Tag Archives: Castleton Cutoff

Owasco River Railway

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Shay Locomotive Picture (from KC Jones) on the West Side Freight Line. Some of these went to the Owasco River Railway.

I found some information on the Owasco River Railway. It was 4 miles long and located in Auburn, NY.The RR was controlled by the NY Central. They had their own power early on eventually having the NYC supply its engines, most noteably the shroaded shays from New York City (also served on the Genesee Falls Railway). In diesel years it was a small GE 70 ton centercab engine and then regular NYC power. The road also provided interchange with the Lehigh Valley in Auburn.

When Penn Central conveyed much of its rail property to Conrail in 1976 there were some segments, such as the Metro-North Hudson Line from MO to CP75 above Poughkeepsie, that were not conveyed as they were subject to long term leases. Those properties were conveyed to the Owasco River Railway, Inc. Thus Owasco is the fee owner of the Hudson Line and the New York & Harlem RR is the owner of the Harlem Line. Both, of course, are leased to MTA and operated/maintained by Metro-North.

Some interesting things (to me anyway) about NY Central/Penn Central land stuff.

Timetable West from Poughkeepsie, Conrail didn’t just take ALL the land. NY Central had bought a lot of land both sides of the main and the Hudson River Connecting Railroad (those tracks that connected to the B&A and Castleton Bridge). Conrail didn’t take them and there used to be a lot of Penn Central FOR SALE signs on them. Owaso was the actual owner.

Yes there was an attempt to separate rail versus nonrail.  Was difficulty especially in NY City. Hard to separate land that carried one of the busiest 4-track mains from land that had extremely expensive value (like Waldof Astoria hotel plus a lot of Kentuky Fried Chickens equaled a lot of money)

New York & Harlem Railroad Co. is responsible for $7.8 million in (redeemable in gold) 3 ½ bonds due in 2043. These bonds are legally secured by the 127-mile right-of-way from New York City to Chatham AND by GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL!  Currently, these borrowings are rated “Baa1” by Moody’s (not too bad since Penn Central seems to have sold off some of this property).

American Premier Underwriters, Inc. is now the direct descendant of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company which was founded in 1846 and the New York Central Railroad Company, founded in 1853, but tracing its roots back to 1826. They merged in 1968 to form the Penn Central Transportation Company and developed into a highly diversified conglomerate. In March, 1994,
Penn Central dropped its well known rail-related name in favor of a title that more accurately described its business activities – property and casualty insurance. Today it employs 5,400 people, has sales of $1.8 billion and is publicly traded on five stock exchanges.

American Premier Underwriters is part of American Financial Group.  which, as the successor entity to Penn Central,  is the largest holder of common stock in the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”). American Financial holds roughly 55% or 5,200,000 shares of outstanding Amtrak Common Stock, out of a total of about 9,000,000 shares.

In 1994, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority gained long-term control of Grand Central Terminal in the form of a 110-year lease from American Premier Underwriters, Inc.,
In 2004, American Premier Underwriters sold 1.3 million previously issued and outstanding American Financial Group common shares. These shares were held for the benefit of creditors of APU’s predecessor, The Penn Central Transportation Company. Proceeds from that sale ($41.5 million) were placed in escrow to be used to pay APU environmental claims related to its former railroad operations.

Have heard that something like Midtown TDR Ventures, LLC purchased Grand Central Terminal from American Financial in December, 2006. Midtown TDR Ventures, LLC is, in turn, controlled by Argent Ventures (Andrew Penson, President). But frankly, all these corporations that followed Penn Central sound more like AIG or Bernard Madoff. We are unable to find out how much any of these corporations received in Federal Bail Out Funds (except AIG). NOTE: Mr. Madoff needs BAIL not bailout.

I don’t think you can necessarily say that one company “owns” the entirety of GCT. GCT and its various appurtenances and buildings constitute one large property “block” (no. 1280, if you care to look it up on the nyc.gov ACRIS search divided into a handful of lots. The two biggest lots (nos. 1 and 10) take up the entire west half of the GCT block.While it gets complicated — particularly given various exceptions to title, consent agreements, leases, assignment of leases, easements, subterranean rights, and air rights — to suss out anything that might resemble ownership of these lots as a whole, looking at the deeds for the two large lots gives an overview of ownership history.

This funny company that resulted from Penn Central is extremely wealthy. Read more about the Owasco River Railway and other interesting shortlines.

 

Castleton Cutoff and Hudson River Connecting Railroad

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In the 1920’s, one of the biggest projects of the NY Central of this era was the Castleton Cutoff which would replace the grades and drawbridge at Albany with a high-level river crossing several miles south of Albany. The Castleton Cutoff was not only a bridge (later named the A.H. Smith Memorial Bridge) but included the new yard at Selkirk which eventually replaced West Albany in importance. In 1924, A.H. Smith, the president of the New York Central, predicted a greater Albany. He expected Albany to grow to the Castleton Bridge. The bridge cost $25,000,000 and is 135 feet above the river. It consists of a 600 foot span and a 400 foot span. The bridge contains 23,000 tons of steel and 52,000 yards of concrete. The bridge, and 28 miles of track owned by affiliate Hudson River Connecting Railroad, connected the Boston & Albany, Hudson Division and West Shore (River Division) with the Mohawk Division. The new yard at Selkirk had 250 miles of track connected by 430 switches and served by 2 roundhouses. The opening ceremonies were attended by a large crowd including the Van Sweringen brothers who owned the Nickel Plate, W.H. Truesdale of the Lackawanna. William K. and Harold Vanderbilt, Mayor Hackett of Albany and New York Lt. Governor Lunn. Two bridges then served Albany. One bridge to the passenger station (now a bank computer center) lasted until the late 1960’s. The northern of the two bridges is the present Conrail bridge used mostly by Amtrak. At that time it was considered the “freight” bridge but also was used by those few passenger trains that didn’t stop at Albany (some sections of the 20th Century Limited and a couple of limiteds to the midwest).

Other articles we have  about the Castleton Cutoff

We have other interesting articles about the Hudson River Connecting Railroad , the White Elephant Line , and Railway Express Agency .

We have maps of the Castleton Bridge area and Selkirk Yard . You can fly around the Albany area on Google Earth.

Starting with our Selkirk Photo Gallery , we have lots of interesting pictures. There is a collection of New York Central Railroad pictures , tunnels and bridges on the New York Central , the Hudson Line south of Beacon and a link to Albany County Historical Pictures .

There is a special section on The Hudson River , another on the Port of Albany , one on the Capital District .

, and a story on Transportation in Albany .

Other sections you shouldn’t miss are rumors about Selkirk , railroads East of the Hudson key to Castleton Cutoff , some questions answered , and our reference section .

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