Maybrook Railroad Historical Society
A DECADE IN THE NEWS:
MAYBROOK YARD IN THE 1940’S
As Orange County’s largest railroad facility and one of the area’s foremost employers as well, Maybrook Yard was often in the news. The railroad industry still employed thousands of county residents in the Erie’s Port Jervis Yard, the O&W’s Middletown yard and the L&HR’s Warwick yard in addition to over a thousand at Maybrook Yard. In addition, many local businesses depended on the railroads for freight service or served as suppliers to the railroads. Long distance passenger trains still ran through the county as well. Thus, it was not surprising that the railroad industry was accorded a significant amount of space in local newspapers. For America, the 1940’s were dominated by World War II. For the American railroad industry the wartime traffic surge and the steam to diesel transition on road freights were two of the foremost events. However, strikes by and affecting railroaders were also newsworthy events as was the introduction of new technology. Two of the events reported, the dieselization of road freights and the projected St. Lawrence Seaway, would have major long-term consequences for the industry as the first would greatly reduce railroad employment while improving profitability while the second would divert significant tonnage and revenues away from the railroad industry. This issue presents a collection of newspaper articles, relating to Maybrook Yard, which appeared throughout the decade. Some articles report on events that have happened and should be rather accurate. Other articles report on proposals, some of which never came to fruition. Wartime limitations limited publicity concerning railroad operations. Perhaps it is fitting that the final two articles report on a visit by GM’s Train of Tomorrow for Maybrook Yard ended the decade as a vital transportation facility with a seemingly secure future. Scanning and digitization of many of the newspapers preserved on micro-fiche at Middletown’s Thrall Library has made it possible to randomly search this large newspaper archive from my home computer. May Revive Freight Job in Maybrook 9/25/1941 (This article appeared in a Maybrook paper) After more than six years of idleness, the freight transfer platforms of the New Haven Railroad may hum with activity in the near future, according to indications current in the terminal. Officials of the railroad are understood to be giving serious consideration to reopening the platforms, and a decision is expected within two or three days. A party of railroad officials, headed by Henry Fairfield, assistant to the General Manager, of New Haven, Conn., inspected the long platforms on Tuesday. Their findings were not revealed, but it is quite certain some repair work will be needed if the docks are to be put into use again. The platforms were shut down in March, 1935. For about 30 years before that time, they had been in constant use, transferring and classifying freight bound from the Middle West and other sections of the country, to points in New England. Transfer cars sent to the platforms are those which carry cargo for more than one destination. These cars are unloaded and their contents re-classified, so that all the cargo in any car goes to one place.
Once during their long period of service, the twin platforms attracted wide attention. That was in 1915, when a spectacular fire caused more than a million dollars of damage. It was reported at the time that several cars of munitions bound for the Allies were included in the train which was being handled and the possibility of sabotage by German agents came under official investigation. Whether such sabotage was ever definitely determined has not been revealed. The platforms were badly damaged and had to be virtually rebuilt. They continued in service until 1935, when the work diminished to such an extent that the railroad combined it with work being done at the Cedar Hill yards in Connecticut. When the job was discontinued, about 15 men had been employed. Many of these were transferred to Cedar Hill, and possibly may be returned there (SIC) if the reopening materializes. Local railroad officials speculated that work available at the present time might require a force between 40 and 50 men. Another change will be noted if the platforms reopen. Prior to their closing, they were operated hauled trains (SIC) of small cars along the platforms, stopping at various freight cars to pick up freight. The present condition of the platforms probably would not permit use of tractors, and hand trucks are expected to be used. If continued use warranted, tractor facilities might be added later. Six years of idleness have caused considerable deterioration. Floors and roofs are badly in need of repair. It would be possible to use the platforms for emergency service in their present condition, but it would be impractical during rainy weather, because of leakage through the roof, which would be detrimental to much of the freight cargo. It is estimated that 45 to 50 cars of transfer freight are available in the local yards daily. This freight is now handled at Cedar Hill, where it is reportedly swelling the volume of work beyond capacity. Plan to Re-use Freight Shift At Maybrook 10/02/1941 (This article appeared in a Middletown paper) Repair and re-use of the abandoned freight transfer platform in the Maybrook railroad yards, is a possibility it was admitted by New York, New Haven and Hartford officials who visited Maybrook. The so called platform, in reality a vast transfer landing for assembling and reloading freight shipments, has been out of use since transfer work for New England was moved from Maybrook in 1935 to the Cedar Hill yards in Connecticut. Repair of the platform would require considerable work. Re-use of the platform would employ about 40 men. Supply of Water in Storage Drops Near Crisis Mark 12/02/1941 (excerpts) At Maybrook, the water shortage has caused a serious problem to officials of the New Haven Railroad which has been drawing upon the village supply at the rate of 100,000 gallons a day since Friday. The railroad reservoir, it was revealed, has fallen so low that railroad officials said they felt it wise to turn to the village supply, which is obtained from a large well. Fred Decker, filter plant operator, said the supply was adequate for the village but not sufficient for both the village and railroad for any extended period. If the supply becomes more serious the railroad may haul water to Maybrook by tank car. Men Assigned to Raid Posts in Maybrook 12/13/1941 (excerpts) Members of the executive group of senior wardens (editor-Maybrook air wardens) decided to notify officials of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad of the setup which had been arranged and to suggest that the railroad take similar action on an air raid warden system with men on duty in the railroad yards to supplement the wardens which the village would assign to the railroad area.
Peak Traffic Through Maybrook Yard 3/29/1943 (Not a newspaper article) World War II generated the highest traffic levels ever through Maybrook Yard. The record-setting day was March 29, 1943 when the New Haven delivered 24 freights with 1,665 cars and its connections delivered 29 trains with 1,826 cars for a total of 53 trains and 3,491 cars received. To these totals one must add a similar, but unknown, number of trains that originated at Maybrook. Peak traffic on the Maybrook Line was also recorded in the same month as 26 freights with 1737 were delivered to Maybrook westbound on the 23rd while on the 24th, the New Haven moved 25 trains with 1766 cars eastward out of Maybrook. Employment also peaked at the yard during World War II with some 1,500 people on the payroll. Waterway Project Evokes Protest From New Chamber – 1/20/45 (excerpts) The proposed St. Lawrence Waterway, post-war housing and industrial development are matters of great importance to this community and it affected this week a Chamber of Commerce organization with a large membership inspired by a determination to make the most of both current and future opportunities. At its organization meeting Tuesday night in the Municipal Building the new Chamber adopted a resolution protesting the proposed St. Lawrence Waterway program, expressed approval of a report that fully $3.000.000 would be spent on improvement of the New Haven Railroad terminal and ….. The first, of the planned terminal improvements already is under way, it was reported, in the form of installation of pneumatic tubes for the transfer of papers from the main office to the receiving yard office three quarters of a mile away. J. Lowell McCarthy, secretary of the the new organization, was instructed to send copies of the community protest against the St. Lawrence project to all state and federal representatives. (editor – Construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway would drastically decrease Buffalo’s importance as a Great Lakes port feeding traffic to railroads with Maybrook connections such as the DL&W and LV, both of which connected to the L&HR and the NYO&W, as well as the Erie.) Maybrook Railroad Yards Seeking More Workers to Handle Heavy War Traffic – 2/28/45 Sprawling in its length, yet compact in its purpose of trafficking of wartime traffic, the Maybrook Yards of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad has the Help Wanted sign out today to carry on its tremendous war job. The terminal looks to residents of the area surrounding this village (Editor- Maybrook), including Middletown, for help in keeping moving the trains which make Maybrook one of the largest interchange points in the east. One hundred and thirty-five miles of railroad track in this complex provides a base for transportation of from 2,600 to 2,800 cars railroad cars through the yard in each day in each week over the hump east and west. The Erie, the Lehigh & Hudson, the O&W, New York Central and Lehigh & New England lines all send freight through this Orange County center. Maybrook is the extreme western terminal of the New York, New Haven & Hartford line. The yard holds 6,000 cars. Trains are sent east at the rate of one every hour. Twelve hundred men hold jobs there during a three shift, eight hour day, for whom a payroll amounting to $75,000 is distributed weekly.
Tour of Yards A tour of the yards yesterday brought forth the story. The road needs more employees – brakemen, section laborers, yard clerks, carmen, pipefitters. Workers at the yards now come from within a radius of forty miles of Maybrook, by private car or bus. It was understood that if sufficient help were forthcoming from Middletown a bus between the two points would be operated by the railroad. A bus from Newburgh meets all three shifts now. Experience is not needed to gain employment at the Yards it was explained. Men are trained and paid while learning the business. Qualifications for these railroad posts are on file at the office of the United States Employment Service here, and full information is available. There is at the Yards a fully equipped YMCA, employees are covered by the Railroad Retirement System, providing benefits similar to those available under the Social Security System. Tracks were first laid at the Maybrook Yards in April 1889 at the time the Poughkeepsie bridge began operations. An expansion program, started in 1909, ended in 1913 with completion of the 135 miles of track. It took the Second World War to increase the number of steam operations to the point where their deep boilers crave a million gallons of water daily and get it. The future has a look-in here too with the use of diesel powered locomotives. Construction of a compressor (?) and … (rest of line illegible). To ………… (illegible) out of doors is hard, especially in winter, would be useless and a trip through the Yards emphasizes that point. But the lifeline of a military force such as pounds the enemy today might well be its transportation system. It took soldiers from Stewart Field and Mexican laborers from New England to keep things moving this Winter. Here before your very eyes unfolds the romance and the hard work that is railroading. Here is the roundhouse, the hump, the oil, smoke, steam, coal, noise and smell of the railroad. Here are the old engines, the new Diesels, the old timers, the youngsters, the new icing plant for re-freezing refrigeration cars, the stock pen, the carpentry shops, the soot, the under-track inspection tunnel. Brakemen at Maybrook receive $8.54 a day with time and a half after eight hours if employed in the Yard. On the road they get $7.12 per day, paid according to the run – hours or miles, whichever is greater. Yard clerks get $6.49 per day with time and a half over eight hours. In Middletown it is possible that men may be found to do an essential job now when it must be done. Women Serve on Maintenance Crews at Maybrook – 2/28/1945 The Diesel locomotives at the Maybrook Yards underwent two different inspections yesterday. Pictured above are a group of United States Employment Service Representatives of Newburgh and Middletown looking over the new engines. Below are two women employed at the yard in maintenance of the machines. (The two photographs showed the new 2,000 horsepower ALCO DL109 diesels that would over the years be primarily used in passenger service.) Diesels Start to Take Over the Train Assignments – Circa 1945 (Not a newspaper article) The New Haven bought sixty ALCO DL109’s which were built in batches between December 1941 and April 1945 and numbered 0700 through 0759. The 2000 h.p. units were assigned to passenger and freight service and thereby, according to TRAINS Magazine, earned the distinction of being the first dual-service diesels in the United States. All fifty of the 2-10-2’s were still in service in 1943 and, although the New Haven
started to assign pairs of the DL109 diesels, a 4,000 horsepower combination, to some Boston – Maybrook freights either during or just after World War II, the L-1’s continued to dominate assignments into and out of Maybrook until displaced by three and later four-unit sets of ALCO FA’s and FB’s which began arriving in mid-1947. Building Project Underway at Maybrook Rail Terminal – 1/19/1946 Construction of additional workmen’s housing facilities, a large restaurant and six more temporary stock enclosures is underway at the local terminal of the New Haven Railroad. Eight buildings are being erected to house an auxiliary force of 125 workers. The contract is being handled by the George Collins Company of Waterbury, Conn. In connection with the barracks, a large restaurant is to be erected to serve these workers. The six temporary stock enclosures are being built to supplement the eight which have already proven to be inadequate in handling the increasing number of cattle passing through the terminal. The work will be completed by early Summer. Inside Out by the Observer – 3/02/1946 Thanks to Mrs. Anna Smith, our able correspondent at Maybrook, we can tell you something today about the mechanization of the main offices of the New Haven freight yards. Teletypes and record-making machines, tested experimentally for the last six months, have proved themselves great time savers, and are installed now on a permanent basis. An extremely new technique has been adopted both at Maybrook and New Haven with results highly satisfactory to shippers and the railroad operating men and clerks. Work that formerly required days is done now in a few hours. The system was adapted from that used by the by the Office of Defense Transportation and the Air forces – another war experience applied to peacetime requirements. A printer-tabulating machine is used to record the necessary data concerning, for instance, a train coming in from a connecting line. All information about individual cars, ownership, contents, weight, destination, and so on, is automatically transferred to a teletype tape. On the teletype receiving end this information is recorded on a set of punch cards, the punch patterns of which operate the transmission machines whenever necessary. Each car passing through the yards has its individual card. From these cards the teletype transmits duplicates to the railroad records office in New Haven. The cards are then racked with waybills for outbound freight cars, and arranged in order for trains on the way out. Nation Reels Under Rail Strike Blow – 5/24/1946 (Excerpts) Supervisory Staffs Run Four Erie Trains; O&W Continues to Haul Milk 5 Inquiries at the offices of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in Maybrook as to traffic on that road were referred to officials at New Haven. From an unofficial source, however, it was ascertained that the few trains running on that road were manned by officials and supervisors not connected with the striking Brotherhoods of Engineers and Trainmen. Rail Strike Chiefs Study Peace Offer – 5/25/1946 (Excerpts) Strike Forces Big Layoff At O& W; Shortage of Meat Felt; Power Cut is Urged Although no official comment could be obtained at the New York, New Haven & Hartford yards in Maybrook, it was understood that the same condition prevailed there. Observers said there was little or no activity in the extensive Maybrook yards this morning. New Haven Road Installs Dial Telephone System – 8/13/1946 With a marked increase in business on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad during the past few weeks, all departments, yard offices and other traffic posts now are connected with a dial telephone system. The system, completing its first week of operation today, has already proven its usefulness in speeding up the movement of freight, officials said. Together with the new International Business Machine teletype system of waybilling, correlated with the pneumatic tubes in the yard here, the new equipment should open the way to further increases in future activity, it was indicated. Help Wanted Ad – 10/15/1946 The NEW HAVEN R. R. WANTS FREIGHT HANDLERS AT ONCE! Good Earnings and — Good Working Conditions APPLY TO GEORGE BULLIS AGENT MAYBROOK FREIGHT TERMINAL MAYBROOK, N. Y. O&W Layoff Here Monday Likely to Idle 100 Workmen – 12/07/1946 (Excerpts) A soft coal miners’ strike occasioned layoffs among area railroad workers including employees of the Erie, O&W and New Haven. The following paragraph described a layoff at Maybrook. Layoff notices for forty-six roundhouse employees of the New York, New Haven & Hartford yards in Maybrook also had been posted. The lay-off there will go into effect Monday. (On December 9th it was reported that John L. Lewis had called off the 17-day walkout and railroads were recalling their employees to work.) The New Haven Dieselizes All of its Road Freights on the Maybrook Line (Not a newspaper article) The New Haven took delivery of 30 FA1’s, Nos. 0400-0429, and 15 FB1’s, Nos. 0450-0464, beginning in late May of 1947. The first three unit set arrived on the New Haven on May 26 and they were soon put to work on the Maybrook Line. The FA-FB-FA sets, a 4,500 horsepower combination, were capable of hauling 4,500 6 ton trains at sixty-five miles per hour on level terrain and once all fifteen sets were in service they were projected to eliminate pushers up the fourteen-mile eastbound grade out of Hopewell Junction to Reynolds Summit as they became the exclusive power on the 127-mile main line between Maybrook and Cedar Hill. The New Haven expected to realize annual savings of $1,342,613 based on wages and the volume of traffic in March 1946 once the new fleet of forty-five ALCO diesels had replaced forty-six steam locomotives and five pairs of DL109’s. The eastbound tonnage rating of 4,000 tons was retained while the westbound rating was boosted from 2,000 to 3,200 tons. At this point, the New Haven was an industry leader in dieselization and possessed the country’s third largest diesel fleet. Patton, “The 400’s The New Haven’s Alco FA Fleet”, states that the performance of the new FA fleet “enabled the traffic department to publish some very competitive schedules for interline moves” and in particular, the New Haven/Erie routing “became one of the hottest such schedules in the East.” (Switching operations in Maybrook Yard remained the province of steam power, particularly Y-3 class 3400 series 0-8-0’s, until the arrival of diesel switchers in 1950). As the ranks of the 2-10-2’s (3200’s) dwindled in the late forties, they no longer worked out of a pool on road freights but the few survivors were assigned to specific jobs. Some of the Santa Fe’s were assigned to the humps at Maybrook, a good use of their high tractive effort. The September 26, 1948 “Engine Assignment” listed twelve 3200’s on the roster but only five were in service; 3207, 3217 and 3237 assigned to Maybrook for yard service or as spares and 3225 and 3246 assigned to Cedar Hill to protect the ND-2/DN-1 trains between Cedar Hill and Waterbury. A year later, on September 25, 1949, 3246 was the lone operable 2-10-2 and it was assigned to Maybrook Yard. 11 Cars Derailed In L&H Accident – 7/23/1947 (Excerpts) Eleven cars of a twenty-nine car Lehigh & Hudson freight train were derailed at 10:30 last night about three quarters of a mile from the Warwick State School crossing. The derailed cars, nine of which were loaded with merchandise, were piled up along the right of way and it was estimated that the work of clearing the tracks would not be completed until about four p. m. Two wrecking crews, one a L&H crew and the other from the New York, New Haven & Hartford yards at Maybrook were pressed into service. No one was injured in the accident and the train crew proceeded to their destination, Allentown, Pa., with the first ten cars of the train. New Haven Given Order to Assume Own Management – 9/12/1947 (Excerpts) Railroad Is Authorized to Drop Receivership and To Reorganize The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, under federal receivership since 1935, has been authorized in federal district court at New Haven, to resume full management of its affairs and put into effect its reorganization plan, the Wall Street Journal said today. New Haven Rail Officials Silent On Strike Vote – 10/21/1947 (Excerpts) Brotherhood of Trainmen Considering Walkout Within Next Week New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad officials here (Editor – Maybrook) declined to comment today on an announcement by the Brotherhood of Trainmen that a strike probably would be called within the next week. Inquiries at the Maybrook offices of the road regarding the possible effect of a strike on operations in the yards here were referred to Superintendent B F Bardo at New Haven. Mr Bardo however was not in his office and could not be reached.
New Haven Rail Threat Ends in Pay Compromise – 10/29/47 (Excerpts) The threat of a strike Friday on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad ended today with a compromise wage settlement between the company and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Frank P. Douglas, chairman of the National Mediation Board, announced that the company and the union had reached an agreement and that the “strike is off.” The dispute centered on the union’s contention that the company had failed to abide by an adjustment board’s ruling on back pay claims of New Haven trainmen. Legal interpretations of both the adjustment board’s ruling and the union-management contract also were at issue. Maybrook Railroader Killed In Yards – 8/14/1948 (Excerpts from article about 4 overnight deaths) Victims of the overnight fatalities were: … , George B. Hess, fifty-one of New Paltz, a New York, New Haven & Hartford car checker, who was dragged to his death by a train in the Maybrook yard last night. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident in which Hess lost his life at the Maybrook railroad yards at about 8:45 pm last night, but it appeared that he had been dragged more than fifty feet after his clothing had become caught in the journal box of a string of cars on a siding. A fellow employee found Hess lying beside an empty coal car, the last car in a string which had been switched only a short time earlier. His clothing still was caught in the journal box. Middletown troopers conducted an investigation which indicated that Hess had been standing at the end of a string of six empty cars when another string of seven cars had been backed onto the siding. When the two strings of cars came together, it appeared the entire train rolled backward some fifty-one feet and that Hess, unaware of the switching operation, had been caught by the journal box and dragged for that distance. Coroner Haney Agnew of Newburgh found that death had been caused by multiple bone fractures The coroner gave a verdict of accidental death. Train of Tomorrow to Make Stop Here – 4/8/1949 Unit Here Monday, On Way to Poughkeepsie The General Motors Train of Tomorrow, with skylight domes and the latest in railroad travel devices will make a five-minute stop in Middletown on Monday afternoon, en route to Poughkeepsie for public display there, Tuesday and Wednesday. The super train will be delivered by the New York, Ontario & Western Railway from the DL&W Railroad to the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad at Maybrook. It is scheduled to stop here at three p. m. where O&W officials and others will join it for the run to Poughkeepsie. A General Motors 2,000 horse power diesel will haul the train consisting of a dormitory car, coach, dining car, sleeper and observation car. 200 Here Greet GM Super Train – 4/12/1949 (excerpts) Unit Will Be on Display at Poughkeepsie 2 Days Two hundred persons greeted the General Motors Train of Tomorrow at the O&W Railway station here (Editor – Middletown) yesterday in its five-minute pause en route to a two-day exhibit at Poughkeepsie. The ultra modern train made another stop in the Maybrook yards where, an NYNH&H Railroad crew took over and switched the cars to the New Haven line to complete the Poughkeepsie run.