Tag Archives: ny central

Detroit Tunnel Motors On New York Central Railroad

R Motors were of GE’s steeple-cab design and featured a B-B wheel arrangement (similar in nature to those used by the B&O). Purchased in the 1920s they were predominantly used on the electrified lines of the Detroit River Tunnel. 

The tunnel operation was 600V DC 3rd rail electric from the beginning, unlike its earlier neighbour at Sarnia which struggled along with steam locomotives and a resulting number of deaths. The original locomotives were six 100 ton steeple-cabs rated at 51,590 t.e. built by ALCO-GE in 1909. Four 123 ton locos were added in 1914 and two 125 ton in 1927. Ten second-hand locos from other NYC operations came along in later years. The grade is 2.0% westward and 1.6% eastward.

Note the multiple names. D.R.T. Detroit River Tunnel, M.C.R.R. Michigan Central Railroad and New York Central Lines. The latter name used for controlled railroads including Canada Southern. Motor at top built and photographed by Alco 5/1926

The operation was dieselized with 10 GMD GP7’s, and the last electric operation was 12/29/53. For years a five-diesel unit set of “tunnel motors” hauled all CPR trains through the tunnel, even 1 or 2 RDC’s!! They also assisted NYC trains through the tunnel. Finally, in the summer of 1963 the “Tunnel Jobs” were eliminated and the regular power and crews ran through the tunnel unaided.

The 1985 sale of former CASO assets in Canada by Conrail saw the DRT owned 50/50 by CN and CP. The major route for CN traffic was through Sarnia and Port Huron, while Windsor-Detroit was very secondary. Therefore CN decided to build a new tunnel at Sarnia to replace its original one and to not share in the expense of enlarging the Detroit River Tunnel.

Work began in November 1992 on a $27.5 Million enlargement of the north tube. It was re-opened April 19,1994 with a clearance of 19′ 6″. Although 20′ 6″ is needed for maximum height double stack containers, it was not possible to get any more clearance. Ferry service finally ended May 1,1994 when Norfork Southern ended its car float operation. It began 140 years earlier with the Great Western car ferry in 1854! The CPR was able to enlarge one tube to handle multilevel auto carriers and containers, but not sufficiently to handle the very tallest containers.

I don’t have a roster in front of me, but according to Bill Marvel’s book “New York Central Trackside with Eugene Van Dusen”, the Detroit Tunnel motors were classes R-1 et seq. and R-2. Seven of the R-2’s were sold to the CSS&SB for use pulling freight between South Bend and Chicago.

According to Wikipedia, the NYC owned R-Motors were scrapped in the mid 1950’s. The CSS&SB units were scrapped in the mid 1970’s. None are preserved.

Finally, CN was pressured into selling ($110 million) its 50% to a non-rail entity, Borealis Transportation Infastructure Trust Management Inc. sole trustee of BTIT. Borealis is controlled by the OMERS (Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System) pension fund. March 2001 control of the tunnel was turned over to the CPR. Changes to the CTC signals from CN to CP delayed final take over by CPR RTC in Montreal until 0700 April 7, 2002. Mile112.0 Windsor Sub. College Avenue (Windsor) to Mile 115.0 24th Street (Detroit) site of the long-abandoned MCR station. Note: Expressway was located at 15th. Street Mile 114.1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Central_Railway_Tunnel

 

Mark Tomlonson reported on railroad forum that:

1910 First Michigan Central passenger trains through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

1953 The last electric train runs through the Detroit River tunnel. It’s replaced by diesels.

Other references are TrainWeb and Wikipedia

In New York City, the first R Motor was developed as a response to the Kaufman Act which banned steam locomotive use throughout the city and required the New York Central to eliminate street running along its 10th Avenue freight route. After evaluating the first R class prototype for freight service, a modified design of 42 additional class R-2 locomotives were ordered and spent their careers working out of the limelight hauling freight on the West Side Freight Line and other portions of the electrified zone. Later, a few R-2s were sent went for Detroit River Tunnel service to supplement the aging steeplecab electric locomotive fleet until a new ventilation system for diesel operations was installed in 1953. In the 1950s some R’s were sold to the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend for freight service on that road. 

In the 1940s several were sent to pull trains through the electrified Detroit River Tunnels, returning in 1953 when the tunnels were ventilated for diesel operations. between 1955 and 1967 a total of 7 R-Motors were sold to the http://www.OminousWeather.com/ChicagoSouthShore.html to supplement their electrified freight operations. The units, re-numbered 701-707, were rebuilt to use 1500V DC overhead lines using parts left over from the conversion of the P-Motors to 660V DC third rail. The front ends were also modified moving the cab door from the front to a more typical side access.

The NYC R’s were scrapped in the 1950s and 60s, while the South Shore units survived into the 1970s. None were preserved.

Find out about better tools and Fair Promise

 

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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.

 

Dexter & Northern Railroad

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Map above from the 1957 ETT shows the line in place from Dexter Junction to Dexter.

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Map above shows Dexter today.

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Map above is a close-up of Dexter today. Note what looks like the trace of the New York Central on the right above the river. Note a small bridge in bottom left. This COULD have carried the Dexter & Northern from the plant to the New York Central connection.

Recently saw an “anniversary” announcement: “In 1956, the Dexter & Northern Railroad line was purchased by the New York Central Railroad and reopened for service.” Now I did know a little about this short line’s early history, but nothing about it’s later life.

I had access to New York Central Employee Timetables (ETT) from 1941, 1957 and 1959. The Dexter & Northern Railroad connected with the Cape Vincent Branch of the New York Central at Dexter Junction. The mileposts on the branch were as follows:

Cape Vincent – now marina 0
Rosiere 4.38
Three Mile Bay 7.72
Chaumont 11.16
Limerick 16.04
Dexter Junction 17.9
Brownville 19.86
Main St., Watertown 23.31 C. V.
C. V. Wye 22.89
Coffeen St. 24.06
Watertown Station 24.68

The branch was abandoned as follows:

Limerick to Cape Vincent Abandoned 1952
Watertown to Limerick Abandoned 1976
Passenger service discontinued March 14, 1936

Troy Union Railroad

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Picture of Green Island Bridge above is from an old postcard.

First of all, see a great movie about the last days of the Troy Union Railroad.

TROY UNION RAILROAD

The first railroad in New York State, and one of the first anywhere, was the Mohawk & Hudson, connecting Albany and Schenectady. The Rensselaer & Saratoga Rail Road followed in 1832, only a year late. Within twenty years, three more railroads came into Troy:
(1)
Troy & Greenbush;
(2) Troy & Boston; and
(3)Troy & Schenectady.
The resulting congestion led to the formation of the Troy Union Railroad in 1851, owned jointly by the four roads. It opened in 1854. The tracks were moved from River Street to Sixth Avenue and a new station built. One of the lines was eventually bought by the D&H RR (Rensselaer & Saratoga RR), two were merged into the New York Central RR (Troy & Schenectady RR and the Troy & Greenbush RR), and the fourth became part of the Boston & Maine RR (Troy & Boston RR).

Although the tracks in Troy were moved inland to avoid congestion, the growth of the city overwhelmed it still. Row houses, stores, and factories crowded in on all available land near the track. There wasn’t room for the conventional two-storied interlocking towers needed to control the switches at each end of the terminal, so both towers had to straddle the tracks. Switches were thrown by the tower operators through a series of rods and cranks.

In other major cities, early 1900’s grade crossing elimination programs rebuilt the right-of-way above or below the streets. Similar plans were drawn up for Troy, but never were built. Numerous streets required a gate guard, to flag the crossing or drop the gates. The track ran part of the way in the pavement of Sixth Avenue, and steam road locomotives inched their way past parked cars. This looked like industrial trackage but was a passenger main.

Troy’s first depot (before the Troy Union Railroad) was the “Troy House” on River Street. The second one burned (1862) when Troy had what is known as the “Great Fire”. The third one was built shortly afterwards, and lasted until 1900, when Troy finally got a “modern” one. The depot was designed by Reed & Stem, who eventually worked on Grand Central Terminal. The Troy station pioneered individual train platform sheds reached by an underground passageway instead of one huge shed.

The 1900 station was a colonial revival design with Beaux Arts columns and decorated by Grecian castings.”

The station was 400 feet, and the passenger tracks weren’t much longer. Most trains blocked grade crossings at each end of the station. In 1910, there were 130 passenger trains a day. Most of these, except the Albany- Troy beltline, required an engine change.

The station was torn down in 1958, with only a single track left in place because of Rutland trackage rights for their milk train to Chatham, NY. This track came out in 1964, after abandonment of the Rutland. The tunnel for the tracks was between Congress and Ferry Streets.

This area was known in history as the first “red-light district”. Off-duty railroaders visited houses of “working girls”. The railroaders hung their lanterns outside so the crew- callers could find them.

The D&H Troy Branch went to Green Island (from Waterford Jct), and the Green Island Branch went to Troy (from Watervliet Jct).

The Troy Branch was the southern end of the original Rensselaer and Saratoga RR, later absorbed by the D&H. The Green Island Branch was a D&H connection to the former Albany and Vermont RR, which formed the later D&H Saratoga Division Main Line.

The B&M connected with the D&H (and New York Central) at Troy via the Troy Union RR, which was owned by all three (D&H, B&M and NYC). The TURR was formed around a wye, with the passenger station at the south leg. NYC came onto the TURR at Madison St, and from Schenectady via a short stretch of trackage rights on the D&H, which came onto the west leg of the TURR at River St. The B&M came via the north leg at Hoosick Street.

The Rutland originally operated a joint passenger service with the B&M, with Rutland trains and crews becoming B&M trains at the Vermont State Line (White Creek) and running to a NYC connection at Troy. In 1954, after the Rutland passenger service ended, the Rutland gained freight trackage rights on the B&M to Troy and NYC/B&A to Chatham, running three round trips per week out of Rutland.

END OF THE TROY UNION RAILROAD

The only reason for retaining the Troy passenger station at the bitter end was the remnant of B&M service from Boston with one or two Budd RDC’s. The NYC and D&H had the alternative of using Albany as their passenger interchange, and actually it switched back and forth between Albany and Troy for individual trains over the years. The B&M had nothing but Troy.

The D&H preferred Troy over Albany, because the distance from Colonie Shops (the Capital District locomotive service point and crew HQ) was shorter to Troy, and then they didn’t have to run the North Albany Yard Engine to Albany to handle the occasional passenger switching. The Troy Station Switcher (NYCRR crew) was in the station anyway. I don’t think the individual railroads paid for it per move, just a on a fixed percentage.

NYC preferred Albany, because it avoided running light engines the longer distance between Troy and Rensselaer, their locomotive service point, if they didn’t come back with a train.

The D&H paid NYC to use the upper level at Albany on a pro-rata basis, but, all three railroads that owned the Troy Union RR paid a fixed percent of the operating expenses. NYC paid 50%, D&H and B&M 25% each, because NYC took over the ownership of two predecssor RR’s – the Troy and Greenbush and the Troy and Schenectady. The Rutland had no ownership – they operated as B&M trains between White Creek and Troy.

The passenger station was demolished as soon as the last B&M train left town, mostly to avoid the high property taxes levied on railroad property in New York State. The Troy Union RR employees once said, only half in jest, that they knew the end was near when they put a new roof on the station. That was usually the kiss of death for any railroad building.

A serious problem that always plagued Troy was the number of highway grade crossings in the city. Every switching move blocked Fulton Street or Broadway, and the TURR needed about ten crossing watchmen per trick, or a total of more than 40 for the 24/7 passenger operation.

As for the demolition of Troy Union Station, the last passenger service left town in January of 1958 and it was demolished by the end of the summer that same year. So, no, there was never a post-classic- era shack.

Probably the reason Troy lost its direct passenger service relativley early is because it wasn’t far from more-than-adequate remaining service in Albany (7 miles, and with good local transit connections) . The cost saving from shutting down TUS was probably enormous.

Around 1959 D&H and NYC had brought running B&M to Albany, but they couldn’t make an agreement with the operating brotherhoods to allow B&M crews to run to Albany. It wouldn’t work out if a D&H crew had to take the train over that distance. The B&M wasn’t about to put any more money into maintaining that service west of Fitchburg, and this was another good reason for them to dump it.

Either way, the B&M would have had to either run via TURR to the NYC at Madison Street or to the D&H via the Green Island Bridge, and they would have still needed most of the TURR with all of its crossings, and the Green Island Bridge. A route via Mechanicville would not have worked, either. All three railroads wanted to be shed of the entire TURR, not only the station, and the best way to get regulatory approval was to let the expenses pile up and then dump the whole thing. The only fly in the ointment was the Rutland operation, and when that went away in 1961 the fate of the TURR was sealed.

Historic Electric Locomotives in Glenmont, NY

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S Motor and T Motor at Glenmont, near Albany NY
These historic electric locomotives are stored at an electrical plant in Glenmont near Albany. They belong to the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter of the NRHS.

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The original S-1 of 1904. It started off as #6000 and went through several renumberings, the last of which was 100.

This picture was taken in Colonie, New York while the Motor was headed for the American Museum of Electricity

This locomotive was displayed for several years by the M&H Chapter NRHS at the Altamont Fair. It looked the same then.

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#278, a T3a built by GE at Erie in 1926 and was the last T-motor to operate. It is the only one left in existence. It was acquired by the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter NRHS in 1980 and restored by members.

It was a star in a movie made in Grand Central in the mid to late 80’s. The movie was called “The House on Sullivan Street”. (Later renamed “The House on Carroll Street”) The House on Carroll Street“) It has a Hitchcock like finale in the movie The House on Carrol Street (1985), director Peter Yates. The action is supposed to take place in the mid 1950s. Kelly Mc Gillis and Jeff Daniels star.

T-3a #278 was last used in PC service in Sunnyside Yard, Long Island, NY for service in the wire train on the ex PRR east river & Hudson river tunnels,as they could operate on the 650 volt third rail while the 11,000 overhead AC catenary was turned off,as diesels were not allowed at this time.

There is a great story about the current state of these locomotives

http://sturmovikdragon.livejournal.com/115498.html

Abandonment of Train Service to Troy, New York

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The picture above is the Green Island Bridge between Green Island and Troy

Trains in Troy operated over the Troy Union Railroad (TURR)
Congestion in Troy, New York led to the formation of the Troy Union Railroad in 1851, owned jointly by four roads. It opened in 1854. One of the lines was eventually bought by the D&H RR (Rensselaer & Saratoga RR), two were merged into the New York Central RR (Troy & Schenectady RR and the Troy & Greenbush RR),
and the fourth became part of the Boston & Maine RR (Troy & Boston RR).

In other major cities, early 1900’s grade crossing elimination programs rebuilt the right-of-way above or below the streets. Similar plans were drawn up for Troy, but never were built. Numerous streets required a gate guard, to flag the crossing or drop the gates. The track ran part of the way in the pavement of Sixth Avenue, and steam road locomotives inched their way past parked cars. This looked like industrial trackage but was a passenger main.

Around 1959 D&H and NYC wanted to run the Boston & Maine into Albany, but they couldn’t make an agreement with the operating brotherhoods to allow B&M crews to run to Albany. It wouldn’t work out if a D&H crew had to take the train over that distance. The B&M wasn’t about to put any more money into maintaining that service west of Fitchburg, and this was another good reason for them to dump it. Either way, the B&M would have had to either run via Troy Union Railroad to the NYC at Madison Street or to the D&H via the Green Island Bridge, and they would have still needed most of the TURR with all of its crossings, and the Green Island Bridge. A route via Mechanicville would not have worked, either. All three railroads wanted to be shed of the entire TURR, not only the station, and the best way to get regulatory approval was to let the expenses pile up and then dump the whole thing.

Efforts to discontinue trains to downtown Troy, abandon the Troy Union Railroad, and cut the high costs to New York Central, Delaware & Hudson and Boston & Maine were hampered by the “Rutland Milk“. The Rutland Milk took a winding route through northern NY State and Vermont, then was delivered to the NY Central Harlem Division at Chatham for delivery to NY City. The last run over the Rutland’s “Corkscrew” division to Chatham was in May, 1953 (they had no other business on that line). After the “corkscrew” was shut down, Rutland Milk ran via B&M & NYC using trackage rights from Troy and Rensselaer to Chatham. The Rutland had no ownership in the Troy Union Railroad – they operated as B&M trains between White Creek and Troy. In 1959-1960, tracks in downtown Troy were torn up except one for the “Rutland Milk” . This track came out in 1964, after abandonment of the Rutland.
The tunnel for the tracks was between Congress and Ferry Streets.

Join a group devoted to the Troy & Schenectady Railroad  http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/T_SRR/

The Troy and Schenectady Railroad: What If It Still Existed Today?