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Over many years I have written numerous articles about the New York Central Railroad.
What I realized was that I had no one central (no pun intended) place where someone could go and find everything I have plus what others have too.
Like great passenger trains, we added a second section.
Here's a drawing of one of my favorites: A "P Motor"
Art work by Stacy Kinlock Sewell
See our New York Central map collection

What Made Up the New York Central Railroad?

See the

New York Central on Google Earth

See our

New York Central reference library

See more interesting New York Central Links

Keep going down this page to see pictures, links and
other items on the New York Central.

Disclaimer:

As the New York Central system-wide timetable, Form 1001, used to read:
"Subject to change without notice, not responsible for errors and ommissions."

Several years ago I wrote a story on the major railroads of 1950 and what happened to them.

Now I am following up with a closer examination of the New York Central Railroad. This railroad only lasted until 1968 when it merged into Penn Central.

But, what was the NY Central Railroad like in 1950?

You will also be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen"

Feel free to check out these additional resources and websites:

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
New York Central Railways Getting Airtime Pictures of the Past Cameras Photos Welcome at Railroad Museum
Head End
Railway Express and Railway Post Office

LCL on the New York Central

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.

Remembering the last New York Central Railway Post Office (RPO) Through Syracuse (by Richard Palmer)

M&E on the New York Central

Prior to William White taking over in 1952 the Central had deferred much track maintenance in order to buy diesels and spend about $200 million on new passenger equipment. The physical plant was pretty well worn out following WWII but Central's leader in the 1940s, Gustave Metzman, could not raise enough money to buy diesels and varnish AND fix the track. So he decided to defer track maintenance.

The diesels paid for themselves in pretty quick order and, like many roads in the post-war era, Central could not resist trying to keep some of the passengers they'd won back during the war years, by buying new passenger equipment and speeding up schedules.

When White took over in 1952 one of his top goals was to eliminate all the slow orders on the major main lines. He not only did it, but he did it faster and cheaper than expected thanks to his embracing mechanization of MOW forces.

One of the great ideas during this period was a dedicated fleet of unique cars to handle LCL freight. Read about the New York Central Pacemaker Service .

1967 saw the end of "name" trains on the New York Central as the 'Twentieth Century Limited', 'Empire State Express', and others were replaced by numbers. The railroad petitioned the Public Service Commission to end all long-haul passenger service and concentrate on serving the less-than-200-mile intercity markets. The Penn-Central's so-called Empire Service was an honest attempt to provide a service that was acceptable to the public and at the same time not a big financial drain on the railroad. We have even more about NY Central Empire Service

Did you know that the Central even made railroad cars? Find out more on the New York Central Merchants Despatch .

The New York Central Railroad opened the Buffalo Central Terminal in 1929. Patrick Crowley, president of the NYC, officiated. Every major railroad in Buffalo had representatives gathered at the Terminal including those from the Canadian National, the Nickel Plate, the Buffalo and Susquehanna, the Erie, the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh, and even the Pennsylvania. Almost every one of the New York Central's crack passenger trains stopped at the Terminal. Two of these trains, the Empire and the Century had very unusual and romantic aspects about them. The 20th Century Limited was the Central's flagship train. The service was unmatched by any other train in the world. The reputation for being "on time" brought both runs of the Century (one from Chicago, the other from New York) to Buffalo at roughly the same time in the middle of the night. They would meet at Central Terminal. The Empire State Express was the flagship for the Central's Empire corridor from Niagara Falls to New York. The Empire has a very colorful history in that in 1893, it was noted as being the fasted thing on wheels. When the Stock Market crashed on Wall Street in October of 1929, the New York Central realized that they may have made a big mistake by constructing this huge white elephant on Buffalo's East Side. The building was empty and was losing money as no one was taking the train. But the plight of the Central Terminal was shared by the rest of the country. Recovery would not come until World War Two. Then, and only then, would Central Terminal be the biggest attraction in Buffalo. Millions would pass through its doors weekly.

Interesting and Important Dates on the New York Central Railroad



1851 Twelve men are convicted of conspiring to burn down the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit in protest over high rates and autocratic business dealings by the railroad. This event will become known as "The Great Railroad Conspiracy".

1852 The Michigan Southern Railroad (later MS&NI, LS&MS, NYC, PC, CR, NS) reaches Chicago. The rush to beat the Michigan Central into Chicago has left a break in Michigan Southern's line between Laporte and Michigan City. Michigan Southern travelers are forced to take a stagecoach between those two cities.

January 24, 1853 The Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad Company (later LS&MS, NYC, PC, CR, NS) opens, forming the last link in the chain of roads from Chicago to New York and Boston.

June 4, 1883 First trains on New York Central's West Shore line, on the west side of the Hudson River.

June 30, 1889 The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (The Big Four) is formed from the merger of the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis Railway, the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago Railway and the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railway.

1891 The "Empire State Express" goes from New York City to East Buffalo, 436 miles, in a record 7 hours 6 minutes (61.408-mph).
Also in 1891, the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad leased the Rome Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad, whom had a lease on the Utica & Black River Railroad.

1893, the Mohawk & Malone Railway was leased by the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad.

1899 The New York Central leases the Boston & Albany.
The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis is formed to handle switching and transfer chores in St. Louis. The sponsoring railroads are the Missouri Pacific, Iron Mountain & Southern, Wabash, Ohio & Mississippi, Louisville & Nashville and the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis.

August 16, 1904 Construction begins on New York City's new "Grand Central Station". When completed in 9 years, the building will become known as "Grand Central Terminal".

July 27, 1910 First passenger train passes through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel.

December 16, 1913 The landmark Michigan Central depot in Detroit opens. It will serve the city until 1988.

In 1913, the Rome Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad merged into the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad, as was the Utica & Black River Railroad. The portion of track from Utica to Remsen became the Lyons Branch.

December 16, 1915 The United States Attorney General rules that New York Central's ownership of the Nickel Plate violates U.S. anti-trust laws and orders divesture.

December 28, 1917 President Woodrow Wilson uses the Federal Possession and Control Act to take possession of "each and every system of transportation...within the boundaries of the United States." This creates the U.S. Railroad Administration.

March 20, 1920 The United States Railroad Administration is abolished, returning control of all railroads to their owners.

January 11, 1922 The Van Sweringen brothers buy the Lake Erie & Western from the New York Central and align it with the Nickel Plate, which they also own.

February 16, 1925 A new bridge is opened over Niagara Falls, replacing the previous span built in 1855. The bridge is part of the NYC/CS/MC route from New York to Michigan via Ontario.

June 16, 1926 A special train of seven red Pullman cars leaves Grand Central in New York City for Chicago. Dubbed "The Cardinals' Special", the train carries Roman Catholic dignitaries to the XXVIII Eucharistic Congress in Chicago, the first Congress in the U.S. The cars will be repainted Pullman green and returned to regular service next month.
July 8, 1926 First use of a radiotelephone on a train, on the New York Central.

February 14, 1927 The first New York Central "J-1" Hudson locomotive is completed. The "J" series were to set the pace for locomotive performance and design until the end of steam.
July 25, 1927 First installation of CTC controlled track goes into service between Stanley Yard and Berwick OH on the New York Central.

December 22, 1928 A record 854 long distance trains enter and leave Grand Central Terminal in 24 hours.

September 29, 1929 The New York Central inaugurates the "Commodore Vanderbilt", an all-first class, extra-fare train. This gives the NYC nine trains running between New York and Chicago on a 20-hour schedule. The NYC has adopted the Pennsylvania Railroad strategy of a fleet of fast trains, rather than just one name train.

February 1, 1930 New York Central leases the Michigan Central for 999 years.

December 14, 1934 New York Central unveils the "Commodore Vanderbilt", the first streamline steam locomotive and the inspiration for one of Lionel's most popular toy locomotives.

July 1, 1935 The New York Central Lines (subsidiary companies) are re-named the New York Central System.

March 25, 1936 The 200-inch mirror blank for the Palomar observatory begins its cross- country trip aboard a well-hole flat car [NYC 499010]. At the time it was shipped it was the single most valuable item ever shipped by rail. Railroad Vice-Presidents accompanied the special train to make sure there were no problems. As it traveled in the well-hole flatcar, the mirror was only inches above the rails.

December 7, 1941 The New York Central, with much fanfare, launches the new streamlined "Empire State Express". The bombing of Pearl Harbor puts an immediate damper on the planned festivities.

December 13, 1945 New York Central places what is `til then the largest single order for passenger equipment: 420 cars.

1946 New York Central purchases the Delaware & Hudson line from Saranac Lake to Lake Placid.

May, 1951 Due to dieselization, the New York Central lays off 1,230 workers at its West Albany Shops.

1952 The last steam locomotive is repaired at New York Central's West Albany Shops: J-1 Hudson 5270.

June 16, 1953 The last steam powered through passenger train runs on the Canada Southern.
August 7, 1953 New York Central Niagara 6020 leaves Harmon with Train 185, the last NYC steam locomotive to operate in New York State.

1953 Electric operations end at Cleveland Union Terminal

April 16, 1958 The New York Central introduces "Flexi-Van" service. The first route is New York to Chicago.

June 29, 1958 The last New York Central passenger train runs on New York City's West Shore route along the Hudson River north of the city beyond West Haverstaraw (i.e., to Albany). Commuter service to and from Weehawken and West Haverstraw continued until December 10,1959.

July 1, 1958 The New York Central withdraws from The Pullman Company and begins staffing its own passenger trains.

March 20, 1959 Last sailing of the Weehawken ferry, connecting New York Central's West Shore line with Manhattan.

January 1, 1960 The New York Central drops its membership in the Railway Express Agency, citing large losses from the express business.

April 3, 1961 The Boston & Albany, Ware River, Pittsfield & North Adams and Beech Creek Extension railroad companies all disappear into parent New York Central.

November 25, 1963 All rail and transit services in the United States are halted for one minute to commemorate the National Day of Mourning for the assassinated President John F. Kennedy. See the New York Central train order.

July 23, 1966 In a combination publicity stunt and test of how track functions under high speeds, a New York Central jet powered Rail Diesel Car hits 183.85 mph near Stryker, OH.

December 2, 1967 Last run of New York Central's "Empire State Express" as the railroad cancels all but two long distance trains.

February 1, 1968 The New York Central and Pennsylvania railroads merge to form Penn Central Transportation. To "protect competition" , the Norfolk & Western is given control of the Erie Lackawanna and Delaware & Hudson. Instead of merging with the two companies, they will be put under the umbrella of "Dereco", a subsidiary created by N&W to manage the lines.

June 21, 1970 Penn Central declares bankruptcy, at the time the largest bankruptcy in U.S. corporate history.


Important dates for the 20th Century Limited

See key dates in original New York Central company history .

See key dates in New York Central Adirondack and St Lawrence Divisions .

See random dates in railroad history .


YES, we know this list is incomplete. We keep adding to it. If you want to help us add, send us what you know.


Big Four Bridge

Big 4 Bridge from Jeffersonville, Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky

Big Four Bridge


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The break-up of Conrail to CSX and Norfolk Southern is just really a continuation of a drama that has gone on for about the last 80 years.
Click HERE to see Short Items on the New York Central Railroad
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New York Central Presidents in the 20th Century



Chauncey Depew (former president then chairman until 1928)

Samuel R. Colloway (took over from Depew before turn of century then became first president of the American Locomotive Company in 1901)

William H. Newman (1901-1909)

W. C. Brown (1909-1914)

Alfred H. Smith (1914-1924 except WW1)

William K. Vanderbilt (while Smith was with US Railway Administration in WW1)

Alfred H. Smith (died in a horse-riding accident in Central Park in 1924)

Patrick Crowley (1924-1931)

Fred .E. Williamson (1931-1944)

Gustave Metzman (1944-1952)

William White (1952-1954 then was president of the D&H)

Young/Perlman era
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World's Fair Special

World's Fair Special #40 at Renssaelaer. June 12, 1964. Collection of Robert B. Dunnet

Courtesy of Wayne Koch
Old Harmon Pictures

Old Picture of Harmon Shops.

Old Harmon Station, Courtesy of Wayne Koch

Penney wrote a great blog about Harmon, then she wrote another great blog about Harmon

Postwar Freight Modernization

The New York Harbor Railroad is a great resource for freight on the New York Central. They cover all the railroads who provided freight service to New York City. Their data on the West Side Freight Line is a great supplement to our site.

Big 4 Bridge: Jeffersonville to Louisville

The Big Four Bridge fell into disuse after the Big Four Railroad's parent company, the New York Central Railroad, was merged into the Penn Central in 1968. The Big Four Bridge's former traffic was then routed over Louisville's Fourteenth Street Bridge. By 1969 both approach spans had been removed and sold for scrap. As a result, the Big Four Bridge became the first Louisville bridge to fall out of use, and gained the nickname "Bridge That Goes Nowhere".
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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?"

All the great train stations of the New York Central System.

All the great train stations of the New York Central System.


Grand Central Terminal, Buffalo Central Terminal, Utica Union Station, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, Harmon, Beacon, Oneonta, Saranac Lake, Malone, and others. Even some not owned by NY Central but a destination for Central trains: like Montreal.

More railway stations you will enjoy.
Peekskill Station.

Although the NYC marketed itself as a 4 Track line, the Hudson division was always 2 tracks from approx mile post(MP) 40 (Just south of Peekskill) to MP 48 (just south of Garrison)

Also, don't forget that while 2-footers gained fame in Maine, Peekskill was reputedly the location of the first 2-foot gauge railroad, the Peekskill Valley Railroad. It ran from iron mines north east of Peekskill hollow to the iron works at the confluence of Annsville Creek and the Hudson River. The iron works were in turn served by the NYC&HRR.

Peekskill Station (old postcard)


At one time, commuter trains laid over at Peekskill, and there was a small roundhouse and turntable there. An interesting operation that the NYC did was to run RDCs up to Peekskill with MU cars in tow. Once the eastbound trains departed Harmon, the MUs were run down to Grand Central Terminal (GCT) minus the RDC. The old roundhouse and turntable have been removed a long time ago, but used to sit where the park (northside) is now located. For a long time, Peekskill was the northern terminus of the New York City commuter zone. The time frame of the northward extension to Poughkeepsie was probably following WWII. In Suburban TT's (form 105) from 1952 and earlier, Peekskill shows as the northern terminus in the TT's. In steam days most, if not all, of the coaches used on Peekskill trains were MU's. When the MU train arrived at Harmon, a steam engine would be attached and would pull the train to Peekskill. The Poughkeepsie trains used standard coaches. During cold weather the Peekskill trains had to get MU's that had steam lines for heating. The steam enginemen on these trains always complained that the trains were harder to pull than a long string of loaded hoppers because of the electric motors. I guess that they were generating electricity as they moved. The requirement for steam MU's on these trains meant extra work for the MU yardmaster on the lower level at GCT. Rather than turning, some steam engines were run backwards from Peekskill to Harmon, a distance of only 5 miles. Steam locomotives were not normally operated backward with a train due to the speed restriction of 30 MPH. In addition, there were also speed restrictions related to operating backward in ATC (Automatic Train Stop) territory. The schedules required a speed greater than 30 MPH. It was common practice for a pair of light engines early in the morning to back from Harmon to Peekskill to handle the first couple of locals.
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High Speed Rail
Over the last 50+ years, railroads have changed a lot. Now they are about to change again.

It is all about a combination of economic factors and climate factors.

Since 1950 , railroads have consolidated. Freight moved from a "box car mentality" to a "unit train,mentality". Passenger went from a robust business to a "caretaker" arrangement called AMTRAK. This happened as everybody could drive for free on the Interstate Highway System or fly on an airline system where the government subsidized both airlines and airports. In the meantime, railroad express and railroad post offices went "down the tubes". The old Post Office Department and the Railway Express Agency could not adjust to the new way. UPS and Fex Ex could.
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What's the most environmentally-friendly way to transport goods? The answer is freight rail. The EPA estimates that every ton-mile of freight that moves by rail instead of by highway reduces greenhouse emissions by two-thirds. But what does that really mean? Our easy-to-use carbon calculator will estimate the amount of carbon dioxide that can be prevented from entering our environment just by using freight rail instead of trucks. We'll even tell you how many seedlings you'd need to plant to have the same effect.
NY Central  20 Century Limited along the Hudson

New York Central 20th Century Limited along the Hudson

This was probably the all-time most famous train

Bruce Wolfe collection, courtesy of Bernie Rudberg

In 1947 a trio of EMD E units are powering the 20th Century Limited southbound along the banks of the Hudson River. This train had just thundered through Beacon and was heading for the engine change at Harmon. Since these diesel engines were not welcome under the streets of Manhattan, an electric engine would pull the limited the rest of the way into Grand Central Terminal.

Click on picture to see more about railroads in Beacon, New York
Hojack Swing Bridge at Charlotte on the Genesee River from a postcard found in St Joseph, Michigan)

Special Research Section on the Lake Ontario Shore Railroad.


This section contains information that is unpublished elsewhere!
In the early 1870's, the Lake Ontario Shore Railroad had been built from Oswego along the shore of Lake Ontario to the Niagara River (Suspension Bridge). It bypassed Rochester, had no manufacturing industries and first became part of the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburgh which was acquired by the New York Central.
Timeline of Railroads in the Adirondacks

See the Railroads of the Adirondacks too!!!
http://www.trainnet.org/     Train Net Fallen Flags Photos
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Supply Chain Management Control Towers



Control towers are used in many industries for different purposes: airports and railroads use them for traffic control; power plants have control rooms to monitor operations; and third party logistics providers use them to track transportation activities. These are places where operations run well. Why not a

“SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CONTROL TOWER"

in order to monitor and assure your supply? Talk to us, we build them!

So just what is an SCM Control Tower? What are the functions of a Supply Chain Control Tower? Who staffs your Supply Chain Management Control Tower?

If you use an EDI VAN for your business, this message is for you. Move past the ancient VAN technology. JWH EDI Services Electronic Commerce Messaging System will bring your EDI operation into the 21st Century. The power of our global EDI network is available on your server, your cloud platform or your application. AND you cannot beat our prices.
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How can we help you? Contact us: Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
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Today’s supply chain is more than simple transport of EDI documents. The complexity of maintaining compliance with trading partners, managing the ever increasing amount of data, and analyzing that data to drive constant improvement in processes and service take supply chain professionals far beyond the basics of mapping EDI documents.
Snow Belt in New York State Boonville Station There is a "Snow Belt" in New York State that runs above Syracuse and Utica. It goes East from Oswego to at least Boonville. Here's the station at Boonville.

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Ominous Weather is about more than weather. Its about our environment. Its about our social issues that need to be surfaced if we want to save our environment. See Champions of our Environment like Al Gore SAS le Prince Albert II de Monaco John R. Stilgoe Ralph Nader. We have addressed several railroad-related projects that will conserve fuel and lessen pollution. Our Window on Europe spotlights projects that can help the rest of the World.
We have other environmental sites on garbage trucks and Rapid response temporary shelters / portable housing.
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The Southern New York Railway: Interurban Electric between Oneonta and the Mohawk Valley. Oneonta connections New York Central Railroad and Delaware & Hudson Railroad Railroad Mergers The Penn Central was born amid great expectations and promises on February 1,1968 by the merger of the New York Central System into the Pennsylvania Railroad on that date.
NY Central Niagara at Rhinecliff

NYC "Niagara" 4-8-4 at speed southbound past Rhinecliff in 1950.


You can see the remains of the ice house long dock to the left of the engine.
Rhinecliff Hill

Rhinecliff from up on the hill. The former Rhinebeck & Connecticut Railroad (became Central New England Railway, then New Haven Railroad) is the line of trees across the center. At left is the NYC and the long dock in the Hudson River with the Kingston bridge in the distance.

Photo by the late Austin McEntee

Above maps and photos courtesy Bernie Rudberg

Click here to see more about the Rhinebeck & Connecticut and the Central New England Railway
Railroads around New York State Green Island

Green Island


20.8 miles from Schenectady

See Gino's Rail Page
The Little Falls & Dolgeville Railroad
The West Shore In The Mohawk Valley
See How The Troy & Schenectady Railroad Looks Today
Schenectady Railway Company
WIKIPEDIA: the free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

WIKIPEDIA contains several articles of interest to the New York Central historian or fan:
New York Central Railroad
List of New York Central Railroad precursors
List of defunct United States railroads
Grand Central Terminal
List of New York railroads
List of Indiana railroads
List of Michigan railroads
List of Massachusetts railroads
List of Ohio Railroads
List of Pennsylvania railroads
List of West Virginia Railroads
Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Big 4)
Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad
Many of these articles have been developed by our staff researchers KC Jones and Penney Vanderbilt.

Any connection to Casey Jones....America's Railroad Legend is purely coincidental.

WONDIR
Hickory Creek

The Hickory Creek of New York Central Railroad "Twentieth Century Limited" fame returns to home rails for spectacularly scenic railway travel.
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Tunnels and Bridges on the New York Central
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Interesting facts about the New York Central Railroad



The New York Central Railroad Company was a corporation of the State of New York, having its principal office at 575 Broadway, in the City of Albany, State of New York. It also maintained executive offices at 466 Lexington Avenue, New York City.

Buildings in the vicinity of Grand Central Terminal were owned by the New York State Realty and Terminal Company headquartered at 466 Lexington Avenue.

Commodore Vanderbilt's statue at Grand Central Terminal was originally placed downtown at St, John's Park in 1869. When the original downtown freight house was moved, the statue went to Grand Central in 1929.

The agreement ("in perpetuity") allowing the New Haven Railroad to enter New York City on New York Central right-of-way and share the terminal dates back to 1848.

In 1853, The Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad Company opened (later Lake Shore & Michigan Southern), NY Central, Penn Central, Conrail, Norfolk Southern) thus forming the last link in the chain of roads from Chicago to New York and Boston.

In 1882 William H. Vanderbilt utters his famous "The public be damned!" quote. The rest of the quote is "I am working for my stockholders. If the public wants the train, why don't they pay for it?" (The train in question was a premium fare, deluxe weekly).

See how milk was important to the Central.
Troy & Schenectady railroad station at Niskayuna, New York

Troy and Schenectady Branch\Railroad



Welcome to the T&S Branch. A group devoted to the discussion and history of the Troy and Schenectady Branch\Railroad between Schenectady and Troy New York.

Although abandoned now, this line was part of the original New York Central Railroad.
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New York Central station in Ogdensburg

Take a look at my blog about railroads in Ogdensburg, New York.
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New York Central station in Ogdensburg Metro-North Commuter Railroad

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