Tag Archives: New York Central Railroad

Mark Tomlinson’s great newsletter on New York Central Railroad history

Again, we are taking Mark Tomlinson’s great newsletter on New York Central Railroad history and adding comments or photos. Thanks Mark for the REAL work !!

December 7, 1929 The New York Central’s deluxe coach train “Motor Queen” makes its last run between Detroit and Cincinnati. The extra features offered on the train have not made it profitable.

December 7, 1941 The New York Central, with much fanfare, launches the new streamlined “Empire State Express”. The bombing of Pearl Harbor puts an immediate damper on the planned festivities.
Yes, beautiful trainset !

New York – Cleveland – Detroit 
(December 7, 1941) 
New York – Cleveland 605 miles 
New York – Detroit 687 miles 

The New York Central System inaugurated the two train sets that comprised the lightweight streamlined EMPIRE STATE EXPRESS on December 7, 1941 between New York City at the one end and both Cleveland and Detroit at the other. This date is best remembered as the date the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor and other military installations in Hawaii were attacked by Imperial Japanese forces plunging the U. S. into WW II. The Detroit and Cleveland sections of the EMPIRE STATE EXPRESS split at Buffalo with the Detroit section operating across Southern Ontario to its destination. This section was generally anywhere from one to three Parlor cars a dining car and two or more coaches. The remaining cars operated through to and from Cleveland the two New York Central EMPIRE STATE EXPRESS lightweight streamliners departed from their respective terminals and after exchanging their Electric Locomotives at Harmon and the outskirts of Cleveland on the west. The new J3A streamlined 4-6-4 Hudson Locomotives and Tenders took over for the run to the opposite electrified territory. The two streamlined J3A Hudson Locomotive and tenders were 5426 and 5429 with stainless steel installed on the tenders to match the trailing consists and stainless steel installed on the boiler Jacket cover. The roofs of the otherwise all stainless steel Budd built consists were painted black and the top of the Tender and Locomotive were painted black to match. The EMPIRE STATE EXPRESS consists shown below were between Buffalo and New York City on December 7, 1941. The named cars in each train set were named for former Governors of the State of New York. 


5426 Streamlined J3A 4-6-4 Hudson Locomotive & Tender 

ALONZO B. CORNELL Baggage 60’ Railway Post Office Car 

GROVER CLEVELAND Baggage Buffet 36 seat Lounge Car 

CHARLES E. HUGHES 30 Revenue seat Parlor Car with 5 seat Parlor Drawing Room 

HERBERT H. LEHMAN 30 Revenue seat Parlor Car with 5 seat Parlor Drawing Room 

NATHAN L. MILLER 30 Revenue seat Parlor Car with 5 seat Parlor Drawing Room 

GEORGE CLINTON 44 seat Dining Car 

REUBEN E. FENTON 56 Revenue seat Coach 

2569 56 Revenue seat Coach 

2567 56 Revenue seat Coach 

2566 56 Revenue seat Coach 

HAMILTON FISH 56 Revenue seat Coach 

DEWITT CLINTON 44 seat Dining Car 

DAVID B. HILL 56 Revenue seat Coach 

MORGAN LEWIS 56 Revenue seat Coach 

WILLIAM L. MARCY 56 Revenue seat Coach 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT 56 seat Tavern Bar Lounge Observation 


5429 Streamlined J3A 4-6-4 Hudson Locomotive & Tender 

JOHN A. DIX Baggage 60’ Railway Post Office Car 

MARTIN VAN BUREN Baggage Buffet 36 seat Lounge Car 

LEVI P. MORTON 30 Revenue seat Parlor Car with 5 seat Parlor Drawing Room 

ALFRED E. SMITH 30 Revenue seat Parlor Car with 5 seat Parlor Drawing Room 

SAMUEL J. TILDEN 30 Revenue seat Parlor Car with 5 seat Parlor Drawing Room 

JOHN JAY 44 seat Dining Car 

2564 56 Revenue seat Coach 

EDWIN D. MORGAN 56 Revenue seat Coach 

2565 56 Revenue seat Coach 

2568 56 Revenue seat Coach 

WILLIAM H. SEWARD 56 Revenue seat Coach 

HORATIO SEYMOUR 44 seat Dining Car 

DANIEL D. TOMPKINS 56 Revenue seat Coach 

CHARLES S. WHITMAN 56 Revenue seat Coach 

SILAS WRIGHT 56 Revenue seat Coach 

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT 56 seat Tavern Bar Lounge Observatio


December 8, 1921 The Cleveland Union Terminals Company contracts with the New York Central, Big Four and the Nickel Plate for the use of its depot.

December 8, 1960 In Kalamazoo MI, A cement truck traveling on Interstate 94 strikes a freight train at a grade crossing with the New York Central. No one is hurt, but four railroad cars derail. The crossing has since been converted to a highway overpass.
December 10, 1850 The Michigan Southern Railroad reaches Coldwater from the east.
December 10, 1968 The Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, the Switchmen’s Union of North American and the Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen vote to merge their four unions into a single organization, the United Transportation Union.


December 11, 1867 Cornelius Vanderbilt is elected President of the New York Central railroad without opposition, giving him control of railroads between New York and Buffalo.


December 11, 1906 The first revenue MU electric train on the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad enters Grand Central Station.

December 13, 1902 For the last time, the New York Central Yard in Elkhart IN switches a car equipped with a link and pin coupler.
December 13, 1945 New York Central places an order for 420 new passenger cars. It is the largest passenger car order placed by any railroad to date.

December 14, 1878 William H. Vanderbilt contracts with a British steamship company to ship grain from the New York Central & Hudson River’s new terminal at 65th street in New York. Previously, the NYC&HR has used the infrastructure associated with the Erie Canal for its shipments but now has to make its own arrangements.
December 14, 1934 New York Central unveils the “Commodore Vanderbilt”, the first streamline steam locomotive and the inspiration for one of Lionel’s most popular toy locomotives. Check it out at the New York Central Railroad WebSite

December 15, 1907 The New York Central & Hudson River Railroad extends the running time of the Twentieth Century Limited by an hour and a half to allow for delays due to snowstorms.
December 15, 1937 A merger agreement is signed placing eight New York Central subsidiary lines into the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway.

December 16, 1915 The United States Attorney General rules that New York Central’s ownership of the Nickel Plate, Lake Shore & Michigan Southern and Michigan Central violates U.S. anti-trust laws and orders divesture.
December 17, 1870 The Kalamazoo & South Haven RR (later MC, NYC, PC, CR) is completed.
December 17, 1947 The New York Central Railroad announces it has ordered 111 diesel locomotives.
December 18, 1881 The Michigan Central reaches the Straits of Mackinaw from Bay City. (Some sources say December 31)

December 22, 1914 The New York Central & Hudson River, the Lake Shore & Southern Michigan and several other subsidiaries consolidate with the New York Central. The Boston & Albany, Big Four and Michigan Central remain leased lines.
December 22, 1928 A record 854 long distance trains enter and leave Grand Central Terminal over 24 hours.

December 26, 1917 President Wilson announces that the federal government will be taking over operation of the railroads under the authority of the Army Appropriations Act of 1916. The railroads will be administered by the United States Railway Administra

December 27, 1906 Michigan Central buys the Chicago, Kalamazoo & Saginaw (later NYC, PC, CR; one branch GTW, CN) to thwart plans by the Pere Marquette to make it a link in a shorter Chicago-Detroit route. The MC has little interest in operating the line and the Sergeant family continues to run it much as they had before the purchase.
December 27, 1941 The Office of Price Administration begins the rationing of rubber. The lack of rubber for automobile tires will lead many travelers to choose the train.


December 28, 1825 George Featherstonhaugh (pronounced fen-shaw), of Duanesburgh NY, runs a newspaper notice announcing the formation of the Mohawk & Hudson Rail Road Company.
Dewittt Clinton picture.
December 28, 1917 The United States Railroad Administration takes over operation of all U.S. railroads at 12:00 noon.

December 29, 1841 The Central Railroad of Michigan reaches Jackson from the east.
December 29, 1876 The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern’s train No. 5 “The Pacific Express” falls into the Ashtabula River in Ohio after the collapse of the bridge. Eleven of the passenger cars burn in a fire started by the car stoves. Sixty-four people are killed and 64 injured out of 159 people on board. It is the worst U.S. train wreck to date.
December 29, 1932 “Twentieth Century”, a play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur set on the famous New York Central passenger train opens on Broadway.
December 29, 1953 The last electric train runs through the Detroit River tunnel. It’s replaced by diesels.

December 30, 1871 Grand Duke Alexis of Russia and his party travel through Kalamazoo on their way to Chicago from Detroit, traveling via the Michigan Central Railroad. The Grand Duke tours rebuilding efforts following the Chicago Fire.
December 31, 1883 Michigan Central carferry service at Detroit begins.
December 31, 1900 The Monongahela Railroad is incorporated, owned 50/50 by the Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie.
January 1, 1866 The first train arrives in Schoolcraft on the Schoolcraft & Three Rivers Railroad. [Later K&WP, LS&MS, NYC, PC, CR, NS, GDLK]
January 1, 1867 A third rail for standard gauge equipment is placed in service on the broad-gauge Great Western Railway of Canada, opening a continuous standard-gauge line from Chicago to New York with the new train ferry Great Western between Detroit and Windsor. The Great Western is the largest iron or steel vessel on the Great Lakes. Through sleeping car service is inaugurated between Suspension Bridge (Niagara Falls) and Chicago.
January 1, 1870 The first train into Kalamazoo on the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad. [Later MC, NYC, PC, CR]
January 1, 1870 Grand River Valley Railroad completed from Jackson to Grand Rapids via Charlotte and Hastings [later MC, NYC, PC, KBECR].
January 1, 1922 The New York Central leases the Toledo & Ohio Central.
January 1, 1930 The Toledo & Ohio Central begins operations into Columbus Union Station.
January 1, 1954 “K” style air brakes are banned
January 1, 1954 EMD introduces its 567-C engine and the “9” line of diesels: GP-9, F-9 and SD-9, all rated at 1750 horsepower.
January 1, 1960 The New York Central drops its membership in the Railway Express Agency, citing large losses from the express business.

A sad day for railroading. Head End on NY Central was an important part of profit.

January 2, 1871 The first train runs from Kalamazoo to South Haven on the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad.
January 2, 1930 The New York Central system acquires the lease of both the Michigan Central and Big Four” lines.

January 3, 1870 The Kalamazoo & South Haven (later MC, NYC, PC, CR) is completed from Kalamazoo to Kendall MI.

January 4, 1877 Commodore Vanderbilt dies at his home at the age of 82. He leaves the bulk of his estate and control of the Vanderbilt Lines to his son, William Henry.


The Late, Great New York Central Railroad In Pictures

We are sharing several New York Central Railroad pictures sent by Wayne Koch.

The feature image at the top is famous locomotive 999. Picture taken at the 1948 Chicago Rail Fair by Ed Nowak. From the J. David Ingles Collection.

The 999 Steam Locomotive was a new concept in speed locomotives. Engine 999 was assigned to haul the New York Central Railroad’s brilliant new passenger train, the Empire State Express. On May 10, 1893, the 999 became the fastest land vehicle when it reached a record speed of 112.5 mph. The 999 maintained the record for a decade.

Designed by William Buchanan and manufactured by the New York Central Railroad in West Albany, New York in 1893, the 999 was commissioned to haul the Empire State Express, which ran from Syracuse to Buffalo. This relatively smooth run and the 999’s cutting-edge design gave the new locomotive an opportunity to make history.


20th CENTURY LIMITED AT CHICAGO. Picture taken by Ed Nowak. From the J. David Ingles Collection.

The 20th Century Limited was an express passenger train on the New York Central Railroad (NYC) from 1902 to 1967, advertised as “The Most Famous Train in the World”. In the year of its last run, The New York Times said that it “…was known to railroad buffs for 65 years as the world’s greatest train”. The train traveled between Grand Central Terminal (GCT) in New York City and LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, Illinois, along the railroad’s “Water Level Route”.

Next is Niagara 6022 at Buffalo, NY. 1949. Photo by William W. Renn

In 1945, the Equipment Engineering Department of the New York Central Railroad developed and Alco (American Locomotive Company) in Schenectady, NY executed a locomotive design which had a marked impact on the steam locomotives to follow, and on the traditional measurements by which motive power would be evaluated. This locomotive was so significant that its performance is still discussed by the men who design and run locomotives. The locomotive was the New York Central class S1 4-8-4 Niagara.

Cleveland Union Terminal eecttric locomotives
Cleveland Union Terminal electric locomotives

These huge electric locomotives originally served the Cleveland Union Terminal then were moved to Harmon, NY to handle traffic in and out of Grand Central Terminal.

The GM Aerotrain: A Project Gone off the Rails

What’s longer than a football field, made by General Motors but rarer than a Bugatti, and lives an unloved life in middle America? The GM Aerotrain. While we only get fleeting glimpses at concept cars from the American auto giant before most of them are whisked away to the Heritage Collection warehouse, two concept trains from the 1950s are substantially more accessible.

The streamlined Art Deco fantasy on rails could almost be accused of luring customers back to trains with sex appeal. This seems particularly odd because the Aerotrain was a product of General Motors, the company that actively pushed trolley traffic out of cities so people would buy their cars.

In the mid-1950s, GM’s Electro-Motive Division was responsible for producing train engines, and the locomotive business was shrinking thanks to the effectiveness of automotive travel. This was an era when GM’s industrial might seemed like it could solve any problem, and so they decided to save train travel by utilizing existing manufacturing.

The rail cars were an evolution of the company’s aluminum bus bodies; the motor was an established 1,200 horsepower 12-cylinder diesel powerplant; and all of this would be wrapped around a style coming from the mind of Chuck Jordan. Yes, the same man who had a hand in the outrageous tailfins of the 50s Cadillacs and the Lumina MPV of the 80s (this Aerotrain kinda looks like their love child, eh?)

This all seemed like a good idea. GM’s economies of scale would keep production and operating costs down in many new ways. The lightweight cars combined with the streamlined locomotive would provide was advertised with, “sustained speeds of 100 miles an hour.” Plus, the futuristic design would be too attractive to resist getting on board.

But the project seemed to come off the rails almost immediately.

Two of these LW12 locomotives (later given the Aerotrain name to increase exposure) went into service in 1956. The locomotive was excelling at high-speed service, but it didn’t have enough grunt to get up big hills. Passengers were not happy because the bus-inspired air ride suspension on the lightweight train cars bounced them around for a rough ride. Both were returned to General Motors within a year. After trying out different routes with no success, both Aerotrains were quietly put into service as low-speed commuter rail in Chicago. The project that was supposed to be the savior of passenger rail service turned into a last gasp for railroad innovation.

While the Aerotrain can be considered a failure that left the track a half-century ago, they have a lasting allure. Both are still on public display today. One is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the one seen here is the first LW12 that entered service. It’s forever parked at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.

The Aerotrain seems to have a fitting home here because the multi-building facility celebrates both trains and automobiles. But GM’s Aerotrain has a lonely spot next to a maintenance barn. In a bit of irony the train that had trouble with the hills is now sitting at the bottom of one. It’s out of sight from a large collection of its larger siblings who sit at the top as both a metaphorical and actual symbol of their greater success.

It might feel like a sad story, but it really isn’t. This is spring time and the weather is perfect to walk through the new green grass that is growing around this shiny steel relic. It’s under-appreciated history, so there’s no rope to keep you from getting close or crowd to block your view. So if you’re driving through the Midwest, skip the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and see the World’s Longest Tailfin instead.

Myles Kornblatt


Early Railroad History From 1843

February 6, 1843 Through service begins between Albany and Buffalo with a gap at Rochester. The journey over several rail lines takes two days, with an overnight stop at Syracuse eastbound and Auburn westbound to avoid night running in winter.

Find out more about the Original New York Central Railroad

New York Central Railroad Harmon Shops


ImageImageShown above are several views of the NY Central shops at Harmon NY, now Croton-Harmon and run by Metro North Railroad.

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.

Exchange from steam to electric started in 1908 at High Bridge, progressed to Hastings-on-Hudson, then Tarrytown, and finally to Croton and Harmon in 1913. Electrification actually runs about a mile north of the Croton-Harmon station to Croton-North (Croton-on-Hudson). There is a freight yard here and electric commuter storage tracks across the main line.

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. The shops were built in sections starting in 1907 with the final stage erected in 1928. For as long as I could remember, there was a large sign “Harmon Diesel & Electric Shops”.

Older MU car seats were upholstered in cane but shifted to synthetic fabric as authentic material too hard to get.

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.

There were two roundhouses west of the station area. One was a 25-stall building erected in 1913 with an 85-foot turntable. A portion of this survived into the 1960’s as a storage barn. A larger roundhouse was built in 1928. It had a 100-foot turntable for the increasingly larger locomotives and 31 stalls. A 900 ton trestle-type coaling facility south of the roundhouses served the area adequately.

Yards on each side of the main tracks were connected by a semicircular track crossing the main by means of a girder bridge.

There was once an inspection shed for electric equipment ready for assignment. When this burned in the early 1960’s, servicing was performed out-of-doors.

The freight yard at Croton-North is still active. Croton-Harmon is a big center for electric commuters, but AMTRAK no longer needs to swap power here.

By 1970, there were 76 trains on weekdays being handled by 16 “P” and “T” motors and 8 “S” motors. The roster included 227 MU cars, 40 road diesels, 45 diesel switchers (road and yard) and 17 RDC cars. It took 400 employees working 3 shifts 7 days/week to run the complex. $300,000 was spent annually on new windows. By then, the power station out of service as purchased power was used.

No story about Harmon would be complete without a description of some of the equipment which was unique to the Electric Division.

The pioneers of electric service were the S-motors. This entire class of 35 electrics survived fifty years and some served over sixty years. They were designed by William J. Wilgus, the Chief Engineer of the New York Central & Hudson River RR, who also designed the electrical current distribution and utilization system for the entire electrification project. He had little else to copy as the field of locomotives drawing trains by amperage instead of steam was so new. He made his design simple, durable and efficient. The “S” had four small but powerful gearless bipolar motors. The prototype Alco-GE appeared in 1904 with the remainder of the first order built in 1906. They weighed 95 tons and were rated at 1,695 horsepower. They drew power from an underrunning third-rail shoe but had a pair of small, pantograph-type trolleys for gaps in the third rail.

Two engines were needed when doubleheading as no provision for multiple unit controls was made. The only major modification was the replacement of two-wheel pony trucks with four-wheel bogie trucks. Another dozen Class S-3’s were built in 1908-9. They were bigger and had a train-heating boiler. The last of the S-motors were scrapped in the early 1980’s.

T-motors were a logical outgrowth of the “S”. These box-cabs had 8 motors powering all 16 wheels. The gearless bi-polar motors were built with the armatures on the axles. Blowers were required to ventilate the motors. The weights of the three sub-classes of T-motors varied from 126 to 146 tons. A pneumatic rail sander was required to start heavy trains. The first ten (Class T-1) were built in 1913. Six more (Class T-2) were added in 1914 as well as another ten in 1917. Ten Class T-3’s were built in 1926. Because of changing requirements, most of the T-motors were scrapped in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

P-motors were huge box cabs that came from Cleveland Union Terminal in 1953 when electric operations ended there. They were rewired for third-rail operation and became the workhorses of the Hudson Division until the early 1970’s.

Q-motors were rated at 1330 hp. These were built in 1926 by Alco-GE for light to medium duty in the third rail zone. All were retired by 1955.

R-motors were for heavier freight service. Class RA was built in 1926 and consisted of a married pair of box cabs. In 1931, 42 Class R-2 motors of 3000 hp were delivered. Later, some of these went to Detroit and ten went to the Chicago & South Shore in 1955. The rest were retired soon after and the West Side Freight Line was de-electrified in favor of diesels.

Everything wasn’t pure electric. In 1930, Alco, GE and Ingersoll-Rand jointly built a series of diesel-battery-electric locomotives for the Central. They were serviced at Harmon and mostly used on the West Side Freight Line.

In addition, the first successful diesel electric locomotive for road freight service in the nation was #510 which was based at Harmon. It also was produced jointly by Alco, GE and Ingersoll-Rand. It was built in 1928 as #1550, renumbered to #1510 and finally to #510. This locomotive was based in Harmon. The generator was a six cylinder diesel from IR and the four electric motors were from GE.

Since the inclusion of the New Haven in Penn-Central, another unusual locomotive appeared – the diesel-electric-electric FL-9. Built in the late 1950’s, several have been rebuilt and today serve both Metro-North and AMTRAK.

The original MU’s used in suburban service were built between 1906 and 1929. The Central bought upgraded cars in 1950, 1961 and 1963. The first truly “modern” cars were the M-1 Metropolitans acquired between 1972 and 1975 for the Hudson and Harlem Divisions. 178 of these were built by General Electric. The Port Authority funded these cars. They are efficient, but rigid with fixed seats, some of which always face backwards. They hold 122 passengers in moderate comfort. An improved M-3 built by Budd (142 of them) appeared in 1983.

Read about Harmon in the 60’s , how Harmon got its name , and all about freight in the Croton-Harmon area.

See stories on modernization plans and progress for the Harmon Shops.

A lot of the freight that rolled into Harmon was destined for the West Side Freight Line and the St Johns Freight House. A lot of these cars were head end equipment such as Railway Express and mail.

You will enjoy our map of Croton-Harmon and photograph from Google Earth.

Keeping The Railroads Running by Karl A Borntrager (1974)

We don’t plan on turning our blogs into a bookstore even if Ancien Hippie is also selling one too.

Ours is not a new release. It was published in 1974. Why are we selling an old book? Because it is just so appropriate to the current situation of American Railroads!

“Keeping the Railroads Running” by Karl Borntrager. The author describes his one-half century on the New York Central Railroad and reviews the then-current railroad situation.

 I was struck by how accurate his observations were regarding the problems that beset the NYC – and other railroads – in the 1950’s, and how every one has been addressed since then.
 Fascinating assessment of the management of the New York Central Railroad by its former Senior Vice President. The author combines the story of his personal climb through the ranks with a dispassionate critique of how those who controlled the NYC as well as those who labored for it managed to destroy a remarkable institution.

“For the industry as a whole I think the following steps should be taken:

1.  Free all roads from passenger service losses.  Largely done by the creation of Amtrak.

2.  Eliminate real estate taxes on railroads or at least reduce them to a level commensurate with other taxpayers.  Perhaps not to where they should be, but for example in NY state the taxation basis for railroads has been amended considerably from former levels.

3.  Repeal all full crew laws.  What would he think of today’s 2-man crews?

4.  Make proper adjustment promptly in freight divisions.  The Staggers Act gave the railroads the rate making freedom they so desperately needed, and what a difference that has made.

5.  Congress should enact legislation restricting the jurisdiction of the ICC over the railroads.  For example, one of the restrictive powers of the ICC is approval or disapproval of freight rates proposed by the roads.  This control should not be exercised when the railroad can show that its proposal can get new business and show a profit.  Again, Staggers and related changes brought the railroads into an era where they can actually compete as a business, and determine their own price structure.”

Mr. Borntrager passed away in 1990 at age 98, but it’s doubtful he lived to see the full extent of his views coming to fruition. We can only wonder how railroads in general, and NYC in particular, would have fared if these changes had been implemented in about 1950. Could a more competitive and efficient rail system have slowed the decline of heavy industry in this nation? No way to say for sure but interesting to debate whether PC would have happened if those changes had come 30 or 40 years earlier. Hats off to KAB for the accuracy of his views.

Here is the link to buy the book


He lived to see reductions in crew sizes as well as the elimination of the caboose too. That was another huge expense for railroads that isn’t often discussed.

Find out about better tools and Fair Promise

Grand Central Terminal: Secrets, Rumors, Accomplishments

It is amazing the hype that is starting to surround Grand Central Terminal in New York City. But most of it is very factual (with a little bit of fun and fiction added on). All of the stories are contained in our Kingly Heirs WebSite and our Ominous Weather WebSite but there are a lot more

What Is Mysterious Track 61?

Car on Track 61
Car on Track 61


 Mysterious Track 61 Grand Central Terminal Track 61, which FDR used to sneak in and out of Grand Central and hide his disability (he had severe polio) from the public. Was Track 61 used other times by Presidents? Matt Lauer of NBC put on his best play clothes May 8 2008 to examine “The Mystery of Track 61? on the Today show. Lauer went 30 feet below the Waldorf to investigate the secret train track that has intrigued urban explorers for decades. Lauer ended up with a nice 7-minute segment, with some commentary from colorful Metro-North spokesman Dan Brucker and Brooklynite historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. He spoke about not only the phantom track, but the mysterious bulletproof freight car still located under the Waldorf that played some sneaky role in presidential security. “His armor-plated Pierce Arrow car would drive off the train, onto this platform and into the elevator, and it would bring him and his car into the hotel garage,” Metro-North Railroad spokesman Dan Brucker said while offering a rare tour of the long-unused station. “He could take the presidential train back to Hyde Park without ever leaving the building.” This story gets taller and taller anytime someone tells it. The Grand Central Palace, the railroad’s heating and power facilities and Adam’s Express Co. occupied the area between 47th and 50th Streets and between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue . They were torn down in 1929. In 1931, the Waldorf-Astoria completed its 40-story hotel on the site. Except for a small basement, the Waldorf-Astoria is directly over the tracks and the two platforms for the powerhouse and Adams Express. The track 61 platform was of course never used or intended to be used in regular passenger service, and it was not even built for the hotel; it just happens to be there. A stairway and a freight elevator run from the platform to a street entrance on 49 St. The freight elevator is not original and was probably built after the power house was torn down. There is also another stairway exit, without an elevator, on the 50 St side of the hotel building. So it amounted to a private railway siding underneath the building. Guests with private rail cars could have them routed directly to the hotel and take a special elevator directly to their suites or to the lobby. The baggage car ( “bulletproof freight car”) was left by Penn Central for worktrain service and the MNCX reporting mark was painted on the car in 1984 in North White Plains shops (not by the Secret Service). Also on the level: In 1965, the platform was used for one of Andy Warhol’s underground parties. (I found this out from a museum in Mouans Sartoux, France) In 1946 the American Locomotive Company’s 6000-horsepower Diesel-electric locomotive that was headed to Santa Fe RR system to be used between Chicago and Los Angeles, was exhibited on the Waldorf’s private siding beneath the hotel.

The Ceiling is Backwards!

The painting of the constellations on ceiling of the massive, cathedral-like Main Concourse is backwards. No one knows for sure how the mix-up occurred, but the Vanderbilt family claimed that it was no accident; the zodiac was intended to be viewed from a divine perspective, rather than a human one, inside his temple to transportation.

Biggest Basement in New York City

The basement covers 49 acres, from 42nd to 97th street. The entire City Hall building could fit into its depth with a comfortable margin of room to spare. Today, the MTA is in the midst of an ambitious project to bring Long Island Rail Road trains into the terminal via the East Side Access Project, making Grand Central even larger and deeper. These will be the deepest train tunnels on earth, at 90 feet below the Metro North track and over 150 feet below the street. It will take 10 minutes to reach these tunnels by escalator, at their deepest point.

Top Secret Room M42

Secret Room in Grand Central
Secret Room in Grand Central


A hidden room known as M42 does not appear on a single map or blueprint of Grand Central Terminal. In fact, its very existence was only acknowledged in the late 1980s and its exact location is still classified information. M42 houses a converter that is responsible for providing all of the electricity that runs through Grand Central. Here, alternating current becomes direct current and provides power for the transportation of more than one million people each week up and down America’s East Coast.

if you were to sink a 10-story building through the main concourse of Grand Central, you would still not reach the very bottom of the terminal. The largest basement in New York lies at the bottom of the terminal, housing electrical transformers and breakers, which feed immense power to the trains above. During World War II, troops were stationed in the basement. If a person was to wander in there by accident the orders were that he or she would be interned there for the rest of the war. If that person happened to be holding something like a bucket of sand, the orders were to shoot that person on sight. If someone was to pour a bucket of sand into one of the rotary converters operating in the basement, the entire basement would explode, paralyzing railroad transportation across the East Coast. Adolf Hitler sent spies in two submarines to sabotage the basement during World War II, but they were caught before reaching it. Two were executed and two were imprisoned. 

Tennis Anyone?

A little known space called the Annex houses a tennis court that is accessible to the public (as long as you can get a reservation). Originally installed by a Hungarian immigrant Geza A. Gazdag in the 1960s, it was taken over by Donald Trump, who brought the likes of John McEnroe and the Williams sisters onto its clay courts.

Bars, Restaurants and Apartments

The Campbell Apartment, in Grand Central, serves as a testament to the grandiosity of another era. If appropriately attired, you can enter the room and sip on cocktails from the fin de siècle in this virtual museum to the opulence of New York’s high society of the past. The apartment once belonged to John C. Campbell, a business tycoon; rumor has it that he used to sit behind his desk in his boxers, so that his trousers wouldn’t get wrinkled. The Campbell Apartment is also one of our favorite hidden bars in New York City.

What is all this hype about a Whispering Gallery?

Nestled between the Main Concourse and Vanderbilt Hall is an acoustical architectural anomaly: a whispering gallery. Here, sound is thrown clear across the 2,000 sq-foot chamber, “telegraphing” across the surface of the vault and landing in faraway corners. The real secret of the Whispering Gallery is that no one knows whether it was constructed with the intention of producing the acoustic effect that has made it so famous.

Jacob Bachtold , Grand Central Terminal Clockmaker, and Grand Central Information Booths

Grand Central Clock in 1946
Grand Central Clock in 1946

Long time Central employee and watchmaker Jacob Bachtold adjusts one of the more famous clocks in a 1946 photo
(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)

 With all of the clocks in Grand Central Terminal running with atomic precision, it’s quite odd that all the times displayed on the departure boards are wrong—one solid minute wrong. Each train conductor will wait exactly 1 minute past the designated departure time. Instead of yelling for customers to hurry up, the conductors instead tell everyone to slow down. The result? The least slips, trips, and falls of any railroad in the nation, quite a feat for the largest one of them all. One minute might seem minor, but it is major when added up. If the train has a single late boarding in the itinerary its chances of being on time are slim. Nevertheless Grand Central Terminal has a 98 percent on time record.

The main information booth is in the center of the concourse. This is a perennial meeting place, and the four-faced clock on top of the information booth is perhaps the most recognizable icon of Grand Central. Each of the four clock faces are made from opal, and both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have estimated the value to be between US$10 million and US$20 million. Within the marble and brass pagoda lies a “secret” door that conceals a spiral staircase leading to the lower level information booth.

You can check all the corners and nooks throughout the terminal and not find this staircase. It’s made of polished brass and it’s right in the middle of the main concourse. The brass cylinder in the information booth houses a spiral staircase that leads to the lower level information booth in the dining concourse. The staircase is well-obscured and little known, but is used all the time. It allows for ease of transfer of customer service representatives.  

 The clock atop the information booth has been valued at $10 million to $20 million. The four faces are made entirely of solid precious opal. This 1913 clock is mechanical and still runs on Swiss motors, but is also set constantly with the atomic clock in the naval observatory in Bethesda, Md. So next time you walk through Grand Central, set your watch, the clocks in the terminal are accurate within 1 second every 1.4 million years.

Terminal Renovation

When the building was renovated, a lot of effort was made to keep Grand Central Terminal exactly the way it was when it was built. Except for a second staircase, which was planned opposite the original one on the east side of the main concourse. But the Landmarks Commission said the staircase could only be approved if the original blueprints contained the staircase. The original blueprints were discovered, and they did contain such a staircase. The west staircase was built to match its cousin exactly: quarries in Italy were dug up to get the same type of marble and stonemasons were brought from Italy to ensure a perfect match. But it’s not quite identical: the new staircase is exactly one inch smaller than the old. 

All of the ornamental work in Grand Central Terminal falls within the same theme: oak leaves and acorns. The Vanderbilt family built and owned the terminal. Cornelius Vanderbilt, the patriarch of the family, quit school at 11, started his own ferry service at 16, and became one of the richest men in American history. The small acorns thus represent small beginnings. The Vanderbilt family, having come from nothing, needed to adapt a symbol and motto. The acorns and oak leaves became the symbol and the motto: Great Oaks from Tiny Acorns Grow.

A Couple of Idiosyncrasies

 Just above the fish on the Grand Central’s ceiling mural is a small circle. It would probably be anyone’s last guess, but this was used to hoist a rocket ship up to the ceiling. NASA was promoting its space program in the 1950s and decided to display a “RedStone” rocket ship in the terminal.

A second irregularity on the ceiling is on the side of the mural, where one of the meridians terminates next to the constellation Cancer. (near the Michael Jordan Restaurant). A small black rectangle can be seen. This single patch was left to show how dirty the terminal was prior to the renovation. After analyzing the sludge that covered the entire ceiling, restoration workers found that it was all cigarette tar. It took a year to wash the whole ceiling with soap and water.

Controlling All Those Trains

Switching all the tracks in the terminal started out in 1913 with several electro-mechanical “towers”. In the last few years, it has been transformed into a modern command center. The transformation happened quicker than expected because of a fire in Tower B.

Signal Tower A
Signal Tower A
Signal Tower B
Signal Tower B
MTA Metro North Control Center
MTA Metro North Control Center

Tower A and Tower B and new control room

An Underground City

Burying electric trains underground brought an additional advantage to the railroads: the ability to sell above-ground air rights over the tracks and platforms for real-estate development. With time, all the area around Grand Central saw prestigious apartment and office buildings being erected, which turned the area into the most desirable commercial office district of Manhattan. The terminal introduced a “circumferential elevated driveway” that allowed Park Avenue traffic to traverse around the building and over 42nd Street without encumbering nearby streets. The building was also designed to be able to eventually reconnect both segments of 43rd Street by going through the concourse if the City of New York demanded it.

In 1928, the New York Central built its headquarters in a 34-story building (now called the Helmsley Building) straddling Park Avenue on the north side of the Terminal.

From 1939 to 1964 CBS television occupied a large portion of the terminal building, particularly above the main waiting room. The space was used for four studios (41-44), network master control, film projection and recording, and facilities for local station WCBS-TV. In 1958, the first major videotape operations facility in the world opened in a former rehearsal room on the seventh floor of the main terminal building. The facility used fourteen Ampex VR-1000 videotape recorders. The CBS Evening News began its broadcasts there with Douglas Edwards. Many of the historic events during this period, such as John Glenn’s Mercury Atlas 6 space mission, were broadcast from this location. Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now” originated from Grand Central, including his famous broadcasts on Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Murrow broadcasts were recreated in George Clooney’s movie “Good Night, and Good Luck”. The movie took a number of liberties, in that it was implied that the offices of CBS News and CBS corporate offices were located in the same building as the studios. (The news offices were located first in the GCT office building, north of the main terminal, and later in the nearby Graybar Building. Corporate offices at the time were at 485 Madison Avenue.) The long-running panel show “What’s My Line” was first broadcast from the GCT studios. The former studio space is now in use as tennis courts, which are operated by Donald Trump. In 1954 William Zeckendorf proposed replacing Grand Central with an 80-story, 4.8-million square foot tower, 500 feet taller than the Empire State Building. I. M. Pei created a pinched-cylinder design that took the form of a glass cylinder with a wasp waist. The plan was abandoned. In 1955 Erwin S. Wolfson made his first proposal for a tower north of the Terminal replacing the Terminal’s six-story office building. A revised Wolfson plan was approved in 1958 and the Pan Am Building (now the MetLife Building) was completed in 1963. 

In 1968 Penn Central unveiled plans for a tower designed by Marcel Breuer even bigger than the Pan Am Building to be built over Grand Central. The plans drew huge opposition including most prominently Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Great Stories From The New York Central Lines Magazine

From 1919-1931 New York Central Lines Magazine

1919 – 1925


In 1920, the “Dewitt Clinton” was displayed in Grand Central. Normally, it was stored at Karner, near West Albany. It was taken on a flat car down the West Side Freight Line to 30th Street and then trucked over to Grand Central. I assume it was brought into Grand Central Terminal via the taxi driveway under the Biltmore Hotel (like four elephants in 1921 who had to be brought from New York to Boston).

There were many fascinating articles on the jobs which various employees carried out. For instance, the “trouble trio” of Grand Central were three ticket takers who worked outside their cages and helped solve problems on the floor. The employees who manned the information booth at Grand Central as well as the six phone operators and their chief were described.

Several articles described the Red Caps at Grand Central. Many were college graduates. By the 1920’s, there were 467 Red Caps-all African-Americans. The force had been all-White in 1900.

Technological improvements of the day were always well described. The Grand Central signal stations were such an interesting subject that a film was made about them and shown in theaters. “Q” telegraph office in New York was the wire communications center for 13,000 miles of railroad.

The electric baggage trucks in use at Grand Central were a big deal in their day. There were 51 in use by 1921. They weighed 3000 lbs. and could carry 4000 lbs. One of them had 17,000 miles on it.

One article described a “typical” day at Grand Central Terminal: (1) A special train from Vassar College arrives just before a holiday. All the girls were greeted at the station or else found their destinations except for one who was helped by Traveler’s Aid. (2) A political candidate is escorted through the terminal by the Stationmaster. (3) Several immigrants wait for their train, sitting quietly together eating dark bread. (4) A high school team is going off to play a championship game in Chicago and is sent away by a large crowd of students. (5) A group of convicts changing prisons is escorted uneventfully through the station in handcuffs. (6) Boy Scouts bound for a “jamboree” are met at the station by other scouts. (7) All the Red Caps in the station run to meet the “20th Century”.

Famous Railroaders

George A. Harwood died in 1926 at age 52. He was a Tufts graduate who began railroad service in 1900. In 1906 he was placed in charge of electric improvement and is credited with completing the construction of Grand Central that William Wilgus had started. 

 Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley, the railroad’s expert on rail metallurgy, would also accurately predict the weather. He was considered the “scientist of rails”. He died in 1924 at age 81. He had joined the New York Central in 1880 and had lived in the Hotel Commodore (next to Grand Central) since it was built.

Throughout this period, the Chairman of the Board of Directors was Chauncey Depew. He had 56 years of service on his eighty-eighth birthday in 1922 and still came into his office in the Grand Central Office Building. His advice to employees was to “have a hobby not a fad”.

  Chauncey Depew died in 1928. He was a Yale graduate of 1856. He was buried in Peekskill. In his honor, the huge concourse of Grand Central Terminal was draped in mourning. The only other time we have heard of that the Terminal was draped in mourning was for President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Know of other times, please let us know.


The NY Times has produced a great video: The Secrets of Grand Central. In his new book “Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America,” Sam Roberts of The Times goes behind the scenes at Grand Central Terminal.

Fox New York and Untapped Cities both have great stories and good pictures of Grand Central Secrets

Cindy Adams has a good Grand Central story on the PAGE 6 blog.

Those Great Pictures On Our Blog Header


PICTURE ABOVE: At left is KC Jones, who authors the Global Highway. In the middle is Penney Vanderbilt, World’s Greatest Blogger. At the right is the Promenade des Anglais in Nice France.


PICTURE ABOVE:At left is a great picture of the goalie for the Utica Comets, a new American Hockey League team we follow. In the middle, is a drawing of David and Goliath out of the Bible. We use this drawing to publicize Loren Data, a small EDI and Electronic Commerce company that fights the giants of the industry. At the right is Brewster, New York, besides being the birthplace of Penney Vanderbilt, it was an important station on the New York Central Railroad.


PICTURE ABOVE:At left is the “Albany Night Boat”. We also talk a lot about the Livingston Avenue Bridge in the background. In the Center is a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Nice, France. At the right is a picture of the New York Central Harmon Shops.


PICTURE ABOVE:At left is the Rutland Milk Train passing through the Troy Union Railroad‘s station in Troy, New York. Read the story to find out why it is “fabled”. In the center, is the Tramway, in Nice, France. At the right, is the railroad station in Ogdensburg, New York. Read more about the New York Central in the St. Lawrence region.


PICTURE ABOVE:At the left is a Delaware & Hudson ore train leaving Tahawus, NY many years ago. At the center is golfer Graeme McDowell. See more about golf, including the US Open. At the right is an electric locomotive used by the New York Central. See why it is now in Glenmont.


PICTURE ABOVE:This old trolley car at left is now at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. Before going to Montréal, it worked in Springfield, Mass. Number 2056 is a steel lightweight built by Wason in 1927 and acquired in 1959. In the center is a “leverman” working the switches in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. At the right is La Canne A Sucre, our favorite restaurant. Said by many to be the “Friendliest Restaurant in Nice France.

Passenger Trains on NY City’s West Side Freight Line

Image1861. The Abraham Lincoln family pulled into New York City’s 30th Street Station at about 3:00 p.m. on February 19. 1865. Lincoln’s funeral train left on the journey from Washington to Springfield. That was the terminal for the Hudson River RR. When Vanderbilt bought it as well as the NY & Harlem RR, they built the connection between Spuytin Duyvil and Mott Haven and routed most Hudson River RR trains into Grand Central Depot.

The NYC&HR local passenger service was pretty much a connection at Spuyten Duyvil arrangement from the opening of the original Grand Central from the timetables I’ve seen ( See June 26, 1921 Employee Timetable). The opening of the Elevated reduced traffic considerably; the opening of the IRT finished off most ridership; the trolley and El, Trolley/IRT was quite a bit cheaper. A Nickel could get you all the way downtown from 125th St (especially on the IRT) — without the change at 30th, for example.

Somewhere along the line, I had understood that this limited passenger service was eliminated in 1918 during WW1. However, that was a temporary measure as seen by the 1921 timetable. One mystery solved. Tommy Meehan sent me a newspaper article from January 13, 1918 that explains it to be only temporary.

There was a passenger train called the “Dolly Varden”, a local train leaving 30th Street station on the west side going to Spuyten Duyvil. “This train became such a symbol both to railroaders and West Siders that for years it was continued on the time-table after it actually ceased to operate.”

I don’t know for sure why NYC kept those passenger trains on the West Side up to the 1930’s, but there were probably several reasons:
1. To carry employees down to 60th and 30th Streets, at least until the subway was put into service.
2. NY State Public Service Commission would not approve discontinuance.
3. Some U. S. Mail might have been handled locally, and maybe some company mail.
4. After they quit hauling passengers, and even into Penn Central, there were first class trains running between 30th St and Spuyten Duyvil for mail and express. No’s. 3 and 13 went to Chicago, and the 800 series trains ran to and from Harmon with head-end traffic to and from the west.
5. To preserve the franchise for passengers on the West Side. From a story that was in the June 15 1931 edition of the New York Times. The occasion was the final use of steam on the line. The final paragraph mentions the West Side passenger service, though it doesn’t seem very accurate. It sounds like what the reporter actually saw was a milk transfer run with a rider car attached for the crew. I do believe it is accurate insofar as the Tri-power units were probably used to haul the passenger trains. I’d be very surprised if they used MU cars, even to tow them, but of course it’s possible.

From a September 2007 discussion in TRAINS Magazine:
Daily except Sunday in 1934,
lv 30th St (0.00 miles) 0700
pass 60th St (1.66) 0715
depart 130th St (5.24) 0726
depart 152nd St (6.31) 0731
depart Fort Washington (7.48) 0737
depart Inwood (9.08) 0742
arrive Spuyten Duyvil (10.06) 0747 and the other three trains are similar.

Read a whole lot more on the West Side Freight Line.


When Did Passenger Trains Begin to Run between New York City and Montreal?


It all started out with a question from a reader wondering if there was a railroad that went from New York City to Montreal circa 1855? He had some of John Stover’s books and with maps that show a line going from NYC to the Canadian border as early as 1850.  But it’s really not too clear and there is no text stating that.

Our reader found the answer – no direct line, but there was a line through Vermont that then crossed over to Rouses Point and connected up with the Plattsburgh to Montreal line that opened in 1852. Yup, that bridge eventually became part of the Rutland line to Ogdensburg, NY

The D&H at created a line from Albany / Troy to Rouses Point. Then they bought a subsidiary, Napier Junction Rwy, that got them into Montréal. Connections NYC to Albany were not in place 1855.

If you check out the Hudson River RR 1851 Timetable (courtesy of Wayne Koch), you will see what I’m saying. No direct service from NY City to Montreal. NY Central to either Albany or Troy and connection to Delaware & Hudson. Delaware & Hudson to Montreal not in place yet.

In search of new markets for its coal, in 1871 the D&H leased the Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad (R&S), which had a network of lines reaching from Albany and Schenectady north to Lake Champlain at Whitehall, New York (Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. )

The direct route north to Canada from New York and Albany was along the Hudson River and Lake Champlain. The lake froze over during the winter, but by 1849 an all-rail route was in place on the Vermont side of the lake. In 1852, the Plattsburgh & Montreal Rail Road and two Canadian railroads completed a rail route between Plattsburgh, New York, and Montreal. The Plattsburgh & Montreal soon entered receivership and was reorganized.

The Whitehall & Plattsburgh Rail Road was chartered in 1866 to join the two towns of its title. Several miles of track were built south from Plattsburgh, with a short section in the middle to serve iron mines west of Port Henry, and the line was leased to the Montreal & Plattsburgh (successor to the Plattsburgh & Montreal) in 1869. In 1870 and 1871, the Rutland Railroad gained control of the Whitehall & Plattsburgh as a way to achieve a rail route to the Canadian border without using the Vermont Central Railroad — with the result that the Vermont Central leased the entire Rutland.

The people living on the west shore of the lake could foresee the commerce of the area being funneled to Boston rather than New York. They organized the New York & Canada Railroad and went to the D&H for backing. The Whitehall & Plattsburgh knew the D&H could build a parallel railroad and offered to lease its railroad to the New York & Canada. In 1873, the Whitehall & Plattsburgh, the Montreal & Plattsburgh, and the New York & Canada were consolidated as the New York & Canada Railroad. Marshy areas north of Whitehall and mountains running down the shore north of Port Henry made construction difficult, but the line was opened in November 1875.

Drury, George H. (1992). The Train-Watcher’s Guide to North American Railroads: A Contemporary Reference to the Major railroads of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 99–100. ISBN 0-89024-131-7.

In 1906 D&H acquired Quebec, Montreal & Southern Railway, which extended from St. Lambert, across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal, northeast through Sorel to Pierreville, Quebec, 62 miles (100 kilometres), and from Sorel south to Noyan Junction, on the Rutland, just north of the U.S. border. Under D&H management the line was extended down the St. Lawrence to Fortierville with the intention of continuing to the Quebec Bridge, then under construction.

D&H’s more important Canadian subsidiary was the 28-mile (45 km) Napierville Junction Railway, opened in 1907 between Rouses Point, New York and Delson, Quebec, where it connected with the Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National (CN) railways.

NY Central to Utica and then Adirondack Division to Montreal was not the answer either. In 1892 Malone & St. Lawrence opened from Malone Junction to the international border where the St. Lawrence & Adirondack Railway opened to Cecile Junction and used Canada Atlantic and Grand Trunk to reach Montreal.

When the Champlain & St Lawrence Railway to Rouses Point was completed, the Canadian government was askeo permit the use of foreign (i.e., U.S.) rolling stock on Canadian lines, subject to certain restrictions. This policy had been approved in the 1852 Amending Act, an Act of the Parliament of the Union of Upper and Lower Canada, which functioned from 1841 to 1867. The U.S. Congress enacted similar legislation and established an international agreement—quite possibly the first of its kind at that time.

Early passenger services on the Central Vermont Railway were designed to connect Montreal with Boston. As the CVR’s connections grew, the route was extended to include New York City, a route which would ultimately become more important. As travel to New York City increased, the route was extended to include Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Central Vermont Railway (CV) was a railroad that operated in the New England states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, as well as the Canadian province of Quebec. It connected Montreal, Quebec, with New London, Connecticut, using a route along the shores of Lake Champlain, through the Green Mountains and along the Connecticut River valley, as well as Montreal to Boston, Massachusetts, through a connection with the Boston and Maine Railroad at White River Junction, Vermont.(wik), and to New York City and Washington DC with connections to the B&M, New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads.

 Timeline of the Central Vermont Railway
1843 -The Vermont Central Railroad (VC) was chartered October 31 to build a line across the center of Vermont, running from Burlington on Lake Champlain east to Montpelier, and then southeast and south to Windsor on the Connecticut River. Initial plans had the main line running through Montpelier. However, due to the difficulty of building through the Williamstown Gulf, a narrow valley south of Barre, Vermont, and to land interests of Charles Paine in Northfield, Vermont, a course to the west was selected, leaving the state capital to be serviced by a short branch line.
1845 – Construction of the VC began on December 15.
1845 – The Vermont and Canada Railroad (V&CR) was chartered October 31 as a continuation of the Vermont Central north and west to Rouses Point, New York, splitting at Essex Junction (east of Burlington) and running north via St. Albans and Swanton. A branch split at Swanton and ran north to the border with Canada.
1848 – The first section of the VC, from White River Junction west to Bethel, opened on June 26, to Roxbury on September 17, and to Northfield on October 10.
1849 – The part along the Connecticut River from Hartford south to Windsor opened on February 13.
1849 – VC opened to Montpelier (including the branch from Montpelier Junction) on June 20, to Middlesex on August 30, Waterbury on September 29, and Burlington on December 31.
1849 – On August 24 the Vermont Central leased the Vermont and Canada.
1851 – V&CR is completed.
1852 – VC defaulted on rental payments, and the Vermont and Canada returned to its original owners on June 28.
post 1852 – CV lease of VC&R is reinstated.
1860 – The Montreal and Vermont Junction Railway is chartered.
1860’s – M&VJ opened extending the Vermont and Canada’s branch from the national border north to St. Johns, Quebec on the Grand Trunk Railway’s Montreal and Champlain Railroad. From opening it was operated as an extension of the Vermont and Canada.
cir 1860’s – The Sullivan County Railroad continued south from Windsor to Bellows Falls, where it met the Cheshire Railroad towards Boston. At first it was operated by the Central Vermont, but later the Boston and Maine Railroad gained control of it, giving trackage rights to the Central Vermont.
cir 1860’s -The Vermont Valley Railroad, running south from Bellows Falls to the New London Northern Railroad in Brattleboro, was originally owned by the Rutland Railroad and later by the B&M.
1867 – The Vermont Central leased the Stanstead, Shefford and Chambly Railroad, running east from St. Johns to Waterloo. The Waterloo and Magog Railway was later built as an extension from Waterloo south to Magog.
1867 – The Missisquoi Railroad is chartered as an independent entity.
1870 – The Vermont Central leased the Ogdensburgh and Lake Champlain Railroad on March 1 extending its line from Rouses Point west to Ogdensburg.
1871 – On January 1 the Vermont Central leased the Rutland Railroad system, giving it routes from Burlington to Bellows Falls and Chatham, New York.

See a CV Map

Gaining rail access to Albany, New York, did not end the Delaware and Hudson expansion. That company formalized a lease in May 1871 by which it gained the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad in perpetuity. This line ran from Albany to the head of Lake Champlain at Whitehall, New York. From the latter town it crossed into Vermont where it connected with the Rutland and Burlington railroad at Rutland. The Renssalaer and Saratoga also connected with the Adriondack Railroad in the upper Hudson River valley.

Acquiring the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad with its connects to the Adriondack created an opportunity for the Delaware and Hudson to expand its passenger service. The company had begun a rudimentary service in 1860 between Carbondale and Providence. Passengers however had to ridge the gravity line for part of the distance until 1870 when a locomotive road was opened for the entire route. With the expansion in New York, the Delaware and Hudson began connections with the central Adirondack Mountain resorts where large numbers of the wealthy traveled to places like Saratoga Springs.

The search for more markets brought increases in expansion in the 1870’s and the 1880’s. Between 1873 and late 1875, the Delaware and Hudson managers extended the rails from Whitehall to Rouse’s Point on the Canadian Border. A connection was made at the border with the Grand Trunk Railway, a Canadian firm. The D&H , thereby, had a link to Montreal that expanded its anthracite coal market. By 1880 the Delaware and Hudson operates agreed to a cooperative venture with the Boston, Hoosac tunnel and Western Railway by which a new route would be opened between Boston and Schenectady. When it began operations in 1881 the Delaware and Hudson has access to Boston. In 1886 the Delaware and Hudson obtained the Lehigh and Susquehanna railroad that extended from Scranton to Wilkes-Barre. Finally on July 11, 1889, the D&H purchases the Adriondack Railway that ran from Saratoga Springs to North Creek, New York. The increased numbers of vacationers drawn to the area made it an attractive buy.

An era ended for the Delaware and Hudson in 1891. On November 5 of that year the last coal boat passed down its old canal. The gravity railroad closed on January 3, 1899. As a result, the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company managers received permission in April 1899 to change the firms name to the Delaware and Hudson Company.

The first decade of the twentieth century found the Delaware and Hudson leadership expanding there line into Canada. In 1906 the company purchased Quebec, Montreal, and Southern Railway. Its 143 miles extended to almost Quebec City. Although it has been acquired with the intent to complete the track to Quebec City, that plan never came to fruition. In the spring of 1907 the D&H owners bought another Canadian line called the Napierville Junction Railway. This twenty-nine mile line ran from Rouse’s Point, New York to St. Constant, Quebec on the Grand Trunk Railway. By agreement with the latter railway the D&H used its track to complete the link to Montreal. As a result, the D&H became part of the shortest route from New York to Montreal. The reason for buying the Canadian Railroads was to haul pulpwood south to the paper mills in the upper Hudson Valley and establish new coal markets to the north.

1871 – Delaware & Hudson leases Renssalaer and Saratoga Springs gaining access through leases north to Saratoga Springs and northeast to Rutland, Vermont, as well as trackage rights on the Troy and Boston Railroad, a more easterly route to Rutland . The D&H also obtained a 1/4 interest in the Troy Union Railroad.