Maybrook Yard



Written by ALBERT ALEXANDER, June 1993.

In the year 1888, there were small railroads operating from Eastern shores of the Hudson River into Connecticut and New England. Two of the larger lines, namely the Central New England and the Philadelphia and Reading, managed to gain control of majority of these lines. It was during this period when plans were being made to construct a railroad bridge across the Hudson at Poughkeepsie. The corner stone was laid in 1871 but almost immediately financial difficulties set in causing a delay of some nine years before the bridge could be put in service in 1888. A new railroad was also being constructed at this time connecting the Western end of the bridge with Orange Junction and Campbell Hall. The floating operation of railroad cars from Newburgh to Fishkill Landing would now become obsolete.

The new railroad bridge at Poughkeepsie measured 6727 feet in length and stood 212 feet above the water. The Philadelphia, Reading and New England Railroad operated the line from Highland to Orange Junction, later known as Maybrook Junction. Ten years later the railroad became defunct when Central New England Railroad took command of the line. A large two story building was constructed at the end of Main Street in Maybrook for the Administration Office of the Central New England Railroad. The terminal consisted of a few Liner Tracks for receiving trains from the Western Railroads and a few Liner tracks where Central New England trains would be delivered to the Western lines for movement to western destinations. The Central New England Railroad maintained a Round House and Turn Table in the vicinity of the “Old Row”. The houses which made up the Old Row were built by the Central New England Railroad to accommodate it’s permanent employees. The Orange County Railroad also maintained a few tracks for receiving and delivering trains to the Central New England Railroad. A small Round House and Turn Table were maintained by the Orange County Railroad, later to be known as the Lehigh and Hudson Railroad. This railroad also built residential homes for it’s employees in the area later to be known as “The Lehigh Hill” .

In 1906 the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad acquired half interest into the Central New England Railroad operation at Orange Junction. By 1908 plans were under way to construct a huge switching terminal which would be the largest of its kind East of the Mississippi River. The terminal would enjoy the convenience of repairs shops of all kinds: Machine shops, Carpenter shops, Boxcar shops, Boxcar repair and rebuilding shops, Engine House and Steam Engine re-building, a 27 stall Round House, with a 95 foot Turn Table, a new General Office building, a freight transfer platform, a Y.M.C.A. and an auditorium building, Ice manufacturing plant to service refrigerator cars, its water would be supplied from two reservoirs and a Passenger Station to be located at the end of Main Street. The terminal would spread over an area over 3 miles in length and one mile in width these boundaries of today’s maps would show the southerly border to be Highway #208 and the Northerly border being Highway 17K.The network of tracks if put end to end would stretch some 72 miles and their capacity being 5000 cars. The terminal in its peak years of World War 11,wou1d employ 1500 employees with a weekly payroll of $150,000.00. A switching record was established during one 2- hour period in May of 1943. The record being,25 East bound trains (1665 cars) and 29 West bound trains (1826 cars) a total of 3491 cars switched and assembled into trains. The switching yards were designed in such a way so as to keep the cars moving constantly in the same direction until their final arrival at the opposite end of the terminal where it would await movement to its final destination. Trains arriving at the terminal from the West would be left in the East bound Receiving Yard where they would be pushed over a gravity Hump, and continue moving eastward into C1assification Yard, then gathered together with other cars destined for New England destinations and placed in a train in the East bound Departure Yard. West bound train movement would follow similar network of Receiving and Departure Yards. The Administrative Office making records of the car movement would be situated in the center of the terminal.

During the years 1890 thru the 1920’s Passenger trains passed through the terminal without coming in view of any freight switching operations by traveling the outer perimeter of the entire terminal. Daily Passenger Trains operated Hartford to Campbell Hall making connections with the Ontario & Western Railroad and other Western 1ines. A Boston to Washington D. C .Pullman train, known as the “Federa1 Express” maintained a regular schedule during the years 1890 thru 1893. This huge and most efficient railroad switching terminal vanished almost overnight, when a fire destroyed 300 feet of the Poughkeepsie Bridge and the Penn Central Railroad refused to make the repairs and chose to re-route all New England traffic over the West Shore Railroad, to Selkirk Yards, and thence over the Boston and Albany (B.& A.) Railroad to all New England destinations. The remains of the old Maybrook Rail Center is but one single track, which is only used to serve a few industrial plants.

At the present time, Yellow Freight Trucking occupies the entire boundaries of what was previously known as the “West Bound Classification Yard”. To assess the vastness of this huge Rail Center ,one should keep in mind the fact that Yellow Freight is occupying only one of six separate yards, each of which played a very important role in the process of assembling a complete train destined for points east or trains being delivered to the Western Railroads, which were active in this terminal. Add to this acreage the space occupied by many shops and the Engine House facilities. The average non-railroad layman might sense the terrible feeling of a tremendous loss this community had to experience when the Rail Lords of Philadelphia’s Penn Central literally overnight destroyed this most efficient Rail Terminal.


The Central New England Railway (later New Haven) Maybrook Yard connected to to other railroads: Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, New York Central, Lehigh & Hudson River, Lehigh & New England, Erie, Ontario & Western, Lehigh Valley



Maybrook Yard Today



Early view of Maybrook yard.



CNE #47 on the original Maybrook turntable.



Postcard view of the Maybrook turntable dated 1906.



Maybrook yard in 1914. In the distance is the ice house. At right is the new office building built in 1914.



Maybrook yard ice house and icing platform.



Maybrook station in 1927.
Fran Donovan collection.



Postcard view of Maybrook yard dated 1928

Richard Teed collection



Maybrook yard in January 1948 a few months after diesels had taken over the freight runs.

George Bailey collection.



Maybrook terminal in 1948 less than a year after the ALCO FA diesels arrived. Note that there is still a lonely steam engine in the yard.





Maybrook yard coal tower unused in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard ice house in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard icing platform in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard machine shop in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard roundhouse in 1968

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard turntable in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard water tanks and machine shop in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller



Maybrook yard water tower in 1968.

Photo by Roger Liller


Special Section: Maybrook Yard in the Sixties















Maybrook Yard 1940s

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.


The Maybrook Line And Its Rise and Fall

 From the New York Times

By Jack Swanberg

Long time NY area railroad employee, railfan (friend of Bernie Rudberg)

Jack ties in Maybrook Yard to the Poughkeepsie Bridge and to the Maybrook Line that went to Danbury and Cedar Hill. A real New Haven History guy.

A “must read” article


What railroads “met” in Maybrook?


The only line that actually ran into the Maybrook yard on its own rails was the Lehigh & Hudson River RR. It had a junction with the New Haven at the west end of the maybrook yard at “BK” cabin. The NH trackage ended at the New York, Ontario & Western RR main line at Campbell Hall, which is where all of the rest of the connections theoretically took place. In NH timetable #175, Maybrook is 74.08 miles from Danbury, and Campbell Hall is 76.93 miles from Danbury.

    The Erie RR originally reached Campbell Hall on the Montgomery branch from Goshen, on the original Erie main line. When the Graham line was constructed, a junction was constructed at the crossing of the Graham line with the Montgomery branch (“MQ” Tower). The Erie Montgomery branch crossed the NYO&W main line immediately west of the NH junction and the NYO&W Campbell Hall station. The Erie’s junction with the NH was less than a mile north of its NYO&W crossing. The Montgomery branch continued north to Montgomery, NY, where it connected with the Walkill Valley branch of the New York Central, from Kingston. The NYC had trackage rights on the Erie as far south as Campbell Hall, thus a connection with the NH.

    The Montgomery branch reached the Erie main line at Goshen. South of Goshen, the Erie had another branch to Pine Island, NY. Pine Island was the Erie’s junction with the Lehigh & New England. The L&NE reached Campbell Hall through trackage rights over the southern portion of the Montgomery branch (16 miles). After the Erie Graham line was built, all Erie freight service to and from Maybrook was routed on this line from Port Jervis to “MQ” leaving the action on the Montgomery branch south of “MQ” to the L&NE.

    The NYO&W ran two scheduled freights in each direction in and out of Maybrook. These trains ran down the Scranton division of the NYO&W to Mayfield yard (near Carbondale, PA). One round trip continued on to the Croxton yard of the Lehigh Valley RR, and during the existence of the NYO&W, this gave the LV scheduled access to Maybrook. The NYO&W also participated in an alternate Delaware, Lackawana & Western RR through freight route to and from the Scranton gateway.

    The L&HR ran four round trips in and out of Maybrook. Two of these connected with the DL&W at Port Morris, NJ, via trackage rights of the DL&W from Andover Jet. to Port Morris. This gave the DL&W a connection to the NH, (In the l947 NH freight schedule, the Maybrook to Chicago time on the DL&W to Buffalo and the NKP to Chicago was faster than the Erie.

    From Boston, either the DL&W/NKP route or the Erie route to Chicago were faster than the routing over the Pennsylvania RR via Bay Ridge/Creenville float service.) The L&HR also ran two round trips to Allentown, PA, using trackage rights on the Belvidere-Delaware branch of the PRR and the Central of New Jersey RR. This was referred to as the “Alphabet Route” to and from the west.

    The L&HR interchanged with the PRR at Hudson yard, Phillipsburg, NJ. During most of the existence of the Maybrook line, this interchange was not used as part of any scheduled through freight route. However, after the PC merger, as part of the elimination of the New York float service, a symbol freight service from Maybrook via the L&HR and the Belvidere-Delaware branch from Hudson yard to the former PRR main line at Trenton was established- . Also, the abandonment of the NYO&W, and the later assumption of CNJ operations in Pennsylvania by the LV brought through service to and from the LV into Maybrook via the L&HR, (The NH freight timetable of 15 April 1968 shows both of these route changes).

    The Erie ran two round trips in and out of Maybrook in the late 1940’s and 1950’s, In 1942, the Erie was running four eastbounds and three westbounds to and from Maybrook. Of these, one eastbound and two westbounds were through freights from points west of Port Jervis, the others being connected with symbol freights at Port Jervis. The Erie routes were changed with the Erie-Lackawana merger, eliminating most of the EL service over the L&HR.

    The L&NE participated in no through freight routings. Its service into Maybrook was confined to one daily round trip from Pen Argyle, PA, handling coal and cement eastbound and empties westbound. The NYC (Walkill Valley) interchange with the NH was not a through route.

    With the exception of the NYC, all of the Maybrook connections, not just the L&NE, carried large amounts of coal. Even after the decline of anthracite shipments in the 1920’s, a large amount of bituminous was shipped through Maybrook. Today the L&NE and the NYO&W routes no longer exist, having been abandoned and ripped up. A similar fate has befallen the Erie Montgomery branch between Goshen and Campbell Hall. The only service into Maybrook now is by Conrail over the ex-L&HR. Local service goes through Maybrook as far east as Highland, NY, close to the west side of the fire ravaged Poughkeepsie Bridge.

The history of the Campbell Hall – Maybrook connection is extremely complicated. I mentioned “BK” cabin in my New Haven article. This was a L&HR facility, and it’s where the only line to enter Maybrook Yard proper on its own rails terminated. This marks another New Haven failure. The NH had a theory that it was going to control the L&HR, which when built was controlled by the Lehigh Coal & navigation Company. . A consortium: the Pennsylvania, the Reading, the Lehigh Valley, the Erie and the O&W jointly acquired the L&HR instead, to thwart the New Haven’s attempt to get into the anthracite fields. This happened in 1905, and, as a result, the NH went out and, as usual, bit itself in the butt by acquiring control of the O&W.

    One has to be a real fanatic about railroad history to follow all of the schemes and plots to get from New England to Eastern Pennsylvania from the 1870s through about 1910, involving such ephemeral lines as the South Mountain & Boston and the Pennsylvania, Poughkeepsie & Boston, although I believe the latter actually did run trains for a while. Anyhow, the reason why it took from 1875 until 1888 to get trains running over the Poughkeepsie Bridge had nothing to do with construction problems; it was because of problems with the financing. Ultimately, the construction was finished, and operation began by an entity called the Central of New England Western, a subsidiary of guess what. This road established the connection at Campbell Hall.

    In 1907, the Central of New England, probably under instructions from the New Haven, which was about to absorb it started construction of Maybrook Yard. About 1910, there was an interesting episode. Samuel Rea, of the Pennsylvania, investigated the Maybrook line to see if it could be an alternative to the Greenville – Bay Ridge – Hell Gate Bridge route then under construction from PRR New England traffic. This would, of course, have been a routing from Trenton to the L&HR to Maybrook via the Belvedere & Delaware. Rea’s appraisal was “No” because of the limited capacity of the line, in particular because of the low capacity of the Bridge. The New Haven, of course, rebuilt the whole line, gauntletting the Bridge so that 2-10-2s and 4 – 8-2s could haul trains on it (admittedly, at 12 mph), block signaled the line and generally made it a highly competitive route to the Hell Gate Bridge one.

    Now, we will get back to the O&W…. well almost. The Erie and the DL&W around 1910 decided that because of the great length of their carfloat haul up the East River to the Harlem River, later Oak Point, to reroute all of their freight via Maybrook. The Lehigh Valley didn”t go along with this until 1937 (this is my information, and I would welcome either confirmation or correction) when they the O&W run-through from Coxton via mine branches and Mayfield. In 1947, the LV connection was SNE-2 from Suspension Bridge, meaning cars on the Pere Marquette and the Wabash via Canada, and NE-2, cars from Buffalo connections. (The two sections probably combined at Manchester.) The O&W connection was NE4, which connected with NH OB-4, arriving in Boston at 3:30 AM Thursday. (This example schedule is based on cars originating in Chicago on Monday.) But, not all of LV SNE/NE-2 tonnage went to the O&W at Coxton. The train went on to Jersey City, where they were floated to Oak Point, and arrived in Boston one hour later than if they had gone via the O&W and Maybrook.

    The DL&W, in 1947, also connected with O&W NE4 and NHRR 0B-6. As a reality check, however, the DL&W had another train which left Buffalo about an hour earlier than the NE4 connection, running via Port Morris NJ and the L&HR, and arrived in Boston at 11:55 PM Wednesday. There was another DL&W connecting eastbound service, which was probably made up of local cars from Binghamton and Elmira, as well as Buffalo, which connected with O&W NE- 6. The CNJ is also shown as a Scranton connection for the O&W, but this was for SU-1 and US- 2, to and from Allentown.

    After rereading my 1980 article I noticed a couple of points which require a certain amount of amplification, or perhaps, correction. For one thing, and this is basic, my comments about freight schedules really were pertinent to the 1946-57 period. For one example, the L&NE would run at least one train daily, but during the times when cement traffic was heavy they would run additional trains as required. However, to repeat, they did not participate in any through routes via Maybrook or for that matter, to the best of my knowledge, anyplace else. Another example during the period mentioned above is that the O&W ran two Mayfield – Maybrook round trips. But in the locomotive assignment sheets published by our Society, the one for February 1945, all steam, show three symbol freight round trips Mayfield-Maybrook, and provision for a “Southbound” extra, all Y-2 hauled. (I wish that the O&W had used “eastbound” and “westbound”, as did every other railroad entering the New York metropolitan area.)

    I have two steam period employees’ timetables from 1929 and 1939 and one diesel timetable from 1951. Interesting to note is that both diesel and steam show the maximum speed limits for freights were 40 mph. The difference is that the 40 mph limit on steam powered freights applied only to the Maybrook – Mayfield symbol freights, and then only when hauled by 4-8-2s. The normal freight speed limit was 30 mph, and if the symbol freights were handled by P or W engines, 35 mph. Of course , when the diesels came into service, the number of trains run was much fewer, so the distinction between “normal” and “symbol” freights was not meaningful.

    In the 1939 timetable there is a provision for special tonnage ratings for the Mayfield-Maybrook symbol freights (at that time, OB-2 and LB-4- these are interesting symbols. OB-2 being NHRR for Maybrook-Boston and, one surmises, LB for lehigh Valley -Boston). These ratings were 2500 tons for a Y-2, with X or Y-2 pushers to Poyntelle, a Y or heavier from Livingston manor, and a V or heavier at Summitville. Note that the tonnage figures above are unadjusted; there would have to be the added car factor which compensated for the car friction and also for the cold weather. Thus for a Y, assuming 40 ton loaded cars with the temperature above 40 degrees, the maximum car factor was 17 pounds per car, so the train would be made up of about 59 cars plus the caboose (Trust me on this). This is as far as I am going to go with this, except to point out that on the O&W another factor which had to be considered was the air brake capacity of the locomotives for the numerous downgrades. Ed Weinstein

Another great Q&A piece that has evolved into an article is “The Life & Death Of The NYO&W” by Bob Karig.


A New Hudson Bridge, Revived Beacon Line, HYPERLOOP and More

The Maybrook Line was a line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad which connected with its Waterbury Branch in Derby, Connecticut, and its Maybrook Yard in Maybrook, New York, where it interchanged with other carriers.

If one looks at the most popular Pages on our WebSite, over half directly reference the Maybrook Line. Lot’s of folks have an interest in it. The “Maybrook Line” was important to New England before the advent of Penn Central and before the Poughkeepsie Bridge burned. This piece of the railroad carried freight from Maybrook Yard, across the Poughkeepsie Bridge to Hopewell Junction where it joined a line from Beacon. The railroad then went to Brewster, then Danbury, and finally to Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven.

WHY and How To Fix The “MAYBROOK LINE”?

Container port/intermodal facility/rail bridge

The construction of a railroad bridge between New Hamburg and Marlboro is likely the least expensive place to build a Hudson River crossing between Manhattan and Albany.    The stone for ramps, sand and gravel for concrete and a steel beam assembly and storage area would be right on sight.  All materials and equipment could be transported by barge or boat.  The bridge itself would have only four or five piers (the most costly part to build) since the Hudson River is about the same width as it is in Poughkeepsie.

The Hudson River component connects Dutchess, Ulster and Orange counties to the world economy (finished goods, spare parts, components parts, raw materials, food stuffs) and the railroad and interstate road components connect these NY counties to the rest of North America (US, Mexico, Canada).

With the container port/intermodal facility/rail bridge, the flow in and out of raw materials, spare parts, partially finished goods, foodstuffs and components will allow for new industries and businesses to locate near this facility and add to the tax base of these three NY counties: Dutchess, Ulster and Orange counties.

Although the Dutchess County Airport is a tiny regional airport with a 5,000 foot runway, it has some big potential. The airport land extends a mile Northeast of the present runway end at New Hackensack Road and borders on the former New Haven Maybrook Line/Dutchess Rail Trail. As the NY Air National Guard gets crowded out by international air traffic at Stewart International Airport their operation could be moved over to Dutchess Airport without disrupting the lives of the guard members and their families through forced relocation.

Beacon itself is exploding with “developer” activity, and it needs a trolley or light rail for the city only to transform back into a pedestrian oriented city.

Other activities include: Solidization of rail links in Connecticut to handle increased traffic; a possible HYPERLINK for improved service along the Beacon Line and in/out of New York City 

Now you are going to ask. What does the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority have to do with the “BEACON LINE”? IT OWNS IT! Must realize that NYCMTA is a “regional” organization. With all that went on with Penn-Central and CONRAIL somebody had to own it!


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