Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad R.I.P.?


Yesterday I got some sad news from our good friend Gino DiCarlo. The little railroad that went up the hill in Amsterdam, New York has lost it’s only customer. The railroad was officially named the Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad. It is known as the Kellogg Industrial or by CSX Rail as “CP-173 -to- QCG1.60”. It leaves the CSX (with Amtrak) “Chicago Line”, climbs a steep hill, and even has a “switch back”. More details on it later, for now, the loss of THE CUSTOMER.

More than 100 workers in Amsterdam, New York will lose their jobs in the coming months. One of the city’s manufacturers is closing its doors.

This week, Fiber Glass Industries, Inc. announced that both its Amsterdam plants will close in the next 90 to 120 days.

In a release, FGI Chairman John Menzel, who would not speak about the closure, blamed competition from foreign manufacturers as a primary reason for the plant’s closure.

Menzel said the company is “competing with government-owned and government-financed competitors in China who have built more capacity than the market can absorb, and their government continues to subsidize these companies to export to the U.S.” 

The release also states the company was “stymied in an effort to work out a sale to an undisclosed foreign buyer” by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, and despite growth in sales, the company had been operating at a loss since 2008.

The company has operated for 57 years and employs around 120 workers.

United Steel Workers District 4 Sub-Director Richard Knowles released a statement on the closure, criticizing the U.S. government for not protecting American businesses against China’s “continued manipulation of trade and currency rules, across all industries.”

Amsterdam’s Community & Economic Development director Robert von Hasseln said the city’s immediate concern is to assist the families of the employees who lost their jobs.

That’s going to be our first focus. Afterwards, we’ll work on trying to find the best tenants possible for the two buildings,” said von Hasseln.

Kenneth Rose, CEO of the Montgomery County Business Development Center, said the county will roll the two FGI facilities into its marketing efforts to help bring new business to the area.

There’s going to be the potential of two facilities within the City of Amsterdam that we’re going to have to put out there and market aggressively, and reach out to our existing contacts and some potential leads that we’ve been working with to see if there’s interest in these facilities for them,” said Rose.

Mark Kilmer, President and CEO of the Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, said that the region is a great place to do business. Kilmer agrees with FGI’s contention that the closure of the plants has nothing to do with its facilities or workers.

It has more to do with the cost of doing businesses both in New York and the United States in general. It’s just sometimes prohibitive when it comes to competing with foreign nations,” said Kilmer. “Gradually I think there are steps that being taken to correct that problem, but this is just one of those situations where it hasn’t been corrected fast enough.”

In a city hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs over the past several decades and a county where about 1 in 5 people lives in poverty, it’s easy to cast the loss of FGI in with the rest. But Robert von Hasseln said that’s somewhat of a misconception.

There’s a natural tendency here to think, ‘Oh well, this is just another chapter in Amsterdam’s demise, we lost the big mills decades ago and then lost a lot of businesses between 1995 and 2005.’ But the fact is the amount of businesses – the rate we’re losing businesses has gone way down, and some of our businesses, including manufacturing, are doing very well,” said von Hasseln.

Von Hasseln said Amsterdam’s economy is unlikely to rely solely on one industry in the future, as it did in the 20th century on its carpet mills. He predicts the city will be “balanced” with a mix of tourism, high tech centers, and commercial and manufacturing.

Hope all you politicians are happy. China is “wonderful”, Russians are “bad”. Have not heard about an American job lost to Russians.

Some additional info from Aaron Keller: The Leader-Herald and WNYT (NBC) in Albany are reporting today that Fiber Glass Industries is shutting down.  I believe this was the sole and last customer CSX had up on the hill in Amsterdam going back at least 20 years.  

The switchback rail line up there, I believe, is owned by the local economic development corporation or some sort of quasi-government group, though I’d have to double-check my documents on that.  

I wonder what’s next?  There has been no service up the hill for several years.  Now, the plant’s shutdown would suggest that the future is bleak.  

The line was built as the Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad, which in turn was wholly owned by the Amsterdam Linseed Oil Works.  Though the railroad was owned by the linseed people, the “rails, ties, track fastenings, and ballast are the property of the New York Central” according to the commissioner’s reports.  The line was always operated by the New York Central and its successors.  It was known in recent years by employee timetable designation as the Kellogg Industrial.  

AmsterdamRailroad03

OK, now it is “brain dump” time for railfans, historians and all other interested people.

Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad

 

In the Amsterdam, New York, area, a short spur leaves the old New York Central mainline and goes up a hill to the upper portion of Amsterdam. Once this was a separate railroad. It has continued as a branch under Penn Central, Conrail, and now CSX.

It is known as the Kellogg Industrial or by CSX as “CP-173 -to- QCG1.60”.

Here’s what the branch looks like:

CP-173: Chicago Line: Kellogg’s Yard QCG0.00
New York State Route 5 Undergrade Bridge QCG0.33
Chuctanunda Creek Bridge QCG0.98
Vrooman Avenue Grade Crossing QCG1.20
James Street Grade Crossing QCG1.40
Church Street Grade Crossing QCG1.49
Jay Street Grade Crossing QCG1.49
End Of Track QCG1.60

The Kellogg Branch was actually a separate railroad corporation: The Amsterdam, Chucktanunda and Northern Railroad Company. The Kellogg family owned it, and had built it (1879) to serve the their mills on the hill in upper Amsterdam. The NYC leased the RR (1907) and operated it. This railroad corporation used to show up in “Moody’s Railroads” as late as 1954 and shows it extending “about 1 mile” from the NYC main line to Jay St., Amsterdam. The AC&N owned the right-of-way, and NYCRR owned the track, aggregating about 2.71 miles including side tracks. There were 200 shares of stock outstanding, with a par value of $100, all owned by Lauren Kellog and Elizabeth K. Swift. It paid a dividend of 14.75 in 1953.

1959 Employee Timetable shows equipment restrictions as cranes X-13 to X-16 and engines nos. 526 to 566, 1000 to 5104, 6600 to 6903. The cranes were all 250-ton wrecking cranes, and the engine restrictions essentially prohibited cab units. The maximum gross weight for cars operated without special authority on the Mohawk Division at the time was 220,000 lbs (nominal 70 ton capacity) and there were no additional weight restrictions on the Branch. In 1950, the restriction read: engines heavier than U-2a, U-2b, U-2d and U-2f must not operate over the Kellogs Branch. (those were 0-8-0’s).

It is one of the steepist adhesion railroad grades in service in the country.

The Kellog’s Branch was established in the late 1800’s as a connection for the Kellogg and Miller Linseed Oil operation. Remains of this can be seen behind the present Dunkin Donuts on Route 67 in Amsterdam. The line was extended to the Sanford Carpet Mills, present day Noteworthy Printing.

NYC named the line the Kellogg’s Branch and for some reason, Conrail refered to it as “The Kellog’s Branch.” Why they dropped the last ‘G’, who knows.

In 1905, a spur was built off the Branch (Originally called the Linseed Oil Branch) headed north to the Mclarey and Wallins Carpet Mills, later Mohawk Mills. A large wooden trestle was built across a ravine to reach the plant. There was a steam generating plant there as well, which facilitated another trestle, this one made of stone. Parts of the trestle are still on the property. The smoke stack, seen all over Amsterdam and as you made your way up the NYS Thruway was just knocked down recently.

Sometime in the 1960s, a spur was built to Fiberglass Industries in the Edison Ave. Industrial Park. This is THE sole remaining customer.

The line was abandoned from the FGI spur north around 1990. Some of the last customers on the line were a paper company, COLECO toys (Former Sanford Mill) and a lumber yard just north of the FGI switch. The trestles were removed sometime in the 1990’s. There were several impressive ones. The two at Mohawk Mills, and a large wooden trestle that curved over the Chuctanunda Creek near the Forest Ave. Paper Mill.

A Conrail caboose was used to push up the branch, but after a derailment in 2004 it was moved to the CSX interchange where it has sat ever since. In 2006, 3 trips are made a week, usually Monday, Wednesday. and Friday. Inbound covered hoppers of sand come in and emptys go out.

Amsterdam
Amsterdam

Here’s an old map of Amsterdam (courtesy of Russ Nelson) which shows the Kellogg’s Branch (Amsterdam, Chuctanunda and Northern Railroad) leaving the New York Central mainline which runs on the East side of the Mohawk River.

Across the Mohawk River, is the West Shore Railroad.

Another, more detailed, map of the Kellogg Branch from Gino’s Rail Page, shows the entire extent of the branch. Careful! It’s BIG

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