K = Chester
Q = Warwick
RN = Vernon
FJ = Franklin
AD = Andover
MO = Great Meadows
G = Belvidere

Near Chester: Hudson Junction shows no tower but does show a 116-car passing siding. This could have been the tower location but closed by 1964????
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On passenger trains, railroads operated lots of equipment other than sleepers, coaches, dining cars, etc. This equipment was generally called 'head-end' equipment, these 'freight' cars were at one time plentiful and highly profitable for the railroads. In the heyday of passenger service, these industries were a big part of the railroad's operations, and got serious attention.
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1937 Fan Trip Brochure
See our poster and brochure about a fan trip on the New Haven RR in 1937. It ran from NY City to Bridgeport, Danbury, Poughkeepsie, Maybrook, and Campbell Hall to Warwick NY. The brochure contains a description of the route including the big bridge in Pok plus a map. The fare was $3.50 round trip.

How much would you pay to ride that trip today ?

Central New York Railroad

The following article appeared in THE RIVER REPORTER

"Central New York Railroad on slow track"


RIVER VALLEY — "We haven't made a whole lot of progress in the six months we've been in operation," said Walter G. Rich. "It takes time to get a business to switch from one carrier to another."

Rich is president and CEO of the Central New York Railroad (CNYRR), which has leased the rail line along the Delaware River between Port Jervis and Binghamton, NY.

"However, we are meeting expectations and will be spending $1.5 million this fall on rehabilitation of tracks and other infrastructure," Rich said.

The line was to be abandoned by Norfolk Southern Railroad, one of America's largest railroad companies, which views the 125-mile line as a low priority.

Rich, who specializes in taking over endangered railroads, is confident that the short-line railroad can survive if there is an intense campaign to find users.

"Recently, the Norboard Company of Deposit, a producer of fiber board, has returned to using our railroad," Rich said. Rich is also focusing a great deal of effort on the bluestone industry in the Upper Delaware Valley.

One of Rich's first steps in taking over the railway was to get a reduction of the railroad's property taxes at a faster rate than the abatement schedule authorized by the state's Railroad Ceiling Law, which was passed in order to correct the state's over-taxation of the property in the past.

In the counties of Sullivan, Broome and Delaware, county and local governments agreed to the tax abatement to aid in rebuilding the rail line.

In Sullivan County, the railroad is used by Narrowsburg Feed Company and Cochecton Mills. The two companies employ over 70 workers.

"I know they've been working hard to get more businesses," said Dennis Nearing, co-owner of Cochecton Mills. "If they don't succeed, it will be a big expense for us to truck things from the Midwest. We'd have to pass the cost on to the farmers who are hurting as it is."

Rich said, "One of the circumstances that has been a surprising boon to us is the increase of overhead business." Overhead refers to the periodic use of a railroad company's line by outside carriers who need to meet the increasing demands of the freight business.

"Norfolk Southern and CSX are experiencing increased traffic during July and August and have been throwing business our way," Rich said.

"Short line operators, like Central New York, are more willing and able to take over lines that the bigger railroads don't want," said Eugene Blabey, chairman and CEO of the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railroad. "For this reason, the short-line operators are more successful at saving railroads."

Blabey has no direct interest in CNYRR but uses its tracks on occasion, he said.
Lehigh New England logo

The Lehigh New England carried both anthracite and cement; but declines in the traffic caused the parent Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to abandon the still-solvent road in 1960.

Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company was formed in 1822. It's well-known logo was a red target surrounded by a white circular band and saying "Old Company's Lehigh". In the 1930's it owned over 8,000 acres of coal land and four colleries. It also owned several water companies and mountain resorts. In addition to the Lehigh and New England Railroad, they owned the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad and it's extension the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton Railroad. The L&S went from Easton, PA to Wilkes-Barre and was leased to Central RR of New Jersey for $2 million/year.

The Lehigh & New England had a Reading Company heritage but was owned by the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company after 1904. Reading tried to lease it in 1926 but the ICC denied; instead the ICC wanted the L&NE merged into the New Haven (they met at Maybrook). The L&NE carried both anthracite and cement; but declines in the traffic caused the parent Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company to abandon the still-solvent road in 1960. Central Railroad of New Jersey bought portions (about 40 miles) of the once 217-mile line. These pieces went over to Conrail.

The Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad was completed between Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Wilkes-Barre, PA in 1866. It was leased to the Central Railroad of New Jersey (Jersey Central Lines) in 1871. The L&S was extended to Scranton in 1888 by means of the subsidiary Wilkes-Barre & Scranton. Jersey Central's Pennsylvania lines were consolidated in 1972 with the Lehigh Valley and thus the CRR of NJ was out of Pennsylvania.

The Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad was among several railroads attracted by the anthracite coal fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, It was an extension of the NYS&W chartered in 1892 and gone by 1940 (except a couple of small sections). It went from Stroudsburg over the Pocono Mountain grades to Kingston, PA (across the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre).


List of New York Railroads
List of New Jersey Railroads

Anthracite Railroads Historical Society, Inc.

Central New York Railroad

Railroads of Orange County

A great Lehigh & Hudson River site!

Our favorite Short Lines

Interesting Railway Stations
The Central New England Railway (later New Haven RR) Maybrook Yard connected to other railroads: Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, New York Central, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh & New England, Erie, Ontario & Western, Lehigh Valley

The Central New England Railway Yard at Maybrook, New York

We have a really new and really cool feature about the Central New England Railway / New Haven Railroad. It is a Journal of the Maybrook Yard. All kinds of previously unpublished and fascinating things!

The Maybrook Line across Dutchess County The "Maybrook Line" was important to New England before the advent of Penn Central and before the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned. This piece of the railroad carried freight from Maybrook Yard, across the Poughkeepsie Bridge to Hopewell Junction where it joined a line from Beacon. The railroad then went to Brewster, then Danbury, and finally to Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven.

The New Haven's Maybrook Line and connections to other railroads

Railroad History of Maybrook Region
Corsica Ferry

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Campbell Hall

Campbell Hall, NY is located on Metro North's Southern Tier Line (ex Erie). Back in the day, say 1945, Campbell Hall was host to the Erie, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh & New England, New York, Ontario & Western and the New Haven. The New York Central used their Wallkill Valley Branch out of Kingston, NY to Montgomery, NY where, with trackage rights, they then used the Erie's Montgomery Branch down to Campbell Hall. At Campbell Hall, they reversed ends, then proceeded east to Maybrook Yard.

The Campbell Hall scene was indeed dominated by many of the much discussed "Anthracite roads". Originally, Campbell Hall had its own railroad which was absorbed into the New Haven around 1917 or so. It remained a "paper" railroad but had a station at Campbell Hall that was kept operational by the New Haven. The New Haven was building its new facility at Maybrook, and once completed, the station was not needed and was eventually sold to the New York Ontario & Western RR. The O&W operated the the station on its own with leasing rights to the Lehigh and New England Railroad, which operated over the Erie Railroad's Montgomery branch line into Campbell Hall. There was a diamond at the station which was Erie crossing over O&W track leading into Maybrook. This track was the LNE's access into Maybrook Yard via New Haven's OWN tracks

The Erie Railroad's Montgomery Branch continued west (south) to Goshen, NY to join the Erie's Main Line. With the building of the Graham Line, diamonds where installed at MQ. The L&NE reached Goshen over Erie's Pine Island Branch over which it also had trackage rights (from Pine Island Jct. to Goshen). At Goshen, it briefly used the Erie Main as it crossed over to the Montgomery Branch just west of the station.

The L&HR did not go through Campbell Hall, but instead had its own track directly into the west (south) end of Maybook Yard, several hundred yards to the east (by compass direction) of where the New Haven's west-end of yard lead comes out.

Currently, Norfolk Southern runs the freight, Metro North the passenger and the Susquehanna runs freight via track rights. New Haven's Maybrook Yard was just about 2 miles north of Campbell Hall. This was a huge facility that was known as the "Gateway to New England".

Some other information on Campbell Hall can be found in Maybrook connections, Maybrook Yard, and the Alphabet Route.
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SEE Monte Carlo and Monaco New England Gateway, The New
This article on "New Jersey's Answer To Tehachapi" was published in September 1987
in the CALLBOARD of the Mohawk and Hudson Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
The article on the Warwick Valley was published February 1999 in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN of the Bridge Line Historical Society.
The article on the Lehigh and New England was published June 1996 in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN
Fallen Flags Photos

More About the Lehigh and Hudson River

It was the first to use a refrigerator car and first to use radio. L&HR was a very progressive RR

L&HR participated in the "Central States Dispatch" which was a fast-freight "alphabet route" that linked the B&O, WM, RDG, L&HR, and NH to link Cumberland MD and Boston MA.

President Franklin D Roosevelt rode the L&HR once too!
Abandoned Railroads of the US - All Things Related to Abandoned Railroads
Thousands of miles of railroads have been abandoned in the United States, much of it in the last 30 years. All of these railroad lines have a history and a story. This club is dedicated to the preservation of the history of each of these former railroad lines. Please join and contribute.

Why did the L&HR end?

In a Way you can say Penn Central finished off the L&HR with no New England traffic out of Maybrook. It was truly useless however you could say its DEATH started in 1960 with the EL Merger!

The L&HR was a feisty little railroad. A Penn Central railroader who worked the Maybrook Line once said that PC actually put on a New England-Potomac Yard train routed via L&HR to P-Burg. The NEC was already getting crowded. But the train was rerouted after L&HR demanded a higher percentage of the revenue!

However it happened, after the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned in Spring 1974 and was taken out of service, that was the end of the L&HR as a through route. They took a huge hit on that one. But they were pretty successful converting themselves to a scaled-down local carrier.

There are several miles of the Wallkill Valley still in use. Technically from Clinton St. into Walden was Wallkill Valley track. Conrail and now NS run a local to the lumber yards and two other consignees in the village. Perhaps four plus miles almost up to the abutments for the bridge that used to span Route 52.

There were a few hundred feet of track in place along Greenkill Avenue in Kingston but most was scrapped and the rails were donated to the Trolley Museum.
Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad

Interested in Penn Central? New York Central? Pennsylvania Railroad? New Haven Railroad? or in the smaller Eastern US railroads? Then you will be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen". You will also enjoy "Could George Alpert have saved the New Haven?" as well as "What if the New Haven never merged with Penn Central?"

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New York Central Milk Business
Cremery in South Columbia, New York
There were two basic types of milk trains – the very slow all-stops local that picked up milk cans from rural platforms and delivered them to a local creamery, and those that moved consolidated carloads from these creameries to big city bottling plants. Individual cars sometimes moved on lesser trains. These were dedicated trains of purpose-built cars carrying milk. Early on, all milk was shipped in cans, which lead to specialized "can cars" with larger side doors to facilitate loading and unloading (some roads just used baggage cars). In later years, bulk carriers with glass-lined tanks were used. Speed was the key to preventing spoilage, so milk cars were set up for high speed service, featuring the same types of trucks, brakes, communication & steam lines as found on passenger cars.
Rotary plow

Railroads and Snow

See some historic photographs of the railroads in snow. Rotary plows in snow! Great stories of railroad action in Winter!
Troop Trains

Troop Train Photo Album

Photos of a trip from Texas to New York City (World War II) as an armored division brings its equipment and troops to the port.
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