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New York Central Harlem Division

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Bronxville

Bronxville, New York: one of the major stations on the New York Central Harlem Division.

Now part of Metro-North
An old postcard purchased from Charlie Gunn

Welcome to our Albany to Connecticut / Harlem Division WebSite

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


Our feature article are railroads from Albany to Connecticut and Chatham, New York: Rail Town .

We have stories about railroad stations in Chatham , Ghent to Chatham , and the Rutland connection .

See our Harlem Division Map (from Employee Timetable) and railroad tracks along the Hudson .

See the NY Central Harlem Division on Google Earth .

We have included all about Connecticut freight railroads , connections to the Central New England Railway , a little about Brewster, New York , and all about New York Central, Penn Central Stock .

You will find a brief history of the Harlem Division , our Reference Section , all about Bike Trails Along Railroads , as well as Connecticut Riders on the Harlem .
Check out

The B&A Hudson Branch

Head End Equipment on the New York Central .

See some great New York Central Railroad Pictures too.

Metro-North Commuter Railroad

Happy 180th Birthday to the Harlem Line

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History
White Plains
White Plains, New York: one of the major stations on the New York Central Harlem Division.
White Plains is the busiest Metro-North station (other than Grand Central)
and the busiest non-terminal or transfer station on the New York Commuter Network.
An old postcard purchased from Charlie Gunn
Ghent, New York
Ghent, New York: The site of the junction between the New York Central Harlem Division and Boston & Albany Railroads, Hudson-Chatham Branch.
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The Harlem in 1957

At that time the NYC still had two round trips on the Harlem to Chatham with more on weekends. At that time, the Rutland job still came down on a daily basis and the yard at Chatham still had two yard jobs one of which was maned by a B & A crew and the other by a Harlem crew. There were still two towers at Chatham at the time 66 and 65.

The entire Harlem was intact and in use for passengers until March 1972 and freight until March 1976.

The 1949 timetable shows three round trips of passenger service between New York and Chatham. There were 24/7 block stations at Brewster (B) and Chatham (SS-65) and 14 block stations open various hours between the two end points at this time. There was a wide variance in the running times of the above passenger trains on this line, the fastest one on the line was a Sunday evening train that made the run from Chatham to Grand Central Terminal in three hours and six minutes while some of the others took up to four hours or even more. All of the trains had to change engines at North White Plains and probably they were mostly steam between North White Plains and Chatham.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
Rutland Milk

The Fabled Rutland Milk


See Penney's Blog about the Fabled Rutland Milk. Pictured at the left is a “rider car” bringing up the rear as the train goes through the Troy Union Railroad on it's path from Ogdensburg, down through Vermont to Chatham, then down the New York Central Harlem Division to New York City.

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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"

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Just Around the Corner by Bertrande H. Snell

Bertrande H. Snell, author of the following article, a native of Parish, Oswego County, N.Y., was a telegrapher all his working life. For many years he was employed by the New York Central Railroad, and for 33 years was a telegrapher for Western Union in Syracuse.

Bertrande Snell commenced his writing career with the Syracuse Syracuse Post-Standard in 1945 and continued it until shortly before his death in 1949. His columns were primarily of a reminiscent or historical nature, which included railroad stories.

If you like his column, we have more.
Syracuse Post-Standard, Syracuse, Aug. 29, 1948

Just Around the Corner
By Bertrande

“ - And this the sorrowful story,
“That’s told as the twilight falls;
“While the monkeys are walking together.
“Holding each others’ tails!”
--Kipling
_______
I wish I knew what has become of my old friend, Wilfred Henry Passmore. And, if any of you folks, out there, know where he is, show him the above quatrain and he’ll immediately recognize it as our “theme song” during the years we were together.

I first met “Passy” in Ansonia, in 1905. He and I went to work for the old Fall Brook division of the New York Central on the same day in October of that year.. At that time he as about 23 years old, a trifle above six feet in h eight; a fine figure of a man with no excess flesh - slim-waisted and broad shouldered.

A lover of good literature, he was - and, I hope, still is - a well-read man; a trifle on the reticent side among strangers, but perfect companion among friends. For something like two years, he and I worked together. Indeed one of the other boys with a rather slim smattering of the classics always referred to Passy and I as “Diamond and Pythagorus!”

Through the years - as too often happens - we drifted apart and I have not set eyes upon him since the summer of 1928, although vague news of him has drifted in to me from time to time. His last address known to me is Lindley, Steuben county, N.Y. - although I know he’s no longer there. And I have heard that he was living n Corning during World War II.

Here’s a bit of a story about my buddy which may help explain why he was always a good guy to take along:

We’d been working on the Fall Brook for only a few weeks when I was assigned to a little telegraph office at Pine, along the banks of Pine Creek. Right out in the wilderness - that was. No highway, no habitations; nothing but trees, mountains, a single-track railroad - and solitude!

On my first night at this job, Passy went along with me. He had no assignment for that day, and he wanted to look over the new territory. it was November. The air was cool, but not too crisp, and traffic was light.

Along about 9:30 p.m. the Corning train dispatcher found that No. 83, the crack southbound fast freight, was losing time and was likely to arrive late at the Newberry Junction terminal. So, he decided to put the northbound passenger train, No. 10, on the siding at Slate Run and let 67 pass them there without stopping. In those days it was not unusual to side-track a passenger train for the fast freights, which carried perishable goods in refrigerator cars and frequently, had faster schedules than the passenger trains.

So the train dispatcher called me at Pine, and the operator at Cammal, some 30 miles south, sent us the following train order:

“ - No. ten (10) eng. 2834 will take siding and meet No. 83 (83) eng. 3216 at Slate Run.”

Both telegraphers repeated this order back to the dispatcher and he gave us the okay for delivery.

As I finished the order, No. 87 was reported “in the block: from DI tower, three miles north of me, so I sent my semaphore red, grabbed delivery hoop, inserted the flimsy in the metal clip and ran out to the track to hand the order to the engineer as he passed by at full speed!

During this time, Passmore had been busy at the office stove, fixing up some brandy sauce to garnish a big can of plum pudding with which we were about to regale ourselves.

As the freight thundered by, he came over to the telegraph window and watched me deliver the train order to the fireman, who stood in the locomotive gangway and ran his arm through the big wooden hoop, with the order attached.

All this time there had been a vague sense of something wrong lurking in the recesses of Passy’s mind. As he explained later, he “had a hunch.”

He had listened as I copied the train order, and he had also heard it repeated by myself and the operator at Cammal. Suddenly as he stood watching the freight cars jolt by the window, the elusive error came to him in a blinding flash - and he knew what to do!

With this partner of mine, to think was to act! With a quick sweep of his long arm he snatched the red lantern from its hook on the wall and burst through the door of the little shack just as No. 87’s caboose was rolling by. With a full, vertical swing and a wild yell, he let go of the burning lantern. It sped true as a wall-shot arrow and crashed through a window of the caboose!

As I stood, scared, speechless and bewildered, Passy spoke sharply:

“Wrong meet! - get in there quick, an’ tell Blackwell tower to put th’ red on ‘em - in case this don;t stop ‘em.”

-And he pushed me toward the door. I managed to stumble to the telegraph desk and followed instructions, while Passy stood outside and watched the disappearing tail lights of the fast freight.

The “rear shack” had scrambled to the caboose deck and was running forward, frantically “swingin’ ‘em up” with his lantern. At long last we heard the staccato “two short” engine whistle which announced that the engineer had seen the signal. The little red tail lights grew no fainter - and at last the train stopped.

In the meantime my companion had explained:

“All the time you were completing that order I thought something was wrong about it, but I couldn’t straighten it out in my mind. You see, that damn ham at Cammal repeated the order wrong. He made the meetin’ point Cedar Run instead o’ Slate Run -and those two trains would have come together, sure as hell, somewhere between them two points! Or if I’m wrong about it, you’re in a hell of a pickle, right now!”

He tapped the key on the “block wire” and called Cammal. When he got an answer he asked:

“Where does 83 meet 10?”

And back came the reply, just as Passy figured: “At Cedar Run!”

Then Passy grinned at me and continued:

“You see, boy, I was right! Now here comes the con an’ the rear shack - so you listen to me. YOU noticed that wrong meet; You throwed that lantern through the cab window. YOU, my long-haired friend, are the hero o’ this here great occasion - and don’t you forget it!”

“But,” I gasped, “it wasn't me. You’re the guy that caught the error. I didn’t even notice anything wrong. I won’t -”

“You’ll do as I say,” interrupted my mentor, “and no back talk, either. I’m not workin’ here tonight; I’m just a caller, and I never did a thing - that’s what I’ll tell the super when he investigates; so don’ t make me a liar out o’ yourself for nothing!”

And at this point the crew of No. 87 stormed in, demanding an explanation of the late goings-on.

So that’s the way it was, folks. I became a three-day hero, while Passy lurked in he background, grinned happily and lied himself black in the face to keep me on my unearned pedestal!

Now, that’s just one of the many reason why I’d like to know just how my good old pal, Wilfred Henry Passmore, is doing at the moment. I was a fool to lose track of him in the first place!

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PASSENGER SERVICE VIA THE HARLEM LINE IN NEW YORK STATE

Metro-North is a public agency based in New York City that operates an extensive public transit network in New York and Connecticut. Two passenger rail lines operated by Metro North and utilized by residents of Greater Danbury are the Harlem Line in adjacent New York State and the Danbury Branch Line in Connecticut.

It is a well known fact that the rail passenger service markets for the parallel Danbury and Harlem Lines to some extent overlap. But while the Harlem Line has faster and more frequent service to NYC than does the Danbury Branch Line, residents of Housatonic Valley communities must in many cases travel longer by car or bus to reach Harlem Line stations. Importantly for planning, the Harlem Line simply does not serve the destinations that many Danbury Area commuters want to reach; Norwalk, Stamford and coastal Connecticut.

A 1996 report by stated that "even with aggressive Danbury Branch enhancements, the Danbury Branch does not provide better travel times (to NYC) than the existing Harlem Line service .... The Danbury Branch, however, does not compete with the Harlem Line for trips that remain within Connecticut. For these trips, the improved service may induce a mode shift to commuter rail. This is especially true as roadway congestion along Route 7 and other area roads continues to increase."

The goal of public policy should be coordinated interstate rail planning to avoid the expense of duplication while attempting to define the greatest potential service role for each line.

Because of its importance to Connecticut, use of the Harlem Line by area residents was estimated in a 1996 HVCEO report. Estimated inbound boardings by municipality of residence were highest from Danbury with 120 patrons, New Fairfield with 78, from north of the Housatonic Valley Region with 51, Brookfield 36, New Milford 24, Newtown 19, from east of the Housatonic Valley Region 16, Bridgewater 9 and Bethel 6.

As for some specifics of this service, the Harlem Line runs for 83 miles along eastern New York State between Grand Central Terminal in New York City and Wassaic, New York. Station stops likely to be accessed by residents of the Housatonic Region include Katonah, Golden's Bridge, Purdy's, Croton Falls, Brewster, Brewster North., Patterson and Pawling.

As noted above service on the Harlem Line is more frequent than the Danbury Branch Line, and provides shorter trip times to New York City. Weekday peak period frequency of trains departing to Grand Central varies between six and twenty minutes, and hourly off-peak. Full service is provided between Brewster North and Grand Central Terminal, with 12 round trips per weekday from Brewster North to Wassaic.

Frequency of arrivals at Brewster North off-peak from points south vary between approximately 30 and 60 minutes. Peak period arrivals at Grand Central from Brewster North occur with a frequency of ten to 20 minutes on weekdays. The weekday service span for the Harlem Line is roughly 22 hours, between 5:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Trains departing Brewster North to New York run hourly on weekends. Arrivals in Brewster North depart Grand Central with headways of approximately 60 to 90 minutes. Nine round trips are scheduled between Brewster North and Wassaic on weekends, with two additional southbound trips on Saturday. Weekend service span is comparable to weekday service span.

The Harlem Line is double tracked to the yards at Brewster, New York and single tracked from there northerly. Track from Grand Central Terminal to Brewster North is electrified by third rail. Diesel/electric powered trains provide the service from Brewster North to Wassaic, New York. There are four daily peak period through trains to Wassaic augmented by a shuttle between Brewster North and Wassaic.



HART BUS SHUTTLES TO HARLEM STATIONS



Recognizing the importance to this Region of access to this important nearby rail line, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the New York Department of Transportation jointly provide funding for bus to rail shuttle services for the Upper Harlem Line from our Region. This is an excellent example of interstate cooperation.

The Ridgefield-Katonah Shuttle is operated by the Housatonic Area Regional Transit District between the Ridgefield, CT central business district westerly to the Katonah, NY Metro-North train station. Service began in April 2002. Buses begin at The Jesse Lee Memorial Methodist Church on Main Street in Ridgefield and follow Route 35 through Lewisboro, NY and Bedford, NY to Route Katonah, NY.

The South Salem Municipal Lot just north of 35 on Spring Street is an additional stop. HART meets five southbound morning peak Harlem Line trains between 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM and seven northbound trains between 5:45 PM and 8:30 PM. Current ridership averages 59 trips per day.

Ridgefield-Katonah service builds on the success of HART's Danbury-Brewster Shuttle, initiated in 1998. The Brewster Shuttle is operated by HART between the Brewster Village Railroad Station and Danbury commuter lots. Vehicles stop at park and ride lots off I-84 Exits 1, 2, and 7 and travel locally down Route 6 across the state line to the Village of Brewster.

HART meets six southbound morning trains between 6 AM. and 8:40 Am and 13 evening northbound arrivals between 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM. Additional service is provided midday by an extension of the HART Route 3/Mill Plain Bus. Daily ridership often exceeds 140 trips.



UPPER HARLEM STATIONS USED BY CT RESIDENTS



These descriptions are excerpts from the HVCEO Feasibility Report For Extending Rail Passenger Service Beyond Downtown Danbury (1995). Note that these data predate the service extension to Wassaic.

Vanasse Hangin Brustlin, the consultant that prepared the 1995 study for HVCEO, also conducted license plate surveys at these stations that were cross referenced to place of registration. This gives an indication of which towns these cars are registered in.

Bedford Hills Station was the southernmost station surveyed on the Harlem Branch. It is located near Route 684 in a commercial district. The station's location offers easy access to Connecticut. The parking lot serving the station is relatively large with spaces for 273 vehicles.

Katonah Station is located with easy access to Connecticut off of Route 684 near Route 35 in the center of Katonah's commercial district.

The station is surrounded by a quaint village atmosphere. A parking lot offering long-term parking is located on one side of the station. Like Golden's Bridge Station, the Katonah Station attracts many riders from Ridgefield, CT. HART provides a Ridgefield-Katonah Shuttle service for this trip.

Golden's Bridge is located off of Route 684. It is between Route 138 and Route 35 in a relatively open area. Nearby is a bus stop, which offers service to Brewster.

Access to Connecticut is easy by both Routes 138 and 35. Vehicles registered in Ridgefield, CT were by far the most prevalent Connecticut registered vehicles observed at this station.

Purdy's Station is located off of Route 684 near the exit for Route 116. The station provides easy access to Ridgefield, CT via Route 116.

With spaces for 348 vehicles, this parking lot is the third largest surveyed, following Brewster and Brewster North. The Purdy's Station attracts riders primarily from Ridgefield, Danbury, Brookfield, and New Fairfield, CT.

Croton Falls is located southwest of Brewster off of Route 22 in the middle of a commercial district. To get to Connecticut, one must go south to Route 116 (which is closer to Purdy's Station) or north to Route I-84 (which is closer to Brewster Station). Based on the license plate survey, the Croton Falls Station draws riders primarily from Danbury, CT.

The Brewster Station is located in the middle of the commercial district of Brewster, NY. It is located due south of the Brewster North Station on Route 6 which is off of Route 1-84.

Like Brewster North, the Brewster Station is easily accessible from Connecticut via Route 1-84.

There are five parking lots and on-street parking which serve the station which combined can hold over 500 vehicles. Some of these lots require a significant walk to the station. The Brewster Station has a similar ridership draw as the Brewster North Station with most riders from Danbury, New Fairfield, Brookfield, and Bridgewater, CT. HART provides direct commuter service from Danbury via the Danbury-Brewster Shuttle.

Southeast is due south of Patterson, NY on Route 1-84. The Southeast Station is located off the highway with no other buildings nearby. It is a terminal for Metro-North and some trains are stored there.

The parking lot at the Southeast Station is extremely large with spaces for 400 vehicles. The station offers excellent accessibility to a highly populated area of Connecticut. Based on the license plate survey, the Southeast Station draws riders from a variety of Connecticut communities, with the primary draw from Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Brookfield, CT.

The Patterson station is located on Route 311, west of Route 22. Route 311 travels diagonally, southwest to northeast. To access Connecticut from this station, one would have to go north almost to Pawling and then go east into Connecticut.

The area immediately around the station is about one block of commercial buildings surrounded by single-family homes. The parking lot, which has 53 spaces, is along the railroad tracks. Based on the license plate survey, the Patterson Station primarily draws riders from the Connecticut community of Sherman, CT.

Further south off of Route 22 near the junction of Routes 55 and 67 is the Pawling Station. The station is located in a high density commercial area.

Day long parking is available along one side of the railroad tracks. The parking lot has capacity for 98 vehicles. The surrounding area is almost entirely single-family homes. Route 67 offers easy access to Sherman, CT.

Based on the license plate survey, this station attracts riders primarily from the Connecticut communities of Sherman, CT and the West Cornwall/Cornwall Bridge area.

Harlem Valley/ Wingdale is located near the junction of Route 22 and Route 55 which offers access into Connecticut.

Across Route 22 from the station are several large brick buildings which are part of the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Hospital. Sharing the parking lot with the station are several brick buildings which look similar to the hospital and seem to be warehouses. There are no other buildings within easy walking distance to the station.

Based on the 1995 license plate survey conducted here, the Harlem Valley/Wingdale Station attracts riders primarily from the communities of Kent, South Kent, Lakeville, and Sherman, CT.

Dover Plains is just over two hours from Grand Central Terminal. While the surrounding area is rural, the area immediately adjacent to the station is commercial with many small business establishments.

Dover Plains is located on Route 22, a two-lane north-south rural highway which runs in New York along the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders.

Based on the license plate survey conducted at the Dover Plains station, the station appears to draw Connecticut riders from communities as far north as Canaan, CT, with its primary Connecticut draw from the communities of Kent, Sharon, and Salisbury, CT.

Parking is available in two long and narrow parking lots along both sides of the railroad tracks.
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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?"

Harlem RR History

Early history of the Harlem Railroad

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

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Railroads in New York State

All-time list of railroad names in New York State

Some interesting things about New York State Railroads, mostly New York Central Railroad

The one source to go to for railroad history.

Even more great railroad links.

What ever happened to my Penn Central stock? Penn Central gobbled up the stock of New York Central, Pennsylvania and New Haven Railroads. But what ever happened to the company and the stock? Is it worth anything?

Ever hear of American Premier Underwriters?


Find the answer and find out a lot of interesting facts.
St Johns Freight House St Johns Freight House Photo at left is of the St Johns Park Freight House. These are from a brochure published by the New York Central in 1934 and re-issued by the West Side Rail Line Development Foundation (author was a former member and supporter of this foundation).

St. John's Park was abandoned when some of the High Line ROW below Bank St. was sold for housing. But had traffic there dried up by then? Was there any debate over it at the time? The line was only about 20 years old at that time. When St. John's was in service, there were about 8 tracks running into it-- how was it switched? And what kind of stuff was shipped to St. John's. Also, the line served Nabisco, Armour--when did they stop using the line? And did the RR serve Bell Labs (now Westbeth) whose building it ran through?

For answers to these questions, click here or on picture above.
Timeline of Railroads in the Adirondacks
See the Railroads of the Adirondacks too!!!
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