HOOSAC TUNNEL TO TROY, NY


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The Boston & Maine (B&M) did get down to the Hudson River. It had a line called the Adams Street railway which went to the Hudson somewhere around River Street. The trackage was either in the street or beside it. A plan I saw, quite old, had a lot of trackage there. The Adams Street trackage was south of Union Station. The City of Troy was anxious to have the railroads move out of the downtown area and demolish Union Station. With the termination of the remaining passenger operations in Troy, B & M 1958, D & H and NYC about the same time, this goal was realized. However, the Rutland was using B & M-NYC trackage rights to reach Chatham, NY via Troy. As long as the Rutland operated, trains (like the “fabled Rutland Milk”) continued to run right through the downtown section of Troy. The Rutland shut down for good during the 1961 strike; the Vermont section was bought by the State of Vermont, but the trackage rights expired. By about 1963 or 1964 the B & M/NYC connection at Troy was broken and the B & M sold its Adams Street railway trackage to the New York Central (was not included in the B&M share of the Troy Union Railroad).

You can trace the Troy & Boston (B&M)’s old main line from Valley Falls down through Melrose to Troy.Passenger service was discontinued in 1958, and the rails between Hoosick Falls and Troy were taken up around 1973. The section from Lansingburgh to downtown Troy is now a paved bike trail. 

The B&M down to Troy was inland of the Hudson River and would not have any transfer facilities. The yard was in North Troy, but not on the canal. Only the D&H crossed the Hudson at Green Island. 

 Did the B&M/T&B get freight from the Erie Canal? And what freight would it be? Grain moving east from Buffalo & the Great Lakes would most likely go to the Port of Albany or NY City for export or local use. Salt, which did go by barge in the Syracuse & Rochester area probably would have been loaded at the mine directly into cars. It would make more sense to directly load a railroad car at the source of the commodity than incurring the transload cost and building the transload facility. The T&B connected with the NY Central and West Shore which paralleled the Canal and made the Canal un-competitive for most goods within 15 years of its 1825 completion – as the railroads did with most canals. I guess my question would be “Did the T&B interchange with the Erie Canal at all?”

Just because the T&B was on the east bank of the Hudson and the Erie Canal was on the west bank, it doesn’t mean they could not have interchanged. Canal’s often used bridges called “change bridges” to cross rivers or change the tow path from one side to another. There was a change bridge to allow the Erie and Champlain canals to meet, as the they were on opposite sides of the Hudson. If you can track down the history of change bridges in Waterford and Troy, you may find answers about likely locations of interchange. However, you should also look at the dams and slackwater operations in Troy. You may find that canal boats crossed the Hudson in slackwater, without mule power.

That would be my question, too. By the time the Hoosac Tunnel was actually completed, in 1875, the rail network was well enough established that canal/rail transload at Troy would have been unlikely since most of the goods on the canal were lower-value bulk freight (salt, grain, etc.) 

When the T&B was first opened in 1859, I’d think it more likely that any interchange at Troy would have been with regular Hudson River vessels rather than the Erie Canal per se- which probably would have been accomplished by drayage through the streets of the town.

 Maybe the reason is as old as the hills: the hills. Looking for a relatively low grade and lower-cost ROW would have been a major determinant. East of Mechanicville, in particular, the search would have been for a relatively economic crossing of the Hudson, based on approach topography and riverbed conditions. West of Mechanicville, Rotterdam Junction may be CSX now and earlier Conrail and PC and NYC, but before those entities, it was the West Shore Railroad, the Fitchburg’s then-non-competitive connection to the west. It was probably superb economic/political sense to have a ROW alignment with the D&H west of Mechanicville, both because the D&H had done the surveying and because the D&H was a connection for coal and other traffic. Troy was a primarily passenger operation with NYC connections to and from the west. When passenger service ended there, the Troy-Johnsonville line did a quick vanishing act.

 The history of the whole route is convoluted, but the simple version is that the Vanderbilt-owned New York Central was allied to the Boston & Albany, which in turn did its damndest to kill the Hoosac Tunnel route even before it was completed. Thus whoever operated through the tunnel would want a connection with a non-Vanderbilt road on the west. The West Shore– the New York, West Shore & Buffalo– was a competitor of the Central and would give the Fitchburg access to the west via connections at Buffalo/Niagara Falls with the Pennsylvania, the Nickel Plate, and the Grand Trunk.

Ultimately the West Shore, which had fallen into the hands of the Pennsylvania, was sold to the Central in 1885 in return for the Central’s abandoning construction of the South Pennsylvania Railroad (now the route of the Pennsylvania Turnpike), in a deal basically forced upon the companies by J. Pierpont Morgan (who wasn’t a fan of wasteful competition)… leaving the Hoosac Tunnel Route right back where it started in terms of a western connection.

So the Troy & Boston was primarily a passenger line connecting to the Fitchburg line, it seems likely that there was not much commercial freight coming from Troy on the T&B. So where was most of the freight coming from? Much further west? My assumption was that the Hoosac Tunnel was made to connect with the Erie canal, but perhaps by the time the tunnel was finally completed 25 years later, the canal wasn’t playing the important role it was at the outset of the project. I’m interested in finding the origin of any freight in the Albany/Troy/Cohoes area that rode the Fitchburg line.

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