Category Archives: Railroad History

The Delaware and Hudson in Recent Memory

We have just updated our Delaware & Hudson Railway WebSite

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/delaware-hudson-railway/

We have added lots of new material called “The Delaware and Hudson in Recent Memory”

See some great advertising, maps, time tables and posters of the D&H

We hope you enjoy it like we do.

Train To Fort Benning, Georgia : A Recruit’s Journey

I received a letter from a follower who is writing a book on her father’s life. She is using letters home which her father wrote and had a gap on how he got from New York to Fort Benning, Georgia. Questions like what did he wear, where did he eat, where did he sleep.

Told her I would write a fictional story based on what facts I knew.

Dad’s Journey started at Albany, the capitol of New York State. Dad got “orders” in the mail to report to the Washington Avenue Armory:

Dad’s orders wanted him to appear at 07:30 hours in the morning. When he got off the Central Avenue bus he recognized several others waiting in the crowd. A sergeant who looked like a veteran of the Great War was handing out papers to be completed.

In the meantime a train had left Utica with four passenger cars. One of them was a Lackawanna car just off their Utica branch. The other three were New York Central cars off of the Adirondack Division.

Dad and the other recruits were “formed up” into a marching group, administered an “oath of office” and walked past the Capitol building to Albany’s Union Station. There was no band playing, but they were cheered on by citizens on the street.

At the Albany Station, the train from Utica had arrived and a switcher had brought three more cars and what would serve as a diner over from the West Albany Car Shop. The “diner” was loaded with box meals from the New York Central contractor, a Madison Avenue bakery.

Once the train was through New York City, the rest of the trip would be on “foreign”railroads. New York Central put good power on the train: a “Mohawk” (called a “Mountain” on other railroads……but not on the Water Level Route).

The train leaves before 11am and makes stops at Castleton, Hudson and Rhinebeck. Now the train is filled.

Next stop is Harmon to change engines to an electric one.

Now the train runs to Mott Haven then switches to a New Haven electric motor for a trip across the Hell Gate Bridge. Now they hook up a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 locomotive headed for Washington.

In Washington DC, the Pennsyania Railroad bypassed Union Station and went directly to the huge Potomac Yard across the river. The GG1 was replaced by a modern steam engine belonging the Southern Railway (a founder of the current huge Norfolk Southern System).

Reaching Georgia, the train changed over to the Central Of Georgia Railway for it’s trip to Columbus, Georgia and Fort Benning.

Fort Benning at that time was relatively new. It had been created in World War I. So basic training housing was walking distance to the train. There was once a two-foot railroad around Fort Benning…..but the walk was easier.

Now Dad will have a better place to sleep than an old day coach

See the full WebSite on Dad’s trip to Fort Benning

The villains (and heroes) behind the subway mess

NY Post

You’re likely aware subway trains are breaking down partly because parts of the signal system date back to the 1930s. The succession of bad decisions that got you stuck in that tunnel goes back nearly as long — to the 1950s, at least. The list includes politicians and other leaders long dead or, at least, long off the public stage.

In 1952, Robert Wagner Jr., then borough president, protested any attempt to raise the transit fare from 10 cents, despite acknowledging that “the transit operating deficit” — about $500 million in today’s dollars — “is just about as large as the additional money we need this year for pensions for [city] employees.”

Wagner became mayor in 1954. Even as budget gaps grew, Wagner gave most city employees the right to collectively bargain (transit workers were already unionized, as the subways had started out in the private sector). He also massively increased social spending.

Mayor John Lindsay, Wagner’s successor, continued this strategy. That left less money for subways, which the state gradually took over from the city. The MTA spent much of the 1980s and 1990s making repairs and replacements that should’ve been done two decades previously.

In the early 2000s, Gov. George Pataki started piling on debt. He wanted projects like the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. The MTA also had to keep repairing and replacing tracks, train cars and the like. Pataki didn’t want to pay for it. In 1999, the MTA owed $12 billion. By 2006, it owed $23.9 billion. Pataki also restructured the MTA’s debt so that the bills would come due later — today.

The MTA’s biggest problem isn’t money. It’s that it can’t do construction fast enough. But debt costs now suck up $2.6 billion in annual spending. At some point soon, the crisis won’t just be on the tracks, but in the CFO’s office.

During the 2008 financial crisis, the MTA said the same thing about its workers as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said about city workers: They couldn’t get raises unless they paid for them through productivity increases or benefits givebacks.

A year later, under Gov. David Paterson’s tenure, a supposedly neutral team of arbitrators gave the workers two years’ worth of 4 percent annual raises and health care goodies, costing the MTA $300 million a year. (The MTA now has $3.2 billion in annual benefits costs.)

In spring 2009, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith cobbled together a middle-of-the-night bailout package that awarded the MTA what today amounts to $2 billion in additional annual revenue. Again, lawmakers missed an opportunity to reform labor and construction costs.

Contrary to popular belief, Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t run the MTA. An independent board does. Yes, Cuomo names six of those board members, more than any other politician. Yet they have a legal duty to act independently. Truly independent directors would’ve questioned MTA managers’ labor-cost strategy and operational failures long ago.

They also wouldn’t sign off on major projects such as East Side Access, which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains to a station underneath Grand Central, without questioning whether it’s better to focus on something else first, like subway signals.

The board at least should’ve held off on approving East Side Access until Long Island agreed to pay a greater share, perhaps through higher property tax revenues that’ll come from better transit.

New chairman Joe Lhota, who ran the MTA five years ago, can fix this by encouraging board members to collectively assert a real strategy, rather just signing off on whatever project Cuomo feels like adding, like a $2 billion third track on the LIRR — a fine idea, but one that should wait until New York has made more progress on its aged signal system. Lhota doesn’t need this job; he has a job running a hospital. He should use that independence to push back against the governor when necessary.

MTA chairpeople are supposed to serve six years, to insulate them from day-to-day politics. But Tom Prendergast, who left early this year, was the longest recent-serving chairman and executive director — and he only served four years. Now the MTA only has an interim executive director, Ronnie Hakim, and may soon see another newcomer. (Lhota isn’t taking the day-to-day reins, only chairing the board.)

Hakim and her team should’ve considered long ago what the MTA is now thinking about: closing entire subway lines to speed up signal work. To be fair, the MTA is already planning to close the L train in two years, and the hardest work involves interlockings that control several subway lines; we can’t shut them all down.

Still, whatever the MTA is doing isn’t working. The authority has been reactive, not proactive, in experimenting with new ways to deal with sick passengers and frozen signals and record crowds.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, as he likes to remind us, isn’t in charge of the subways. Still, he hasn’t taken advantage of New York’s record revenue boom — the city will take in $6.6 billion more in local taxes than it did when the mayor took office — to benefit transit.

The state plans to invest nearly $3 billion in signals over the next five years. Why not work with the MTA to see if it can get this work done more quickly? The city could do its part by better managing the streets: carving out more space for bus lanes, bike lanes, real rideshare (with four or more people in a car) and other ways for New Yorkers to get around during shutdowns.

If the MTA can do signal work more efficiently, the mayor could offer some of these record revenues to do more. The city is putting up less than 10 percent of the MTA’s capital budget over five years; it can do more if Cuomo does more. Bloomberg is guilty of the same sin; while he pushed congestion pricing, he never thought strategically about the MTA and how the city could use money as leverage to fix it.

The subway has its heroes, too. Richard Ravitch, who chaired the MTA in the early ’80s, convinced the business community to support the taxes it would need to make up for the neglect of the previous two decades.

Sam Schwartz, the city’s former transportation commissioner, has warned about maintenance cutbacks for years — and has proposed a congestion-pricing plan to fund at least some of this work.

Long before Twitter complaints from stuck passengers, Gene Russianoff, who founded the Straphangers Campaign in 1979, made sure newspapers were armed with data on whether the trains were working well.

And finally, there’s today’s generation of transit reporters and bloggers. Nearly all of them are too young to remember the last transit crisis. Their interest in the trains, and their willingness to think about everything from pension costs to fare structures, can help ensure that this crisis never gets as bad as that one.

Where does that leave Cuomo? It’s too early to tell if he’ll be known as a hero or a villain. He’s increased the MTA’s debt to more than $37 billion, without saying how he’ll pay for it. But his excitement over projects like the Second Avenue Subway isn’t silly. We do need more subway stations.

How he handles the current crisis of delays and crowding without forcing a future generation to pick up the bill will help determine his legacy.

Nicole Gelinas is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

The history of who’s in charge of NYC subways

Bobby Cuza at NY1

The latest front in the ongoing feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio has been the question of just who is responsible for city subways. But as NY1’s Bobby Cuza explains, while the personalities may have changed, the subway system has been a political football since its inception.

Thursday, Gov. Cuomo and the MTA sought to shift responsibility for the ailing subways to the city.

“For anyone to say, ‘Not my problem; it’s the state’s problem,’ they don’t know the law,” said MTA Chairman Joe Lhota. “They don’t know the history.”

But history says the MTA is a creature of the state.

Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and Mayor John Lindsay broke ground together on the Second Avenue Subway, but years earlier they jockeyed for control of the agency.

Rockefeller prevailed in 1968, bringing the subways under the umbrella of the newly-formed MTA.

“He had a great idea: he took over the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, with all its tolls and bridges, tossed Robert Moses overboard, and he merged the Long Island Rail Road, what was then Metro-North, part of Amtrak, and the New York City subways into the MTA,” Mitchell Moss of the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation.

Originally, the subway was privately-owned and operated. But the city-owned IND line opened in 1932, and under Mayor La Guardia the city assumed control of the entire system in 1940.

The problem, then and now, was that the subways lost money. Yet, raising fares was politically unpopular.

So in 1953, the subways were removed from political control and given over to a new independent entity called the New York City Transit Authority.

That governance structure — a board of political appointees — essentially remains today.

But the governor gets the most appointees, picks the MTA chairperson, and has at times exerted considerable control over the agency.

“The state is really operating the system,” Moss said. “These are unions which are under the state’s domain, and the financing is the state’s responsibility.”

The city, meanwhile, has been virtually powerless over the subway’s day-to-day operations for 50 years.

One exception was the 7 line extension, which was financed by the city and pushed through by Mayor Bloomberg, who took a ceremonial ride in 2013, well before the extension actually opened.

Cuomo, of course, put himself front-and-center when the Second Avenue Subway opened. He’s been less eager to claim responsibility for recent breakdowns.

Railroad Side of St. Joseph, MI – and Benton Harbor Too

Recently there were a couple of great tourist blogs published about St. Joseph, Michigan. Not a word about railroads in St. Joseph (or in Benton Harbor just across the bridge). So here is our WebSite about railroad history inn both towns:
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/benton-harbor-once-a-rail-center/

In 1998, CSX spent $2.5 million to replace the electrical and mechanical systems in its troubled St. Joseph bridge at St. Joseph. The bridge was built in 1905. It crossed over to Benton Harbor.

In 1901, the Michigan Central built a short branch line called the Benton Harbor extension from St.Joseph into Benton Harbor. This extension crossed the river on its own bridge. Abandoned 1958.

The House of David was a religious community near Benton Harbor in the early 20th century. The community had a number of attractive recreational activities including a tourist railroad and baseball team. The miniature railroad even had a station.

Leaving Benton Harbor you had from 25-40 cars of washing machines 6 nights a week (Whirlpool). After, 1954-55 steel and supplies into Clark Equipment and finished tractors out. At the end of the month they really shipped. Cold Storage shipped well until cold weather.

The Big Four (NY Central) had trackage rights on C&O over the bridge into St. Joe where they had some trackage too. They previously had a swing bridge themselves in St. Joe. The old crossbuck railroad crossing sign in St. Joe on the riverfront, under the CSX bridge is also NYC origin. Nothing else remains of the New York Central except an old siding at a former box factory (now an art center called “The Box Factory”). I did see where the old NYC bridge was. The cold storage in Benton Harbor was razed in the the late ’90s and the thick walls took a lot of dynamite!

WOW! Croton-Harmon……What A Fascinating Railroad Center!

We just updated our WebSite “NY Central Shops At Harmon

1913 saw the completion of electrification of Grand Central Terminal and the lower stretches of the Hudson and Harlem Divisions. Harmon, which is 33 miles from Grand Central Terminal, became the transfer point where electric locomotives were exchanged for steam and later diesel on through New York Central passenger trains. It also became the starting point for electric commuter service into the city.

Harmon was a New York Central-created community and came into existence because it was a logical point to be the outer limit of the electric zone. There was plenty of room as this was a requirement for an interchange point. Not only was there room for sidings and yards, but also for repair facilities. The steam engines that pulled the Great Steel Fleet to Chicago rested here. As the small, but powerful, electrics pulled in from Grand Central Terminal, the steamers quickly hooked on and took off up the Hudson.

The shops handled all servicing, inspection and repairs for all electric locomotives and MU equipment. They also handled servicing, inspection and minor repairs on steam (later diesel) in the area.

There were no third rails inside the shops. Instead, there were long 600-volt cables on reels hung from the ceiling. These were called “bugs” and were clipped to a third rail shoe when power was needed.

Harmon was basically a commuter passenger station and never developed into a transfer point. Stays were short as it only took a minute or two to change power.

Yes! A fascinating place.

Your time to help us out too!!!

If you follow us, you know that we USED TO HAVE 3 WEBSITES

WWW.KINGLYHEIRS.COM

WWW.OMINOUSWEATHER.COM

WWW BARRYSBEST.NET

Well, the GOD of the Internet, GOOGLE decided to KILL US

If you try and go to OLD WebSites you get a message

“This WebPage is being updated.
GOOGLE no longer supports it because it is not REMOTE ACCESS FRIENDLY
See the new WebPage at:
(new name)
In addition, WE ARE NOW ADVERTISING FREE
WELL; We Started new WebSite
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/

The new WebSite is very popular. It is much better than old ones.
New host for all this is WordPress who is great too.

At same time we got rid of paid advertising. AMAZON was taking all the money….not us.

LET US KNOW YOUR COMMENTS!!!!!

WordPress has added a feature to WebSites that they already use for BLOGS: the FEATURED IMAGE

If you see a site with a BAD FEATURED IMAGE, please send a new one

Thanks

send to penneyvanderbilt@gmail.com

Thanks and have a good day.

Check out our new “MAYBROOK YARD” WebPage

We have worked today on trying to clear up the “mystery’s” of the Central New England/New Haven Railroad MAYBROOK YARD.

Take a look at it: https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/maybrook-yard/

We are trying to show how the Maybrook Yard tied into the Great Bridge at Pougheepsie and the “Maybrook Line” from Hopewell Junction across the mountains to Danbury and on to Cedar Hill. We also found a great article from EXPERT Jack Swanberg on the same subject.

We are still finding out more about the current “players”. We know that few railroads no longer serve the Maybrook Yard. We know the railroad leaving Maybrook towards the North is owned by CONRAIL Shared Assets/NorfolkSouthern but is operated by the Middletown & New Jersey Railroad.

Still trying to find out about the old NY Central Wallkill Valley branch and railroads in New Paltz, NY

WOW: A Busy Day. But A Good Day!

Hottest Day of the Year today. And BUSY too.

We are in the middle of “updating” our WebSites so that “nasty” GOOGLE/ALPHABET cannot keep telling us that we are a “piece of S..T”

But we have other projects too.

Spent first part of day researching stuff on the Ontario & Western (Yes, you will see blogs and WebSites soon)

But we realized one of our best WebSites is NOT on KINGLYHEIRS or OMINOUSWEATHER but instead on BARRYSBEST.

Our aim for today was to get back to converting WebSites.

Decided we needed to do firstBut instead we will finish up soon. Even if we work on a WINTER project in the middle of SUMMER.

Looking for the Ontario & Western….Found Salisbury Mills

Got a request from a viewer about NY Ontario & Western tracks from Cornwall-on-Hudson to Salisbury Mills. The old (at least 1957) O&W tracks appear everywhere across New York State from Cornwall to Utica to Oswego.

Consulted Emily from “I RideThe Harlem Line” and seem to have found an answer.

Salisbury Mills – Cornwall Station. Is on the Graham Line (named after Chief Engineer Joseph M. Graham), which was created to better accomodate freight. Really, the most noteworthy part of the then-Graham Line, today’s Port Jervis Line, is the Moodna Viaduct.

A few of the stations on the Port Jervis line feature a little historical sketch on the canopy. Unfortunately, the one at Salisbury Mills – Cornwall is left blank… which is really too bad.

The original Salisbury Mills station was on the Erie’s Newburgh Branch.
Chester was Always Erie too.