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The West Shore Railroad


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Sharing the “Water Level Route” with the New York Central was the West Shore; first as a competitor; later a subsidiary.

West Shore Railroad

Ferry from Weehawken
The West Shore got as close to New York City as across the river in New Jersey. Passengers took a ferry while freight went across the river on car floats. Click on the picture to see more on ferries and car floats.

Welcome to our NY Central West Shore WebSite

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

Our feature article is about the River Division (from Conrail days)

Yes, you can Fly Along the West Shore (on Google Earth)

Some of our articles you should not miss are when was the West Shore abandoned ; all about West Shore interurbans (Yes, that's what I said!); the West Shore's Wallkill Valley branch .

Want to find out even more about the West Shore then keep reading. We have articles on detour movements on the West Shore (and on detour movements All Along the Central) .

See our West Shore Reference Section and take a look at "Did You Know?" Interesting facts on the West Shore .

New York Central Six Track Railroad in the 1920's

Al Perlman letter why NY Central is discontinuing passenger service on the West Shore

Mileposts on the West Shore

What kind of Passenger Service Did the West Shore Have? .

Richard Palmer's West Shore Abandonment Lists .

West Shore Stations in Utica .

Chenango Branch went from the West Shore in Syracuse, through Manlius, Cazenovia and other small towns, even through a tunnel to Earlville, New York. In Earlville, it met the Ontario & Western. It was abandoned in stages until nothing was left.

Overview of the West Shore Railroad

The West Shore Railroad was chartered December 5, 1885, as successor to the New York, West Shore & Buffalo Railway, and was leased for 475 years to the New York Central. On that same date, the Middletown Branch was transferred to the Ontario & Western and that road given trackage rights Cornwall to Weehawken

Trackage of West Shore Railroad was Weehawken, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York, 425 miles; and branches - Rockland Lake to Congers, 1.15 miles; Athens Dock to Coxsavkie, N.Y. 6.16 miles; Coeymans Jct. to Kenwood Jct., N.Y. 11.04 miles; Fullers to Athens Jct., 5.07 miles; Syracuse to Earlville, N.Y., 45.49 miles; Buffalo to Buffalo Creek, N.Y., 1.29 miles - total lines 495.20 miles. The Syracuse, Ontario & New York Railway, Syracuse to Earlville, was absorbed by consolidation on July 2, 1891.

The New Jersey Junction Railroad was organized in 1886 to provide connections and facilities for interchange of traffic between several railway systems terminating at Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken. It was leased in 1886 to the New York Central.

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History
Our favorite Short Lines
Interesting Railway Stations
Corsica Ferry

Traveling in Europe?
You will probably need to make a FERRY RESERVATION.

Réservation Ferry en français
Stop by and see our Reservations Center.
Corsica Ferry

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Baldwin 6232 in Haworth

Haworth, New Jersey in the 1950's

Recently we had an inquiry from Dwyer Wedvick ( ) about a photo (above) he took in April 1955 of the West Shore RR stop in Haworth, NJ (in Bergen County), when he was 15 old. Dwyer wanted to ID the type of engine, NYC #6232 was guessing its an ALCO RS-1 ?

To the best of our knowledge steam power stopped being used in Haworth in 1953. He remembers the 2-8-2s and 4-6-2s from the 1940s to 1953 but was not yet old enough to have a camera to record photos thereof, a shame really. Commuter passenger service in Haworth stopped around 1957 when his dad bought a foreign car, a Hillman Minx convertible, as a commuter car to drive to NYC. Other men started taking a bus to the Erie RR in Oradell, NJ nearby. Note: West Shore commuter service died by stages. Not everything lasted until 1959.

He can remember going to NYC with his dad on the train and ( the exciting to him at least of the “vibrating” NYC steam ferry ) ... the other commuters and his dad were bored or read papers as they crossed the Hudson RR ... especially interesting was the ferry slicing through the ice in the winter and the warmth inside the side cabins of the ferry versus the cold outside. Dwyer's comment on the return “In the evening on the train and boring for me, was to watch my dad and other men play poker (of course I am wrong, they wouldn’t gamble ... played hearts I’m sure. ) on a card table top place atop the knees of four players on commuter seats positioned to face each other and other men standing around playing and kibitzing. At Dumont, NJ ( the town next to Haworth ) the game was ended and the table top stored by the conductor as we prepared to detrain at Haworth and walk home two long blocks away.

The Haworth RR station had an agent who transacted freight business as well as selling passengers tickets. Dwyer recalls he had a Morse telegraph system. And the passenger waiting room sported a huge potbellied stove.

Sadly, the Station burned to the ground one winter in the 1960s. Dwyer was away in the Army at the time, so he does not know the details.

See a front view and a back view.

Living in Haworth, from his bedroom window Dwyer could look west to the NYC RR and see everything clearly from mid October though April when the trees were bare of leaves. He can remember the steam engines on freight trains spinning their wheels then getting smart and going backwards to shove the cars tight on their couplers ... then get a running start with the slack, worked too. Sometimes the Mikados were doubleheaded. And occasionally a Mohawk or Hudson came through. Today Dwyer enjoys his favorite RRs the B&M and the CPR for research and to model. The CPR mainly for its operations with the B&M and its Int'l Maine Division ..... and its oh so handsome semi-streamlined steam engines.

Anyway, back to the ID of the locomotives: Guess what Dwyer! You got a BALDWIN, not an ALCO! Kept looking for RS-1 thru RS-3 and only found road numbers in the 81XX series, later renumbered to the 99XX series. Went to the ultimate NY Central authority (not the NY Central Museum, not me, but the Canadian Southern WebSite
From there, I picked up the "1955 NY Central Power" and concentrated on Lines East. Road Number was a "DRSP-8A" 'Diesel Road Switcher plus some internal code), but it referred me to here where we finally get the answer DRSP-8A referred to 17 units having road numbers 6220-6236 and having been built by BALDWIN LIMA HAMILTON as order number 50544 I KNEW from his picture it didn't look ALCO enough!!! Now that we know it’s a Baldwin, Dwyer found info on page BLW-294 of “The Second Diesel Spotter’s Guide” confirming what you found and they are called BLW RS12s and are of 1200 hp. Somehow we suspect photos of Baldwin RS12s and the Haworth RR Station are rare ones.
6233 at Haworth with Dwyer in cab

6233 at Haworth with Dwyer in cab

6233 at Haworth or Dumont with freight

6233 at Haworth or Dumont with freight

New York Central Picturec Album

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The River Division

Running from Selkirk, NY to Weehawken, NJ is a heavy-duty freight railroad owned by CONRAIL and commonly referred to as the River Division. It truly earns its name by hugging the river bank from across the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie to cross the river from Peekskill at Haverstraw. In this area are many, many small bridges crossing the inlets and tributaries.

It is basically single-tracked, heavily signaled and has some long passing sidings. The usual mode of operation seems to be several trains running one after the other northbound then several running southbound. Sometimes headway is only a few minutes apart. Many trains are solid trailers on flat cars without a caboose, others are conventional freights with sometimes over 100 cars.

If anything, traffic has increased since the inception of CONRAIL because of ex Erie-Lackawanna traffic going towards Buffalo on this route rather than through the Southern-tier route. Before CONRAIL, Penn-Central ran the route and obviously before that, New York Central.

The origin of the route was the New York, West Shore & Chicago which was chartered in the 1870's and intended to go to Chicago via Buffalo. Some work was done on this line but it died in the Panic of 1877. However the idea was still fascinating to investors and was revived. George Pullman of sleeping car fame (but not on the New York Central where Wagner cars were used) and several others formed the New York, West Shore & Buffalo.

In the 1870's, a railroad had been built from Middletown NY to the Great Lakes seaport of Oswego. It was called the New York & Oswego Midland and soon failed because it was poorly located, had bad grades and curves, and served few important towns. This road turned into the New York, Ontario & Western. This reorganized railroad sought a better entrance into metropolitan New York than the rambling path which later became the New York, Susquehanna & Western (now connecting with the River Division at Little Ferry Junction). Instead it intended to head directly for the Hudson River (from Middletown to Cornwall-on-Hudson) and then follow the river south to Jersey City. Thus was formed a common link between the West Shore and the NYO&W. This route south from Cornwall was to be the first section of the West Shore. The West Shore was built in the early 1880's but went bankrupt in 1884, due to high construction costs and rate cutting wars with the New York Central. At this point, the Pennsylvania Railroad (main rival of the New York Central) began to buy control of the West Shore. In a compromise brought about by J.P. Morgan, the Pennsylvania backed out of the West Shore and in return the New York Central kept out of Pittsburgh. In 1885, the Central took over the West Shore. Bondholders were paid in new bonds ($50 million) and the New York Central began to operate the West Shore as a separate entity.

The route of the West Shore has many tunnels. The three most important are the long (4225 feet) tunnel under Bergen Hill (just north of the Weehawken passenger station); a 1620-foot tunnel just south of Haverstraw; and the 2640-foot tunnel directly under the parade ground at West Point. There are also some shorter tunnels: at Bear Mountain; under the former Erie Railroad at Newburgh; and one near Kingston. When the line was built, there was a group of three at Danskammer (Milton), but none of my recent employee timetables show any here. There is a drawbridge at the Overpeck Creek in Little Ferry.

Under the New York Central, there was a branch from Kingston to a connection with the Erie Railroad's coal yards at Campbell Hall and another to Oneonta. The Wallkill Branch showed no passenger traffic in 1952 but the Catskill Mountain branch (ex Ulster & Delaware...folded into the New York Central in 1932) had one train/day. The Wallkill branch ran southwest from Kingston through Rosendale and New Paltz to Montgomery. It was originally a broad-gauged branch of the Erie called the Wallkill Valley Railroad. The original plan of the railroad was to go to Albany. Its right-of-way became a portion of the West Shore. The Kingston to New Paltz section did not last as long as the southern section which was only recently torn up through New Paltz.

The Catskill Mountain Branch was cut at first from Oneonta to Bloomfield when coal traffic interchange with the D&H at Oneonta dried up. Demise of the milk traffic (Sheffield Farms at Hobart and others) killed the rest of the line. A portion now operates as a tourist railroad.

The West Shore terminated in Weehawken, directly opposite the city of New York, because water frontage and land was available. Ferry service connected to 42nd Street and Cortlandt Street. Rail cars were put on floats bound for various points in the New York harbor. There was even a lighterage service to ocean freighters. From Weehawken, the New Jersey Junction Railroad continued through Hoboken to Jersey City. CONRAIL has a connection via North Bergen with its other lines.

From Selkirk, connections were made to the Mohawk Division going Westward and the Hudson River Connecting Railroad (Boston & Albany). Trackage runs into Albany and interchanges with the D&H at Kenwood. In the days of passenger traffic, trains went into the D&H section of the Albany Station.

Passenger traffic North from Weehawken was mostly New York City commuters. There was a 14-track passenger terminal here. Until the 1950s, there were several no-name passenger runs between Weehawken and Albany. The 1953 timetable shows three. This had dropped to one by 1957. The Central worked hard at killing passenger service on this line. Commuter trains terminated at Dumont (13 miles from Weehawken), Newburgh and West Haverstraw (33 miles from Weehawken). A few trains went to Kingston and one Friday night train ran to Ravena (leaving Cortlandt St. at 5:35 pm and arriving Ravena at 9:35 pm). Passenger service stopped in 1959 when the ferry service stopped.

Let's look at some times that trains were available in 1952. In order to get to Albany from Weehawken (141 miles from Albany), one could leave the 42nd Street ferry and take train no. 9 (the Albany Mail) at 2:15 am. By 4:15 am, you would have passed Newburgh (85 miles from Albany and 56 miles from Weehawken) and be in Kingston (53 miles from Albany and 88 miles from Weehawken) by 5:50 am. This would also allow you to catch the 7:30 am departure for Oneonta. After hitting all the stops, you would finally arrive in Albany at 8:30 am. If the 2:15 am departure was too early, there was an 8:30 am departure (via Cortlandt St. ferry) that required a change to a "Beeliner" (rail diesel car) at Kingston and got into Albany at 2:05 pm. Later in the day, a 3:45 pm Cortlandt St. ferry connected with train no. 3 which got into Albany at 9:15 pm.

Eastbound, the first train out of Albany was at 10:05 am and got into Weehawken at 4:25 (4:55 pm ferry arrival at Cortlandt St.). Other trains left at 3:10 pm and 5:50 pm. For comparison, an average train on the Hudson Division took 2 hours and 40 minutes. Conclusion-most passengers were going to intermediate points and not traveling direct.

Bridge clearances have been increased in past years. When the line was made single track, wider clearances were possible. Many years ago, the New York Central relied on the Putnam Division to get oversized loads to New York City.

Although vastly different than 30 years ago, the line is one of CONRAIL's most important.

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Fly Along the West Shore!

If you have "GOOGLE EARTH" installed on your computer, you can "fly" along the West Shore from Selkirk to Kirkville Junction (Syracuse) with the "PLACEMARK" below: (Click to get GOOGLE EARTH)
Take a trip on the
West Shore (Selkirk to Syracuse)
We will be adding more routes
Because many of the locations on our tour have varying "resolutions" of the pictures, you may need to stop the tour and adjust the height you are viewing.
On several locations, you may also stop the tour and click on the placemark icon for more information.

Tell us where you want to fly and give us any of your comments
Conrail ran on the West Shore
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Weehawken Ferry brought the West Shore to New York City

The never-magnificant, and now all cut-up West Shore Railroad was closely aligned with a series of interurban lines called the New York State Railways.

The never-magnificent, and now all cut-up West Shore Railroad which was leased and later absorbed into the New York Central was closely aligned with a series of interurban lines called the New York State Railways.

The West Shore ran 425 miles from Weehawken, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York. It was a double track line running north along the west bank of the Hudson to Albany, through the fertile Mohawk Valley, and across Central New York touching Utica, Syracuse, Rochester to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Its grades were easy and its curves were light. The stations built along the route were architectural gems and blended in with the beautiful and picturesque scenery of the road. Many remain to this day. An excellent example can be found in Catskill, NY. It is now used as a tire store.

The Wallkill and the Catskill Mountain branches of the New York Central intersected the West Shore at Kingston. There was also a connection here with the Ontario & Western. The West Shore ran into Albany where connections could be made with interurbans to Schenectady and to Hudson. The Schenectady Railway was a joint venture between the Delaware & Hudson and the New York Central. It ran from 1901 to 1933. The Albany & Hudson Railroad ran between 1899 and 1929. From Albany, it was an easy connection to Troy via the United Traction Co. From Troy, the Hudson Valley Railway, a D&H subsidiary with 102 route miles ran as far as Warrensburg. Between Mechanicville and Glens Falls it had two routes. One followed the Hudson River via Northumberland while the other was via Ballston and Saratoga.

The Chenango Branch ran from Syracuse 45 miles to Earlville, N.Y. It was built as the Syracuse, Ontario & New York Railway and was completed in 1891. Part of the line, including a depot in Syracuse, had been built in 1872. In 1914, four trains each way covered the distance in two hours. On its way from Syracuse it crossed the Lehigh Valley, the Ontario & Western and the Lackawanna. It was cut back to become a branch line to Manlius. In 1936, the West Shore's route through Syracuse became the elevated line which was used by mainline New York Central passenger trains formerly running down the middle of Washington Street.

The New York State Railways was owned by the New York Central until 1928. As well as running city lines in Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Oneida and Utica; it owned four regional interurbans: (1) Rochester and Sodus Bay; (2) Rochester and Eastern; (3) Oneida Railway; and (4) Utica and Mohawk Valley Railway.

In 1907, the New York Central electrified 49 miles of the West Shore between Utica and Syracuse. Covered third rail similar to that used between Harmon and Grand Central was used. If electrification had ever progressed beyond Harmon, this trackage could have been used. The Oneida Railway also ran locals in the city of Oneida. It entered Syracuse and Utica using overhead trolley. The electric railway terminal in Syracuse on Clinton Square had connections for Rochester and Oswego. It was abandoned in 1930 and returned to freight service.

Rome-Little Falls was covered by the Utica and Mohawk Valley Railway. It had 37 miles of double track. It was built in 1902-1903 and operated until 1933 except the Utica-Whitesboro portion which lasted until 1938. The Utica and Mohawk Valley's steel cars were shipped to Rochester subway and lasted until 1956. No. 60, built by Cincinnati in 1916, is now at the Seashore Trolley Museum at Kennebunkport, Maine. At one time, this car was at the now-defunct Rail City near Lake Ontario. Car shops were located in Frankfort. The building of the West Shore Railroad had boomed the town during its construction period from 1879 to 1883. The road located its railroad shops and foundry following the presentation of land by Frankfort citizens. This industry was moved to Depew in 1895, however an engine house remained in Frankfort. Later used by the interurban, the remains of these shops were still around in the 1950's.

The Rochester and Eastern Rapid Railway ran 45 miles from Rochester to Canandaigua and Geneva. As well as the New York Central, it interchanged with the Lehigh Valley and the Pennsylvania. It was built in 1903-04 and abandoned in 1930.

Oneonta was reached by the Southern NY Railway which started in 1900 as the Oneonta street railway. By 1901 it reached Cooperstown (28 miles). In 1902 it went an additional 16 miles to Richfield Springs. In 1904, it was completed to Mohawk (15 miles). Because it did not parallel a railroad, it had freight revenues. It also operated a railway post office and ran through trains to Utica. Passenger traffic ceased in 1933 and track north of the Jordanville quarry was abandoned. Electric power and the quarry were abandoned in 1940 but interchange traffic at West Oneonta remained.

The Utica, Ithaca & Elmira opened from Cortland to Ithaca in 1872. It was extended to Elmira in 1875. In 1884, the road became the Elmira, Cortland & Northern and ran between Elmira and Canastota (119 miles). Leasing the Canastota Northern from Canastota to Camden brought its mileage up to 139. In 1890 it had 23 locomotives and 194 cars. It became part of the Lehigh Valley and crossed the West Shore at Canastota. In 1928 it bought two new Brill rail cars to run between Elmira and Canastota.

The Ontario and Western crossed the West Shore at several points. The Rome branch crossed near Clarks Mills. The Utica branch crossed it near New York Mills. The line to Oswego crossed the West Shore at Oneida Castle. In addition, it had trackage rights from Cornwall to Weehawken.

The Lackawanna crossed the West Shore at Utica and at Syracuse. One of the most important branches of the DL&W ran from the Scranton coal fields to the docks at Oswego and interchanged with the West Shore at Syracuse. Built as the Syracuse & Oswego and the Syracuse, Binghamton and New York, this line became a part of the Lackawanna through the efforts of its forceful president Samuel Sloan in the 1870's. Numerous grade crossings in Syracuse were eliminated by an elevation project in 1940. Passenger service to Oswego lasted until 1949. Four passenger trains headed south from Syracuse until 1958. Coal trains to Oswego terminated in 1963. Creation of CONRAIL in 1976 saw the demise of the branch south of Syracuse and the ultimate sale to the NYS&W. That portion of the branch north to Oswego is still operated by CONRAIL. Interurbans were built between the 1890's and the 1920's but mostly between 1901 - 1904 and 1905 - 1908. Booms in building were ended by panics in 1903 and 1907. The decline of interurbans began in 1918 but they really died between 1928 and 1937.

Between 1910 and 1922 it was possible to travel by electric interurban from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to Oneonta, NY, a distance of 1087 miles. In 1910, some businessmen from Utica chartered a car from the Oneida Railway and went to Louisville, KY. The gaps between New York City and Chicago were between Little Falls, NY and Fonda and between Hudson and Tarrytown. After the interurbans were gone, even the West Shore began to deteriorate and was cut at several points. In later life, it was part of several New York Central divisions. Weehawken to Selkirk was part of the River Division and remains today as part of Conrail. From Selkirk until almost Syracuse (Kirkwood Junction) was part of the Mohawk Division. Trackage to Rotterdam Junction is an important part of Conrail but little else remains. Herkimer to Fort Plain was one of the first sections to fall in Penn Central times. A twice-weekly freight from Selkirk ran to Fort Plain and laid over. Beech Nut in Canajoharie was an important customer. Syracuse to Buffalo was part of the Syracuse Division and little can be found today. In the Buffalo area, trackage belonged to the Buffalo Division.

By Ken Kinlock at
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Cement kiln in Ravena built in 1961

Cement kiln in Ravena built in 1961 on the West Shore

(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

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Wallkill Valley Map

The Wallkill Valley Branch

In researching some railroads that ran into the Maybrook area, I came across the Wallkill Valley. I knew it eventually became the Wallkill Valley Branch of the New York Central so I went after some of the easier sources of information I had. From Employee Timetable No. 73 (effective September 28, 1952), I found out the following information:
NYC operated the Wallkill Valley Railroad Co. as part of the River Division, but the WVRR Co. was never owned by the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railroad, or the West Shore Railroad Company. The WVRR Co. was leased directly by the New York Central after it leased the West Shore, as was the New Jersey Jct. RR Co. All three were finally merged into the NYCRR Co. in 1952.

The Wallkill Valley was the second railroad in Kingston, the first being the Rondout and Oswego, later becoming the Ulster and Delaware. The WVRR was controlled by Thomas Cornell and the Coykendalls, of the U&D, before the West Shore arrived in Kingston. It was originally built to 6-foot gauge to connect with the Erie at Montgomery.
Miles from Kingston Station Office Call
0.00 Kingston KI Employees warned of overhead clearances at D&S Oil Company siding and Phelan & Cahill siding
Station open day and night
6.12 Red Rock Siding
13 car siding here
6.91 Binnewater BN Employees warned of overhead clearances at Century Cement Co siding
Station open 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.
8.05 Rosendale DA Engines not to be operated on the E.H. Demarest trestle
Employees warned of overhead clearances at E.H. Demarest siding
Employees warned of overhead clearances at Snyder Lime/Duggan Smith siding
Station open 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Employees warned of overhead clearances at bridge W-37
14.86 New Paltz Z Trains flagged over crossing at Creamery Crossing.
28 car siding here
Employees warned of overhead clearances at A.P. LeFevre siding and the Bruyn Hasbrouck siding
Station open 7:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
20.66 Gardiner GI

Trains flagged over crossing at Main Street
Station open 8:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.
26.07 Wallkill A Station open 7:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.
29.26 Walden WA 26 car siding here
Cars over 80,000 pounds not allowed on the C.W. Hill coal trestle
Cars over 110,000 pounds not allowed on the J.S. Walker private siding
Employees warned of overhead clearances at C.W. Hill siding and Walker Coal & Lumber siding
Station open 7;30 A.M. to 4;30 P.M.
32.95 Montgomery MY Trains flagged over crossing at Ward Street.
Station open 7:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

App. 40 Campbell Hall
Ontario & Western Connection
Erie yard
App. 46 Maybrook
New Haven yard
All single track, westward trains superior to eastward trains of the same class, unless otherwise specified. Manual block system in use.
Trains leaving Kingston (westward) or Montgomery (eastward) needed Clearance Form A.
Speed limits between 5 (Gardiner and Montgomery grade crossings) up to 40 (freight trains not otherwise restricted). (It was just assumed there were not any passenger trains)
Most classes of locomotives were allowed (from DES-1 to DFT-1)

At Montgomery, the branch ended and the Erie’s Montgomery Branch took over. According to The Erie Railroad Company’s Employee Timetable No. 55, effective October 27, 1957; the branch looked as follows:
Miles from Goshen Station Station No
10.2 Montgomery 1069
8.2 Neeley Town

5.4 Old O&W crossing

5 Campbell Hall Junction 9813 New Haven connection (76 miles from Danbury-end of NY,NH&H Maybrook Line). Erie had trackage rights to Maybrook (also Lehigh & New England).
4.7 MQ Crossing
Erie Graham Line connects here
2 Kipps 1061
0.0 Goshen 59

Connection to Erie main line
Wallkill Train Station
Wallkill Station

Next, I investigated The Wallkill Valley Railroad Company and uncovered the following from the 1913 New York Central Annual Report:

“This company is the successor of The Wallkill Valley Railway Company, organized April 26, 1866, and road opened in the same year. The road was sold on June 26, 1877, and on July 2, 1877, the company was reorganized, under foreclosure proceedings, as The Wallkill Valley Railroad Company, under chapter 430, laws of 1874, of the State of New York, as amended by chapter 446, laws of 1876. Under date of April 11, 1899, the railroad and other property of the company were leased to The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company, from May 1, 1899, for the term of its corporate existence, the consideration being, in substance, the interest on all outstanding bonds and obligations, including interest at three and one-half per cent per annum on the first and second mortgage bonds together with a dividend of three and one-half per cent per annum on the outstanding capital stock of the company. In 1913 all its bonds were cancelled.

I then checked my “archives” and found some information from an 1980-something article I wrote that “Under the New York Central, there was a branch from Kingston to a connection with the Erie Railroad's coal yards at Campbell Hall and another to Oneonta. The Wallkill Branch showed no passenger traffic in 1952 but the Catskill Mountain branch (ex Ulster & Delaware...folded into the New York Central in 1932) had one train/day. The Wallkill branch ran southwest from Kingston through Rosendale and New Paltz to Montgomery. It was originally a broadguaged branch of the Erie called the Wallkill Valley Railroad. The original plan of the railroad was to go to Albany. Its right-of-way became a portion of the West Shore.The Kingston to New Paltz section did not last as long as the southern section which was only recently torn up through New Paltz”.

Next I moved on to see what I could find out about the Erie connection:
The old Erie main line went through Goshen. Sometime just before or just after the creation of the commuter operating authorities that relieved Conrail of the burden of operating various commuter lines in January 1983, the new main line, now called the Southern Tier by New Jersey Transit, was created by abandoning the former Erie Main Line, and making the former Erie Graham Line Conrail's line to Port Jervis and west. Conrail was maintaining 2 lines that wound up in the same place: one line that saw about 10 passenger trains a day, and another that had declining freight traffic. The decision was made to combine all traffic onto one line. The former Erie Graham Line had the easier grade, so it remained in service.

The old Main Line swings West at Harriman for about 1 mile into Nepera Chemical. From Howells Jct., the line goes East about 3 miles into Middletown to connect with the Middletown & New Jersey. About 20 miles of the old main have been abandoned.

The Graham Line runs north of Goshen. It is currently used by Metro North (NJT in NY) for all commuter trains to Port Jervis. The old Main Line once ran from Harriman through Oxford and Goshen (this is where the branch running from Goshen to Campbell Hall started….now removed) and Middletown and was used by commuter trains by the EL and NJT until about 1981 or 82. They then abandoned the ROW and sent all Commuter and freight traffic over the existing {improved} Graham Cutoff. It was longer, but less congested. Parts of the old main is now a foot/bike trail between Goshen and Middletown with plans to expand and pave it. In Middletown the old Erie Station was expanded and is now the city library.

I then attempted to find out what happened to the New York Central (next Penn Central, finally Conrail) branch. Since 1991, hundreds of local residents and visitors have discovered the joy and beauty of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, a scenic and peaceful 12.2-mile stretch between Gardiner and New Paltz in Ulster County.

This trail is part of a network of more than 600 rail trails winding some 7,000 miles across the United States. Because they offer unique opportunities for recreation, relaxation and solitude, these former railroad lines are enjoying popularity among walkers, hikers, bicyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts.

A century ago, the Wallkill Valley Railroad signified machines and speed; today, the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail signifies escape from machines and speed. While the railroad once symbolized power over nature, the rail trail now symbolizes identification with nature. And while the railroad once facilitated travel to distant places, the rail trail suggests a future in which we can enjoy what is in our own back yards.

Connecting to the Erie in the Campbell Hall area was the Lehigh & New England. The Lehigh & New England received its name in 1905 after the predecessor company, the Pennsylvania, Poughkeepsie & Boston, was acquired by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. There was a line out to the Lehigh River and Hauto that brought in coal traffic and a line to Nazareth and Martins Creek, PA for the cement industry. The line connected to the New York, Susquehanna & Western at Hainesburg Jct. and had trackage rights for about 20 miles to Swartswood Jct., NJ. The line entered New York at Pine Island and used trackage rights from there over the Erie to reach the New Haven at Maybrook. Traffic declined through the 1950's and on October 31, 1961 the L&NE simply shut down. Some of the trackage for the cement industry centered around Bath, PA was purchased by the Jersey Central and some in Pen Argyl, PA by the Erie Lackawanna, but the rest of the line was abandoned.

About my only experience with the branch was in 1976 or early 1977 when I stayed in New Paltz and remember seeing an ex-Lehigh & Hudson River (Conrail had just been formed) locomotive switching.

I then discovered some more history of the line from the folks who set up the rail trail. In the late 19th century, the Wallkill Valley Railroad ferried fresh produce and vegetables from the farmlands of Ulster County to the streets of New York City. It also served as a commuter railroad for passengers traveling along the Hudson Valley. For more than a half century, the railroad supported business and tourism, provided jobs and created a critical economic link between upstate and downstate.

By 1933, however, only one passenger train ran daily each way, and four years later, all passenger service came to a halt. Over the next few decades, numerous stations along the Wallkill line closed. In 1977, the Wallkill Valley Branch took its last freight run. Like other American rail systems, it had fallen victim to increased competition by automobiles and trucks.

By Ken Kinlock at
Quay construction May 2006 Saint-Jerome, Quebec Bike Trails Along Railroads

Throughout the United States and Canada, there are numerous bicycle trails that either run alongside existing railroads or run on the abandoned right-of-way of a railroad.

In Québec, the longest one, the "P'tit Train du Nord" runs for 200 kilometers (120 miles) from Saint-Jérôme to Mount-Laurier on an abandoned Canadian Pacific route.

South of Saint-Jérôme, this route continues to Blainville alongside what will become a busy rail commuter line. Photo above shows its route past the new intermodal terminal at Saint-Jérôme.

In Central New York State, a great trail runs on the former Troy & Schenectady branch of the New York Central Railroad.

Further downstate, abandoned portions of the New York Central's Putnam Division and Harlem Division are now bike trails.

Part of the Wallkill Valley branch of the West Shore is a bike trail.

Cape Cod has a scenic trail on what was once the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.

Along Lake Ontario shore, a portion of the old Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad is a trail now.

This is only a small sample. There are LOTS MORE!

Photo Copyright © 2006 Ken Kinlock
Train Times Book

Harvard Professor John R. Stilgoe states that: ‘Train travel will supplant highway and air travel in the next few decades. Furthermore, electric railroads will increasingly be used to distribute freight items as well as mail and express packages.’
According to Stilgoe the three prime factors driving railroad development are population growth, rising gas prices, and advanced technology.

“In the 1930s it was possible to order a fridge in the morning and have it delivered by train later the same day,” says Stilgoe. “Americans forgot about this, but we’re starting to put it back together.”
Stilgoe slso wrote an excellent yet overlooked book on railroads and the built environment shaped by them called Metropolitan Corridor:Railroads and the American Scene that I highly recommend.
Whats most interesting is that the book is 6 months old and already much has changed in that brief time to further move us toward a new era of the train and seemingly away from our old era of the highway and sprawl, particularly with respect to the financial crisis, foreclosure mess, high gas prices, politics of "change" and global warming awareness.
Wallkill Valley Roadbed Catskill Mountain Branch of New York Central, former Ulster & Delaware
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The "River Division" was published in July, 1986
in the CALLBOARD of the Mohawk and Hudson Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
Also in the CALLBOARD was the "West Shore Interurbans" which appeared in May of 1987,
"More on the West Shore" in the October 1988 issue,
"The Catskill Mountain Branch" from the June 1987 issue.
The "Wallkill Valley" was published January 1999 in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN of the Bridge Line Historical Society.
Some segments published (various dates) in TOWER TOPICS of the Utica & Mohawk Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.

List of New York Railroads
West Shore Railroad

New Jersey Junction Railroad

West Shore steam locomotives

West Shore in the Mohawk Valley pictures

Richard Leonard's Rail Archive

Walkill Valley Railroad History

The West Shore and the "Little Falls Rollaway"

POTUS on the West Shore

Typical West Shore railroad station at Highland
Coal on the River Division was a big source of revenue...PSEG must have averaged 5 trains a week, the tariff called for a train to consist of at least 7000 tons (l00 70 ton cars or 70 100 ton). Next going West was Tompkins Cove (Orange and Rockland) they got about 1 a week from the West, Roseton (Central Hudson) was a real good customer about 3 trains a Week from the West (long haul). They had their own engine (radio controlled), Kingston (Hudson Cement) about 2-3 a month from the West, Alsen (Alpha Portland ) at least 1 a week and the Lehigh and Marquette shared a train about every two weeks. Ravena ( Atlantic Cement ) received a train each Friday and on the Albany Branch, Niagara Mohawk did well when they were on good terms, they burnt 40 cars a day but after they got hit them with a demurrage bill they favored the D&H..then on the Hudson Universal Atlas got a train about 2-3 weeks came up from CNJ.. This was right up to merger. A lot of these trains ran using the RS-3s on the district over the weekend, working closely with power control.

Passenger Train Detours over the West Shore

From NYC-RR Forum: Gordon Davids Feb 20, 2005

I never saw an actual detour move on the West Shore, but I heard a few on the Mohawk train dispatcher's wire when I was "studying" at Tower 2 in Troy, 1959-61. They all involved movements from Schuyler Jct to Harbor to WH (South Schenectady) over the Carman Connection to Tower 7, then into Albany. They called out operators and opened temporary train order offices and block stations, sometimes in a closed office and sometimes from the operator's automobile.

In that era, the West Shore was still manual block territory, so the detoured trains would get running orders, usually at Utica and Tower 7, and train orders listing the offices that were open outside their normal hours. The only regular day train order offices were Canajoharie and Frankfort.

Those detours could make for an interesting day on the train wire.

I don't recall any detours between Harbor and Canastota, which would have been possible but not practical because that track was down to 10 mph by that time. The limit was 35 between Harbor and Rotterdam Jct.

Added by editor:
That had to be about the limit of detours since the line was cut beyond Fort Plain early 70's. Detours were not possible in 1967 as the line from Harbor to Kirkville had already been cut. The Rome Daily Sentinal from May 3, 1964 announced: "The New York Central Railroad is seeking permission to abandon a 12.3-mile section of its West Shore line from New York Mills to near Vernon."

December 1983 "Call Board" (M&H Chapter-NRHS) front page shows a Jim Shaughnessy photo of the "Empire State Express" detouring over the West Shore at Pattersonville, NY, on November 30, 1967.

Detour Movements All Along the Central

New York Central Detour Routes

It was common, while detouring trains on the West Shore, the Auburn Road or other secondary parallel routes, to open temporary train order and manual block stations. When 25 (or any other regular train) was off of its normal scheduled route, the train had no superiority by right, class or direction. It was run as an extra identified by its leading engine number, as "Extra 4022 West."

At that time, NYC had parallel routes available over nearly the entire route between New York and Chicago. West from New York was the Harlem Division to Chatham, the B&A to Rensselaer, the West Shore from either Post Road or South Schenectady to Schuyler Jct. (and to Kirkville until the mid-1950's), the Auburn Road Syracuse to Brighton, the West Shore to Chili Jct and Buffalo, the Nickel Plate to Cleveland and beyond, the Norwalk Subdivision Elyria to Millbury, and the original Michigan Southern between Toledo and Elkhart. Even though the MC and the Canada Southern were fast double-track railroads, there were not many extra conductors and engineers available to act as pilots or to handle the detour trains up there.

For a detour between Buffalo and Cleveland, the Nickel Plate was the preferred solution because there were many opportunities along the route to cross over to and from the Lake Shore. The NYC Lake Division Timetable No. 12 of October 28, 1962 shows connections to the NKP at Athol Springs, Silver Creek, Dunkirk, Brocton, Westfield, North East, Harbor Creek, Wesleyville, Erie, Girard Jct, Conneaut, Ashtabula, Madison, Perry, Painesville and Wickliffe. NYC could do much better with that flexibility than to bypass all the stations between Buffalo and Toledo.

If a mainline derailment occurred between Elkhart and Toledo (Swan Creek), the preferred detour route was Elkhart / Jackson / Detroit / Toledo, with the Michigan Southern Old Road used for overflow.

If the mainline was blocked between Toledo (Nasby) and Toledo (Swan Creek), the detour route was through Air Line Jct. Yard.

If the mainline was blocked between Toledo (Swan Creek) and Millbury Jct. there was hell to pay because there was no convenient all-facing-point detour. If eastbound passenger trains could access the depot, they would then have to: (A) back out to get to the Toledo Terminal off the Toledo Branch, or (B) get to the B&O or C&O on the east side of the Maumee River Bridge [or use the Maumee Cut Branch after it was constructed in the 1960's] and then work their way back to the mainline. Freight traffic would either be held for a hole to be opened or detoured via (A) the Canada Div. if could clear through the Detroit River Tunnel; (B) the Big Four via Goshen / Anderson / Bellefontaine /Berea; (C) the T&OC-E or T&OC-W / Big Four using the Toledo Terminal trackage around the North Side of Toledo because the TT's high-level Maumee River Bridge was long out of service; or (D) any of the connecting lines at Toledo (C&O, B&O, NKP (W&LE), or PRR to a point where we could return to home rails.

If the mainline was blocked between Millbury Jct. and Berea, the Norwalk Branch (old LS&MS mainline) was used with directional running for first-class trains. {Perhaps you recall seeing either of the photo spreads in old issues of Trains showing such occasions.} Freight traffic was either held for a hole or detoured to return to home rails at Sandusky (Bay Jct. CP-242), Elyria Jct. (CP-207), or Berea.

If the mainline was blocked between Berea and Collinwood, detour routes were the Cleveland Short Line , Cleveland Union Terminal, or the Big Four / Lakefront via DK / OX.

If the mainline was blocked between Collinwood and Buffalo, preferred detour route was via the NKP using any of the multiple interchnage points mentioned by Chief Troll, plus Willoughby.
Syracuse Division Map

Syracuse Division (from Employee Timetable)

Click on map to enlarge

Where do Trains Go on the River Division (West Shore)??

South Kearny is the big intermodal facility. The River Line manifests go to/from many different places on the south end; most if not all originate or terminate at Selkirk on the north end. Southerly terminals include Oak Island NJ, various yards in Philadelphia, Brunswick or Cumberland MD, Rocky Mount or Hamlet NC, and Waycross GA -- with the actual destinations varying sometimes depending on CSX.

One way to find out where the trains go to or from is's schedule pages.
Did You Know?

Before the West Shore was acquired by the New York Central it had already had a big set-back when William H. Vanderbilt acquired the Nickel Plate.

NKP was to have been West Shore's prime western connection. Without the NKP the WS never really a chance. They tried to make do with Grand Trunk, but....

Lackawanna opened their Buffalo extension around the same time too, more bad news for the NYWS&B.
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