OFFICIAL FREIGHT SHIPPERS GUIDE AND INDUSTRIAL DIRECTORY 1922
No topic is as well-covered locally as the Delaware & Hudson. Which means that it is difficult to write anything “new” about it. However, I discovered an “OFFICIAL FREIGHT SHIPPERS GUIDE AND INDUSTRIAL DIRECTORY” which was published in 1922 by the Cooperstown Press. It was edited by Warwick S. Carpenter and was overseen by George S.Bates, Assistant to General Manager for Industrial Development.
The book starts off with a listing of the officers and key employees of the railroad. Some of these names are familiar from other material on the road: L.F. Loree-President; J.T. Loree-General Manager; F. Murray Olyphant. Others were interesting:
Equipment received extensive coverage. The D&H had just purchased a “big hook” with 160 ton capacity for $44,418.98 (this seemed a lot since by 1940 a 4-6-6-4 “Challenger” cost $178,900 and a couple of years later a 1000 hp. diesel switcher was $79,039).
The D&H was still in the street railway business.
Interesting to me were routes that no longer exist. A branch went through Sharon Springs to Cherry Valley.
The bulk of the book listed the businesses served by the railroad. Many familiar (today) names showed up:
Wallace Armer Hardware
Most of the rest seem to have ended up like Albany Pierce-Arrow dealer Clark Leu!
D&H Milk Train
The D&H negotiated the joint trackage between Mechanicville and Crescent with the BHT&W while it was still separate from the Boston & Maine. The D&H had trackage rights on the Troy and Boston (and then B&M) from Troy to Eagle Bridge. The D&H’s R&W Milk train started from Green Island, crossed to Troy, ran on the B&M to Eagle Bridge, then picked up milk on the R&W (Rutland and Washington, D&H Washington Branch) to Castleton and Whitehall. Then it ran non-stop to Albany with the milk cars to the NYCRR for New York, and the engine and crew returned to Green Island. At certain points in history, the cars went to Troy instead of Albany. But no problem, there even used to be a local passenger train running between Albany and Troy.
A combination of Nickel Plate, Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and Delaware & Hudson could match the New York Central “Water-Level Route”.
National Lead extension from North Creek.
This extension was built by National Lead Co. and the Defense Plant Corporation (Federal agency) beginning in 1941. It was owned by the government for a long time because New York’s Conservation Department protested sale.
This 33-mile line through the Boreas River canyon to Sanford Lake (Tahawus) (1740 feet above sea level).was built between 1942 and 1943 by a Cohoes construction company.
Because of transportation costs (no railroad), the iron mines in the area never developed. For a while, ore was even hauled out on sleds by steam tractors. But changes in technology caused the titanium to suddenly become valuable. The titanium mineral, ilmenite, could be processed into titanium dioxide and be used to make things whiter. It became important for paints, chemical smokes and noncorrosive alloys for aircraft. Other sources were out of the United States so National Lead Company purchased the property. Construction was difficult because of many rock cuts, long fills and culverts. Diesels pulled trains on the extension from day one of operations. The mines helped bring the branch from decline to a money-maker for years. In 1979, the D&H ordered 100 open-top 100-ton hoppers to haul ilmenite (titanium ore) out of Sanford Lake. The mines are now closed.
The D&H to North Creek
It was the first railroad to go into the interior of the Adirondack Mountains. Begun in 1865, just after the Civil War, it was an attempt to tap the iron ore resources near Sanford Lake and connect with Great Lakes shipping at Sacketts Harbor (or Ogdensburg). It never reached the St. Lawrence but did finally reach the mines – in 1944!
The railroad was built by the Adirondack Company under the lead of Dr. Thomas C. Durant. Durant graduated from Albany Medical College, practiced surgery, then became a flour and grain exporter. He was involved in the construction of the Union Pacific and represented that company in the driving of the “Golden Spike” at Promentory Point, Utah. Beginning in downtown Saratoga Springs, it reached Wolf Creek in 1865, Thurman in 1869, and North Creek in 1871. As a matter of fact, it actually went 2.8 miles past North Creek station because the contract called for sixty miles of track. To fulfill the contract, a train was once run over the extension but it was unused until the 1944 extension.
The rich iron ore and titanium deposits near Sanford Lake was uncovered in the early 1800’s. Beginning in 1839, several ideas were developed to build railroads to tap this resource, but none made it until World War II. The early iron masters also discovered that the ore contained a “worthless” (to them) substance called titanium.
The Adirondack Company’s Railroad was sold to the Delaware & Hudson Railroad in 1889, operated independently for several years, and became part of the D&H on October 30, 1902.
Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President on September 14, 1901 in North Creek. At 4:39 a.m. he was on the station platform when he found out about President McKinley’s death. He immediately departed for Saratoga on a D&H extra.
Some minor discrepancies exist in mileage on the line because of station relocations, primarily the 1959 rerouting from downtown Saratoga Springs to the west edge of town.
Shown below are some of the various points on the line:
AD Cabin (1.1 miles).
Greenfield (6-7 miles) (600 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1927 but not listed in 1966 employee timetable.
Kings (9.2 miles) (600 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1927.
South Corinth (12.4 miles) (620 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1933.
Corinth (16.3 miles) (641 feet above sea level). A station until at least the end of passenger service, it was previously known as Jessup’s Landing. There is a large International Paper plant here.
Hadley (Lake Luzerne) (21.3 miles) (640 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948, was an important stage coach connection with a bridge over the Sacandaga River just south of the station.
Quarry Switch (25 miles) (630 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1927, it is not in the employee timetable but was an early passing siding.
Stony Creek (28.9 miles) (604 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948.
Warrensburg Junction (34.4 miles) (618 feet above sea level). Here a 3.5 mile spur to Warrensburg was built in 1905.
Thurman (34.6 miles) (618 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948.
The Glen (Friends Lake) (42.9 miles) (749 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948.
Riverside (48.9 miles) (885 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1948, it was known as Riparius Station. Stages left from here for Schroon Lake, Pottersville, Chestertown.
North Creek (56.5 miles now but 57.2 miles in 1875) (1028 feet above sea level). A station until at least 1956 (end of regular passenger service), it had numerous stagecoach connections.
“Milepost 60” (2.8 miles beyond North Creek station)(1037 feet above sea level). End of tracks until 1944.
Sanford Lake (Tahawus) (90 miles) (1740 feet above sea level). This extension was built by National Lead Co. and the Defense Plant Corporation (Federal agency) beginning in 1941. It was owned by the government for a long time because New York’s Conservation Department protested sale.
The railroad ran 4-4-0’s then 4-6-0 steam engines on the line. Early in the century there were two round trips daily between Saratoga Springs and North Creek with an extra trip in summer months. By the 1930’s it was down to one trip except in season. Year round service ran until 1956 then summer only for a few years.
The 1966 employee timetable shows Train 301 running daily except Sunday to Corinth (45 minutes) and returning as Train 302. Train 303 ran daily except Sunday to North Creek in two hours and ten minutes. It returned as Train 300. Train 303 could operate via the Warrensburg Branch as directed by the train dispatcher.
1966 speed limit was 40 mph except the trestle near Corinth which was 6 mph. The Warrensburg Branch was only 20 mph. Corinth and North Creek had part time (day) train order offices. There were yards at Corinth and North Creek (also at the ore mine in Sanford Lake). In addition, there were industrial tracks suitable for passing sidings at Kings, Thurman and Riverside.
Traditionally, traffic was passengers heading towards hotels, cottages and children’s camps. Freight carried was lumber, paper, and hides. Parlor cars and sleepers ran in summer.
Because of transportation costs (no railroad), the iron mines never developed. For a while, ore was even hauled out on sleds by steam tractors. But changes in technology caused the titanium to suddenly become valuable. The titanium mineral, ilmenite, could be processed into titanium dioxide and be used to make things whiter. It became important for paints, chemical smokes and noncorrosive alloys for aircraft. Other sources were out of the United States so National Lead Company purchased the property. The railroad was built by a Cohoes highway contractor who used the only coal burning engines ever run in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. Construction was difficult because of many rock cuts, long fills and culverts. Diesels pulled trains on the extension from day one of operations. The mines helped bring the branch from decline to a money-maker for years. In 1979, the D&H ordered 100 open-top 100-ton hoppers to haul ilmenite (titanium ore) out of Sanford Lake.
The railroad ran ski trains to North Creek in the 1930’s. In recent years, there has been talk of running again because of the large New York State ski center at Gore Mountain.
Inactive since the mine “dried up”, CP Rail wants to abandon from Corinth to North Creek. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) has granted Warren County $1.6 million to acquire the line for tourist or other uses.
D&H Troy Connections
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.
D&H Business Car at Colonie Shops 1960’s
Rouses Point became an incorporated village in 1877, and grew quickly to a population of over 2,000 by 1892. The Delaware and Hudson Railroad opened a station, connecting the village to New York City and Montreal. The Rutland Railroad crossed the D&H here on its way from Ogdensburg across Lake Champlain to Vermont.
Ever wonder where D&H sales offices where?
Here’s the list from two representative years:
1964 when the “old” D&H was still real;
and 1983 when the D&H was almost gone
1964 Official Guide and 1983 Guide: D&H Sales Offices
|City||1964 Address||1983 Address|
|Albany, NY||Delaware and Hudson Building 12207||Delaware and Hudson Building 12207 (but different building!)|
|Atlanta, GA||Room 701, 101 Marietta Street Building 30303||290 Scott Hudgens Bldg, 3420 Norman Berry Drive, Hapeville, GA 30354|
|Boston, MA||1101 North Station Building (150 Causeway Street) 02114||(no office)|
|Buffalo, NY||601 Bank of Buffalo Building 14202||1285 William Street 14206|
|Chicago, IL||Room 840, 327 South La Salle Building 60604||2725 N Thatcher Ave, Room 501, River Grove, IL 60171|
|Cleveland, OH||1237 Terminal Tower Building 44113||825 Engineers Building, 1365 Ontario Street 44114|
|Edison, NJ||(see New York City)||505 Thornall Street 08837|
|Houston, TX||(no office)||PO Box 52364|
|Montréal, QC||1117 Ste Catherine St West (formerly in the Keefer Building at 698 Ste Catherine Street)||1117 Ste Catherine St West|
|New York, NY||360 Lexington Avenue 10017||(see Edison, NJ)|
|Philadelphia, PA||308 Transportation Center Building 19103||(no office)|
|Pittsburgh, PA||2818 Koppers Building 15219||252 Colonial Drive 15216|
|Portland, ME||310 Congress Building 04101||(no office)|
|San Francisco, CA||457 Monadnock Building 94105||(No office)|
|Scranton, PA||703 Wyoming Avenue 18509||(See Taylor, PA)|
|St Louis, MO||2084 Railway Exchange Building 63101||(Taylor, PA location with St Louis phone)|
|Taylor, PA||(See Scranton, PA)||354 N Main Street 18517|
|Winston-Salem, NC||1410 Reynolds Building 27101||(No office)|
One of the most interesting locations (other than the “old” D&H Building in Albany) was part of North Station and the old Boston Garden. It was taken down with the Garden and now there’s a big hole where 150 Causeway Street used to be, due to Big Dig construction — it’s at the point where the underground highway comes up to the surface to reach the new Charles River bridge. It was the Boston & Maine headquarters too. B&M had moved headquarters functions to North Billerica in the 1970s and 1980’s in order to save the rent money they were paying to the building’s owner. It was also the home office of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. 150 Causeway was also the home of XTRA Leasing (intermodal trailers) and Sam Pinsley’s shortline empire (StJ&LC, CLCO, M&B, S&S, F&C, S&E and HT&W). 150 Causeway Street was a seperate building from North Station. There was a small alleyway between the two buildings that contained the trackage of the Union Freight Railroad. This alleyway was also used by the REX and mail trucks that serviced the REX building alongside the alleyway.
The Story of Anthracite: How Coal Played a Role in the History of the D&H
When many of us were growing up, our homes were heated by “hard coal”. Once we went to school, we learned that it was called “Anthracite” and was mined in Pennsylvania. Oil and gas were called the “lazy man’s fuel”.
It wasn’t until 1828 that this fuel was introduced to New York City. It was hauled by wagon from Carbondale to Honesdale and shipped 108 miles through the Delaware and Hudson Canal to Kingston. The Indians knew, of course, but it wasn’t until just before the Revolutionary War that a blacksmith in Wilkes-Barre began to use it. Pennsylvania used it to forge arms for soldiers at Carlisle.
Early efforts to introduce anthracite to Philadelphia failed as people thought it was a scam to sell black stones for fuel. In 1808, Jesse Fell of Wilkes-Barre burned it in his home on an iron grate and found it to be cheaper and cleaner than wood. This time, vendors took grates to Philadelphia and opened a new market.
Before the War of 1812, factories here used soft (bituminous) coal from England. War cut off supplies and some shifted to anthracite. Two drygoods merchants from Philadelphia, William and Maurice Wurts, advocated this shift and either purchased or were paid for war supplies with coal lands near Carbondale. During 1814 and 1815, they explored the region extensively. With the help of David Nobles, who went on to become the first employee of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, they bought additional coal-bearing lands. The mountains made Philadelphia difficult to reach so they looked at moving coal to New York. This decision was firmed up when coal also began going to Philadelphia from the Lehigh and Schuylkill regions. Their idea to cross the Moosie Mountains to the Lackawaxen River with a railroad then build a canal to the Hudson River grew to become the Delaware and Hudson Company.
The Wurts brothers went to New York and found investors including Governor DeWitt Clinton. The Delaware and Hudson Canal Company was chartered on April 23, 1823 by the New York State legislature. At the same time, Pennsylvania granted permission to canalize the Lackawaxen River from Wagner’s to the Delaware.
Potential investors saw the fuel demonstrated in the Tontine Coffee House on Wall Street in New York and proceeded to oversubscribe the stock. Ground was broken for the canal in 1825 and it was completed by 1828. Upon leaving the Hudson near Kingston, it followed the Rondout Valley, crossed Shawangunk Mountain, followed the Neversink Valley to the Delaware which it followed to the Lackawaxen and then on to Honesdale. The 108-mile canal could carry 30-ton boats. It had 110 locks. Maximum tonnage through the canal was 1864 when over 1,900,000 tons of coal were shipped. The superiority of rail ended the canal in 1898; but during its history the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company became the first million dollar private enterprise in the United States. It lead to the first suspension aqueducts which were built by John A. Roebling of Brooklyn Bridge fame. The first underground anthracite mine was in Carbondale and eventually dozens more were developed. Giant collieries dominated the landscape above ground through the 1940’s. Also known as “breakers”, they were manufacturing plants which took raw coal and converted it into a marketable product.
The history of coal is also the story of the development of rail transportation. Unique to a number of localities in the eastern part of the United States were gravity railroads. The most famous of these connected the coal mines in the Lackawanna River valley below Carbondale with the Delaware & Hudson canal at Honesdale. Originally it was largely a cable railway by which cars were raised to the summit of the mountain east of Carbondale, it was soon rebuilt to utilize gravity as much as possible. It then consisted of a series of inclined planes on which the cars were hauled to gain elevation. Between these planes were “levels” (downward grades not exceeding 1%). The same idea is used with roller coasters.
The railroad was built between 1826 and 1829. On August 8 of that year, the first running of a locomotive in America occurred. the “Stourbridge Lion” ran from Honesdale to Prompton. John B. Jervis, the chief engineer, recommended steam locomotives on some of the levels. The Canal Co. had retained Horatio Allen to purchase iron rails and locomotives in England. He contracted George Stephenson for two locomotives: the “America” and the “Stourbridge Lion”. The “Lion” weighed seven tons, was 12 feet long, and five feet in diameter. It could travel five miles an hour and pull 36 carriages each containing two tons of coal. Unfortunately, it did not prove practical for use on the “Gravity”.
Leaving the mines, the railroad had to climb nearly 950 feet in the first four miles. The descent into Honesdale was about the same. The total distance was about 17 miles. It was constructed along a route which was 90% virgin forest. The rails were supported on trestles for about a third of the line’s length. Ties were made from hemlocks in the surrounding forest. The inclined planes were single track with a passing siding in the middle. Stationary steam engines, with chains the length of the plane, were used on the western side of the mountain. These could pull three to five loaded cars. The three planes descending towards Honesdale used gravity without steam. The descending loaded cars pulled the empties up the hill. On other levels, horses were used because locomotives such as the “Stourbridge Lion, were too weak.
Accidents were frequent because “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Strong hemp ropes, then wire ropes, were substituted for the chains. In 1837, one of the horse-operated planes was replace by water power. Locomotive power was finally used when the line was extended in 1860. At its peak, over 5,000 coal cars were in use. The line even had passenger service. By the 1870’s, the road had been modified such that the loaded track and the light (return) track followed entirely different routes. This led to the expression: “It is twenty miles from Honesdale to Carbondale and sixteen miles from Carbondale to Honesdale”.
The line was converted to a standard gauge steam railroad when the canal was abandoned. Coal cars were delivered to the Erie Railroad at Honesdale. This line operated both freight and passenger until abandonment in 1931. Visitors to Carbondale can still see remnants of this famous line including the shops, one of which now holds a restaurant. An old station has been preserved and some stone arches are visible along U.S. Route 6.
Oneonta Roundhouse: once the largest roundhouse in the World
“This roundhouse was built in 1906 on a large piece of property which extended from Fonda Avenue to Richard’s Crossing, approximately 350 acres, “thereby bestowing upon Oneonta the distinction of hosting the largest roundhouse in the world, a claim that went unchallenged for over a quarter of century.” (From The Oneonta Roundhouse by Jim Loudon) The roundhouse itself was over 400 feet in diameter with a 75 foot turntable. There were 52 stalls and it said to be the largest roundhouse in the world. The economic climate of Oneonta benefitted greatly from the usage of this facility. In 1924 a new turntable, 105 feet long, was installed to accommodate the longest locomotives. When the use of steam power gave way to diesel power, the activity began to diminish. In 1954 the demolition of the structure started and 36 stalls were gone. The others were rented to companies for storage. In 1993 the rest of the roundhouse was demolished.”
RENSSELAER AND SARATOGA RAILROAD
This road was chartered April 14, 1832. The articles of incorporation named as the first directors John Cramer, Elisha Tibbets, John Knickerbacker, Richard P. Hart, Townsend McCann, Nathan Warren, Stephen Warren, LeGrand Cannon, George Vail, Moses Williams, John P. Cashin and John Paine. John Knickerbacker and John House, of Waterford; Stephen Warren, William Pierce, William Haight, James Cook and Joel Lee, of Ballston Spa, were designated as commissioners to open the books of subscription. Completed Green Island to Ballston Spa (25.0 mi.) 1835. Work was commenced the following year, and on October 6, 1835, the first passenger train north bound, left Troy. The northern terminus of the road was near the present depot in Ballston Spa. While this road extended as far north as Ballston Spa, only the Schenectady and Saratoga Railroad had been built as far north as Saratoga Springs; the latter road thereby receiving a majority of the traffic between Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa. As soon as the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad had been completed, an agreement was entered into with the other road whereby the passengers and traffic of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Road might be carried on north of Ballston Spa over the tracks of the Saratoga road.
This road finally went into the hands of the creditors, and was purchased by a new organization, which raised the capital stock to $600,000, and later to $800,000. In June, 1860, it leased the Saratoga and Schenectady and the Albany and Vermont Railroads. All these with other additions subsequently passed into the possession of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co. Leased to Delaware & Hudson Canal Co. 1871
The original Rensselaer & Saratoga ran from Troy to Saratoga Springs. Here is the current status (2008), in segments from south to north:
– trackage in Troy that pre-dated the Troy Union Railroad was abandoned about 1954
– last operation over the Green Island Bridge was about 1964
– trackage in the Village of Green Island is still in place but has been embargoed and out of service since about 2000. CP has filed with the STB for abandonment and a former shipper has filed an offer to purchase the line and operate it as an independent short line (called an OFA). The Village of Green Island has filed in support of abandonment, in opposition to the OFA (NIMBY driven).
– from Green Island to Waterford Junction was abandoned in the late 1970s.
– from Waterford Junction to Mechanicville is in service as the CP Colonie Main
– From Mechanicville to a point just a coouple of miles west is in service as the Freight Main
– from west of Mechanicville to Burnt Hillls was abandoned about 1967
– from Burnt Hills to Saratoga Springs is in service as the CP Canadian Main Line, except for line relocations in the mid- late-50s around downtown Ballston Spa and downtown Saratoga Springs.
R&S expanded to many other lines before D&H took over in the early 1870s, but here is just the orignal R&S.
Presidents of the D&H….the best?
From a railfans standpoint, C.B. Sterzing would win hands down. He did the most to promote the D&H and its employees through a trying period of bankruptcy surrounding the railroad with the downfall of PC and others. He fought strongly for the D&H to remain independent. He stepped on quite a few toes in high places to keep the D&H afloat and this ultimately caused his removal.
L.F. Loree was the ultimate tough manager who it ended up had a soft side. His brash demeanor and no nonsense approach to the running of the railroad was offset by his efforts to keep “the men” working during the depression years by keeping the railroad in tip top shape. Noted for his introduction of welded rail in 1933, razor straight ballast edges and who could forget his favorite automatic stoker, the strong back of a fireman with a coal scoop).
|Here’s the ranking of % of freight revenue from anthracite in 1913 (just before the peak of anthracite — 1919):|
|Wilkes Barre & Eastern||85.9|
|Take the top 6 — and CNJ and Reading fall out of the picture! Well, that can’t be right. So, let’s rank by anthracite revenues (in millions):|
| In 1921 the L.F. Loree breaker produced 1,590,201 tons of anthracite and in 1926 there were just over 3,000 employees at the colliery.
Read more about coal breakers on the D&H
Railroad Station at Troy, New York
The station in Troy was owned by the Troy Union Rail Road. The TURR lasted from the mid 19th Century till the mid 20th Century. It was owned by the New York Central, Delaware & Hudson and Boston & Maine. Access from the South was from Rensselaer; from the West, via the Green Island Bridge; from the North was street running almost the entire length of Troy. See Penney’s blog for more information (and a great movie from the 1950’s).
The “D&H Transfer” runs through the station, headed for the Green Island Bridge
The Delaware & Hudson discontinued passenger service to Lake George in the Fall of 1956. The railroad then abandoned the Lake George branch, Glens Falls – Lake George, nine miles, in 1957.
At one time, the Steamboat Company was a D&H subsidiary (you could take a train to Lake George, steamboat to Baldwin (south end of the Ticonderoga Branch), and then train again) so I think their ownership of the station goes all the way back to when the D&H sold the Steamboat Company. According to a book on the history of the Steamboat Company, that was in 1939 so it’s not clear how that really worked unless the D&H retained a right to use the station as part of the sale. From pictures in the book, the current road between the station and the steamboard pier did not exist – that road appears to all be fill that moved the shoreline out so that back in the day, the station was essentially part of the pier. Other pictures show trains on the pier (the original pier, not today’s Steel Pier) but I think also from the original station (the current station was built in 1911). The details in the book are sketchy but imply that from 1867 to 1875, the Lake George branch was essentially the main line of the Rensselaer and Saratoga (later acquired by the D&H) with a trip from Albany to Montreal being train to Lake George, lake steamer to Baldwin, stagecoach to Ticonderoga, and then a Lake Champlain steamer further north (and probably back to land transportation for the last distance to Montreal). But in 1875, the current D&H main through Whitehall and along Lake Champlain opened.
One of those bike paths is the old ROW. If you follow it you will see old telephone poles in the woods still there and there is an old through girder span that crosses a road further up. I think the tracks ended just about the area of the Station. One or two tracks went into the lake, as a boat launch. They used to haul the old mahogany Chris Craft style boats on boxcars and launch them there. I think there is still a sign there by the lake for the track. I think there is still like 200FT still underwater.
The bike path to Glens Falls is mostly on the D&H ROW although at points it moves over to the parallel old (abandoned in the ’30s I think) interurban right-of-way. The power lines mark the interurban ROW (as they do in many, many places in the U.S.), not the D&H ROW. I have no idea what the interurban did when it got to Lake George Village. As you get towards Glens Falls, the ROW has been severed by a golf course and the bike path takes to roads. And of course it’s severed at Lake George by the miniature golf course and by the battlefield park the OP was at. As mentioned above, one bridge is still intact and is used by the bike path to cross route 9L south of the Village. I believe it is still lettered for the D&H.
| Lamenting on the loss of the historic piece of track referred to as the Albany Main.
Bridge over the Normanskill is a through truss bridge without enough vertical clearance for double stacks. It is an iron bridge, built in 1884, but it could still rate for heavy loads.
The biggest problem is an unstable subgrade in the south approach, along with several more miles of unstable subgrade along the line near Altamont. Permanent repair or continued maintenance of the soil problems would be expensive under heavy railroad traffic. The profile and alignment of the railroad make it very difficult to handle heavy trains.
The ruling grade southbound is 1.33 percent, just about the same as Richmondville Hill. A heavy train would need pushers, and that would be inefficient. D&H never ran heavy trains southbound on the Albany Main.
August 17, 1956: last run on the Cherry Valley Branch
Up until probably the mid ’80’s there was alot of tracks in Cobleskill. KSI Industries/Klein Woodworking had a track which went across MacArthur Ave right through where the Bridge Apartments now stand. Once the track got into KSI property it had 2 more tracks off of it there. On the opposite side of Agway, and slightly North/East was a track for the lumber yard there, I think it used to be Briggs. Just West of there, on the same side of the tracks was the branch connection for the Cherry Valley Branch, torn up by around 1956. There were several more sidings towards Cobleskill Coal, and there was an LPG (Amerigas?) on the South side of the tracks near the fairgrounds. If you walk the pedestrian overpass you can see how many more tracks used to be there, just by seeing how long that bridge is there.
In Seward, at the intersection od RTE 165 and Slate Hill RD, there is an old Station on the North side of 165, and then south, there is a park that filled in what was left of the roadbed, formerly a sewer before the water system was put in in the mid to late 80’s. South from there, down behind the highway department, you should still be able to find most of the ROW along the lake behind the highway department.
The Cherry Valley Fire Dept. is now housed in the former D&H freighthouse. Some LCL freight would come in on the rear steps of the caboose. Shipway used to get Int’l Harvester equip. on flat cars from time to time. At one time Borden had a creamery in Cherry Valley but this was gone by the end of WW II. Everything was gone by the end of 1956.
The junction was right next to the Warnerville Cutoff grade crossing, in fact the branch used to duck under the cutoff road. The highway overpass was filled in in the 1980s. There’s a NYS historic marker on Route 10 marking the spot.
If you drive up Rte 10 from Cobleskill to Sharon Springs you can see the right of way a number of times. Sharon Springs depot still stands, pretty good shape. Inside is still pretty much as built.
Note that the ROW crosses Route 20 TWICE, once just West of Sharon Springs, once around Cherry Valley on the overpass. RR came into town from the northeast. One interesting note: this bridge was built at the very end of operations, probably hosted fewer than 20 round trips. Completion of the fancy rebuild of Rte 20 allowed truck transport of milk, which doomed the RR.
Sheffield Farms Creamery in Seward on abandoned Cherry Valley Branch in 1913
Find out more about milk trains in Central New York
The Cherry Valley Branch began in 1860 as the Cherry Valley & Sprakers RR. In 1864 it became CV & Mohawk River RR; then in 1869 CV, Sharon & Albany RR. Finally in 1908 the D&H bought it. The Cherry Valley Branch: August 17 1956 Last run. Find out more history of the Cherry Valley branch.
Photo courtesy of New York State Archives. Education Dept. Division of Visual Instruction.
There was a special platform at Sing Sing Prison. It was on track 3 and was about eighty feet long. It was enclosed in heavy steel mesh. Prisoners had cuffs on both wrists ans ankles and a chain connecting both so that they could not completely walk upright. A coach would be added to a train with the toilet doors removed for prisoners going from Sing Sing to Dannemora. I believe that the car used had some provision for a device for a device at each seat for attaching hand cuffs.
The prison station on the D&H near (south of) Whitehall was Comstock. It was closed as a passenger station (flag stop) around 1959. There was also Dannemora Prison (later renamed Clinton Correctional Facility) west of Plattsburgh on the Chataugay Branch. The prisoners for Dannemora once moved on the D&H all the way, but after WWII passenger service was discontinued, and they rode a bus from Plattsburgh.
The former Plattsburg and Dannemora Railroad was built by New York State to serve the prison, and was later leased to the D&H. The D&H maintained and operated it, and handled all material for the upkeep and operation of the prison (mostly coal) between Plattsburgh and Dannemora at no charge to the state.
It’s ironic that the Village of Sing Sing was renamed Ossining to avoid the stigma associated with the name of the prison. Then the state changed the name of the prison to Ossining Correctional Facility. But, it’s still “Sing Sing” in the old movies!
Penn Division torn up?
The section between Ninevah and Starucca was kept in place for high and wide loads to get around Belden Tunnel. Once the tunnel was enlarged the line under Starrucca was pulled. Tunnel work was done in the later half of 1985. Remaining track south of Ninevah was pulled I would guess in 1986 by Guilford (they were good at that). They even took or sold off the ballast.
The Route 17 highway bridge over the tracks was removed I am guessing by 1990. Most of the bridges over other roads were taken out around that time too. I remember going to Binghamton on Route 17 and construction to remove the bridge was on-going at the time. Again I would guess around or by 1990.
Old Oneonta Station
Prior to 1980, Oneonta was the main yard for the D&H. Every train that operated on the original D&H came through Oneonta. Oneonta was the throat of the railroad. Trains to and from Wilkes Barre, Buttonwood and the Penn Division all came to Oneonta for classification. Trains for Mechanicville and Kenwood came there as well. The yard had a southbound receiving, classification yard, and advanced yard. Trains were received in the receiving yard, then sent over the hump to the classification yard and then moved to the advanced yard where the trains were made up. The advanced yard was as far south a Glens Bridge Road. There were almost 100 miles of track in the Oneonta yard. There was also a northbound receiving and classification yard as well as several smaller yards inside. Oneonta was the main car-shop for the railroad. The Diesel shop was at Fonda Avenue. The main brake, wheel, boxcar, and paint shops were at Oneonta. After dieselization the round house was no longer a vital part of the road. All but 16 of the 52 stalls were torn down. The remaining 16 were used by MOW. There was a public team track as well as a auto unloading track. There were numerous businesses that received freight at Oneonta.