Tag Archives: troy union railroad

Origins of the Troy Union Railroad Company

Extracted from History of Troy, New York (part 2)



Organization of the Troy Union Railroad company. As we have seen, the first tracks of the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad, which were also used by the Schenectady & Troy Railroad company, were laid from the Green Island bridge down River Street to First and thence to the front of the Athenaeum building. Soon after the opening of these roads the business men of Troy and others began to complain of the inconvenience caused by running cars on these streets, particularly on River Street, the principal business thoroughfare. This feeling finally culminated in a general desire that the tracks be taken up and removed to some other street where the running of the cars would not so seriously interfere with local street traffic and general business. Consequently, on petition of the citizens of Troy, the Legislature, June 20, 1851, authorized the city and the different railroad companies to form a stock company for the construction of a railroad through a part or the whole of the city. In accordance with this permission the Troy Union Railroad company was organized July 21 of the same year. The work of construction was delayed some time for the purpose of determining-the streets which might best be set apart for the new railroad, and it was not until December 3, 1852, that the city authorities granted the company a franchise to use each side of Sixth street, between Fulton and Albany streets, for a passenger depot, and to change the course of Sixth Street at that point if necessary. Soon after this the work of construction was begun. March 14, 1853, the company purchased of Orsamus Eaton his property, located on the site chosen for a depot, and the erection of that structure was begun. New tracks connecting with the Troy & Greenbush railroad were laid on Sixth street, and another line was laid to the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad bridge.

Meantime other plans for the betterment of Troy’s railroad facilities were in progress. The ownership of the Schenectady & Troy railroad, and its operation and maintenance, had proven a heavy burden for the city and soon after the organization of the Troy Union Railroad company a number of citizens petitioned the Common Council to sell the Schenectady & Troy railroad for as large a sum as it would bring. Six months afterward the committee to whom the matter had been referred for investigation reported in favor of selling the road for not less than $200,000. January 24, 1853, a committee consisting of Mayor George Gould, Recorder Gilbert Robertson, jr., Alderman Jonathan Edwards, Alderman Foster Bosworth, Russell Sage and D. Thomas Vail were appointed a committee to make the sale at not less than the price mentioned. In accordance with its instructions the committee contracted to sell the road to B. D. Morgan for $200,000, March 1, 1853, who was to pay $50,000 cash upon that date and the balance in fourteen years, with six per cent, semi-annual interest after March 1, 1858. The new owner entered into an agreement with the city to keep the road in good condition and to fulfill the agreement between the city and the Troy Union Railroad company. The sale was immediately confirmed by the Common Council and the necessary papers signed by the mayor.The Troy Union railroad and its large new depot were opened for business February 22, 1854, when a banquet was given on the upper floor of the building. Five new passenger cars brought from Albany, by way of Greenbush, 425 invited guests, including 125 members of the State Legislature, then in session, several of whom made addresses speaking in most flattering terms of the great enterprise of the people of Troy. From this time on the interests of the various railroads centering in Troy were indissolubly linked together, and it may be said that on February 22, 1854, a new era of prosperity opened, not only for Troy’s railroads but for all its diversified interests.

Find out more about the Troy Union Rail Road



The Boston & Maine (B&M) did get down to the Hudson River. It had a line called the Adams Street railway which went to the Hudson somewhere around River Street. The trackage was either in the street or beside it. A plan I saw, quite old, had a lot of trackage there. The Adams Street trackage was south of Union Station. The City of Troy was anxious to have the railroads move out of the downtown area and demolish Union Station. With the termination of the remaining passenger operations in Troy, B & M 1958, D & H and NYC about the same time, this goal was realized. However, the Rutland was using B & M-NYC trackage rights to reach Chatham, NY via Troy. As long as the Rutland operated, trains (like the “fabled Rutland Milk”) continued to run right through the downtown section of Troy. The Rutland shut down for good during the 1961 strike; the Vermont section was bought by the State of Vermont, but the trackage rights expired. By about 1963 or 1964 the B & M/NYC connection at Troy was broken and the B & M sold its Adams Street railway trackage to the New York Central (was not included in the B&M share of the Troy Union Railroad).

You can trace the Troy & Boston (B&M)’s old main line from Valley Falls down through Melrose to Troy.Passenger service was discontinued in 1958, and the rails between Hoosick Falls and Troy were taken up around 1973. The section from Lansingburgh to downtown Troy is now a paved bike trail. 

The B&M down to Troy was inland of the Hudson River and would not have any transfer facilities. The yard was in North Troy, but not on the canal. Only the D&H crossed the Hudson at Green Island. 

 Did the B&M/T&B get freight from the Erie Canal? And what freight would it be? Grain moving east from Buffalo & the Great Lakes would most likely go to the Port of Albany or NY City for export or local use. Salt, which did go by barge in the Syracuse & Rochester area probably would have been loaded at the mine directly into cars. It would make more sense to directly load a railroad car at the source of the commodity than incurring the transload cost and building the transload facility. The T&B connected with the NY Central and West Shore which paralleled the Canal and made the Canal un-competitive for most goods within 15 years of its 1825 completion – as the railroads did with most canals. I guess my question would be “Did the T&B interchange with the Erie Canal at all?”

Just because the T&B was on the east bank of the Hudson and the Erie Canal was on the west bank, it doesn’t mean they could not have interchanged. Canal’s often used bridges called “change bridges” to cross rivers or change the tow path from one side to another. There was a change bridge to allow the Erie and Champlain canals to meet, as the they were on opposite sides of the Hudson. If you can track down the history of change bridges in Waterford and Troy, you may find answers about likely locations of interchange. However, you should also look at the dams and slackwater operations in Troy. You may find that canal boats crossed the Hudson in slackwater, without mule power.

That would be my question, too. By the time the Hoosac Tunnel was actually completed, in 1875, the rail network was well enough established that canal/rail transload at Troy would have been unlikely since most of the goods on the canal were lower-value bulk freight (salt, grain, etc.) 

When the T&B was first opened in 1859, I’d think it more likely that any interchange at Troy would have been with regular Hudson River vessels rather than the Erie Canal per se- which probably would have been accomplished by drayage through the streets of the town.

 Maybe the reason is as old as the hills: the hills. Looking for a relatively low grade and lower-cost ROW would have been a major determinant. East of Mechanicville, in particular, the search would have been for a relatively economic crossing of the Hudson, based on approach topography and riverbed conditions. West of Mechanicville, Rotterdam Junction may be CSX now and earlier Conrail and PC and NYC, but before those entities, it was the West Shore Railroad, the Fitchburg’s then-non-competitive connection to the west. It was probably superb economic/political sense to have a ROW alignment with the D&H west of Mechanicville, both because the D&H had done the surveying and because the D&H was a connection for coal and other traffic. Troy was a primarily passenger operation with NYC connections to and from the west. When passenger service ended there, the Troy-Johnsonville line did a quick vanishing act.

 The history of the whole route is convoluted, but the simple version is that the Vanderbilt-owned New York Central was allied to the Boston & Albany, which in turn did its damndest to kill the Hoosac Tunnel route even before it was completed. Thus whoever operated through the tunnel would want a connection with a non-Vanderbilt road on the west. The West Shore– the New York, West Shore & Buffalo– was a competitor of the Central and would give the Fitchburg access to the west via connections at Buffalo/Niagara Falls with the Pennsylvania, the Nickel Plate, and the Grand Trunk.

Ultimately the West Shore, which had fallen into the hands of the Pennsylvania, was sold to the Central in 1885 in return for the Central’s abandoning construction of the South Pennsylvania Railroad (now the route of the Pennsylvania Turnpike), in a deal basically forced upon the companies by J. Pierpont Morgan (who wasn’t a fan of wasteful competition)… leaving the Hoosac Tunnel Route right back where it started in terms of a western connection.

So the Troy & Boston was primarily a passenger line connecting to the Fitchburg line, it seems likely that there was not much commercial freight coming from Troy on the T&B. So where was most of the freight coming from? Much further west? My assumption was that the Hoosac Tunnel was made to connect with the Erie canal, but perhaps by the time the tunnel was finally completed 25 years later, the canal wasn’t playing the important role it was at the outset of the project. I’m interested in finding the origin of any freight in the Albany/Troy/Cohoes area that rode the Fitchburg line.



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.

Abandonment of Train Service to Troy, New York


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?