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Railroad Bridges and Tunnels


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Castleton Cutoff Hudson River Tunnel

Railroad Tunnels and Bridges

Welcome to our Tunnels and Bridges WebSite

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

Our feature articles are about New York City subway tunnels and railroad tunnels under water .

We cover some specific bridges and tunnels, such as New Haven Railroad bridges along the Shore Line , the the Great Railroad Bridge at Poughkeepsie , the historic Old Colony railroad tunnel, The Hudson River Bridge Company at Albany was a part of the New York Central Railroad , and Montreal's Mount Royal Tunnel .

Included are stories on Staten Island Bridge .

Delaware & Hudson Railroad bridge removals

abandoned tunnels in New York State , and the Hudson Tubes .

See our story on the New York State Thruway bridge collapse .

We have some interesting material on bridge tolls .

Lot's of good pictures, like a wooden trestle near Millbrook, New York .

Be sure to see our bridge and tunnel reference section .

Rome has the catacombs; Paris has its sewers. Now New York will have its own subterranean wonder: a 200-ton mechanical serpent’s head.

It is a gargantuan drill that has been hollowing out tunnels for a train station under Grand Central Terminal. As tall as four men and with the weight of two whales, the so-called cutter head — the spinning, sharp-edged business end of a tunnel boring machine — is usually extracted, dismantled and sold for scrap when the work is done.

But the Spanish contractor overseeing the project is taking a different approach. It believes it can save time and money by simply leaving it behind, dormant and decayed, within the rocky depths of Midtown Manhattan. The drill’s final resting place: 14 stories beneath the well-tended sidewalks of Park Avenue.

Read the full article.
Corsica Ferry

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Corsica Ferry

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Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge Coalition (LARBC) About the

Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge Coalition (LARBC)

The Livingston Avenue Rail Road Bridge between the cities of Albany and Rensselaer is slated to be completely rebuilt in 2017 as part of New York State's High Speed Rail initiative.
affiliate_link December, 2013; We received some new information from Gordon Davids on the Livingston Avenue Bridge: The existing bridge at Livingston Ave., including the swing span, was built in 1902 to replace the original timber truss bridge of 1866. However the stone piers are original. When Lincoln's funeral train went through New York City to Illinois in 1865, it could not cross the Hudson at Albany, because the bridge had yet to be built. I believe that the coffin crossed the river from East Albany (Rensselaer) to Albany on a boat, and the train went around via Troy and Green Island to Albany, from whence it continued its trip west. The Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad (D&H) had built its first Green Island Bridge in 1835. The connection from Green Island to Albany was opened in 1853.

The Hudson River Bridge Company at Albany

Livingston Avenue Bridge (picture at right top) (sometimes referred to as the freight bridge or North Bridge) was built by The New York Central Railroad to carry freight trains over the Hudson. Passenger trains came across to the station on the Maiden Lane Bridge (South Bridge) (picture at right bottom) .
This bridge is gone and Amtrak uses the Livingston Avenue bridge now.

These two bridges were owned by a separate corporation:
The two railroad bridges crossing the Hudson River between Rensselaer and Albany were owned nominally by a separate organization called The Hudson River Bridge Company at Albany, incorporated April 9, 1856. This ownership was vested in The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, three-fourths, and the Boston and Albany Railroad Company, one-fourth. Except for foot passengers, the bridges were used exclusively for railroad purposes. The north bridge was opened in 1866, and the south bridge in 1872.

Back in the early 1900s, the Central found that traffic was growing beyond the capacity of West Albany Yard (which was geographically constrained from expanding), and that West Albany Hill had a tremendous detrimental effect on freight movements. With trains growing in length and weight, many needed helpers or even doubling to get up the grade. The result was the Castleton Cutoff (and the newest of the Hudson River bridges in the Albany Area).

By Ken Kinlock at
Livingston Avenue Bridge at Albany
Maiden Lane Bridge at Albany
Maiden Lane Livingston Avenue Bridges Map

Construction of the Livingston Avenue Bridge over the Hudson River, which today connects Amtrak's New York City trains with western New York, began when Abraham Lincoln was president.

The Livingston Avenue Bridge stands as a working monument to steam-age rail thinking in the Empire State. The 144-year-old swing bridge is the sole link for Amtrak passenger trains crossing the Hudson River. Between trains, a 230-foot draw section still pivots open and closed on a turntable mechanism some 100 or more times each year so big boats can cruise through. As passenger rail advocates push for development of modern high-speed tracks and trains that would move at speeds of 110 mph or more, the daily reliance on this relic of 19th-century technology carries great irony. If the bridge were to be out of commission for an extended period, Amtrak's alternate route across the Hudson for trains traveling out of New York City would be another CSX bridge across the Castleton viaduct. This route would miss stops at Rensselaer and Schenectady. Rensselaer Rail Station was Amtrak's 10th-busiest in the country last year, with nearly 724,000 boardings and arrivals.

Information came from Cathy Woodruff of the Albany Times Union published June 21, 2010.

Albany Night Boat

Picture (undated, from the Library of Congress) shows the “Night Boat” from New York City docked in Albany. Everything is different in the picture except the Livingston Avenue Bridge in the background that still carries AMTRAK between New York City and Chicago.
Albany Night Boat
Up until 1941, The “Night Boat” from New York City to Albany could carry 2,000 passengers. It ended an era in American history of grand boats with staterooms, ballrooms, etc running up and down the Hudson River. Passengers could be young couples on a weekend trip, couples evading detection by spouses, “ladies of the evening”, etc. There was even a Broadway farce in the 1920's called the “Night Boat“.

But by 1941, everybody was in a hurry. You could make the trip by car, train or even airplane. Saratoga horse racing and gambling was slowing down as more options opened up near NY City. So when it went down the tubes, few cared about the “Night Boat”.

The first “crack” in the monopoly of the Hudson River steam boats was in the 1860's when Cornelius Vanderbilt’s Hudson River Railroad (part of the great New York Central Railroad) started running trains, first only in the Winter. At their beginning, trains stopped at Rensselaer with passengers walking across a foot bridge. A NY Central subsidiary, The Hudson River Bridge Company at Albany solved that problem with the Maiden Lane Bridge into downtown Albany (now gone) and the Livingston Avenue Bridge (originally a freight bypass).

Now, New York State is considering changes to gambling laws, and guess what? A “gambling” boat between NY City and Albany might become legal.

Not going to get into the topic of Saratoga and gambling (other than horses), but it could help Rensselaer too. Imagine a “class” hotel there!

Both Penney Vanderbilt's blog and the Albany Times Union have carried stories on the return of the night boat.

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Old Lyme bridge

See our special section on New Haven Railroad Bridges along the Connecticut Shore Line

This section, also gives you:
New Haven Railroad history from 1844 to 1967.
How the Farmington Canal was converted to a railroad.
Naugatuck Line and other abandoned railroads in Connecticut.
The Essex Steam Train and when new steam came to Essex.
Story of the 'Pullmans on a hill'
Finished bridge #2

From the collection of the late Austin McEntee

Here is a portrait of the completed bridge with the City of Poughkeepsie in the background.

Click here to see more about the Great Poughkeepsie Bridge
Niantic bridge
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Walkway Over the Hudson
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North of Albany, the Northway bridge that crossed the original Delaware & Hudson Railroad main thru Round Lake was not the only bridge removed (some quite new) that had a short life due to D&H abandonments or relocations in the 1950's or 60's.

Among them:

-RR overpass over Route 9 in Round Lake (on old main)

-Route 67 overpass over old main near Curtis Lumber in Ballston Spa

-RR overpass over Route 20 on the Cherry Valley Branch (rumored never to have carried a train)

-RR overpass over Route 9L on Lake George Branch across from Howard Johnson's.
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A gap of less than a foot stands between the city and its goal of rejuvenating rail freight traffic between Staten Island and the rest of the country.

The snag has come in the renovation of an old lift bridge spanning the Arthur Kill between Staten Island and New Jersey. The span has gotten stuck during tests of its rehabilitated lifting mechanism, tilting it out of place by as much as 11 inches.

Without the bridge, trains cannot come and go. So after years of planning and hundreds of millions of dollars of public investment, the city is hoping that a specialist being brought in can fix it.

The bridge — nearly a half-century old and almost two football fields long — is the longest lift bridge in the country. But now when the bridge’s movable platform is raised and then lowered back into the down position, it sometimes does not dock perfectly into the deck.

The Economic Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have finished rebuilding rail lines at Howland Hook on the northwest corner of Staten Island and at the nearby Arlington Yards, as well as a seven-mile rail line to a trash transfer station, and rail connections on the New Jersey side of Arthur Kill.

The entire rail link was originally scheduled to open last fall. If delays continue for many more months, the city’s goal of generating more than $200 million in net economic benefits by 2010 by reactivating rail service could be jeopardized. The rail link over the Arthur Kill Lift Bridge is also important to the city’s hopes of reducing truck traffic. BUT NOT TO WORRY, IT GOT FIXED!

Find out about PROMISES and PROMISES


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Poughkeepsie Bridge Fire

Poughkeepsie Bridge

Struggles define railroad bridge's 126-year history

By Dion Sunderland
For the Poughkeepsie Journal

The first railroads in the United States were built in the 1830s. As the country grew and the economy expanded, railroads popped up all around the country, and the Hudson Valley was no exception. Most of the railroads radiated out from major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York and Philadelphia.

By the 1870s, rail lines were moving people and freight up and down the Hudson and Harlem valleys. Others ran from Poughkeepsie and Beacon toward the northeast corner of Dutchess County and the border of Connecticut to connect with several railroads from New England.

One of the first east-west lines through Dutchess County ran from Danbury, Conn., to Beacon, and brought traffic from New England. The Hudson River was an impediment. Passengers and freight had to cross the Hudson River by ferry - a slow and inefficient process. In Newburgh, passengers could connect with the Erie or Philadelphia and Reading railroads.

Starting around the 1850s, serious consideration was being given to a bridge crossing the Hudson River, somewhere between New York City and Albany. The editor of the Daily Press first publicly suggested a bridge in January 1854.

The years between 1868 to 1873 were boom years for Poughkeepsie and the surrounding county. Small railroads crisscrossed Dutchess County. Harvey Eastman was elected mayor of the city in 1871, and was elected to the state Assembly in November 1871. Eastman believed that Poughkeepsie would become a great crossroads on one of the mainlines in America, and as assemblyman, he hoped to influence the state Legislature in this regard. Eastman and his partners had visions of trains moving coal from Pennsylvania, Virginia and the West to the manufacturing interests in New England, while trains moved merchandise to markets in the West. At that time, the nearest railroad crossing of the Hudson River was between Albany and Troy.

After bitter fighting in Albany for several years, the Poughkeepsie Bridge Company was incorporated in May 1872 with capital of $2 million. The charter provided that the work of construction should begin before July 1, 1872, (then changed to Jan. 1, 1874) and finished before 1876. The bridge had to be designed so as not to obstruct navigation on the Hudson River, hence the height and minimal clearance of 130 feet above the high water level.

Construction actually began with a cornerstone placed on the western shore in December 1873, and was completed 15 years later, in December 1888. On Feb. 22, 1887, the Union Bridge company moved the cornerstone, with all its records intact, and set it in the east shore anchor pier.
The Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, though scarred by a 1974 fire, maintains a strong presence between Highland and Poughkeepsie.

The first train crossed the bridge on a cold and miserable Dec. 29, 1888, but railroad connections on the western side of the bridge were not fully completed until 1889. Harvey Eastman had died before the bridge was complete. Over the course of the construction, the original investors in the railroad lost their money as Poughkeepsie Bridge Company became insolvent and was twice reorganized.

Many of the small railroads in Dutchess County, such as the Dutchess County Railroad, Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad, and Poughkeepsie Bridge Railroad had become insolvent and were absorbed into the Central New England, which itself was partly controlled by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Eventually the CNE, with its principal offices in Poughkeepsie, became part of the New Haven. The New Haven was absorbed by the Penn Central Railroad (a merger of the New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968). Two years later, the Penn Central was bankrupt and was subsequently folded into Conrail, along with several other failed railroads in the Northeast in 1976.

Mission to open walkway
A fire in May 1974 rendered the bridge inactive. Penn Central, and later Conrail were in no shape to maintain, let alone repair, the bridge. In 1984, in an effort to eliminate a liability, Conrail disposed of the bridge and approximately 10 miles of right-of-way for $1.

For more than a decade, there were disputes over ownership, liability and access. Various groups and individuals put forth a variety of ideas for the future of the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge. One of the most talked-about plans was to convert the bridge into a walkway across the Hudson.

In June 1998, the deed for the bridge was transferred to Walkway Over the Hudson, a nonprofit group working to open the pedestrian span. The New York State Department of Transportation is sponsoring a study concerning the viability and potential use of the Maybrook line corridor. This route, which includes the railroad bridge, runs from Poughkeepsie east to the Town of LaGrange and then veers south to Hopewell Junction in Dutchess County, and on the west side of the river, the line runs from Highland to Plattekill to Maybrook in Orange County.

Perhaps the bridge superstructure could be replaced, and using the original piers, a new bridge could be constructed to provide rail, highway as well as pedestrian traffic.

====== Dion Sunderland is a senior engineer at Anatech Corp. in Poughkeepsie who has made proposals for rebuilding the Maybrook line in Dutchess County for rail service.

Read about the Great Walkway over the Great Bridge that has resulted from a lot of work by a lot of people


The Channel Tunnel
Tunnels in Pittsburgh area Canton Viaduct
Tunnel Basics
There is always a chance of storms in the Mediterranean Sea.

Find out more about Weather around the World

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 other environmental sites on garbage trucks and Rapid response temporary shelters / portable housing. 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.
Ominous Weather in the Mediterranean Sea
King Preferred
Tunnel at Breakneck Ridge

New York Central tunnel at Breakneck Ridge.

Beacon Historical Society collection

The story says that Breakneck Ridge got it’s name because of a farmer’s stray bull that fell down the cliff and broke his neck. You can see a bit of the Hudson River at far left.

Click here or on picture to see more about railroads in Beacon, New York has provided a 1942 Quiz Book on Railroads and Railroading.
Here's some interesting questions and answers:

How many railway tunnels are there in the United States and what is the total length?

There were 1,539 railway tunnels in this country in 1937. Their aggregate length was 320 miles.

What was the first railway tunnel in the United States?

The first railroad tunnel in this country was constructed in 1833, four miles east of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for the Allegheny Portage Railroad (now a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad).

What is the oldest great railway tunnel in the United States?

The Hoosac Tunnel, on the Boston & Maine Railroad, under Hoosac Mountain, Massachusetts, was the first great railway tunnel built in the United States, and it is the oldest of the long railway tunnels now in use in this country. It was one of the most stupendous engineering feats of the period in which it was built. Twenty-five years were required for its construction. The tunnel is 4 miles 3,690 feet in length; was commenced in 1851; holed through November 27, 1873; completed so as to admit passage of cars February 9, 1875; used by Boston-Troy passenger trains October 1875; officially opened for business July 1, 1876; electrified May, 1911.

What is the longest railway tunnel in the United States?

The Cascade Tunnel, of the Great Northern Railroad, through the Cascade Mountains in Chelan and King Counties, Washington, is 41,152 feet (7.79 miles) in length, and is the longest railway tunnel in the Western Hemisphere. It was completed in 1929. In the construction of this tunnel, boring was started simultaneously at the eastern and western portals, nearly eight miles apart, and when the construction forces met in the center, after many months of continuous boring, they found that they were only a fraction of a foot out of perfect alignment.

What is the second longest railway tunnel in the United States?

The Moffat Tunnel, of the Denver & Salt Lake Railroad, under James Peak in Colorado, is 6 miles 600 feet in length, and is the second longest railway tunnel in the United States. The highest point in the tunnel is 9,257 feet above sea level. Opened for railway traffic in 1928, the tunnel shortened the rail distance between Denver and Salt Lake City via the route of the Denver & Rio Grande Western by 173 miles.

How many railway bridges are there in this country?

In 1937 there were approximately 191,779 bridges, with an aggregate length of 3,860 miles, in the railway structure of the United States.
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Famous bridges of the World

Long long ago, the B&O electrified their Howard St Tunnel in Baltimore due to problems with steam engine exhaust.

The Baltimore Belt Line was constructed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) in the 1890s to connect the railroad's newly constructed line to New York City with the rest of the railroad at Baltimore, Maryland. It included the first mainline railroad electrification in the United States. In 1892 the B&O thus contracted with General Electric (GE) for electric locomotives, powerhouse equipment, and the electricity distribution system.

On July 18, 2001, a 60 car CSXT freight derailed in the Howard Street Tunnel, sparking a fire that burned for six days and blocked traffic for much longer. The Howard Street Tunnel fire called attention to the Belt Line, both as a risk to the surrounding structures and as a link in rail traffic. CSXT has implemented various improvements to increase the integrity of the link, but is limited by the shallow depth of the bore (only three feet below the surface at the south end) and the instability of the surrounding soil.

Montreal's Mount Royal Tunnel Electrification

A presentation by Mark Walton

Marc Dufour's Mount Royal Tunnel Page

Ricard’s Railway Page, The Town of Mount Royal

Abandoned Tunnels in New York State

See an interesting forum on about abandoned tunnels in New York State.
Included is our own contribution: the abandoned tunnel in downtown Troy.
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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.


The Poughkeepsie Bridge
from Beginning to End

Significant Tunnels

List of New York Railroads

The Hudson River

Moffat Tunnel

North America's Longest Tunnel

Chicago Tunnel Railroad

New York City Bridge and Tunnel Crossings

Pennsylvania Turnpike: Abandoned Tunnels
A real railroad Connection

Bridge and Tunnel Links

The Orphan Rochester Subway

St Clair International Railway Tunnel
Port Huron-Sarnia

Oldest railroad tunnels in North America
Includes the oldest active tunnel in
Norwich, Connecticut

"Working on the Railroad"
The role of the King Bridge Company

Finding the Shepaug Tunnel

Bridgemeister a great list of references

Historic bridges in the news is a database of historic or notable bridges in the United States, past and present
West Shore Railroad

Sharing the “Water Level Route” with the New York Central was the West Shore; first as a competitor; later a subsidiary.
Hoosac Tunnel Net
Old Colony Railroad Tunnel

Old Colony Railroad Tunnel
1. Guide Walls
2. Precast, Prestressed Concrete Slurry Walls
3. Reinforced Concrete Base Slab
4. Reinforced Concrete Roof Slab
Longest Railroad Tunnels in the World
The Washington Metropolitan Area Subway System was identified by the Directors of the American Underground Construction Association as the "Most Distinguished United States Underground Project, 1975-2000, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the International Tunnelling Association.
Thruway Bridge Collapse

Not exactly a railroad-related bridge, but the collapse of a bridge on the NY Thruway in 1987 forced the use of an old railroad bridge to carry the Thruway.
Welcome to the Hudson Tubes
William G. McAdoo and the Hudson Tubes
Port Authority Trans-Hudson (from the WIKI)

Port Authority Official Site
Railroad Station at Troy, New York

Railroad Station at Troy, New York

The station in Troy was owned by the Troy Union Rail Road. The TURR lasted from the mid 19th Century till the mid 20th Century. It was owned by the New York Central, Delaware & Hudson and Boston & Maine. Access from the South was from Rensselaer; from the West, via the Green Island Bridge; from the North was street running almost the entire length of Troy. See Penney's blog for more information (and a great movie from the 1950's).

Not all tunnels are big. Troy had lots of small ones. D&H transfer headed to the Congress Street tunnel.

Wooden trestle near Millbrook

Wooden trestle near Millbrook.

The ND&C RR (Newburgh, Dutchess and Connecticut Railroad) established an operation that survived through good times and bad for over 25 years until it was absorbed into the Central New England Rwy and later became part of the New Haven RR. Some sections survived longer than Hopewell Junction to Millbrook and the Clove Branch. Still later 11 miles of the old ND&C line became part of the ill fated Penn Central, next Conrail, then the Housatonic RR and currently Metro North.

After many years and many different names, these tracks are still in service and owned by Metro North MTA. There is no regular train service on this “Beacon Branch” but they are keeping the line open for possible future use.

To see more about this historic rail line, once a part of the Central New England Railway in New York State and the New Haven Railroad, click here
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?"

Hudson River Tunnel

Eventually, all four tracks of the "Water Level Route" went through the mountains. Here is a 1943 troop train roaring out of the tunnel bringing an armored division from Texas. Interested in Troop Trains? Check out a whole trip from Texas to New York City port of embarkation. This photo album is great if you ever served in the military or had an interest in troop trains.
General Electric shipment iover NY Central

A steam turbine was transported by the NY Central from the General Electric plant at Schenectady, N.Y.,to Porter, Ind. From there into Chicago, its final destination, routing over four different railroads was necessary in order to avoid bridges, viaducts, and tunnels. Weight of the shipment was 388,540 pounds. Gross weight including car was 530,000 pounds. To date this was the heaviest shipment ever moved on the NY Central. The special flat car on which it was loaded was one of three such owned by the Central.
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)
Interesting article in a New York Central forum: "On one bridge, we had some problems with inner city youth tossing debris on passing trains. One of our engineers discovered that a GE locomotive operating in 8th notch, would produce an eight foot flame out the stack if the throttle was quickly shut off, then opened again. No more vandals on the bridge after that."
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New York Subway Tunnels Under Water

Subway Tunnels
River Year
# of
Name Railroad/Line
Harlem 1933 3 Concourse Subway C and D
Harlem 1905 2 149th Street Subway #2
Harlem 1918 4 Lexington Avenue Subway #4,5,6
East 1989 4 63rd Street Subway B, Q and Long Island Railroad
East 1920 2 60th Street Subway N and R
East 1933 2 53rd Street Subway E and F
East 1915 2 Steinway Subway #7
East 1924 2 14th Street Subway L
East 1936 2 Rutgers Street Subway F
East 1932 2 Cranberry Street Subway A and C
East 1919 2 Clark Street Subway 2 and 3
East 1920 2 Montague Street Subway M, N and R
East 1908 2 Joralemon Street Subway 4 and 5
Newton Creek 1933 2 Newton Creek Subway G See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History KC Jones
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