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The West Shore Railroad


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

West Shore Railroad
Al Perlman letter

Letter by Al Perlman in 1957 addressing to employees why NY Central is discontinuing passenger service on the West Shore.

(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)
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Mileposts on the West Shore

The mileposts through Voorheesville originate in Schodack on the Hudson Line (Albany-NYC). That is where the old Castleton Connector begins. The mileposts start a '0' here and continue west to Hoffmans (west of Rotterdam). The rejoin to the old passenger main here at a control point is called CP-169. These are the mileposts that are measured from Grand Central Terminal in New York.

Until the late 1980's, the mileposts on the Selkirk Branch were measured from Weehawken, NJ. Conrail changed that to reflect the current method. Some further examples of the new mileposts are:

MP 0: Schodack (CP-125 on the Hudson Line to New York)
MP 5: CP-SM on the B&A
MP 11: Selkirk Yard
MP 22: Voorheesville
MP 32: South Schenectady (Burdeck St)
MP 42: Hoffmans (CP-169 on the Chicago Line to Buffalo and points west)

Yes, the Carman Branch or Carman Sub as it's known now goes from CP-SH on the West Shore to CP-156 on the Chicago Line.

The Castleton Cutoff goes from Selkirk Yard to CP-187 on the B&A. It meets up with the Post Road Branch from Rensselaer there.

The NY Central milepost series on the West Shore began with 0.00 in Weehawken and increased all the way to Buffalo via Ravena (Not Selkirk). The mileposts on the New Jersey Junction Railroad began at Weehawken and increased eastward to National Junction, later Nave. Conrail turned that series around on the NJ Jct RR so that they begin at Nave and increase to Weehawken. The River Line mile posts are still numbered from Weehawken even though the River Line doesn't start there now.

The mileposts on the Selkirk Branch begin at Stuyvesant Jct on the Hudson Line, and continue over the Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge (Bridge 8.48) through Selkirk Yard to Hoffmans. Before Conrail, the mile posts from Unionville to Rotterdam Jct were Weehawken miles, because that was original West Shore, and the mile posts on the Hoffmans Connection between Hoffmans and Rotterdam Jct increased eastward from 0.00 at Hoffmans to RJ, but Conrail put them all into the one series.

Check out Penney Vanderbilt's blog about the end of Railway Post Offices See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History
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More on the West Shore

Sharing the "Water-Level Route" with the New York Central was the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railroad. At first it was a competitor, later a subsidiary. The first try at this line was the New York, West Shore & Chicago which didn't get off the ground and went belly up in the Panic of 1877. Since the idea was good, it was tried again.

In the 1870's, the New York & Oswego Midland was built over the most rural pieces of New York State between Middletown in the Southern Tier and Oswego on Lake Ontario. It failed because it was poorly built and poorly located. The Oswego Midland was reorganized into the Ontario & Western. This new road sought a better entrance into New York City than the rambling New Jersey Midland (now New York, Susquehanna & Western). A shorter route would be to strike across the country to the east of Middletown and reach the Hudson and follow that south to Jersey City. The first freight carried on the West Shore was a dairy train over the O&W connection at Cornwall and into Jersey City.

Building the West Shore was a huge project for its day. Constructing a double-track trunk line over four hundred miles through a densely populated state was no small job. As well as providing terminals and shops and equipment, there were several tunnels and many bridges to be built. The West Shore purchased all new equipment and only the best. They had 175 anthracite-burning locomotives. The rail was 67 lb., excellent for that era. The double track sets were laid two feet further apart than on the New York Central. Thirty feet to the mile was the maximum ascending grade. There were shops at New Durham, NJ; Frankfort, NY; and Newark, NY. The shops at Frankfort were located there because the property was a gift of the surrounding towns.

Construction began in 1881. At the same time, the O&W began building between Middletown and Cornwall-on-Hudson. The biggest projects were the three main tunnels: Bergen Hill outside Weehawken; south of Haverstraw; and underneath the parade ground of the US Military Academy at West Point. Also required were smaller tunnels at Bear Mountain, Newburgh (under the Erie Railroad), Kingston and Danskammer. The steep banks of the river made construction difficult. Several places required basically inverted bridges while others required huge amounts of filling (even including old canal boats). The entire road was designed as double track.

Some of the money behind this project came from George M. Pullman, who wanted to strike a blow against William H. Vanderbilt for banishing Pullman cars in favor of Wagner Palace cars.

At one point over 20,000 men worked on construction of the West Shore. Many of the workers were blacks from the South who then settled in the North.

The West Shore started at Weehawken directly opposite New York City. It was the nearest available point where there was water access and land for rail yards. It required a long tunnel under nearby Bergen Hill. The line ran parallel to the river for several miles. It touched the river again at Haverstraw and followed it closely to a point opposite Poughkeepsie, where it turned slightly inland. Through Kingston it followed the Wallkill Valley Railroad right-of-way. The Wallkill Valley stopped at Kingston but had intended to go to Albany so there was some roadbed already constructed.

The Wallkill Valley provided a convenient path through Kingston, where there was a connection with the Ulster & Delaware RR. The West Shore utilized a portion of the "White Elephant" (Saratoga & Hudson River) line from Athens to Schenectady. It was leased from Vanderbilt at a good price. Between Schenectady and Utica, the road ran on the opposite side of the Mohawk River from the New York Central.

It went through South Utica, which was sparsely populated at the time, but later crossed many streets. The Mohawk Valley route had been recently surveyed by the Boston, Hoosac Tunnel & Western, which ran from Massachusetts to Mechanicville. It considered extending to Buffalo and had acquired the Chenango Valley Railroad between Syracuse and a connection with the O&W at Earlville (45 miles). Initially the West Shore had difficulty crossing this route. Later on (1891) it became a branch of the West Shore.

The West Shore made a connection with the Boston, Hoosac Tunnel & Western (later Boston & Maine) at Rotterdam Junction. Until World War I, Boston sleepers inter-changed here and continued to Chicago and St. Louis over the Wabash and Nickel Plate roads. Eventually Boston sleepers interchanged at Albany and went all the way to Chicago on the New York Central. Utica to Syracuse was a direct route as opposed to the New York Central which jogged to serve Rome.

The Syracuse station was located at the junction with the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburgh. Rochester was omitted as the railroad went to the south of the city.

The New York Central and West Shore crossed at several points and met in Buffalo. The West Shore planned a magnificent Union Passenger Depot in Buffalo. It tried to get several roads to share but only got the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia to accept. The depot was never built because money started to run out, so they made do with a temporary structure.

By February 1883, West Shore bonds were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In announcing the listing, the promoters proclaimed 320 miles out of 472 complete. The O&W was finished between Cornwall and Middletown. There was $6 million of equipment on hand. Passenger service between Jersey City and Newburgh began in June 1883. The West Shore used the Pennsylvania's station in Jersey City because Weehawken was incomplete and the new ferries were not built yet. The connection between the two stations continued for many years over the Union Railroad. Kingston was the next stop opened to service. The road was open to Albany by July. The five-hour run was completed by entering Albany over D&H tracks. Pullmans went through to Saratoga over the protests of the New York Central and Wagner Sleeping Car Company. The West Shore opened to Syracuse in October. Freight service still had not started.

Finally Buffalo was reached. Now the West Shore boasted a 954-mile route to Chicago (425 miles on the West Shore; 24 miles on the Erie; 230 miles on the Great Western Division of the Grand Trunk; 67 miles over the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee; and the final 252 miles over the Chicago & Grand Trunk). This compared to 961 miles by New York Central/Michigan Central, but the West Shore took almost 36 hours!

Financial troubles began in 1884. The O&W entered receivership. The West Shore was in bankruptcy by June 1884. It issued receivers' certificates to finish the road. The receivers began a desperate price-cutting war with the New York Central. The winners were the public, who rode at ridiculously low rates. The Central was hurt, but not badly enough to miss a dividend payment.

By July 1885 the West Shore passed to the New York Central. The Central formed a new company and operated the route as a separate entity. The West Shore had been supported and encouraged by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had picked up many of the bonds at a low price.

The Pennsylvania dropped support of the West Shore in a deal negotiated by J.P. Morgan. The deal involved the New York Central's dropping construction of a new railroad in the heart of Pennsylvania, the South Pennsylvania Railroad. The S.P.RR would have connected the Reading and Jersey Central with the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie, a New York Central affiliate. This proposed route later became the pathway for the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1938.

The New York Central operated the West Shore as a separate railroad. It had its own advertising, tickets, etc. The name "West Shore" was carried on its locomotives and cars. But it was in a stronger position because it brought its passenger trains into the Central's stations. It charged lower fares than the Central in order to better compete with the Lackawanna, Erie and Lehigh Valley Railroads. It was a good road for freight because of its easy grades and curves.

Let's take an imaginary trip on the West Shore at some point before the late 1950's and early 1960's when the West Shore started to disappear:

Two ferry routes connect to Manhattan; one goes to 42d Street and the other downtown to Cortlandt Street.

The New Jersey Junction Railroad, a five-mile long New York Central affiliate, provides connections for interchange between the various railroads in the Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken area. From Weehawken to National Junction is classified as yard limits. There is a grain elevator and a pier originating carloads of bananas. Floats destined for the many ports of the New York harbor originate and terminate here.

Up until 1957, Ontario & Western trains share the line between Cornwall and Weehawken. Diesels replaced steam on the West Shore in 1952. The ferry service and commuter runs will be gone by the end of 1959, ending a decline begun by the 1931 opening of the George Washington Bridge. Just above Weehawken, the Palisades crowd the river and force servicing operations to be located in North Bergen. Four miles west by operating direction, but north by geographic orientation, is the New York, Susquehanna & Western interchange at Little Ferry.

The road is mostly four track until Dumont, where several commuter runs terminate, their trains laying over in an adjacent yard. Beyond Dumont, the line is double track to Selkirk. After the commuters leave, the second track will be torn up. Above Dumont, there are ten commuter stops before West Haverstraw, where other commuter runs lay over. Just beyond West Haverstraw the road reaches the river and winds its way to Newburgh, where long-distance commuter runs terminate. A few passenger runs continue to Kingston and Albany, mostly serving local passengers as train times are exceedingly slow compared to New York City/Albany on the Hudson Division. All told, between freight and commuters, this is a busy line. Kingston is the next major city, and both the Wallkill and Catskill Mountain branches are still active. Beyond Kingston, huge cement plants originate countless carloads.

The West Shore from Weehawken joins the Boston & Albany at the south end of Selkirk Yard. The Castleton Bridge, a high, mile-long span carries Selkirk traffic into the Hudson Division and the Boston & Albany. Tower SK controls this point. Selkirk Yard was originally developed in the 1920's to ease the strain on West Albany. It was rebuilt in the late 1960's as the Alfred E. Perlman Yard. A branch runs from Selkirk into Albany (11 miles). Access to the Albany station is over the Delaware & Hudson trackage from Kenwood Junction to the north end of the station at street level.

After leaving Selkirk heading west, the line crosses the D&H's Albany-Delanson line and Voorheesville and crosses the Normanskill on a high bridge. At Fullers the tracks cross on an overpass and operation is left-hand running. The Carman Cutoff leads into Schenectady. Next, the West Shore crosses over the D&H main on a pair of bridges near Burdeck Street. Rotterdam Junction is the interchange with the Boston & Maine as well as a bridge to the New York Central main line at Hoffmans.

Most freight from the west leaves the main at Hoffmans and follows the West Shore to Selkirk. RJ Tower is located on the river bluff just west of the town. It will disappear when the area goes under CTC control from Utica.

West of this point is little used and portions will be among the first to be abandoned. At Fultonville is an old West Shore station with "NYWS&B" stenciled under the eaves. Proceeding west through scenic territory, the Mohawk River is almost always in view. The line passes nearby the home of General Nicholas Herkimer of Revolutionary War fame. At Little Falls the track goes by the river and canal lock at the bank. Near Mohawk, the New York State Railways interurbans shared the track for several years. A connection with the main line is at Schuyler Junction.

The West Shore proceeds through South Utica to near New York Mills, where both the Lackawanna's Utica branch and the Ontario & Western's Utica branch cross it at grade. There is a short branch serving the textile mills in New York Mills. At Clark Mills, the Rome branch of the O&W crosses. The main line of the O&W crosses at Oneida Castle and the Lehigh Valley crosses at Canastota. At Kirkville Junction there is a crossover to the New York Central main line, and a few miles further the Chenango Branch joins the West Shore. Traffic is light on this branch and soon Earlville to Manlius will be ripped up. The section from Utica to Rome was electrified for several years. West Shore passenger trains ran on the main line from Syracuse to Utica and left the "direct" route to the NY State Railways interurbans.

From Syracuse to Buffalo (don't forget, the West Shore bypasses Rochester), the West Shore and New York Central weave across each another several times. The West Shore goes slightly north of Syracuse, while the Central goes right through town. At Lyons, there is an interchange with the Pennsylvania Division. Before reaching Buffalo, there are crossings with the Pennsylvania, Erie, R&D and Lehigh Valley. Waynesport to Chili Junction and Byron to Buffalo will survive as branches to serve local industry after the West Shore as a through route is eliminated as redundant by 1961. The West Shore terminates in East Buffalo with connections to the immediate world.

By Ken Kinlock at
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Weehawken pictures West Shore and more
From the fifties and before. Other railroads, trolleys, boats.

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, Jan. 26, 1947

Just Around the Corner
By Bertrande Snell

Rufe Potter was at his desk in the freight office. It was 3:30 p.m. and he had just completed the consists for next morning's Cape Vincent local and turned them over to the yardmaster. He wiped his favorite pen carefully on the sleeve of his once-white linen duster which he always wore in the office; filled his pipe with shag, lit it and leaned back, puffing contentedly...Not that his days' work was all done - but why start on another piece of work until you had to?

The freight agent, Clyde Allen, sat opposite and idly flipped through a stack of car-cards as he remarked, " Rufe, you seen Frank Wilson this afternoon? He ain't been in the office since mornin'."

"Aw," responded Rufe, as he yawned tremendously; "he's over at the Woodruff, takin' in a few with Jimmy Halleran an' Pete Lonergan - they blew in from Oswego this noon on 204."

"How come you know so much about what they're doin'?" queried Clyde with a glint in his eye.

"Why, you just thought I didn't know where you was on that dang long lunch-hour you took today - you ain't foolin; me none, mister. Well, so long, Rufe, I gotta be gettin'."

The scene was the Hojack freight office at Watertown the season was early autumn and the years was 1904. Jimmy Heustis was division superintendent, Frank McCormack was senior trainmaster and Frank Wilson was division freight agent. McCormack was he real boss of the division and he knew practically all the answers, having learned his routine under such as Pat Crowley and Dave Dinan.

At this period, Pat Crowley was superintendent of the New York Central's Fall Brook division with headquarters at Corning. He was on the way up - a way which was finally to land him in New York City as president of the entire New York Central system. Pat's initials are P.E.C. and his strenuous and successful efforts to get more tonnage behind the locomotives of the old Fall Brook became so widely known that all the engineers flatly declared that his "PEC" meant nothing less than "Pull Eighty Cars." Later on, when Frank McCormack took over the Fall Brook job at Corning, we continued to insist that his "FEM" stood for "Fetch Eight More." - And we were right about that too.

But to get back to our hero, Rufus Potter, the billing clerk.

After Agent Allen departed, that afternoon, Rufe started in on some transfer sheets, but was soon interrupted by Chief Clerk Harry (John Bull) Howard, who dispatched him up the yard to get a list of car numbers from a "symbol" train which had just pulled in from the north. This was little to Rufe's liking; it was really not part of his job and, besides, he didn't like Howard a little bit and he was aware that the feeling was mutual.

Reflecting, however, that it would be pleasant to get out in the open after a day spent at his desk, he demurred but little and went his appointed way. Completing his list, he decided that, instead of returning directly to the office, he would slip across the yards and drift into the Woodruff, just to see how many of the boys really were there.

Well, sir; when he got there, he found, as he had expected, quite a delegation on hand; Passenger Conductor Fred Cole, "the best-dressed man on the division;" Hank Lester, yardmaster; Bill Jewett, clerk; Agent Allen, Pete Lonergan and Jimmy Halleran of Oswego, Frank Wilson, George Griffith, a couple of brakemen from Syracuse - and one lone telegrapher from Parish.

"What you doin' here?" cried "John Bull" Howard, as Rufe ducked in, "I thought I sent you up on track 11 to get them numbers from O-M3."

"Well, here they be," responded Rufe, "you want 'em?"

"No, hustle back to the office with 'em -have a beer?"

"Not on you, mister," retorted Potter - "I'll buy my own."

Which he accordingly did. As he gazed down the length of the bar, he took in all the familiar faces there, and asked:

"Where's McCormack? I thought he came over a while ago."

"He was here," somebody said, "He just left a few minutes ago."

"That's good," chuckled our hero, "I ain't got no use for him, even if he is the Big Boss. He gets on my nerves, he does, an' the less I see of him, the better off I'll be."

--And now, Rufus really warmed to his subject and discoursed with fluency and abandon as to the lack of merit in his boss. He highly spiced verbiage heaped anthems upon the name of McCormack, and his adjectives of invective sparked and sputtered like a wet celonoid.

"Why dang it all, if i ever get a good chance I'm gonna tell that guy just what he is - and why. I ain't gonna pull no punches. I'm gonna let him have both barrels and when the smoke clears away, I'll soak him with some more. I tell you, boys, that man is gonna take it from me and like it. he's the most un-"

At this point in his harangue Rufe suddenly noticed that a deep, hushed silence had fallen over the assemblage. The gent who stood at his elbow seemed to be gazing beyond at some distant object which horrified him - and Rufe caught from the corner of his eye a fleeting, but clear-cut picture of the cause. There, in the open doorway within easy hearing distance, stood the red-faced subject of his discourse - Superintendent Frank E. McCormack.

Rufe never blinked an eyelash, his posture changed not a hair, and his discourse continued from the exact point where it had ceased for the space of a fleeting heart-beat. "--But, right there, I stopped him. 'You can't stand there,' says I 'and talk about Frank McCormack that way. He's a first-class guy and a bang-up railroad man and he gets my vote, every time, and I can lick the man that says no.'

"You know, fellers, that shut him up like a clam - not another word outa the dang idiot - well, so long, fellers. I gotta get back to the office - why good afternoon, Mr. McCormack, I didn't see you."

"Mr. Potter," said Frank, "I am about to pour a libation with you, join me?"

-And as they blew away the collars, Frank continued, "By the way, Rufus, who was that enemy of mine you squelched so efficiently?"

"Sorry, sir," vibrated his companion as he edged toward the exit. "I don't know his name - he was a perfect stranger to me."

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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.

Richard Palmer's West Shore Abandonment Lists

Richard Palmer's abandonment lists are based on New York State Public Service Commission and I.C. C. reports, as well as newspaper articles. The dates listed are primarily when lines were approved for abandonment and not necessarily when they were actually discontinued and tracks pulled up. But in most cases, the dates are very close. There are records at the state DOT office in Albany on microfilm that also tell when the last passenger service was discontinued on branchlines, but he hasn't had time to get to that yet. Many trains were taken off during the late 1920s and early 1930s. He is still trying to determine when passenger service was discontinued on the West Shore between Selkirk/Rotterdam Junction and Utica.

West Shore Abandonments (mileage generally based on employee timetables and PSC reports and ICC Finance Dockets). The 1959 dates coincide with the installation of CTC on the New York Central mainline which essentially eliminated the need for the parallel West Shore except for some local switching.

Segment Mileage Year
Athens Dock - Coxsackie Junction 6.20 1900
Fullers - Athens Junction 5.40 1903
Little Falls - Fort Plain 14.50 1971
Ilion - Little Falls 9.50 1973
Ilion - Harbor (Utica) 9.4 1982
Harbor (Utica) - South Utica 5.60 1971
Vernon - New York Mills 12.30 1964
Oneida Castle - Vernon 5.60 1977
Minoa - Canastota 12.90 1955
Canastota - Oneida Castle 5.9 1982
Belle Isle - Amboy 3.90 1955
Amboy - Wayneport 59.32 1959 (Small portions retained for a time in vicinity of Lyons and Newark until abandoned in 1982).
Wayneport to Macedon
Still in service
Chili Jct. - Byron 11.88 1959
Byron - Oakfield 10.24 1963

Where did the West Shore have stations in Utica?

West Shore had a station in South Utica at the intersection with Genesee Street. It was in the area where a Grand Union supermarket was constructed. There were a couple of sidings and freight loading ramps too. I remember a station there, but it was only like a freight house or maintenance house in my times.

South Street was actually East Utica, so couldn't have been construed as "South Utica". Remember, the West Shore cut diagonally across Utica from Genesee Street in a South-East direction. It crossed numerous streets with only a pair of cross-bucks for protection. They actually had to flag across Genesee Street! And it was double track too!

Even the DL&W had gates (and even a gateman within my memory until they automated). DL&W still had passenger service after West Shore and O&W were well out of it. When DL&W discontinued their train to Binghamton, I remember the Short Line bus that replaced it struggling up Paris Hill in New Hartford with black/brown gas fumes spewing out the back, and hoped somebody would shoot it and put it out of its misery so the train would return It was a really cool train ride from Utica to New Hartford.

There are a couple of links showing the WSRR run through the Utica area.
Part 1 and part 2 can be stitched together to show the WSRR from Clark Mills to Harbor.

New York Central Six Track Railroad in the 1920's

Although this six-track trunk line across the Empire State has been in operation for many years it can hardly be said to be completed; for, like woman's work, a railroad is never done. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been expended by the New York Central in the last twenty years in improvements. It must be distinctly understood that the mere work of maintenance is not included in the term "improvements"; the word is used in its exact meaning.

For example, there are the West Albany freight yards, one of the largest freight terminals in the East. There are 230 miles of track in the yards with more than 600 switches, having a daily capacity of 10,500 cars. In addition to the yards there are more than ten miles of track serving engine houses, car shops, erecting and boiler shops and transfer tables. Yet in the last twenty years more than $3,000,000 have been expended to keep this important point up to the growing demands of traffic.

For another thing, in order to facilitate the movement of trains through the Mohawk Valley, various connections have been built between the New York Central and the former West Shore Railroad. First of these connections unites Carman, three miles east of Schenectady on the main line with South Schenectady on the West Shore. This connection is a double-track railroad five miles long built in 1905 at a cost of $400,000.

From Rotterdam Junction, five miles west of South Schenectady there is a second connection which taps the main line at Hoffmans, nine miles west of Schenectady. This connection is also a double track railroad crossing the Mohawk River on a steel bridge supported on concrete abutments. The connection is three miles long.

The third connection going west is a few miles east of Utica, at Schuyler Junction. Although only two miles long it cost $600,000
Six tracks through the Mohawk Valley

Six tracks through the Mohawk Valley

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What Kind of Passenger Service Did the West Shore Have?

what passenger service the West Shore had between across upstate New York?
Here goes:
1893 Two limiteds each way plus 4 or 5 locals depending on the section of the line.
1900 Three limiteds, 2-4 locals.
1911 Five limiteds, 2-3 locals.
1916 Three limiteds, 2-4 locals.
1919 One limited, 1-2 locals.
1923 One limited (used NYC between Albany and Utica), 1-2 locals.
1929 No limiteds, 1-2 locals.
1934 Nothing.

From Wayneport to Chili Jct. (or wherever the interchange was then) all passenger trains used the NYC through Rochester. The Section from Rochester to Buffalo generally had the most locals, east to Syracuse, the least. For awhile one of the locals ran just between Rochester and Wayneport -I would guess a commuter train for the employees. Up until 1900 or so, the ran what had to be a mixed train between Newark and Buffalo which used the West Shore all the way, no side trip through Rochester.

In the 1893 Guide, the West Shore was in a separate part of the Guide, not in with the NYC even though the NYC had leased it.

In the summertime up to World War I, the West Shore would regularly run excursions from Buffalo to Mortimer where it would connect with the Erie who would take them out to Lakeville on Conesus Lake. They were advertised as West Shore, not NYC.

Impact of the West Shore on Central New York
Example: Italian Immigrants settle in Utica

Building of the West Shore had many impacts on the growth of Central New York, Utica, Syracuse, and many other communities.

Farmers benefited greatly from the railroad as they began to grow more and more crops for faraway markets.

Between 1850 and 1895, nearly a dozen smaller railroads originated in the region or passed through it ... including the West Shore. Many of the workers who built the West Shore in 1883 were Italian immigrants who liked what they saw in Utica and ... like the Irish who had built the Erie Canal 65 years earlier ... decided to settle in the city.

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Ever hear of American Premier Underwriters?

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See some historic photographs of the New York Central Railroad. First-generation diesels! Passenger and freight runs. Much more!

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 bus and commuter train station in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, Canada.

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

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St Johns Freight House
St Johns Freight House
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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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