Poughkeepsie & Eastern in the Poughkeepsie Area


The name P&E did not actually last very long. It started out in 1872 as the P&E Railroad but the name was changed shortly to PH&B. A few years later it became the NY&M and then in 1893 it was changed back to P&E Railway. This was all the same railroad with different names.

Most people called it the P&E even when the name was PH&B or NY&M.


A railroad from Poughkeepsie through Pleasant Valley to connect to the D&C at Stissing was completed by 1872. This line was called the Poughkeepsie & Eastern Railroad, but they went bankrupt in a year and a half. The line was sold and renamed the Poughkeepsie, Hartford and Boston Railroad. When the ND&C Railroad was formed out of the old D&C Railroad in 1877 there was already a section of ND&C track between Stissing and Pine Plains being used by the former P&E RR renamed PH&B RR. The PH&B Railroad ran from Poughkeepsie through Pleasant Valley and Salt Point to Stissing Junction then onto ND&C rails to Pine Plains. Beyond Pine Plains the PH&B ran on its own rails again northward through a section of Columbia County to Boston Corners then back into Dutchess County to Millerton and State Line. The short section of track between Stissing and Pine Plains was used by the PH&B and successor railroads through the entire life of the ND&C. This section of trackage rights later became part of the Central New England & Western Railroad.

In the northeastern part of Dutchess County there were other railroads competing with the ND&C in hauling milk to New York City. What had once been the P&E RR was reorganized under new management and was renamed the PH&B RR. Their tracks never reached Hartford or Boston but they did reach Boston Corners which is in New York state near the Massachusetts line. This railroad actually leased trackage rights from the ND&C Railroad between Stissing and Pine Plains. For that section of the line, the two railroads ran trains on the same tracks. The PH&B Railroad routed their milk shipments eastward to Boston Corners where they connected with the Harlem line of the NYC Railroad to New York City. On those same tracks between Stissing and Pine Plains, the ND&C trains were hauling milk westward to connect with the Hudson Line of the NYC Railroad or a river steamboat at Dutchess Junction to reach the New York City markets.

The PH&B (formerly P&E) went bankrupt again in 1884. They survived by selling their Boston Corners to Millerton trackage to the Hartford & Connecticut Western RR. By 1887 they emerged with a new name, New York & Massachusetts Railway.

When the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge first opened in December 1888 the rail connection into Connecticut was the former P&E Railroad (renamed PH&B and again as New York & Massachusetts Railway). The route connected to the ND&C Railroad at Stissing. It ran on ND&C rails to Pine Plains then on NY&M rails again to Boston Corners, Millerton and State Line Junction. This route was never satisfactory for a number of reasons. It connected to Hartford but was not very convenient for southern Connecticut cities. In addition, the people who owned the New York & Massachusetts line refused to sell it to the Bridge company. The Bridge Company built a 28-mile line called Th Poughkeepsie & Connecticut (P&C) in parallel with the old P&E (NY&M) through Pleasant Valley and Pine Plains to Silvernails in Columbia County. At Silvernails the P&C connected to the Rhinebeck & Connecticut for access to New England.

In 1889 the Central New England & Western Railroad was formed out of several smaller railroads in northern Dutchess County NY. Included in the CNE&W Railroad were the Poughkeepsie Bridge Railroad, the Hartford & Connecticut Western Railroad, the Hudson Connecting Railroad, the Rhinebeck & Connecticut Railroad and the Poughkeepsie & Connecticut Railroad. The CNE&W Railroad used the same set of connecting tracks owned by the ND&C Railroad between Millerton and State Line to reach Connecticut. The CNE&W and the NY&M were still competing on parallel tracks between Poughkeepsie and Pine Plains.

In an effort to compete with the coal traffic over the Poughkeepsie bridge, in 1889 the ND&C worked out an agreement with the NY&M (former P&E) for a new coal yard in Poughkeepsie. The arrangement was that the ND&C would haul coal northeast from the Dutchess Junction dock to connect with the NY&M at Stissing. The NY&M would then haul the coal southwest through Pleasant Valley to Poughkeepsie. This route was many miles longer than the bridge route which ran directly into Poughkeepsie off the bridge. It was longer, more expensive and involved a transfer at Stissing. This route also had the problem of winter ice at the Dutchess Junction dock but ND&C coal could be delivered to Poughkeepsie. Major customers would be the State Hospital and Vassar College.

In December 1889 trains began hauling coal via Dutchess Junction, Stissing and Pleasant Valley to Poughkeepsie over the NY&M. The D&H Canal Co. sent barges 30 miles down the river from Rondout Landing near Kingston to Dutchess Junction dock. All did not go as smoothly as planned. In April 1899 the Hudson River State Hospital refused the only railroad bid for coal delivery. They wanted to get coal by boats and teams of horses and wagons at the Poughkeepsie waterfront. After all, the D&H coal barges passed within sight of the State Hospital on the way down the river to Dutchess Junction. William Underhill, who was the ND&C Railroad General Freight Agent, went to Poughkeepsie to meet with the State Hospital managers. He came back with a signed contract to haul the coal by rail all the way from Dutchess Junction to Stissing and back to Poughkeepsie via the NY&M. I would certainly be interested in knowing how he convinced them.

In 1893 the NY&M changed names again and became the Poughkeepsie & Eastern Railway. It began as the P&E Railroad and ended as the P&E Railway. After years of struggling the P&E was merged into the CNE Rwy in 1907. The CNE built a short section of track to connect the old P&E with the P&C rails near Pine Plains. They then abandoned the P&C parallel line south of Pine Plains but kept the connection north to Silvernails. New Haven abandonments continued through the 1920’s and 1930’s. By 1938 the last of the east-west rails from Columbia County south to Poughkeepsie and Hopewell Junction in Dutchess County were torn out. The rails were sold for scrap to Japan.



A grand excursion and banquet were planned for the opening of the P&E RR in 1871.

From the Roger Liller collection



The P&E route is marked in dark red on this map.
The P&E leased trackage rights from the D&C/ND&C between Stissing and Pine Plains.

From the Roger Liller collection



P&E timetable dated 1872.

From the Art Church collection



P&E Smith Street yard.

Note the roof of the roundhouse is serrated so that it looks almost like part of a castle.
From the Roger Liller collection



Smith St. Yard area of Poughkeepsie

Late Ken Shuker collection

The P&E RR main yard and engine facilities were in the Smith St. Yard in Poughkeepsie. There was a passenger station, a freight house plus a turntable and engine house. The local trolley line on Smith St. also served the station. Tracks at upper left went to the hospital branch and, via a switchback, connected to the Hudson line along the river. That route also crossed Parker Avenue and connected to the main line across the big RR bridge. At lower right the P&E tracks went east to Pleasant Valley, Salt Point, Stanfordville, Stissing, Pine Plains, Boston Corners and State Line near Millerton.




PH&B Smith Street yard in Poughkeepsie.

Fran Donovan collection
Engine at left is the original #2 before Olivia was purchased. At right is #4 and the roundhouse.



Smith St. yard looking east about 1970

Austin McEntee collection



Smith St. yard looking west about 1970

Austin McEntee collection




PH&B Timetable dated 11 October 1878.

Nimke Vol 1 page62



Federal Bearings was one of the customers served by the Hospital Branch in Poughkeepsie.

From the collection of Roger Liller



PH&B Engine #1 in the Smith Street yard in Poughkeepsie.

Note the “castle” roof line on the engine house.
Fran Donovan collection



P&E Engine #5

From the Fran Donovan collection



PH&B Locomotive “Hartford”.

From the Fran Donovan collection
PH&B engine #2 was called “Hartford”. Later when the railroad name had changed back to P&E, this engine was traded in for a new #2 which was named “Olivia”.



P&E #2 Olivia
From the Fran Donovan collection
Olivia was built by the Rogers Locomotive Works in 1893.
This locomotive later became CNE #204 and was scrapped in December 1913.
Note the slot in the front coupler so it could accept the old style link and pin couplings. The air hose on the front indicates air brakes.



This is the front page of the P&E Timetable listing the fares.
From the Roger Liller collection



This side of the P&E Timetable lists the trains and schedules. There were six passenger trains a day from Poughkeepsie.
From the Roger Liller collection



P&E Rwy check dated 1902. Note that the name is P&E Railway Co.

From the collection of Roger Liller



CNE station sign in Poughkeepsie in 1968. This station sign had survived from the P&E days.

From the collection of Roger Liller



Former P&E Office and depot in Poughkeepsie in 1970

From the Austin McEntee collection


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