Category Archives: Awesomeness

The BIG “Last Mile” of Home Delivery

Since last week all the news has been about Amazon and Whole Foods merger. Jim Cramer on CNBC-News has pushed “buy at home” like crazy. Just recently Wal*Mart announced that employees will be making deliveries.

Sounds great if you are “in” to home delivery. Basically, I am not. These hoards of delivery people choke our narrow streets. Besides, I live in a house that is not “deliveryman-friendly”. We are “set-back” from the street in a “cottage” surrounded by 6-story buildings. It is a great place to live but not great to tell someone how to find it.

I like the idea used by a small appliance company: it is called a “relais”(like in “relay). It set up a relais in a neighborhood. You get an electronic message your purchase is in the relais…..not a harried delivery person with a truck triple-parked calling your phone. You give up what you are doing and just walk out to the street. The Relais is great: you go out on YOUR time.

As you can tell, I am not a great fan of home delivery. Certainly not a fancy meal. I would rather go to a place like Stew Leonard’s “The Disneyland of Dairy Stores”.

The LONGEST Interurban Trip!

“The longest continuous trip one could take by interurban was, naturally, in the Northeast and Middle West. Between 1910 and 1922 it was possible to travel by interurban from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin…to Oneonta, New York…a distance of about 1,087 miles. There is no recorded instance of anyone’s taking such a trip, but in 1910…22 businessmen of Utica, New York, chartered car 502 of the New York Central Railroad’s Oneida Railway for a round trip on interurban track to Louisville, Kentucky. Traveling by day and spending nights in hotels, the passengers were royally entertained by interurban executives en route. Although long trips were taken by individual enthusiasts, this was probably the most extensive organized trip ever taken entirely by interurban. *** It was never possible to travel by interurban from Chicago to New York; gaps between Little Falls and Fonda and between Hudson and Tarrytown, both in New York, were never filled.”

Excerpted from _The Electric Interurban Railways in America_, by George W. Hilton and John F. Due, Stanford Univ Press 1960, p. 42: I think this insert was originally written by Robert Gurley of New Hartford, New York (New Hartford is a suburb of Utica; I grew up there so maybe I even know what I’m talking about).

This is a guest post by my boss, Penney

Check out our WebSite on the Southern New York Railway
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-southern-new-york-railway/

My Railroad Stock!

I am sure some of our readers think I own all kinds of railroad stock.

They are wrong! I own one share of railroad stock! It is from the “Warwick Valley Rail Road Company”. In 1882 in joined in a merger that saw the Lehigh & Hudson River Railroad emerge.

The line extended from Belvidere, NJ to Maybrook, NY where the New Haven Railroad provided a gateway to New England. The L&HR built a bridge between Phillipsburg, NJ and Easton, PA and ran via trackage rights on the Pennsylvania RR and the Jersey Central Railroad to Allentown, PA. The L&HR handled zinc traffic from the area around Franklin, NJ but mostly it was a bridge line carrying overhead freight. The mergers and abandonments of the 1960 did the L&HR harm, but the New York Central – PRR merger in 1968 caused much traffic to be diverted. The line went bankrupt in 1972 and inclusion in Conrail spelled the end in 1976. The line north of Sparta Jct. became part of the New York, Susquehanna & Western main line in 1982 and the line south of that point was abandoned by Conrail in 1986.

Read more about the Lehigh & Hudson River
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-warwick-valley-and-other-railroads-west-of-the-hudson/

Top 10 Railroad Blogs We Have Posted

#1 The Fabled “Rutland Milk”
A Rutland Railroad “Rider Car” rolls through Troy Union Station on the milk train from Ogdensburg, NY to West Side Freight Yard in New York City.

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#2 The Tobin Packing Company in Albany, New York (MAKERS OF FIRST PRIZE HOT DOGS). Yes, Tobin was a railroad customer; but very popular with hot dog fans.

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#3 Here You Go Railfans, Although the Harlem Division to Hudson Division Connection, Part is Sill In Operation.

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#4 Newington Junction Railroad Stations. The depot on the left was built in 1891 by the New York & New England RR. The passenger station on the right and the freight depot behind it were constructed by the NYNH&H in 1890.

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#5 Connecticut’s WALK BRIDGE: Save It, Replace It or reuse parts.

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#6 NY Central Accident in 1960 at “BN”
Picture shows huge electric “P-Motor” that hauled the wreck train

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#9 Return Of Albany’s Night Boat

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#10 ADIRONDACK ORE RUN ON THE NEW YORK CENTRAL CALLED FOR HIGH CLASS RAILROADING

Union Station’s Fred Harvey Room is officially restored

LA Curbed via California Rail News

Just off of Union Station’s South Patio, an elegant sign hangs from a gorgeous wall of brass-paneled windows, stating simply “restaurant.”

That restaurant—a Harvey House that, during World War II, became a popular waystation for soldiers shipping out of the railway station to their posts—shuttered more than five decades ago.

Today, stepping through the glass doors and into the airy Art Deco space, known as the Fred Harvey Room, feels like traveling back in time.

It’s a feeling that’s all the more pronounced now that its neglected mezzanine has been meticulously restored

One of the last restaurants operating in a chain once ubiquitous at railway stations, Union Station’s Harvey House closed in 1967, but continued to host the occasional private event or film shoot, including a music video for Fiona Apple’s 2009 song “Paper Bag.”

Why Did The Penn Central Railroad Fail?

The Penn Central was born amid great expectations and promises on February 1,1968 by the merger of the New York Central System into the Pennsylvania Railroad on that date.

Neither railroad had been forced through the trauma of bankruptcy and reorganization.

With incompatible computer systems ,signal systems, operating styles, and personalities at the top, the new railroad remained essentially two in operation though it was one in name.

1.) PC was forced to pay $125 million for the bankrupt New Haven, which had a negative cash flow.

2.) PC was required to operate well over one half of all the passenger service in the US, which by that time had a monstrous negative cash flow. Amtrak only partly relieved this in 1971, as PC was still saddled with commuter service in the New York and Philadelphia areas.

3.) Freight rates and abandonments were rigidly regulated, preventing PC and others from adapting to market conditions.

4.) The “red” and “green” teams were more interested in “oneupmanship” than creating a viable enterprise. No thought had been given prior to the merger, for example, on compatibility of computer reporting systems.

The merger between the New York Central RR and the Pennsylvania RR was like a shotgun wedding. Both bride and groom hated each other. Yet, there was no other option but to join hands in unholy matrimony, and if this wasn’t bad enough, the bride and groom had to accept the New Haven RR as an unwelcome boarder in their honeymoon suite.

Read More About The Wreck Of The Penn Central Railroad

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/penn-central-a-wreck-of-a-railroad/

How Home Ownership Became The Engine Of America Inequality

New York Times Magazine via California Rail News

Almost a decade removed from the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008, the nation is facing one of the worst affordable-housing shortages in generations. The standard of “affordable” housing is that which costs roughly 30 percent or less of a family’s income. Because of rising housing costs and stagnant wages, slightly more than half of all poor renting families in the country spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs, and at least one in four spends more than 70 percent. Yet America’s national housing policy gives affluent homeowners large benefits; middle-class homeowners, smaller benefits; and most renters, who are disproportionately poor, nothing. It is difficult to think of another social policy that more successfully multiplies America’s inequality in such a sweeping fashion.

New York Central Song

“Twilight of American Rail Travel” means different things to different people. To me, it meant the period in the 1960’s until Amtrak when passenger service went downhill. More specifically, it was the “Empire Corridor” running along the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers to New York City. Before the “twilight”, well maintained, well patronized New York Central trains ran this route.

My favorite song is

“City of New Orleans” written by Steve Goodman and sung by Arlo Guthrie. It talks about the same period, but on the Illinois Central Railroad. Lots of similarities!

“Riding on the City of New Orleans, Illinois Central Monday morning rail Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders,”

Yes, rode on train like that too. Although lot of those cars were “head end equipment”.

“Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.”

Loss of that mail was what really did in rail passenger service. Always heard stories of how President Lyndon Johnson pulled the mail off trains to pay off his airline buddies for political favors. Imagine! Entrusting our mail to people who seem incapable of moving our luggage between two cities and not losing it!

“All along the southbound odyssey. The train pulls out at Kankakee. Rolls along past houses, farms and fields. Passin’ trains that have no names, Freight yards full of old black men And the graveyards of the rusted automobiles.”

Yes, the Hudson Valley was in the process of change. Industry was gone and the “yuppies” (“millenials”) had not yet built their country homes. Lot of abandoned factories, rusted rail sidings.

“Good morning America how are you? Don’t you know me I’m your native son, I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans, I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Yes, the New York Central, was New York State’s Native Son. It was one of the biggest factors in making New York great.

“Dealin’ card games with the old men in the club car. Penny a point ain’t no one keepin’ score. Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle. Feel the wheels rumblin’ ‘neath the floor. And the sons of pullman porters And the sons of engineers Ride their father’s magic carpets made of steel. Mothers with their babes asleep, Are rockin’ to the gentle beat And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel.”

Never any offense to the train crews. Railroad problems came instead from “greed run rampant” at railroad headquarters in Philadelphia. Passengers were only the ones who hadn’t or couldn’t get enamoured with America’s “Car Culture”.

“Nighttime on The City of New Orleans, Changing cars in Memphis, Tennessee. Half way home, we’ll be there by morning.”

How about changing engines at Harmon?

The beautiful (ugly to many) P-Motor is waiting for an East-bound passenger train to go 33 miles right into the heart of New York City. Does not matter how many diesels pulled the train from Chicago. The single P-Motor can pull it! Thanks to Wayne Koch for great photo.

“Through the Mississippi darkness Rolling down to the sea. And all the towns and people seem To fade into a bad dream And the steel rails still ain’t heard the news. The conductor sings his song again, The passengers will please refrain This train’s got the disappearing railroad blues.”

Even the huge Chevrolet plant in North Tarrytown would be gone by the end of the 20th Century and turned into condos!

“Good night, America, how are you? Don’t you know me I’m your native son, I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans, I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Good night New York Central!

See Penney Vanderbilt’s Blog on Arlo Guthrie and Alice’s Restaurant

You will also be interested in our page on the 20th Century Limited

Man Saves the Day by Delivering Pizza to ‘Hangry’ Passengers on Stalled Train

From TIME via California Rail News

A pizza deliveryman saved the day by trekking out to a stranded Amtrak train and delivering pizza to the hungry passengers.

Jim Leary heard on Sunday during a routine shift at Dom’s NY Style Pizzeria in Newport, Del. that some passengers on a stalled train less than a mile away had ordered pizza. That didn’t faze Leary, who says he has delivered pizzas to passengers on airplanes and boats throughout his 17-year career.
“I was like, ‘hell yeah, I gotta hook them up,'” Leary, 46, told TIME. “I know they gotta be hungry.”

More Bar Cars On The New Haven Railroad?

The best-known bar car V XI-GBC a.k.a. Five Eleven Gentlemen’s Bar Car

When the government stepped in with modern “Cosmopolitan” cars (1970’s). At that time, someone sent us an article that had a proposal for bar cars. After 30+ years we seem to have lost the source, but will reprint it below anyway.

Read more interesting stories about the New Haven Railroad
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/connecticut-railfan/