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Putnam Division Of The NY Central


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The New York & Northern was part of a Bronx to Boston route with the New York & New England Railroad via Danbury and Hartford. Financial failure forced the line to be leased to the New York Central in 1895. It became the Putnam Division.
New York Central Putnam Division station at Yorktown Heights
Yorktown Heights Railroad Station (photo by the author)

Welcome to our New York Central Railroad Putnam Division WebSite

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

Our feature article:
The Putnam Division

Putnam Division Map

Putnam Division Abandonments

Could the Put have Survived?

Bike Trails Along Railroads

Other Interesting Putnam Division Resources

Stories on Abandoning "The Put"

More History on "The Put"

Lake Mahopac Branch: Harlem or Putnam Division?

Interesting thoughts on why the Put became New York Central.

Metro-North Commuter Railroad

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History

See some great New York Central Railroad Pictures
See even more New York Central RR pictures
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Mohawk Valley Calendar
1954 calendar (from New York Central Headlight)

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Stories on Abandoning "The Put"

By 1961, use of the line was rare, it being used mainly for ConEd apparatus that had clearance problems. It was not related to any other line, being one of many simple cases of costs exceeding revenues.

There were two switchers, the BN-BO brought up A&P arrivals plus other cars. At A&P the grocery and meat cars were dropped on lead to grocery/meat and the produce went to Eastview for inspection. Eastbound JN-FO came down and switched the grocery, then moved to FO and waited to give A&P their second produce switch around 600pm and then left for JN with emptys for the Rut Milk to pick up Westbound. The last Eastbound move of any significance was the steel for I-287. These cars moved in sets of 3 with a gon in middle and a flat on each end wired as idlers. High and wide cars historically moved via HK-JN BN. In 1983 the stella Doro cars were still active but with deregulation disappeared as did Otto Brehm and it was still used in 1986 for Stella Doro. In 1958 the passenger trains were gone following the transportation act of 1958 and A&P was working well...Stauffer at Chauncey was active, Hardwood flooring at Elmsford with Fox Head Beer on the team track once a month and the Nepperhan business was then Georgia Pacific and the others incl the daily Phelps Dodge outbounds

There was a "forgotten" boxcar was at Carmel, NY, overloooking Lake Gleneida. IIRC, it was at Lloyd Lumber, near Sam Hickman's feed sheds. The car stood at Lloyd's for months, maybe years. The last authorized movement on the upper Put before the rail was torn up between Brewster and Mahopac was to retrieve this car.

A second "forgotten" boxcar was truly forgotten. It stood on a siding at Eastview near where the Put crossed over the Saw Mill River Parkway. I believe this siding was once the "house track" of a long- demolished station. (This siding had a pipe-connected derail, but whether this was connected to the switch stand, or if the derail had its own stand, I do not remember.) This boxcar was scrapped where it stood when the rails were taken up.

By Ken Kinlock at

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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, Sunday, Dec. 5, 1948

Just Around the Corner
By Bertrande

It occurred to me just now that I have been telling you railroad stories for a long time; better men than I have to you better railroad stories for the better part of a century - but, who among us has not almost forgotten all about the ubiquitous section gang?

One reads the hectic and thrilling annals of brave engineers and faithful firemen; of the fearless conductors and their resolute trainmen of the nervous but unfailing telegraphers; and of that grouchy superman who is the trainmaster - but who has ever bothered to throw a modest nosegay at the lowly section-hand, whose sweat and grime made all these narratives possible?

All along the right-of-way on every American railroad, you find these laborers jumping frantically but with well-timed precision from between the rails as the “flyer” thunders by. And they’re back there again with their pinch bars, their mauls and their spike buckets before the rails have ceased to vibrate from the contact of the big drive-wheels.

A railway roadbed is always in need of repair; it is constantly under the impact of terrific shocks of oncoming trains and it must be, at all times, in a state of almost perfect alignment...And who but the faithful and long-suffering section-hand keeps it that way?

Maintenance of a railroad’s trackage is, of itself, a science which calls for a high degree of specialized engineering skill and a vast amount of intricate planning and careful execution. The unsung and mostly unnoticed section boss must be a man who knows his business and has the knack of imparting his knowledge to those who labor in his gang.

Time was, half a century ago, when a large percentage of section bosses were Irishmen. They labored mightily, and they swore roundly, and they dearly loved their authority - an authority which enabled them to direct the every movement of their 6-to-8 men gangs. Themselves, they took no orders from any one, save the maintenance superintendent - hd woe to any other official who attempted to “give ‘em the lip!”

In the Parish section gang, during the late 90s, there labored a gent whom we will call Mike Mulcahey (because that was not his name). Mike was a good section hand, an excellent example of that sturdy breed of men who keep the melody in the “singing rails.”

In not too long a time his excellent work attracted the attention of his superiors; and, on a day, he was called to the Super’s office to undergo an examination as to his fitness for the job of section boss. Mike passed the test with flying colors; his natural ability and his experience being in no wise allowed to stay in the background when his native wit and intelligence urged them to the fore.

Soon a vacancy developed along the Hojack and Mike was notified that he was, as of that date, in charge of section 16. Next morning, Mike appeared at the section house far ahead of his men and surveyed the scene with a smile of utter satisfaction and content. As his men approached, he gave them a flowing hand-salute and announced:

“Mornin’, byes, Oi hov a word for ya. As ye well know, Oi’m now yer new boss, an’ we’ll get along fine - but remember, me lads, Oi want nothin’ out o’ ye but silence, and damn little o’ that!”

He waved majestically toward the sliding doors of the section house and commanded:

“Shake a leg, now, an’ get out th’ hand car.”

So the boys took out the car and set it more or less gently upon the rails. Then they waited for the next ukase from the stern limps of boss Mike.

“An’ now,” he added, “ put ‘er back into the house, n’ we’ll knock off fer th’ rest o’ th’ forenoon in honor o’ this grand occasion...Oi’ll show ye who’s boss around here from now awn.”

At the age of 18, I took a turn at this section hand business for a few months. that’s how come I know so much about it’s being real, honest-to-goodness work!

In those times, we bent our backs in the sun for 10 hours a day. And, mister, when you drag ties, set fish plates, and hammer home a slew of those big spikes o fill one of those big days, you don’t know anybody to accuse you of being a “sissy.” Although you might be too tired to resent it, at that.

Of course, I got a little time off on the first day, because I was made victim of the legendary “initiation” monkey-shines that had to be undergone by every rookie. We started work that morning near the east switch stand and one of the men soon approached me with an empty oil can, requesting I run down to the section house, about a half mile distant, and ask the boss for some red oil for the switch light.

After I had been sent back empty-handed, but bowed beneath the load of sarcasm the boss had unloaded upon me, I started to swing my pick in disgust. It wasn’t long before the boss, himself, strolled up with a well-feigned look of worry on his face.

“Dang it all,” he growled, “Joe Scanlon, over to Central Square, ain’t never brung back that rail-bender I lent him last week. Now we gotta use it today, fixin’ that Red Mill curve. Here, Burt, you scoot over to the Square an’ get that bender. It’s a might heavy to carry, so take yer time comin’ back.”

So off I went - not exactly “scooting,” either, for it’s nine miles from Parish to Central Square. When I finally arrived and informed boss Scanlon of my errand, I caught a fleeting look on his face, which by the mercy of Providence penetrated my skull to the extent that I realized on the instant that I had been made the butt of another practical joke.

Joe quickly recovered his poise, telling me he’d loaned the fabled instrument to Ed Greene at Brewerton, and that I’d better go there an ask -

But his words came too late - I had caught on. So, to even up matters a little, I spent nearly the whole afternoon getting back to Parish, where I faced the uncouth laughter of my associates as well as I was able.

All of which brings me, apropos of nothing at all, to the case of Swen Gustafsen, trackwalker of the old Slate Run section gang, down in the wilds of Lycoming county, Pa.

Swen was tramping the rails between Slate Run and Cedar Run on his daily tour of inspection, when he spied at the side of the track a dismembered human arm. he stopped, gazed briefly, shook his head soberly, and proceeded on his tour. A bit further along, he came upon a leg, which brought him to another short pause. A few yards more and he beheld a man’s torso in the rank grass. Then he began to hurry a little and in a minute or so he came upon a man’s head!

--My good gosh! it was the head and features of Ole Ekstrom, a friend and fellow worker!

Swen stood for a long moment, scratching his blond head and mustering his thoughts.

“Ay tank,” he murmured slowly, “mebbe someting she is happened to Ole!”

--A great life, this railroading, even if you do weaken!

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, July 21, 1946

Just Around the Corner
By Bertrande

There's a vast difference of opinion as to what constitutes true greatness. I dare say a multitude of great men have lived and died without anyone ever having suspected that they possessed this attribute.

You who read this have probably known your quota of great, near - great and better-than average people but, perhaps you never heard of the great Jimmy Halleran, trainmaster on the Hojack for a good many years during the late '90s and the early days of this century.

Jimmy had his office in Oswego and he spread out from that point like a a fungus, his tendrils reaching to Suspension Bridge on the west, to Watertown on the north, and to Rome and Syracuse on the east. Before he came into our midst he had been a train dispatcher on the West Shore, east of Syracuse. Tradition has it he left those parts under some kind of cloud. It is at least a matter of record that he came to Oswego, enveloped in an aura of mystery and accompanied by a fragrance (not too unfamiliar in those days) bearing a close resemblance to that of Tucker's.

He was a well setup man, with broad shoulders, Irish blue eyes and a dignified swagger. he wore, habitually, a long frock coat, a black string tie and a frown. Also, being a first grade railroad man, he came to be cordially disliked by one and all who labored under him. I don't suppose he ever realized his own greatness. Certainly, none of his underlings ever would admit he had any - but, as a fair example of it, let me recite a little tale:

Harry Burt, the night operator at Parish, was fired. Halleran had tied a can on him that very day, with the announcement he would be relieved from duty as soon as an available man could be found. The occasion for the dismissal has nothing to do with this story - but i can assure you it was p-l-e-n-t-y.

Harry sat in the bay window of the depot, listening, unhappily, to the staccato cadence of the sounder. He heard the train dispatcher call "PD" Pulaski and give him the "31" signal to stand by for train orders. Then, he gave the same to Brewerton and transmitted an order making "meet" for 2d No. 10 and No. 3 at Hastings.

Now, 10 was an overflow Thousand Island tourist train, traveling to Syracuse, and 3 was the regular evening mail to Richland. Both trains were badly delayed and the train order was issued to minimize the wait which the regular passing point would have caused. No. 3, of course, was to take the siding at Hastings and allow the club train to whiz by without halt.

As the disgruntled Harry sat, listening to the telegraphers at Brewerton and Pulaski as they repeated the order back to the dispatcher, he came suddenly to his feet. He listened again for a brief moment - and the sweat began to bead his forehead. He had heard the operator at Brewerton repeat the meeting point as Parish instead of Hastings. And the dispatcher had not corrected him.

This meant that 3 would not take siding at Hastings, but would run 3 miles further east while the flyer, expecting to find 3 on Hastings siding, would undoubtedly crash her, somewhere between the two stations.

Harry prodded the key, calling Brewerton. "B," "B," "B," "I," "I," "B," came the answer, at last. "Hold 3," he clicked.

-"She's gone, what's wrong?"

There was no time to tell him - there was no time to tell anybody - there was only one thing to do, if it could be done. He grabbed a red lantern, shot out of the door and scurried eastward like a scared rabbit. Running over the bumpy ties, he stopped briefly to throw the switch at the end of the side track, then scampered madly on, hoping he could get far enough down the track to flag 10 down to a speed that would allow her to negotiate the open switch without piling up.

A banshee wail came from far in front of him and he knew that it was now just a matter of seconds - but he kept on, stumbling now, and gasping, but still plunging eastward.

And there she was! A headlight flashed around the curve at Red Mill bridge, and Harry stopped, spread his legs apart between the rails and waved that lantern like a madman.

Even as he tumbled aside at the very last moment, he heard the hiss of the air-brake and saw the engineer's white face through the steam as he struggled with his levers. Then as the train lost speed, Harry grabbed the hand rails of an unvestibuled coach and swung himself aboard. The train took the siding safely and came to a stop in front of the station. The engineer leaped from his cab and ran to the station, meeting Harry just as he arrived.

"What's goin' on here?" yelled Ed Cullen. "Who in hell threw that switch? Who flagged me down at Red Mill? Who -?"

"Never mind, Ed," soothed the telegrapher. "Take a good look up the west track there - did you ever see a bigger full moon in your life? Looks to me, though, like it's kinda in the wrong place tonight."

Ed looked and gasped - it was 3's headlight that stared him in the face!

Well, that's all the story - except that Jimmy Halleran happened to be riding on 10 that night and you can bet he congratulated Harry, no end. He slapped him on the back and vociferated gratitude, until poor Burt began to feel very much embarrassed. Then, the trainmaster added, as an after thought:

"Don't forget, Mr. Burt, that you are still fired - that can I tied on you is as tight as ever."

Next day, Jim called him on the wire and told him to go to Buffalo, where he had made arrangements with Chief Signalman Charlie Olp for a job on that division. "He'll take care of you," said J.G.H., "and after he's ironed out the kinks, let me know - I'll have something good for you."

I hope that proves to you that old Jim Halleran was one of the great. Some of those who knew him only in his latter years thought differently - but a man has to be great only once to win the credit.
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New York travel
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New York travel by barrysbest
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Crossing a bridge

Crossing a bridge

Fast passenger

Fast passenger

Freight meets passenger

Freight meets passenger

S Motor and P Motor at Glenmont power plant


S Motor and T Motor at Glenmont

These historic electric locomotives are stored at an electrical plant in Glenmont near Albany. They belong to the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter of the NRHS.
S Motor at Harmon

S-Motor at Harmon

r Motor

R-Motor at Harmon

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T-Motor at Harmon

T-Motor at Harmon

1952 Missourian

Missourian heads from Utica to Albany in 1952

(from an old New York Central Headlight)
 New York Central Locomotive 8255

New York Central Locomotive 8255

Buffalo Central Terminal

Old postcard of lunchroom at the Buffalo Central Terminal

 New York Central Leverman at Grand Central

New York Central Leverman at Grand Central

 New York Central Tower Operator at Grand Central

New York Central Tower Operator at Grand Central

 Grand Central Concourse

Grand Central Concourse

Wrist Watches

In 1961, New York Central approved wristwatches.

(from an old New York Central Headlight)

Box Car Stretch

Box Car Stretch, a story from a 1965 New York Central Headlight
Here is what the Central could do at Beech Grove

Jet Snow Plow on NY Central

See more about snow and the New York Central

(from an old New York Central Headlight)

Harold Vanderbilt 40 years as a director

Harold Vanderbilt 40 years as a director

(from New York Central Headlight)

Our HAND TOOL WebSite is intended in aiding you to locate HAND TOOL suppliers. You may search by product or by manufacturer. We add both products and manufacturers, so keep checking back.

In addition we are a full service MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operational Supplies) supplier. If you are in the construction or farming business, we are your source.

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Smooth ride in 1966

Smooth ride in 1966

(from New York Central Headlight)

New Auto Carrier in 1960

New Auto Carrier in 1960

(from New York Central Headlight)

New grain cars

New grain cars

(from New York Central Headlight)

Telescope mirror

Telescope mirror goes from Corning, NY to East St Louis on the NY Central (from New York Central Headlight)

From Phyllis: Thought others might be interested in the newspaper article from the Barstow Printer when the mirror train came through Barstow.
April 9, 1936

Lens of World’s Largest Telescope Passes Through Barstow
Wrecker Used to Unload Valuable Shipment in Pasadena
The lens for the largest telescope in the world arrived in Barstow at 5 o’clock this afternoon, after about 6 ½ hours’ run from Needles. The special train transporting this valuable equipment across the continent consist of the engine, box car holding loading equipment, flat car with the lens and a caboose. The Barstow “wrecker” which is the largest on the coast and has the longest “boom” was sent to Pasadena today for the purpose of unloading this special shipment. Division Foreman Arthur Birch of Barstow and Paul Denn, wrecking crew foreman, accompanied the “wrecker” and will unload the lens Friday morning The valuable shipment arrived under special guard with Division Special Agent Fred Smithson in charge. A slow day light schedule of 25 miles an hour has been maintained across the continent and the shipment has been given every possible care to assure it safe arrival in Pasadena. Here it will undergo a year of careful polishing and grinding in a specially constructed shop before it is installed in the largest telescope at Mount Palomar astronomical observatory. It is a pay as you need model. We track all interchanges from the moment they enter the system, along every step across the network, and through the delivery confirmation.

Longest Unit Train

Longest Unit Train

(from New York Central Headlight)
Garbage Truck
Putnam Junction

Here's what's left of the Putnam Division

Putnam Junction, where the former New York Central Putnam Division connected with the Hudson Division at this point. A section of track remains with some railroad cars spotted on it.
Putnam Division Map
This is the map from an Employee Timetable. Click on it for a bigger version.

Grand Central Terminal and the New York City Subway

This page is our gateway to New York City. Find out about the New York Central Railroad's Grand Central Terminal. Explore the fabulous New York City Subway System. Learn who Robert Moses. was and his impact on New York City. Understand New York City transit planning, West Side Freight Line (the "High Line") and St Johns terminal. The New Haven Railroad and the Long Island Railroad reached into New York City. Did you know the Lehigh Valley Railroad even went into New York City (by ferry). Learn about the Jenney Plan to bring commuters into New York City and finally explore mysterious track 61 at Grand Central Terminal with its relationship to Presidents of the United States.

Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad

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

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Other Interesting Putnam Division Resources

Here's a great site that shows The West Side and Yonkers bridge, later called Putnam Bridge, from the Phœnix Bridge Company’s Album of Designs, 1885; The New York City and Northern timetable as of August 1881; and some early pictures.
Putnam Line Stations (great descriptions of what stations are on the Putnam Trail.
Great pictures of the Putnam Division
Remembering the "Old" Putnam Railroad
--> by Charlie Mooney

"We saw the Putnam as well as the Harlem River and the main line of the New York Central from our kitchen window. As a consequence of this great view, I became an expert on steam railroad operations while still a toddler. Every day I saw engines being turned on the turntable, the engine maintainers dumping the coal ashes, and filling the tenders with fresh loads of coal and water. I also watched the yardmen manually washing the exteriors of the Putnam passenger coaches every day, weather permitting."
Rotary plow
Railroads and Snow

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

Which One of These People Hurt New York City Public Transit the Most?

Click on the picture to find the correct answer.
If you get the wrong answer, you will still see a good story!
Richard Nixon Robert Moses Jay Leno Adolph Hitler
Head End
Railway Express and Railway Post Office
LCL on the New York Central

On passenger trains, railroads operated lots of equipment other than sleepers, coaches, dining cars, etc. This equipment was generally called 'head-end' equipment, these 'freight' cars were at one time plentiful and highly profitable for the railroads. In the heyday of passenger service, these industries were a big part of the railroad's operations, and got serious attention.

We have text and pictures not found elsewhere on the Web.

St Johns Freight House

St Johns Freight House Photo above 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.
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Railroads On The Rebound

Over the last 50+ years, railroads have changed a lot. Now they are about to change again.

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Since 1950 , railroads have consolidated. Freight moved from a "box car mentality" to a "unit train,mentality". Passenger went from a robust business to a "caretaker" arrangement called AMTRAK. This happened as everybody could drive for free on the Interstate Highway System or fly on an airline system where the government subsidized both airlines and airports. In the meantime, railroad express and railroad post offices went "down the tubes". The old Post Office Department and the Railway Express Agency could not adjust to the new way. UPS and Fex Ex could.
Carbon Calculator
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Snow Belt in New York State Boonville Station There is a "Snow Belt" in New York State that runs above Syracuse and Utica. It goes East from Oswego to at least Boonville. Here's the station at Boonville.

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 addressed several railroad-related projects that will conserve fuel and lessen pollution. Our Window on Europe spotlights projects that can help the rest of the World.
We have other environmental sites on garbage trucks and Rapid response temporary shelters / portable housing.
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Who wrote all this good stuff?
See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History We cover New York Central, New Haven Railroad and other Eastern Railroads. Penney Vanderbilt and KC Jones See Penney Vanderbilt BLOG about Golf and Vacations, especially on the French Riviera We have a lot about Nice, France. Not only do we cover golf on the French Riviera, but also Northwest France, Quebec, Golf Hotels and THE US Open
See Ancienne Hippie BLOG about Railroad History and ice hockey
Ancienne Hippie
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