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.



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