Railroads Around New York State
Welcome to our Rails Around New York State WebSiteHere's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:
Our feature article is about my trip around New York State .
We have articles, maps and pictures about many specific locations in New York State: Utica , Ballston Spa , Mechanicville , Binghampton , NY Central's Syracuse Station , and Richfield Springs .
We have interesting stories and links to the Schoharie Creek Bridge Collapse , buried treasure: Albany County Historic Photos , freight rail in New York State , a timeline of Railroads in the Adirondacks , and a special research section on the Lake Ontario Shore Railroad .
Find railfan and tourist train locations in New York State and see our New York State reference section .
Read about Railroads around Delhi
See our section on the Battenkill Railroad
How’s this for a networking opportunity: a Class I and 10 New York short lines sharing their capacity to market short-haul moves as a single-line transportation service to shippers. Norfolk Southern and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association have developed a pilot project called “Empire Link” under which the Class I and 10 short lines will test the single-line marketing waters between Binghamton and Silver Springs, N.Y. Any short line can market a move — originating or terminating on their line — that involves another short line or two and NS as the bridge carrier. NS initially would provide all the equipment (the short lines would have the option to use their own) and rates would involve a series of per-car charges based on the commodity, such as salt or paper.
Aimed at diverting short-haul truck movements to rail in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Empire Link will allow participating small railroads to market excess capacity on NS lines as single-line moves. The Class I has under-utilized capacity on its Southern Tier mainline between Binghamton and Silver Springs, N.Y., and branch lines between Corning and Geneva, and Waverly and Ludlowville, N.Y.
The participating short lines include the Bath and Hammondsport Railroad; Central New York Railroad Corp.; Finger Lakes Railway; Livonia, Avon and Lakeville Railroad; New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp.; Ontario Central Railroad; Owego & Harford Railway; Rochester and Southern Railroad; Wellsboro and Corning Railroad; and Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad.
|In 1924 the Albany Packing Co. merged with the Rochester Packing Co and were taken over by the Tobin Packing Co of Ft. Dodge, Iowa and at one time it was the 7th largest packing company in the US. They made New York Hots and the 1st Prize trademark was the top selling brand of Pork Products in the Northeast. Tobin was aquired by Hormel Packing in 1953 and Morrell bought the rights to the brands in 1989. Hogs came from Western Illinois to Tobin via the CB&Q being loaded at various location with just one little town Roseville, Il shipping an average of 21 cars a month. Some days two to three carloads would be shipped. Course Tobin, it is reported, could kill upwards of 360 hogs an hour. In 1964 the scheduled time from departure of NY-4 from Blue Island to West Albany was 29 1/2 hours and it was 31 hours to 33d St. The livestock block was on the rear end into W. Albany, and it was an easy switch move into Tobin. Note that the schedule from Blue Island to Dewitt was 19 hours, so I'd think there were not many occasions that required a feed and rest stop anywhere between those yards.|
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One August I went on a trip mostly in New York State. While I only rode on one train, saw a great deal of rail history:
Day 1 - Connecticut to Downsville (167 miles)
From just above my house in Monroe, Connecticut, I followed the former New Haven "Maybrook Line" through Hopewell Junction to Poughkeepsie. Near Hopewell Junction, a CONRAIL west-bound freight was heading towards Beacon, but I followed the now-trackless roadbed to Poughkeepsie where the huge bridge built in 1889 still sits in an abandoned mode. 1982 saw the official abandonment of the line from Hopewell Junction to Maybrook, but a 1974 fire on the bridge connecting these points really killed it. I crossed the Mid Hudson bridge and followed CONRAIL's River Division into Kingston. I had thought of going to New Paltz and following the old Montgomery Branch.
Kingston is home to a trolley museum located in the Rondout section (foot of the hill) near the Maritime Center. Their antique trolleys offer a short ride along the river. They are located on the site of the old Ulster & Delaware shops (now an urban cultural park). As well as the U&D, Kingston was once served by the Erie, New York, Ontario & Western, and, of course, the New York Central. The Central's West Shore is now CONRAIL's River Division, but the Wallkill Valley Branch through New Paltz is gone.
Leaving Kingston, I took Route 28 parallel to the old Catskill Mountain Branch to Phoenicia. There I stopped to enjoy a tube ride on the Esopus Creek. Here is where I had my only train ride. The Catskill Mountain Railroad offers a needed couple-of-mile shuttle service along the creek (sort of a summer counterpart of a ski tow). A train consists of an old industrial switcher pulling a couple of gondola cars with bench seats and a caboose.
Past Pine Hill is Highmount, site of the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Area. At 100+ miles from New York City, it would make sense to run winter ski trains here.
Next stop was Arkville. The restored train depot is home to the Delaware & Ulster Rail Ride. This popular attraction uses diesel switchers pulling old coaches. There is also an old New York Central motor car. As well as just a rail ride (enough for me), they have special event weekends with such events as train robberies, teddy bear runs and garden tractor pulls.
After Arkville, I followed the East Branch of the Delaware River through Margaretville and the Pepacton Reservoir to a campgrounds in Downsville.
Day 2 - Downsville to Ballston Spa (128 miles)
Leaving Downsville, I crossed the mountain to Delhi to visit relatives. Their back yard once had the Ontario & Western running right through it!
Leaving Delhi, I went through Bloomville which was on the old Ulster & Delaware. This road was once one of the most scenic branch lines east of the Rockies. From 1872 to 1954 passengers rode for real where now only tourists travel a small part of the line. 1913 was the peak year when there were 676,000 riders. Better highways, more cars, the Great Depression and World War II killed this branch. The line was cut from Bloomville to Oneonta in 1965 and the last freight rolled in 1976.
Going towards Albany on Interstate 88, our route paralleled the old Delaware & Hudson Susquehanna Division.
Day 3 - The Races
It rained and I lost, but the Saratoga track in August is still great to visit. Afterwards we enjoyed a pizza across the street in Bruno's.
Day 4 - Ballston Spa to Whiteface Mountain (130 miles)
The D&H North Creek Branch leaves the main line in Saratoga. An old station in Greenfield, just above Saratoga, was being restored with the help of workers from a correctional facility. Nearby was an old D&H caboose.
Day 5 - Whiteface Mountain to 1000 Islands (207 miles)
Lake Placid was the termination of New York Central's Adirondack Division in its final years. It was also the end of the line for the short-lived Adirondack Railroad.
The Adirondack Railroad only operated for a short time around the period of the 1980 Winter Olympics. It took over five hours to go from Utica to Lake Placid. Its equipment consisted of ALCO RS-3's, ex-Pennsylvania P70 coaches, and a variety of elegant old Pullman's, diners, etc. The route's history is a long and colorful one. It traces back to Dr. William Webb, a Vanderbilt son-in-law who built the Mohawk & Malone Railway in the 1890's. The last ten miles of the route have a D&H heritage. In later years, New York Central passenger service was by RDC's called "Beeliners" and lasted until 1965. By 1972, the line north of Remsen was abandoned. New York State bought the right-of-way. State and private money built the Adirondack Railroad. By 1979, the first trains were running. During the 1980 Olympics, the railway did an excellent job of helping to relieve the auto burden on Lake Placid. The station there was a stub-end one which made use of run-around tracks.
Leaving Lake Placid, I passed Saranack Lake and Paul Smiths. Nearby Lake Clear Junction was a busy place years ago. Pullmans for Lake Placid were cut out here. It was also the terminus of the seven-mile Paul Smith's Electric Railroad which connected with a large hotel and folded in 1928.
The next town after several miles of wilderness was Malone. Before 1953, the New York Central had two daily express trains between Utica and Montreal. Service from Malone to Montreal lasted until 1957 and south to Lake Clear Junction until 1958. The Malone to Lake Clear Junction line was abandoned in 1960 and the large yard has all been torn up. The passenger station remains as well as some nearby Canadian National-operated trackage.
The Rutland Railroad which connected with the Central at Malone served the North Country for many years but folded in the 1960's. After Malone, I followed the Rutland roadbed to Moira. This town was the point where the old New York Central Ottawa Division crossed the Rutland.
The St. Lawrence Railroad interchanges with CONRAIL (Montreal Secondary) at Norwood. This short line operates an EMD SW9 which I didn't locate. Ogdensburg once had two branch lines of the NY Central as well as service by the Rutland.
I crossed into Canada on the Ogdensburg Bridge and followed Route 2 along the St Lawrence River. Overnight I camped in Gananoque and took a boat tour of the 1000 Islands.
Day 6 - 1000 Islands to Watkins Glen (208 miles)
Crossing back into the United States, I stopped in Clayton, once the end of the line from Watertown.
Driving into Watertown, I crossed the branch to Limerick.
Going south from Watertown on Route 3, I passed what was once Rail City. The Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburgh once had a line from Rome that ended near here.
The next area of rail activity that I encountered was Oswego. This city was once served by the New York Central, Ontario & Western and the Lackawanna.
Leaving Oswego, I drove into the town of Redcreek.
While my older maps showed tracks in this area belonging to Penn Central, my newer one showed the owner to be the Ontario Midland. Ontario Midland and Ontario Central make up a short line system called Ontario Lines. The Midland runs between Sodus Point and Red Creek. It used to operate ALCO diesels, but I didn't catch a look at anything.
The former "Hojack" was once the New York Central's Ontario Branch. It traces its history back to the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburgh which was leased by the Central in 1891 and acquired in 1913.
Going farther west, I came to Sodus Point, once a coal port served by the Pennsylvania RR. Originally, this line was once owned by the Northern Central RR. Loss of coal traffic forced abandonment by Penn Central in 1969.
Going south, I came to Lyons. Here the Central's former Pennsylvania Division joined the main line. Employee timetables from the 1950's show the tower here as being open 24 hours a day.
At Geneva, the New York Central's Auburn Road interchanged with the Pennsylvania Division. The West Shore ran north of the town. Lehigh Valley also served Geneva. As we know, the railroad system of the United States was greatly overbuilt. Western New York is a good example, and that is why so many recent abandonments there. In the horse-and-buggy era, farm lines had to be a half-day's wagon haul from every farmer. Exaggerated ideas of the traffic to be developed and municipal rivalries added to the overbuilding. In this region, the quest for a share of the New York City-Buffalo traffic goldmine was a factor.
Going south from Geneva along Seneca Lake, I went through Dresden. Here a branch went to Penn Yan. Timetables show passenger service between the two towns into the 1950's.
The New York Central and Pennsylvania touched at Himrods Junction. After the Penn Central merger, the two roads were easily merged in this stretch of land.
Day 7 - Watkins Glen to Binghamton (114 miles)
Now known as CONRAIL's Corning Secondary, the tracks across the road from the campgrounds I stayed in once had heavy coal trains pulled by several steam locomotives. The heavy, well-maintained tracks looked like some real tonnage goes by today. This 90-mile branch goes from Wellsboro Junction, PA to Geneva, NY. Most of the other campers were interested in the several hundred horsepower cars running at the nearby race track. I was more interested in the several thousand horsepower that thundered up these tracks in the middle of the night. Service from Himrods Junction (28 miles away) is a three times a week affair.
The town of Watkins Glen has a section of the old Pennsylvania running right alongside the lakefront. While I was there, the two diesels that apparently provided local service to such places as the nearby International Salt plant shut down right in town for the week end. A four-mile industrial track heads south from Watkins Glen to Montour Falls.
Corning is somewhat of a minor CONRAIL rail center still. Freight trains operate to Dewitt, Binghamton, Frontier Yard (Buffalo) and a host of local spots. Servicing and fueling occurs here but there are no shops on the Southern Tier. The Delaware & Hudson uses this line (trackage rights) between Binghamton and Buffalo.
Binghamton's old (1900) Lackawanna Station has been restored as an architect's office. The Lackawanna was crossed by and interchanged with both the Erie and the D&H. On the DL&W, Binghamton was a crew change point, lunch stop for trains without diners, and headquarters of the Utica and Syracuse Divisions.
Day 8 - Binghamton to Connecticut via Stroudsburg (249 miles)
Leaving Binghamton, I paralleled the old Delaware & Hudson route to Scranton. Scranton was a big operation when Lackawanna was a going concern. As well as a repair facility, numerous pusher locomotives were required on the nearby hills.
I stopped in Stroudsburg on my trip through Pennsylvania. Nearby Slateford Junction was where the original DL&W main line met the "Lackawanna Cutoff". This cutoff was 28 miles of "super railroad" built in 1911 to bypass 11 miles of winding track and save up to an hour's running time. Unfortunately, CONRAIL had too many east-west lines and ripped up the track. A concrete viaduct over the Delaware River survives. The interlocking tower is vacant and only local freights run through the nearby Delaware Water Gap.
From Stroudsburg, I followed Route 209 north to Milford and Port Jervis. Port Jervis is the most northwestern point on the New York City commuter map.
Going home, I once again paralleled the New Haven Maybrook Line. Maybrook itself is deserted.
By Ken Kinlock at email@example.com
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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, Aug. 31, 1947
Just Around the Corner
Yes Sir - Morse Telegraphy is on the rocks,” mourned a veteran Syracuse telegrapher as we sat on a park bench and exchange views and comment. “It’s not so much the almost complete mechanization of the business, as it is the general quality of the few telegraphers that are left - that I’m referrin’ to,” he commented.
“I’ve been scoutin’ around a little, havin’ nothing else to do, for the past few months. I’ve been hangin’ around little railroad stations in this section - on the Hojack, on the Lehigh Valley, the DL&W and the NYC main line - and I tell you it’s sickenin’; that’s what it is.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I objected, “there’s some pretty good men still left in the business, you know.”
“You’re right about that, too,” agreed the retired veteran, “but they’re gettin’ few and far between, and the ranks are growin’ thinner every day. On the railroads now, the old-timers are retirin’ fast and they’re replacin’ ‘em with a bunch of the dangdest hams you ever saw. In the first place, these men don’t want to telegraph, anyway; they haven’t got the spirit of the thing, the romance, the traditions.
“In the second place, they’re taught wrong and none of ‘em has any ambition to get beyond the kindergarten stage. Why, I was listenin’ through the window at a little station not more ‘n 40 miles from here, just the other day. The operator was trying to copy a message from the Syracuse Western Union office. The sending was nice stuff - clear, easy and well-spaced. This bird was breakin’ on every word; he was mumblin’ to himself, sweatin’ and wearin’ down his eraser, but he didn’t seem to be gettin’ anywhere. Finally he breaks in on the Syracuse man and spells out, ‘Why don’t you send Morse?’ That’s when I ought to have walked in and clipped him one on the jaw!”
Probably the sender was going to fast for him,” I suggested.
“Now look here, you know better than that,” snapped the old war-hoss, “speed has nothing to do with it. If the sender spaces properly, makes his characters clear-cut and avoids combinations, why, the faster he sends the easier it is for the receiver. You know you can’t send too slow or you’ll spoil our rhythm.”
I was in no position to argue with my companion, who had in his time three Delaney medals for fast and accurate sending in country-wide competition, but I venture to suggest, “This fellow you’re talking about probably didn’t have a chance to get much practice: they don’t use Morse to run trains any more, you know.”
“He had the chance all right,” disagreed my commentator, “only he didn’t want to take it. That wire he was on, clicks off some kind of stuff all day long; but this fellow told me later, that “the noise made him nervous,” so he kept it cut out most of the time - what d’ye know about that? Why that guy has been on the job for two years and he still can’t get his own name unless you send it to him on a postcard!”
“I’ve nosed around like that for more than a year, now, sittin’ in waitin’ rooms and listenin’ through windows at guys murderin’ pore old Sam Morse. I get a kick out of it, too - only sometimes I get mad enough to bite nails.”
“Don’t you ever run across any good ones?” I asked.
“Yep. But they’re mostly old-timers, about ready to fold up. I suppose I’m just an old grouch soundin’ off to hear myself talk - but when I think of the way it used to be on the railroads and in the commercial offices, I do get plumb disgusted.”
“This new crop of railroaders that’s been comin’ in for the last few years,” ranted the old boy, “ seems to have sprung from three different, but closely-related families - the Goslows, the Minfones and the Newmans...Lemme explain:
The “Goslows, when they answer a call on the wire, always tell you, ‘go slow’ before you start; but it don’t make much difference how slow you go - they prob’ly won’t get any of it, anyway.
“Then, there’s the Minifones, who wait until you’re right in the middle of a message you’re tryin’ to send ‘em, and then stop you cold with the words, ‘minute-phone.’ You’ll notice, however, that they never have to answer any phone while they’re stumbling through a message they’re trying to send you.
“The last family is the Newmans. They greet you with this phrase, ‘New man - take it easy.’ I heard a fellow say that to a sender just the other day, down on the Lehigh - and afterwards he told me he’d been working - right there for four years!”
“A funny thing, though - the way those birds act on the wire, you’d think they were the dumbest of the dumb, but when you barge in and talk to ‘em, you find ‘em a rather intelligent bunch - danged if I can understand it.”
“Well, Joe,” I demurred, “maybe you’re right, but don’t you think you’re treatin’ these boys a bit rough? I dare say you made a few mistakes, yourself, down through the years.”
“You betcha,” agreed the veteran, “and, by Judas, I profited by ‘em, too - that’s where the difference lies.”
“You recall any outstanding errors you’d care to mention?” I wheeled.
“Why yes - come to think of it, the worst mistake I ever made was learnin’ the blasted business in the first place; then i fell down the second time lettin’ old Alex Bell invent the telephone instead of doin’ it myself - and there was a lotta other flukes I pulled, too. Here’s one, I never did live down; one I made when I was just a yearlin’, as you might say.
“I was workin’ a night message job in the Oswego train dispatchers’ office. One night I got a message from old man Austin, agent at Pulaski, that I copied down like this:
J.G. H., OSWEGO - FOUND A LION UNDER THE FREIGHT PLATFORM, VERY WEEK. ADVISE - J.H.A.
“When old Jimmy Halleran, the trainmaster, found that thing on his desk the next morning he was fit to be tied. He was ready to fire everybody on the division, if somebody didn’t come across with an explanation of the so-called joke. Finally, Jim Doolittle, the dispatcher, got hold of agent Austin and the mystery was explained. But that didn’t do me much good. You see, the message Austin had written was:
“FOUNDATION UNDER STATION VERY WEAK-”
“--No, sir, the boys never forgot that one.”
And the old boy shuffled off down East Fayette Street, shaking his head, mournfully, as he pondered the downfall of his favorite profession.
Personally, I think he bore down pretty heavily on the modern tyros in the Morse telegraph business. They have never been taught to view it in the same light that we old-timers did. To them, it’s just a small part of their day’s work - to us it was an obsession and a glory; a thing to be cherished in our bosoms.
--And now, that it is in the last throes of dissolution, I must admit that oldsters are partly to be blamed for its untimely end - we killed it with kindness!
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The Battenkill Railroad has been around a few years and is becoming one of the most popular railroads with railfans.
The Battenkill Railroad is a short-line comprised of the former Greenwich & Johnsonville Railroad running from East Greenwich to Thompson and the Delaware & Hudson Washington Branch running from Eagle Bridge To Salem.
Here's some observations about a trip to the Battenkill: The locomotive was #4116 and was found at the Cargill Plant near Greenwich Jct. The crew came out in the company truck from Greenville and started the unit and began their work about 10:00 AM. They switched Cargill, then went up to Salem and gathered some empties and then headed for Eagle Bridge around noon, arriving there about 3:00 PM. They tied down their train and ran the engine back to near Old State Road and tied it down and were driven back to Greenwich. It is my understanding that the CP interchange is done weekly on Friday nights, so it's a one way trip to Eagle Br. on Friday afternoons and returning Saturday mornings with the week's traffic. They park the unit at the abovementioned location on Friday nights as there was too much vandalism to the units when they left them at Eagle Br. Monday thru Thursday they then shift the industries around Greenwich Jct. and Salem as needed. They usually keep the active unit somewhere around Greenwich Jct. unless it needs some kind of work, simply because it's quicker for the crew to get there by highway than to run lite-engine from Greenwich at 10MPH at the start of every day and back again by rail at the end of their shift. It's also less wear and tear on both the track and the units. The inactive unit is kept in the enginehouse at Greenwich. Units are rotated in and out of active service based on availability and repair needs. This will lengthen the lifespan of both units.
There is a great discussion group on the Battenkill
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Required Attire for a Remote Workforce
Ever wonder how your telecommuting colleagues really live? Turns out, many of them actually do work in their pajamas. They also tend to love their work-life balance – to the point where they’d take a pay cut to maintain the status quo. This is a “must read” for both remote workers and for their office-bound managers.
NY Central's Syracuse Station
|New York Central was born of an amalgamation of little roads connecting cities throughout upstate New York. As these railroads ran from center city to center city, it was natural that the Central ran right through the center of each city, and Syracuse, NY, was no exception. In 1935-36, Central elevated the tracks parallel to Erie Boulevard and erected a new passenger station. There was an inlay above the front doors, showing the DeWitt Clinton engine of about 1850, named after the former NYS Governor, and of course, what else but a hi-stepping J-Class Hudson, considered by all as the most beautiful steam engine design ever, flying by with the 20th Century Limited. Today, with the tracks relocated to DeWitt, the building was a Greyhound Bus Terminal, the only one in the world that displays the 20th Century Limited above its doors. Now it is a television station.|
Like train stations? Like Art Deco? Now you can have both.
See a great look at
Art Deco Train Stations
One of the best in New York State is Syracuse
See more NY Central train stations and see more of Syracuse.
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?"
CSX and sometimes UP power on trains from time to time as CSX uses
New York, Susquehanna & Western to Syracuse as overflow during trackwork
between Syracuse and Northern NJ.
In Chenango Forks, the like splits with the main
going to Syracuse and a branch following the Chenango River
and route 12 to Utica.
The lines along route 11 are NS, former E-L and Erie lines. NYSW has trackage rights to NJ, headed east. CP has rights to Buffalo. NS comes up the former Delaware Lackawanna & Western from Scranton and heads to Buffalo. Parallel to the NYSW along the Brandywine highway (route 7) through Port Dickinson is the former Delaware & Hudson.
Coming south, when you get to Port Dickinson, you'll encounter 2 lines, one up higher than the other, The lower line is the NYSW, the upper is the D&H to Saratoga. (Now CP) Where you see all these tracks converging is called CP-BD. If you go down Court Street in Binghamton, you'll see it all! To your East, the NYSW heads to Port Jervis. To the west, NS goes to Buffalo. South we have CP to Scranton and Sunbury. The big yard in Binghamton proper is called the middle yard, as it's sandwiched between 2 others. If you get off at Bevier street, you'll find one with about 5 tracks, this is Bevier Street Yard, shared by NYSW and CP. (The signals here are called End Of Main Track, and control CP trains going north to CPF-611).
Next, we have the middle yard, shared by NS and NYSW. Susquehanna has an enginehouse here, where you get great views of their power provided there are no trains parked in front of it.
Conklin yard is across the river. It's 4 miles long, and has 17 tracks, and a full engine terminal. Great views can be had along Conklin Ave, and at Terrace Drive (follow the signs for the Maines Driving Academy)
Binghampton gets around 30 trains a day, usually more.
Freight Rail and Railroad Development in New York State
In 2000, New York had 4,796 mi (7,718 km) of track. In the same year,
there were 2 Class I lines, 2 Canadian lines, 4 regional, 19 local,
and 8 switching and terminal railrads.
More than two-thirds of New York state residents believe they would be better off if there were fewer trucks on the highways and more trains hauling freight instead, according to a survey released by the Ohio chapter of Transportation Advocates for Competition (TRAC).
The mission of Railroads of New York (RONY) is: “…to provide a trade association for all freight railroads that operate in the State of New York to advocate for the rights and needs of railroads and their customers, as well as to encourage economic growth within the state of New York.”
In New York State and the nation, that system has undergone significant changes over the course of our history. Originally, it was focused on our waterways, then to our railroads and more recently on our highway systems. Even so, today's rail freight system still plays a critical role in moving freight across our nation and state.
Within New York State, freight railroads serve virtually every part of the state. They transport a wide variety of goods, from automobiles, chemicals, minerals and energy products, to agricultural grains, food fertilizers and feeds, lumber, paper and other forest products, as well as steel, stone and other aggregates.
RONY's member Railroads transport:
Over 1.2 billion tons of goods annually
Over 20 million annual carloads of goods
Freight over nearly 83,000 route miles
Within New York State, more than 70 million tons of freight is transported by rail annually, in over 1.7 million carloads. RONY members also employ over 3,700 individuals and serve thousands of businesses, including key employers in each region of the state
See what the involvement of the New York State Department of Transportation is with railroads and rail freight.
The New York Public Transit Association, Inc. (NYPTA) is a not-for-profit association of public transportation service providers, private sector manufacturers and consultants, and state government agencies. The Association was formed in 1983 by representatives of the transit industry committed to the advancement of public transportation in New York State. After 20 years of operation, NYPTA remains devoted to public transportation development and representing the mass transportation needs of the riding public.
The Association consists of over 165 members, including public transit systems located throughout the state which collectively provide over two billion transit rides on bus and rail annually. Total passenger miles statewide equal nearly a half billion. These Association members consist of upstate and downstate systems in rural, suburban, city and large metropolitan localities, and account for 28% of all transit rides in the country.
The Central New York Railroad
The Lackawanna built the railroad.
Later it became the Erie-Lackawanna.
This traffic signal controlled cars on
historic Route 20 for many years.
The Richfield Springs branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railway extended through Bridgewater, where it connected with the Unadilla Valley Railroad, a shortline that served Edmeston and New Berlin to Richfield Springs on Canadarago Lake, once a rather fashionable resort.
Here, from 1905 until 1940, the DL&W had a passenger and freight connection with the Southern New York Railway, an interurban to Oneonta. Milk and light freight were the chief sources of revenue on this branch. Delaware Otsego subsidiary Central New York Railroad acquired this branch from Richfield Jct. to Richfield Springs, 22 miles, in 1973. Enginehouse was at Richfield Springs. Became part of NYS&W northern division after NYS&W bought the DL&W Syracuse & Utica branches from Conrail in 1982. Traffic on line gradually dropped off. Line east from Bridgewater embargoed in 1990. Abandoned and track removed in 1995, westerly 2-3 miles left in place for stone trains. In 2009: This old railroad is now owned by the Utica, Chenango and Susquehanna Valley LLC in Richfield Springs. They also own the 1930 Newark Milk and Cream Company creamery in South Columbia.
Railroads around Delhi
Ontario & Western reached
Delhi and served the
milk industry. The
Ulster & Delaware never reached Delhi. Neither did the
Delaware & Hudson
An article appeared in the “100 Years Ago” section of the Walton Reporter (Walton, NY) regarding Delaware & Hudson plans in the Schoharie Valley and Delaware East Branch. This article (that would have appeared in the newspaper in 1906) discussed the surveying of a line for the D&H from Schenectady to Grand Gorge. The plan was for this line to go onto Arkville and on down the East Branch of the Delaware River. The main purpose was to bring coal from PA to Schenectady. The D&H was in the process of expanding capacity and this plan was an offshoot of that. The idea had been looked at for over a decade but surveying was now actually taking place. The article goes on to say that 12 years previous to this a D&H rep was touring the East Branch and Schoharie Valley with an eye toward this proposed expansion and not wanting to leave the valleys open to competing lines. Did the Delaware and Eastern plans in that area kick off the D&H to, at least, start to look a little more seriously at this region?
This same article also talked about the Schenectady & Southwest Railroad surveying for a line in the same region but they were starting their surveying in Arkville and going northeast toward North Blenheim. Did this railroad ever have any operations?
The Delaware and Eastern/Northern Railroad also had ideas about continuing past Arkville northeast into this area, also.
Southwest of Stamford, NY, at the intersection of Peters Rd and State Route 10 there is gradework for, what was then, the proposed continuation of the Ulster and Delaware from Stamford through Harpersfield and on to Davenport. At the time the line had ended in Stamford. I believe the towns of Harpersfield and Davenport got some funding to start planning for the extension of the railroad through their communities as a way for it to get to Oneonta. Gradework for this extension was in progress when the Hobart Branch was built which ended their effort. The visible grade is in a field on the uphill side of Rt. 10 just east of Peters Rd.
A couple of efforts were made to run a railroad up the Little Delaware out of Delhi and to Margaretville. I believe one was in the 1870s and one in the 1890s. Some of the gradework on the south side of the Little Delaware River, near the community of Lake Delaware, is (or was - as of 15 years ago) visible from State Rt 28. What were these railroads? Did they have anything to do with the NYO&W in Delhi? The topography gets a little tougher east of Lake Delaware. Is there any evidence of gradework beyond Lake Delaware or the plans to get through the hills to Margaretville?
The easiest topography to work with coming out of Delhi would seem to be up the West Branch of the Delaware River to Bloomville. I recently saw a map for the NYC (I think – maybe a predecessor) drawn in 1893 in a book titled Railroad Atlas of North America . This map also included the Ulster & Delaware. At that time the U&D ended in Bloomville but this map showed it continuing on to Delhi and not Oneonta. Were there any plans or efforts to connect the U&D and the NYO&W along the West Branch? It would almost seem natural given how much railroad building was going on at that time and that less than 10 miles would have separated the two lines in this valley. Maybe too little potential business though.
And the U&D was in fact aiming at hooking up with a line from the west at Oneonta, perhaps the Southern New York to Richfield Springs and Herkimer or the West Shore line that made it across the hills to Earlville from Syracuse. If you look at the Delhi branch of the O&W, it could have connected at Bloomville with the U&D if someone so wished. Plus there were probably many charters issued that can only be uncovered by digging through state and county archives.
The grade along the Little Delaware can be found from Delhi all the way to Lake Delaware. No grading seems to have been done on the Gerry Estate Property (they are reported to have opposed the line). East of Lake Delaware, grading can be seen on the hill south of Route 28. It is quite a distance above the road, but comes even at the summit between Lake Delaware and Andes. There is also some evidence of grading on the Andes side. From Andes the line was graded down the Tremperskill Valley and then up the East Branch of the Delaware towards Margaretville. This grading and some bridge abutments were used by the D&E (later D&N) when they built their line.
There is also a little bit of grading down in the "Bullet Hole" on Bullet Hole Rd. south and west of Andes. This was an alternate route, which would have bypassed Andes. I believe this was part of the first (1870's) effort.
The first attempt was the Delhi & Middletown which was to go from Delhi to Dean's Corners (now Arkville) and connect with the U&D. The O&W was not built at that time (c. 1872).
Neither this effort nor the second effort had anything to do directly with the O&W. Delhi was, as you know, the county seat, and they wanted a railroad. One of the early meetings by organizers of the Midland, as the O&W was first known, was held in Delhi, and Delhi had high hopes of being on the mainline. This was not to be, but Delhi had caught "railroad fever" and forever after was trying to get one or more lines built.
There were plans to build a railroad from Delhi to Hobart. It was to have been an electrified line, of all things. Surveys for this and other "paper railroads" of Delaware County can be found in the County Clerk's office.
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