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Troy & Schenectady Railroad


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American Museum of Electricity
The American Museum of Electricity (What! You never heard of it?)
stored its collection on the old Troy & Schenectady Railroad.

Welcome to our Troy & Schenectady Railroad WebSite

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

Our feature article is on the history of the Troy & Schenectady Railroad .

We have great articles on the Green Island Bridge (including the Ford plant), the American Museum of Electricity , and Schenectady's American Locomotive Company .

There is a story on the Interstate 87 railroad crossing , the Troy Union Railroad , and railroad stations in Troy .

We have included a T&S Timetable , a timeline of the T&S , and a story about the end of the Line .

Follow the path of the Troy & Schenectady Railroad on Google EARTH and also fly around the Capital District .

Join a discussion group about the Troy & Schenectady Railroad .

We have great article about businesses on the T&S , trolley routes nearby , the Carman Cutoff, and Sandbank Yard.

More Sandbank Yard.

Read all about the End of the Troy Union Railroad

Troy & New England Railway Trolley from Troy to Averill Park which missed its goal of reaching New England .
American Locomotive Company 1949 USGS map

Portion of 1949 USGS map showing the former American Locomotive Company in Schenectady.

From this map:
(1)there were numerous rail sidings throughout the plant;
(2) no track connection appears to exist with the New York Central Mohawk Division;
(3) New York Central's connection to the plant appears to be from the T&S via the D&H; and
(4) D&H connection appears to have been a crossing of Freeman's Bridge Road between Nott Street and Seneca Street.

Note also on map the NYC and D&H crossings of the Mohawk as well as Sandbank Yard.
Former American Locomotive plant in Schenectady. Aerial view from Google Earth Former American Locomotive plant in Schenectady. Aerial view from Google Earth Former American Locomotive plant in Schenectady. Aerial view from Google Earth Former American Locomotive plant in Schenectady. Aerial view from Google Earth

Here's some views of the former American Locomotive/ALCO Products plant

in Schenectady.

Click on each picture to see a full view.

A lot of the former plant still appears to exist.
There has been some renovation (example the new building and pedestrian crossing of Erie Boulevard).

What ever happened to the great little restaurant that was in a parking lot almost right in the middle of the plant?

Amazingly, there is no rail connection to the nearby CP Rail line (former Delaware & Hudson).
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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The first railroad in New York State, and one of the first anywhere, was the Mohawk & Hudson, connecting Albany and Schenectady. The Rensselaer & Saratoga Rail Road followed in 1832, only a year later. Within twenty years, three more railroads came into Troy:
(1) Troy & Greenbush;
(2) Troy & Boston; and
(3)Troy & Schenectady.
The resulting congestion led to the formation of the Troy Union Railroad in 1851, owned jointly by the four roads. It opened in 1854. The tracks were moved from River Street to Sixth Avenue and a new station built. One of the lines was eventually bought by the D&H RR (Rensselaer & Saratoga RR), two were merged into the New York Central RR (Troy & Schenectady RR and the Troy & Greenbush RR), and the fourth became part of the Boston & Maine RR (Troy & Boston RR).

Although the tracks in Troy were moved inland to avoid congestion, the growth of the city overwhelmed it still. Row houses, stores, and factories crowded in on all available land near the track. There wasn't room for the conventional two-storied interlocking towers needed to control the switches at each end of the terminal, so both towers had to straddle the tracks. Switches were thrown by the tower operators through a series of rods and cranks.

In other major cities, early 1900's grade crossing elimination programs rebuilt the right-of-way above or below the streets. Similar plans were drawn up for Troy, but never were built. Numerous streets required a gate guard, to flag the crossing or drop the gates. The track ran part of the way in the pavement of Sixth Avenue, and steam road locomotives inched their way past parked cars. This looked like industrial trackage but was a passenger main.

Troy's first depot (before the Troy Union Railroad) was the "Troy House" on River Street. The second one burned (1862) when Troy had what is known as the "Great Fire". The third one was built shortly afterwards, and lasted until 1900, when Troy finally got a "modern" one. The depot was designed by Reed & Stem, who eventually worked on Grand Central Terminal. The Troy station pioneered individual train platform sheds reached by an underground passageway instead of one huge shed.

The 1900 station was a colonial revival design with Beaux Arts columns and decorated by Grecian castings."

The station was 400 feet, and the passenger tracks weren't much longer. Most trains blocked grade crossings at each end of the station. In 1910, there were 130 passenger trains a day. Most of these, except the Albany- Troy beltline, required an engine change.

The station was torn down in 1958, with only a single track left in place because of Rutland trackage rights for their milk train to Chatham, NY. This track came out in 1964, after abandonment of the Rutland. The tunnel for the tracks was between Congress and Ferry Streets.

This area was known in history as the first "red-light district". Off-duty railroaders visited houses of "working girls". The railroaders hung their lanterns outside so the crew- callers could find them.

Much of the industry served by the railroads was in South Troy

By Ken Kinlock at
Railroad Station at Troy, New York

Railroad Station at Troy, New York

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

NY Central passenger trains, including the T&S, ran into Troy Union Station

Troy Union Railroad

Hoosac Tunnel to Troy

Penney Vanderbilt developed the map of Troy, including the Troy Union Railroad, when she was writing a blog about the Boston & Maine going through the Hoosac Tunnel to serve Troy. It shows important points like Troy Union Station, the Adams Street Freight House and the Green Island Bridge. Other blogs you might like include the Troy Union Railroad Towers; abandonment of train service to Troy; and last but not least, the Troy Union Railroad.

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Signal Stations on the T&S

The signals on the T&S were located at stations. They were used in connection with the delivery of train orders and to separate trains with a manual block system. Each signal was manually controlled by the telegraph operator at that station. The T&S never had an automatic block signal system.

In 1950, there were two stations open along the T&S, at Crescent and Cohoes, but the signals were gone. The stations were shown in the time table as communicating stations, but not as train order offices or block stations. The entire branch was operated under yard limit rule 93, with no need for train orders. The maximum authorized speed was 10 mph on the entire branch.

In 1959 the yard limits had been cut back to include only Green Island to Cohoes, and train orders were again used to operate between Cohoes and Schenectady. The only open office was Signal Station 8 at Schenectady, and manual block rules did not apply on the branch. Trains received train orders and a Clearance Form A at SS 8 to run to Cohoes. Maximum speed was still 10 mph.

The only interlocking on the T&S was NYCRR Signal Station 8 at Schenectady, which governed the junction of the T&S and the Mohawk Division Main Line, and the T&S crossing of the Delaware and Hudson. At Green Island, a signal governing movements on the switch that joined the T&S with the D&H Green Island Branch was controlled by Troy Union Railroad Tower 3 on River Street in Troy.
From Gordon Davids

In the Summer of 1979, the wheels were in motion to tear up the Crescent Industrial Track. Bike Trail funds were in place and the rail was going to scrap. Funny thing is, this part of the T&S saw service until 1976, whereas the Aqueduct Branch hadn't seen business since the early 70's and remained 'active' until 1984, scrapping coming a year later.

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, March 9, 1947

Just Around the Corner
By Bertrande Snell

The old time telegrapher always claimed he was in a class by himself and that he refused to be bound by the ordinary rules that his less gifted fellow men had laid down for the benefit of society.

He wasn't so wrong at that. He led a strenuous life; he worked long and tedious hours; he drew pitifully small pay and he was by choice a wanderer upon the face of the earth.

In speaking of this fraternity, I use the past tense, since their activities have now almost ceased. The train dispatcher now controls his trains by telephone, commercial telegraphy is 95 percent automatic, and it will be a matter of but a few years when a Morse telegrapher will have become a museum piece.

As I have remarked before in these columns, the mere ability to transmit and receive the Morse dots and dashes is but a small part of that intricate business which distinguished a really "good" operator from his host of inferiors.

You see, it's like this: A telegrapher must be able to function in three separate and distinct ways as he puts down each word that the clicks spell out to him. First, he must recognize the Morse signal for what it really is, then he must set it down on paper, either with a pen or a typewriter. All of this within the space of a split second, while he is already mentally reaching for the next signal. A first-class operator, writing down 40 words or more a minute for any length of time, is most certainly keeping the old brain cells shuttling, even when he doesn't realize it.

On the other hand, all of this concentration and ability would be of small avail if the "sender" at the other end were not doing his full share by transmitting the signals clearly, speedily and in the proper rhythm. As a matter of fact, it always has been a dangerous thing to tell a telegrapher that he's not a good sender. Even though it's probably true enough, he'll never believe it and will most certainly be your enemy for life.

Just to illustrate how easily the telegrapher's trained ear can miss a bet; let me relate a little incident in my own experience. In my Hojack days I once labored for a few months at Newfane, which is in Niagara county, near Lockport. One night the train dispatcher sent me a message for the conductor of the pickup, reading:

"Pick up 3 cars peaches at Appleton, 2 at Lyndonville - all via Charlotte."

But the copy I handed up to the caboose as it rolled by the station read like this:

"Pick up 3 cars peaches at Appleton, 2 at Lyndonville - 4 at Charlotte."

The substitution of "4 at" for "via" - the two sounding very similar in Morse code - caused Conductor Grogan to hunt all over the Charlotte yards for four non-existent cars of peaches. And did he tell me off on his next trip?

Lance Corrigan used to work the Hojack dispatcher's office at Oswego. This was back in 1904, when any good telegrapher could get a job on any good railroad in the good old U.S.A. Lance was a crack-a-jack telegrapher and a fast, fluent and witty talker. In the practice of his profession; he had traveled from east to west, from north to south - but he always claimed, "There's a lot more of 'em left."

Lance was a snappy dresser, but his elbows were always shiny from leaning too long and too often on polished bars, and he was always broke for the same reason. He was holding a job as day message man, and I held the night trick in the same capacity; so we naturally became well acquainted - and if I may say so with pardonable pride - the best of friends.

In spite of Larry's widely known addiction to the old throat gargle, he was such a friendly fellow and so fine a workman that he quickly won favor of the "higher-ups" - Chief Dispatcher, Ashe, and Trainmaster Halleran. In those days, if the boss was on your side and you humped yourself a bit, you could generall manage to wangle a little salary raise out of him from time to time, and if you refrained from bragging about it, nobody would be the wiser. Such goings-on were probably very nefarious and reprehensible; but that's the way it was - and we were stuck with it, or on it, according to the way modern regimented labor would look at it.

Anyway, the boss, liking Lance's work and not frowning too severely on his elbow-bending propensities, cooked up a little scheme, whereby he could grant a salary increase. "You have," said J.G.H., "considerable spare time during the day, which you could use to advantage doing some of my office work. I'll run the message wire to a desk in my office and you'll be all set."

This idea immediately appealed to Lance and he said so. He worked on his new job in seeming content until pay-day rolled around. Fifty years ago, this event transpired but once a month- and two or three days later we were already looking forward, breathlessly (and penniless) to the next one.

Lance ducked out to the paycar and got his money, coming back, he sat at his desk figuring furiously. At the culmination of his arithmetical labors, he arose, grabbed his hat barged over to the beetler's desk. "Jim," he announced without preliminary, "I'm through; gimme my time. I'm off for the west this afternoon."

"Why, what's the trouble?" exclaimed the astounded trainmaster. "I thought you like your new job. You've been doing it might well, and I'm paying you well for it, too. You can't quit me like that."

"Sure I can, feller," responded itch-foot Corrigan, "and I'll tell you what the trouble is, too. Your job is all right; but me, I don't want it. It's too much of an expensive job. Why, it costs me more money every day to every day to keep drunk enough to work this job than what the danged thing is worth! So long - I'm I'm on my way.

And that was the last I ever saw of Lance Corrigan - boomer deluxe and careful appraiser of comparative values.
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Joseph A. Smith (1895-1978) was an avid collector of railroad photos, sharing many of them with fellow collectors in the Northeast. A former plumbing contractor, Smith presumably developed his interest in railroads through his father – a trolley motorman in Troy, NY. His extensive collection focused on the lines that once served Troy: Delaware & Hudson, Rutland, Boston & Maine and New York Central. Many of his children – especially his sons Joseph Jr., James and Paul -- developed a similar interest and added to his collection with photos of their own. Maintaining the collection is now in the hands of his grandson, Kenneth Bradford. Coincidentally, Ken’s other grandfather worked as a manager at the Schenectady plant of the American Locomotive Company. Smith was a life member of the Capital District Railroad Club of Schenectady. He was also a member of the Mohawk-Hudson Chapter Railway Historical Society and its parent organization, the National Railway Historical Society. affiliate_link
Sandbank Yard

Sandbank Yard

In the Schenectady area, the T&S had no yard of its own, but used the Sandbank Yard across the Mohawk River in Scotia.

If you ever wondered why the NYC's yard in Scotia was called sandbank: Sandbanks namesake was William Fawthrop and Son Sand Company who loaded industrial sand at the NYC-PC-CR yard in Scotia, New York.

Sandbank Yard was shut down around 1977. They weren't even using the Chicago Line through Schenectady. It's last use before Amtrak started going to Schenectady again was storing hoppers full of snow on the line in Glenville.

The connection track from what was once Tower 9 to the D&H was the second (1838) alignment of the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad.

The S&S (D&H) was the second railroad to begin operation in New York State (July 12, 1832) after the Mohawk & Hudson (NYC). The two connected in Schenectady proper, where the S&S originally used horse power to move its cars across the Mohawk River on a highway bridge.

In 1838 that route in Schenectady was abandoned. The S&S built a connection to the Utica & Schenectady (NYC) "with which a connection was made a short distance north of the Mohawk River." This continued until 1871, when the Rensselaer and Saratoga, the new owner of the S&S, built its own Mohawk River bridge on approximately the same alignment as the present D&H bridge north of Maxon Road.

That explains why the D&H connection at Tower 9 pointed toward Schenectady instead of into Sand Bank Yard, which would have made more sense for its later purpose.

The Original S&S started in Downtown Schenectady, crossed the Mohawk River at Washington Avenue (same spot that the FJ&G and Schenectady Railway crossed the river) went through the area of Sandbank yard and North to Saratoga. The line was later moved to go north through Schenectady and cross the Mohawk near Maxon Road. Looking at a list of towers on the NY Central Mohawk Division, the two missing towers between 8 and 11, SS-9 and SS-10, became Remote Interlockings SB and NA, and eventually Tower 11 at Hoffmans became Remote Interlocking HF. All three were controlled by Tower 8 at Schenectady by 1959. After 1959, there was no NYC interlocking at Sand Bank, and no crossovers on the NYC main. The connection ran to a small interchange track, and there were only transfer moves by D&H and NYC yard engines over the connection.

See a picture of Penn Central at Sandbank Yard.

See more about Sandbank Yard.
American Museum of Electricity
The American Museum of Electricity (What! You never heard of it?)
stored its collection on the old Troy & Schenectady Railroad.
Troy Station owned by Troy Union Railroad

Troy Station, owned by Troy Union Railroad

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New York Central Branch from DeKalk Junction to Ogdensburg, In 1861, the Potsdam & Watertown line merged into the Watertown&Rome, the name of the new railroad was changed to Rome, Watertown&Ogdensburg, and a 19-mile line built from DeKalb Junction to Ogdensburg. It lasted until the 1980's. Read the whole story.
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Sandbank Yard

A Mohawk River bridge fire occurred in August of 1978. This closed Sandbank Yard. The main line through Sandbank was out of service and was used to store gons and hoppers of Buffalo snow in the early months of 1978 due to the blizzard of 77-78. The summer of 1978 brought a tie and rail gang through to restore the main line for Amtrak use. Once the B&B gang had completed the installation of bridge timbers on the mainline side of the bridge, the bridge was set on fire supposedly by a young Schenectady vandal who wasn't allowed to ride his dirt bike across during the bridge work. The track to Mohawk yard was referred to as the "interchange" by Sandbank employees, it started at the northeast side of the yard in front of the shanty, went under the Sunnyside bridge alongside the old roundhouse and Doug Fawthrops sand company and went north to the D&H.

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