Category Archives: Railroad History

Signal Towers on the New YorkCentral Electric Division

NK Tower. I can imagine that traffic was running heavy in one direction for the morning inbound commuters and just the opposite for the evening outbound running. It would be great to hear from former Train Dispatchers as to how often those sets of crossovers were used for flexibility during those commuter rushes in both directions.

I know we lost FH tower to a fire in 1960 or 61 and DV Tower took over the board after. Speaking of FH Tower. It seems funny that all of the other towers had been rebuilt in the 1920-30 time frame from wooden towers to the brick standard for the Electric Division except FH which remained a wooden tower.

It think NK tower was a singular case. I’ve made several thousand trips through that interlocking and can’t recall ever changing tracks.except when they were doing constructionat 125th Street. Prior to the 125th St rebuild, the tower seemed to exist solely for handling two kinds of exceptional cases.

For completely normal operations there was no need for the tower. The distance between the home signals at U (59th ST.) and MO (140th St) was close to exactly three miles. NK, about 100th St., was exactly in the middle. It was needed only for exception conditions, which included

– limiting out of service distance for track maintenace

– bypassing breakdowns

– reducing delay from construction projectsd.

Could that be said of any other tower in the U.S. ?

I have no knowledge of what has been done to the power transmission
system since even PC days. I left before the PC merger.

The duct runs may well be the same, but cables may have been replaced.
Proper maintenance includes repeat Meggering of the cable insulation and
keeping a record of the values obtained, which aids in predicting future
problems (failures) with the cable.

Given the redundancy available, there should not have been any
scheduling problems in getting a circuit shut down for testing, and it
would have been non-invasive, working from the breakers as access points.

Ultimately insulation degrades, and, FWIW, rats like the taste of lead
sheathing, so can do their own damage.

And, underground lines and manholes may be assumed to be wet, if not
flooded.

It would not surprise me if cables were not replaced occasionally.

I was not aware of the loss of the wayside transmission towers.

When you describe the power transmission lines on the steel towers,
please include the underground duct lines that carried more power circuits.

I was only indirectly involved with these, but as I recall, at least on
the Hudson Division, there were two pole circuits and two duct circuits.

Each substation tapped in one tower circuit and one duct circuit, which
ran in and went through circuit breakers to the sub. There were also
circuit breakers outside the station that could be closed to bypass a
substation and were not affected by events inside the sub.

This redundancy provided a high degree of reliability.

If the overhead lines went down (as down on the ground) the duct lines
carried the power. Same for the duct lines, backing up the tower lines.

Two duct circuits were never together in the same manhole, so a failure,
such as fire or explosion in a man hole, would not affect the other circuit.

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Walkway Over The Hudson Awarded $500,000 for Visitors Center

SouthwestDutchess

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — the Walkway Over The Hudson is getting a new visitors center.

The Walkway was awarded a $500,000 grant through New York State’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) program this week, to be allocated toward the planned Eastern Entrance Welcome Center.

The welcome center is expected to be completed by spring 2019 and will feature permanent restrooms, a gathering area for up to 40 visitors, water fountains, benches, lighting, landscaping and other amenities. The welcoming center will cost approximately $3 million and be located adjacent to the park’s east side parking lot and at the juncture between the Walkway State Park and the Dutchess County Rail Trail.

“The Dutchess Welcome Center is another great and much-needed enhancement to Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park,” said Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart.

Whenever I hear about the WALKWAY, I think of old friend, the late Bernie Rudberg from Hopewell Junction. Know a lot of others promoted the Walkway, but Bernie was a great promoter.

Hunter Harrison: Developed ‘precision railroading’ to optimize efficiency

Collected from MANY sources

“Hunter is a legendary railroader, and for good reason,” Lee Klaskow, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said in a 2017 interview. “The Canadian railroads have some of the lowest operating ratios, which is driven by his philosophy — precision railroading. He wrote the playbook on efficiency.”

In his 2005 book, “How We Work and Why: Running a Precision Railroad,” Harrison laid out his core principles for running a rail carrier: service, cost control, asset utilization, safety and people. The volume is still required reading for anyone getting into the industry.

“This book is about running the best damn railroad in the business,” he wrote. “Run a tight ship, and you can expect a reasonable return; manage it badly, and the sheer weight of assets will sink you.”

In his four-and-a-half years as CEO of Canadian Pacific, Harrison transformed the carrier from the worst-performing major North American railroad to the second-best — trailing only his former employer, Canadian National. When he left Canadian Pacific in January 2017, the company’s market capitalization stood at about C$28.2 billion ($22 billion) — about C$15 billion more than when he took over.

“We’re going to do more with less,” Harrison told investors at a presentation in December 2012, less than six months after taking over Canadian Pacific. “We’re going to make those assets really sweat.”

Harrison cut staff and pushed the railroad to run longer and faster trains to reduce fuel and labor costs. He also revamped the executive team, while closing several hump yards — used to separate and sort rail cars — and inter-modal terminals in cities including Chicago and Milwaukee to set the stage for potential land sales.

“Professionally, Hunter was unmatched in this industry. He will go down as the best railroader ever, plain and simple,” Keith Creel, president and CEO of Canadian Pacific, said in a statement. “His legacy will be felt at our company forever.”

CP will lower its flags to half-mast across its network to honor Harrison, said Creel, who worked under Harrison at three different companies.

CSX, spurred on by its shareholders, hired Harrison two months after he quit Canadian Pacific and approved picking up the $84 million payout that he left on the table.

Ewing Hunter Harrison was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on Nov. 7, 1944. He began his career in 1963 as an 18-year-old carman-oiler for St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co., lubricating train wheels while attending the University of Memphis. He moved to Illinois Central in 1989 as chief operating officer, joining Canadian National when it acquired the Chicago-based carrier in 1998.

Harrison was twice named “Railroader of the Year” by Railway Age magazine — in 2002, while serving as Canadian National’s chief operating officer, and in 2014 for his role at Canadian Pacific — becoming one of only a handful of executives to win the award twice.

It was a script that echoed his move on CP, but this time no battle for the boardroom was required. CSX investors, who saw their shares soar by 35 per cent on news of his intentions, threw their support behind him and he was named CSX’s head in March.

Anthony Hatch, a railway consultant in New York who first met Mr. Harrison in 1990, said the railroader was one of the industry’s revolutionaries – skilled at squeezing efficiencies out of a network of tracks, yards and customers that spanned thousands of kilometres.

Read more on the fantastic career of Hunter Harrison
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/e-hunter-harrison/

1867: Railroads North

From the Utica OD
1867, 150 years ago

Pictured is the Remsen Depot

A new chapter in the history of Central New York is ushered in when the Utica and Black River Railroad is extended to Lyons Falls, thus connecting Utica with the North Country and its lumber and wood products.

The line was organized on Jan. 29, 1853 and on Dec. 13, 1854, it was opened from Utica to Boonville. Errors in management and underestimating construction and operating costs doomed the unprofitable railroad and it was forced to close. In 1860, a group of Central New Yorkers – headed by John Thorn – purchased the line. Thorn, a wealthy Utican in the soap and candle-making business, was elected president. He and his partners began to improve the railroad and its service and it soon began to make money and, for the first time, began to pay stockholders a dividend

Thorn was born in 1811 in Ruishton, near Taunton, Somersetshire, England. He settled in Utica in 1832. Today he is a director in several Utica banks and knitting mills and is a parishioner at Tabernacle Baptist Church. (He donated the land on Hopper Street for a new church. His wife, Mary Maynard Thorn, donated a lot of King Street for a chapel.)

What Railroads Connected With Maybrook Yard?

The Maybrook Line was a line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad which connected with its Waterbury Branch in Derby, Connecticut, and its Maybrook Yard in Maybrook, New York, where it interchanged with other carriers. It was the main east-west freight route of the New Haven until its merger with the Penn Central in 1969.

After the New York and New England Railroad succeeded merging with the Newburgh, Dutchess and Connecticut Railroad at Hopewell Junction en route to the Fishkill Ferry station, they sought to expand traffic onto the newly built Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge in order to move goods to the other side of the Hudson River, and the Central New England Railway was perfectly willing to provide a connection. The CNE line was originally chartered as the Dutchess County Railroad in 1889 and ran southeast from the bridge to Hopewell Junction, and was operational on May 8, 1892. The line was absorbed by the CNE in 1907, and eventually merged into the New Haven Railroad in 1927. Passenger service was phased out beginning in the 1930s, the same decade the New Haven Railroad faced crippling bankruptcy. Later financial troubles in the 1950s and 1960s led to its eventual acquisition by Penn Central Railroad in 1969.

Upon taking ownership, the Penn Central began discouraging connecting traffic on the line that paralleled Penn Central routes for the rest of its journey to prevent it from being short-hauled. After 1971 only one train in each direction (for the Erie Lackawanna) traversed the full line.

Through service over the line ended abruptly in 1974 when the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned and was not repaired.

Maybrook Yard was where freight cars were interchanged between railroads from the west and the New Haven, whose Maybrook Line headed east over the Poughkeepsie Bridge to the railroad’s main freight yard, Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven, Connecticut.

To handle the traffic the yard was dramatically expanded in 1912 to three miles in length with six separate yards including two hump yards. A new 10-stall roundhouse with a 95-foot turntable replaced the original and was later expanded to 27 stalls. Also added was a large icing plant for refrigerator cars. At its height, the yard had 177 tracks totaling over 71 track-miles.

For much of its existence six class I railroads interchanged traffic at the yard with the New Haven Railroad. In 1956 the yard saw 19 arrivals and 18 departures of which 14 were operated by the New Haven, eight by the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway, seven by the Erie Railroad, four by the New York, Ontario and Western Railway, two by the Lehigh and New England Railroad and two by the New York Central Railroad. Rail service is still provided to customers in Maybrook by the Middletown and New Jersey Railroad on tracks owned by Norfolk Southern.

In 1993, Conrail pulled out of the Danbury area, selling all the track to Maybrook Properties. Freight traffic was rerouted on the Albany-Boston Line, turning south at Springfield, Mass., to New Haven, ending significant freight traffic on the Beacon-to-Danbury Line.

All evidence of Maybrook yard is now gone but for a single track coming from Campbell Hall.

The Erie Railroad brought in 500 cars each day, the O&W brought in 180 cars a day, the Lehigh and Hudson 400 cars a day, the Lehigh and New England 140 cars a day. New Jersey Central would send trains here, as well.

The trains would uncouple their cars in the receiving yard, be classified by destination and recoupled into trains heading into New England.

MaybrookYard02

Guest Post by Ken Kinlock

New England Gateway, The New “Alphabet Route”

Guest article by Ken Kinlock

Over the years we covered the historic “ALPHABET ROUTES”

More recently there has been a lot of activity in creating a “New England Gateway”. Because it involves several railroads, we will call it an “alphabet route”.

Before then, rail freight into and out of New England had been mostly Conrail (now CSX) or Guilford. Another route exists that avoids these carriers.

A test train has run to Johnson City, New York (January 2006). This coal train moved via the New England Gateway Route (P&W-NECR-VRS-D&H-NS)

“P&W” Providence & Worcester Railroad (the Providence and Worcester Railroad has joined the Genesee & Wyoming family of railroads)

***********

“NECR” New England Central Railroad

***********

“VRS” Vermont Rail System

************

“D&H” Canadian Pacific Railway (was Delaware & Hudson once)

*************

“NS” Norfolk Southern

************

A coal ship arrived at Providence, Rhode Island and was unloaded to a 50-car train.

The train travels to Worcester, Massachusetts, then to New London, Connecticut on the P&W.

It switches to the NECR for travel, back through Norwich, Connecticut then Palmer, Massachusetts, to Bellows Falls, Vermont.

At Bellows Falls, it is picked up by VRS and heads to Whitehall, Vermont.

From Whitehall, D&H takes it thru Saratoga, Schenectady and Oneonta to Binghampton.

NS carries it the last leg to Johnson City.

The route has varied, the owners have varied; but this is the basic “sketch” of the route.

New York State; it’s Railroads, Tourism, History

There are two important WebSites for New York State. New York State is somewhat of a tourist site. It opens with a picture of the Saratoga Race Track. Then sections on New York City, followed by Cooperstown, and the Adirondacks. Followed by the Catskill Mountains and the Erie (Barge) Canal. Then Albany, Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse. Finally an article on the Hudson Valley.

The second WebSite is all about New York Railroads and the NY Central Railroad.

This WebSite starts out with short stories on the many historic railroads of New York State. It concludes with many of the New York Central properties.

We hope you enjoy both WebSites.

Vintage private railcars are mustered at Albany-Rensselaer Train Station

Rensselaer

Dome cars, lounges, observation and sleeper cars, many painted in the livery of their former railroads, gathered at the Rensselaer rail station Wednesday, preparing for a multi-day journey that will wind through the Adirondacks, the Southern Tier, the Berkshires and Green Mountains.

They’ll end up in Burlington, Vt., for the 40th annual convention of the American Association of Private Rail Car Owners.

Before then, the owners of these cars, the oldest of which dates from 1911, will see a considerable amount of the Northeast. Hauled by two Amtrak locomotives, they’ll travel to Utica and then to Thendara, back to Utica and onto Geneva, then head east to Springfield, Mass., and Rutland before arriving at Burlington.

The owners, rail enthusiasts all, can talk about the history of their individual cars. They’ve often spent years restoring them. Former association executive director Borden Black has just acquired a car from Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, which has ceased operation.

Dick Johnston of Phoenix travels in a dome car built in 1955 by The Budd Company, once a major U.S. railcar manufacturer, and used on the Empire Builder, which runs between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest.

Amtrak took over the route, and the equipment, in May 1971, and used it until it was replaced by newly manufactured bilevel Superliners in the late 1970s.

Coordinating a trip like this can be a challenge. Taylor Johnson, the association’s vice president of transportation, had planned a stop in Saratoga Springs and a trip via Whitehall to Rutland. But when the Canadian Pacific balked at hosting the train, Vermont rail officials and the Finger Lakes Railway stepped up with an alternate routing.

The private rail car owners support the continued operation of Amtrak, and Johnson said their train “is a reflection of American history.” The owners often make their cars available to passengers looking for a unique travel experience.

Some of the cars have private bedrooms, dining rooms and kitchens, as well as showers and flat-screen TVs.

The organization hopes to draw attention to plans by New York state to remove the tracks from Thendara north to Lake Placid, a move it opposes.

Robert Donnelly, the association president, said the private rail cars often are owned by groups of shareholders.

Among the cars participating in this year’s convention is the Georgia 300, a platform observation car that once operated on the Crescent Limited between New York and New Orleans.

The car has been used by Jimmy Carter, George H.W. and George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and by Kerry/Edwards campaign, said another association member, LeAnne Feagin. The Obamas boarded it in Philadelphia, picking up Joe Biden and his wife in Delaware, to travel to the 2009 inauguration.

Albany Times Union

The NY Central Putnam Division Freight House At Lake Mahopac

Thank you to New York Central fan John Ruth for a great bit of Putnam Division history.

The Lake Mahopac Freight House, which was served by the Putnam Division and the Lake Mahopac Branch, has been repurposed as a Café. They’ve named it “The Freight House Café

The building has been relocated about 100 feet and possibly rotated. A kitchen structure was added to one side. The original roll-aside door is still in place between the main floor and the kitchen addition. (Modelers could enjoy studying this door and its hardware, which resembles barn door hardware.)

The interior is more-or-less intact. There are a few RR-related décor items and, very appropriately, an ice saw hanging on the wall. This commemorates that there was once a nearby RR-served Ice House to store and distribute the ice harvested on Lake Mahopac. (Knickerbocker Ice, IIRC.)

NYCRR fans should stop in for a look-see and a coffee. The proprietor recognizes the NYCS history of the building.

Old Station from Google

On the same trip, I observed that the Baldwin Place Freight House is still extant. These two structures appear to have been built from the same plan.

When was L.C.L. freight discontinued on the Putnam Division? That would have marked the last RR use of these freight houses, no?

May 29, 1958 – Last passenger service on the Putnam Division.

September 17, 1962 – Last freight run to Yorktown Heights.

1963 – Twenty-three miles of track between Eastview and Lake Mahopac is abandoned and removed.

1969 – Three miles of track between Lake Mahopac and Carmel is abandoned and removed.

March 14, 1970 – Last freight run to Carmel.

From “Putnam Division of the New York Central

and “Putnam Division Abandonments

Question of the day:

Who lived near the end of the long-gone Mahopac Falls Branch for many years.

Mark Tomlonson’s New York Central Dates In History

September 16, 1956 The New York Central replaces the male secretaries on the “20th Century Limited” with “Girls of the Century” – stewardesses patterned after those on airliners.

Girl Of The Century
The Century Girl, or, if you prefer…The Girl of the CenturyJoan Jennings Scalfani

Getting ready to reprise her role as a “Century Girl” for the 20th Century Limited express passenger train brought back these memories and more for Joan Jennings Scalfani.

“It was a fabulous job because I love to talk and I love to listen,” said Scalfani, 80, recalling her days in the early 1960s as a hostess aboard the historic line. “Those were happy days.”

One Century Girl was assigned to each trip.

See a YouTube presentation featuring Joan Jennings Scalfani in Grand Central Terminal

“The train was beautiful,” she said. “In the center lounge car there were love seats. … It was a very classy-looking interior. It wasn’t trainlike; it was like a living room,” Scalfani said.

It was the sort of car where Harry and Bess Truman might have stayed when she asked them during their breakfast whether they had rested well.

“The president said, ‘Won’t you join us?’ And I certainly couldn’t say no,” she said. “They were very pleasant and very down-to-earth.”