Tag Archives: New Haven Railroad

40 Years After Poughkeepsie Bridge Fire


The Poughkeepsie bridge is open! The fellow in the yellow jacket carrying a banjo is Pete Seeger.

For 35 years, the ravaged Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge awaited a rebirth. Opened on New Year’s Day in 1889, the rail bridge — now the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park — was the first bridge to cross the Hudson River between Albany and New York City. The 6,768-foot span was used totransport goods, such as coal and grain from the Midwest to New England, for 85 years. Then, in 1974, a fire visible for miles rendered the bridge unusable.

The state Legislature charted the Poughkeepsie Bridge Co. to build the bridge in 1871. At its peak, 1,500 construction workers worked on the bridge daily, according to the Walkway’s mobile Web tour. Much of the construction was done from 1886 to 1888. Eight people died during construction, according to the tour.As many as 3,500 freight and passenger cars crossed the Hudson River span each day, according to Walkway Over the Hudson. But, as the decades passed, use of the bridge declined until only one train crossed per day, according to Journal archives.On May 8, 1974, a 700-foot-long fire charred the east side of the bridge. It was difficult to put out the blaze; the steel pipeline that supplied the bridge with water had burst the previous winter. As debris fell from the bridge during the fire, and igniting smaller fires in the city below, firefighters fought the blaze from the warped deck of the bridge and a ladder underneath. Full story and video.

Some great reference material compiled by Bernie Rudberg.

The Great Bridge at Poughkeepsie    

The Poughkeepsie Bridge after the 1974 Fire


John W. Barriger was an outstanding railroad manager; a real live railfan; an advocate of super railroads; and a railroad historian.


Barriger is one of the most gifted and unusual persons in railroad history. Check out a WebSite about John W. Barriger

What is not common knowledge is the huge library collection he left us.

John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library:


Bar Cars: End of an Era?


Used to be a lot of bar cars on a lot of railroads. Most are gone. In the 1970’s “new” cars were built for what is now Metro North. Now these cars need to be replaced and a debate is going on to replace them or to get out of the bar car business.

The bar cars don’t run as frequently as they used to as some are already retired, but there is a WebSite for tracking current bar cars running and what trains they are on

Picture above is of the most famous bar car. Only the New Haven could come up with a car name such as “V:XI-GBC.” This translated to, “5:11 Gentlemen’s Bar Car”. The New Haven had little to do with choice of names. Despite the Pullman pool livery, it was railroad owned after 1956.

Here is a story of the bar cars that replaced older “conversions” when the New Haven and rest of current Metro North upgraded to the M1, M2, etc in the 1970’s.

We have lots of information on bar cars in general and the “V:XI-GBC.” in particular. See the Connecticut Railfan WebSite and the Commuters Website.

Information below is from the New Haven Technical & Historical Society:

  1. The V:XI GBC was NEVER a private club car
  2. The Cars history is as follows Built 1913 as Plan 2411A 12 sec  1 Dr, 1 Cpt, with Gothic arched windows as La Fourche. Rebuilt as Wall Street 4007A on 12/20/30 and assigned to the Reading for NY Phila service. It was an error in the records that the car was renamed Westward Ho It never happened. The cars were renumbered for the NHRR by the NHRR
  3. Wall Street was bought in 12/31/45 by the NHRR and leased back to Pullman for operation until 12/54. The car was painted NH #13 Pull Green and later TTG on 9/28/54.
  4. The Wamsutta is a totally different car with Ice A/C and 242a trucks which could not be V:XI GBC. That was an error by the authors of the guide. And the RR records have a glitch in them.
  5. I and other students of the Pullman NHRR operations came to the conclusion that the cars were not renamed but renumbered to group them for RR service as Pullman only tracked cars at that time by NAME only. The best evidence is the Plymouth up at RMNE.

Shown below are some comments on the possible demise of the Metro North Connecticut line bar cars:

Given that they’re worn out and it’s not worth the expense of converting the unpowered singlet option orders into bar cars, do the M8’s (or M7’s) have the capability of interfacing with a generic coach if it’s sandwiched between MU’s? I would think propulsion would not be an issue for one unpowered outlier sandwiched on a longer consist driven by, like, 3 powered pairs since they are capable of trainlining with singlets. But are the MU’s capable of providing compatible hotel power for a “foreign” car and otherwise keeping the consist in systems sync through a foreign car? Because if they can do that with unpowered MU singlets it would seem like an unnecessary design compromise to totally preclude coupling, system compatibility, and communication pass-thru with just one generic sandwiched in the set. You know, like a private car for special runs. Unless there’s something that special about the MU’s design requiring a fully custom singlet.

What a lot of people do not understand is bar cars are underutilized money loosing cars.
yes bar service is profitable, but the bar car is NOT, so both MTA and CDOT are seeing less and less need for bar cars.

Converting a coach to work with MU’s would require a complete electrical revamp, a different brake system, a hep source trough control wiring, pantograph/third rail gear etc etc and only for a car that carries only 25% of passenger capacity of regular car and is only used in Bar service one out of 4 trips.

Every seat counts. I cannot see a clear enough reason to give up seats to sell drinks on board the train when there are dozens of bartenders selling their products in GCT.

Replacement/s trains will become the ‘brown bag specials’ and the ‘carry out ltd’s’!!! Martinis and Manhattans in ‘sip’n’staw’ boxes!!

Nothing so sinister, the bar carts in GCT openly sell same stuff for you to carry to your seat at a much higher profit but at same price.
A bar cart sells 10 times amount of Alcohol of a Bar car, but with very little down time and no expensive railcar to maintain.

Start serving breakfast & lunch on those things sell a contract to Dunkin Doughnuts etc I am sure someone will buy out the space outside evening rush hour. Their can definitely be a profit for the bar cars.

Impossble to do, US health code could never be satisfied.
No wash facility, no bathroom with proper facilities for food establishment etc etc etc

Newington Junction Railroad Station


We have several collections of railroad stations, the largest is Connecticut. One that was missing was Newington Junction.

Our friends at Tyler City Station, The most authoritative source for information on Connecticut railroad stations, donated pictures and information on Newington Junction. We would like to thank them very much.

Newington Junction is a section of the town of Newington, Connecticut. It is centered at the intersection of Willard Avenue (Route 173) and West Hill Road in the northwestern part of the town, in the area generally just south of the Hartford city line. The name of the area refers to the railroad junction where the railroad line from New Haven meets with the railroad line from Bristol and Waterbury. 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.

East-West:Hartford, Providence & Fishkill, New Haven Highland Division, Pan Am
North-South: Hartford & New Haven, New Haven, Amtrak (Springfield Line)

New Haven Railroad Wooden Box Cars

Until 1941 the New Haven Railroad had no all steel box cars — in fact, as late as 1940 the newest box car had been built in 1912 and many were older although many had been rebuilt.  All had steel underframes but all were 36 foot cars rather than the more common 40 foot cars.  When the Great Depression began the New Haven had over 17,000 wood box cars – most of 60,000 lbs. capacity but some 80,000 lbs. capacity rebuilt cars.Image