The American Museum of Electricity
(What! You never heard of it?)
stored its collection on the old Troy & Schenectady Railroad.
Welcome to the T&S Branch. A group devoted to the discussion and history of the Troy and Schenectady Branch\Railroad between Schenectady and Troy New York.
Although abandoned now, this line was part of the original New York Central Railroad.
The Troy and Schenectady: Now it is a Bike Path
It’s not hard to realize that the bike path running between Schenectady and Cohoes was once an operating railroad. Just a few short years ago, it was the T&S branch of the New York Central. It was just a “run of the mill” branch line, and, as such, not much was ever written about it.
Having ridden the entire bike trail, I’ve seen most of where it went, and I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. There doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to serve too many on-line customers. Starting out just west of the Schenectady passenger station, it ran 3.8 miles to Aqueduct. Along the way it passed some once-busy factories in Schenectady. At Aqueduct, where Route 146 crosses the Mohawk, a siding ran into the former ALCO tank proving ground which later became the CONDEC plant. This siding was added during World War II. From Aqueduct, the T&S ran alongside the Mohawk River to Crescent (15.5 miles from Schenectady). Other than an old feed and coal company near the abandoned (but now restored) Niskayuna railroad station, there was very little on the line. Near the end of the line’s life, General Electric built the Knolls Atomic Power Lab and the Research Center. Because of the nature of these businesses, they did not add any significant traffic.
At Crescent, a Ford tractor branch was served. From Crescent, the T&S ran 2.3 miles to Cohoes and another 2.9 miles to Green Island. There were several served industries including the F.B. Marsolais Coal Co. A small yard was located near the High Street bridge. At Green Island, the line joined the D&H and went into Troy on their bridge. Trackage in Troy was owned by the Troy Union RR. The Troy Union Railroad Co. was in-turn 50% owned by the NY Central, 25% by the D&H and 25% by the B&M. Passenger connections were made to Albany and Boston. Even the Rutland ran a train into Troy daily. In 1913, four passenger trains were run each way daily from Schenectady to Troy. Two scheduled freights ran from Green Island to Schenectady. After being converted to an automobile bridge, the Green Island Bridge fell into the river in the 1970’s as a result of ice damage.
The speed limit in the 1950’s was 20 miles per hour except for 6 MPH on highway crossings. When the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) was built, the line crossed it near the Crescent Bridge.
The Schenectady & Troy Railroad, later known was the T&S Branch, was originally owned by the City of Troy. It was the only steam railroad built and owned by a city not merely as a commercial venture but with a view to develop the commercial growth of a city. It was the first railroad in the New York Central system that did not use a strap rail on longitudinal wooden stringers. Instead it used “H” iron rail which was 50 lbs. to the yard. It cost $31,000/mile to build. Its first cars were made by Gilbert & Eaton of Troy.
Troy, which had a population of 19,331 in 1840, borrowed $600,000 to build the line. The intent of the line was to compete with the Mohawk & Hudson. The New York & Albany was to reach Troy as well as the Western RR from Massachusetts. Entrance into Troy was over the bridge of the Rensselaer & Saratoga. The first fare was 25 cents. The line had two locomotives which were purchased for $7,400 each. It was built between 1836 and 1842. It was built between 1836 and 1842. At one point it wanted to go as far as Utica on the south shore of the Mohawk River.
In the late 1860’s, George Westinghouse was involved in a minor rail accident on the line. This event led to his development of the air brake.
The Schenectady & Troy was consolidated into the New York Central in 1853, after which Russell Sage represented the railroad on the New York Central board. After consolidation, the line was promptly relegated to branch status. The original Troy station was built in 1854 but burned down in 1862. The station was rebuilt and lasted until 1899. A new structure was built in 1903 between Broadway and Fulton Street. By 1959, it was demolished and trackage through downtown Troy was at an end.
The railroad never became a successful route to the west because its junction with the Utica & Schenectady RR led toward Albany instead of across the Mohawk River to the west. There was no wye to use so access to either the main line or to the West Shore was difficult. Excursions ran from Troy to Auriesville Shrine on the West Shore. At Auriesville, trains either waited on the middle track or backed up to Rotterdam Junction to be turned.
The line ran in a train order mode from Schenectady to Troy. In addition, trains needed an “A” or “B” card (clearance) from the Crescent operator. There were operator/agents at Aqueduct, Niskayuna and Crescent.
Passenger business competed against the Schenectady Railway’s interurban to Troy which ran from 1902 to 1934. This line followed Route 7 through Niskayuna and Latham. For much of the time, there were four cars/hour on the 16-mile line. Electric trackage crossed the Green Island Bridge alongside steam trackage and was shared with the United Traction Co.
In the 1950’s nuclear waste was hauled from the Knolls Atomic Power Lab complex. The boxcars had signs warning anyone from getting under the car.
Passenger service ended in 1942. The line was broken before 1965 between Aqueduct and Crescent. The now-defunct American Museum of Electricity stored their equipment on the track past Aqueduct in the late 1960’s. The Crescent to Green Island section was abandoned in 1976. At that time, Conrail was being formed and was carefully considering all Penn-Central branches. The D&H switched to the Ford plant for a while. For a time, study was given to the D&H acquiring the line. The Schenectady to Aqueduct tracks were taken up in 1984. Crescent to Troy was broken in 1958 when the Green Island Bridge was abandoned. Connection to the line was then over the D&H using trackage rights to Albany.
Now the roadbed is a bike trail. Although there are several diversions from the right-of-way (for instance under the Route 87 Northway bridge), most of the route is that which trains used for over a hundred years. Many old mile markers and ties are visible. Small parks are nearby in the Niskayuna section. A larger park owned by the Town of Colonie is located between Crescent and Cohoes.
At the time that Interstate 87 was built between Albany and Saratoga, the T&S crossing was the only grade crossing on the entire Interstate highway system.
New York Central 999
Fast Portal of the Hoosac Tunnel
A Day in the Country
Saratoga Trolley Terminal
Hoosac Tunnel Advertisement
Franklin Square, Troy, New York
Greenwich & Schuylerville Railway #1
Schenectady Railway Trolley Trips Hudson Mohawk Valley
UTC 340 at Jones Car Builders Plant, Watervliet, NY
Letter about Jones Car Co. being located in Schenectady
The Troy & Schenectady Railroad, aka New York Central’s Troy Branch. The crossing only lasted around 6 months and that’s when the State told the railroad to build over the Northway or build under it. 2 trains a day didn’t make sense for the NYC to move the ROW. I was told that the State Police were called everytime a train crossed to protect the crossing. I guess there were some close-calls with truckers heading south and flooring it to make the grade after the twin bridges!
The line was abandoned from Aqueduct (Schenectady) and Crescent in 1965. By the way, the D&H used the old line from Green Island to Crescent to service the Ford Tractor plant in Latham when CONRAIL was created.
There were all kinds of warning signs and signals to alert drivers of a possible stop ahead. We actually had to stop there once for a train. It left an lasting impression on me because I knew there weren’t supposed to be any traffic lights on the new interstate highway system, which was being built at the time.
Just north of exit 11 there is evidence of where the railroad ran underneath the Northway. The railroad was there when the Northway was built, but the grade of the highway is so much higher than the old right of way that the bridge was a necessity.
End of the Troy Union Railroad
The only reason for retaining the Troy passenger station at the bitter end was the remnant of B&M service from Boston with one or two Budd RDC’s. The NYC and D&H had the alternative of using Albany as their passenger interchange, and actually it switched back and forth between Albany and Troy for individual trains over the years. The B&M had nothing but Troy.
The D&H preferred Troy over Albany, because the distance from Colonie Shops (the Capital District locomotive service point and crew HQ) was shorter to Troy, and then they didn’t have to run the North Albany Yard Engine to Albany to handle the occasional passenger switching. The Troy Station Switcher (NYCRR crew) was in the station anyway. I don’t think the individual railroads paid for it per move, just a on a fixed percentage.
NYC preferred Albany, because it avoided running light engines the longer distance between Troy and Rensselaer, their locomotive service point, if they didn’t come back with a train.
The D&H paid NYC to use the upper level at Albany on a pro-rata basis, but, all three railroads that owned the Troy Union RR paid a fixed percent of the operating expenses. NYC paid 50%, D&H and B&M 25% each, because NYC took over the ownership of two predecssor RR’s – the Troy and Greenbush and the Troy and Schenectady. The Rutland had no ownership – they operated as B&M trains between White Creek and Troy.
The passenger station was demolished as soon as the last B&M train left town, mostly to avoid the high property taxes levied on railroad property in New York State. The Troy Union RR employees once said, only half in jest, that they knew the end was near when they put a new roof on the station. That was usually the kiss of death for any railroad building.
A serious problem that always plagued Troy was the number of highway grade crossings in the city. Every switching move blocked Fulton Street or Broadway, and the TURR needed about ten crossing watchmen per trick, or a total of more than 40 for the 24/7 passenger operation.
As for the demolition of Troy Union Station, the last passenger service left town in January of 1958 and it was demolished by the end of the summer that same year. So, no, there was never a post-classic- era shack.
Probably the reason Troy lost its direct passenger service relativley early is because it wasn’t far from more-than-adequate remaining service in Albany (7 miles, and with good local transit connections) . The cost saving from shutting down TUS was probably enormous.
Around 1959 D&H and NYC had brought running B&M to Albany, but they couldn’t make an agreement with the operating brotherhoods to allow B&M crews to run to Albany. It wouldn’t work out if a D&H crew had to take the train over that distance. The B&M wasn’t about to put any more money into maintaining that service west of Fitchburg, and this was another good reason for them to dump it.
Either way, the B&M would have had to either run via TURR to the NYC at Madison Street or to the D&H via the Green Island Bridge, and they would have still needed most of the TURR with all of its crossings, and the Green Island Bridge. A route via Mechanicville would not have worked, either. All three railroads wanted to be shed of the entire TURR, not only the station, and the best way to get regulatory approval was to let the expenses pile up and then dump the whole thing. The only fly in the ointment was the Rutland operation, and when that went away in 1961 the fate of the TURR was sealed.
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).
Troy had a lot of street running
The telegraph office at Troy was in the station. The office call was UN on the NYC Mohawk and Hudson Divisions, and the D&H. There were four dispatcher’s circuits into Troy – NYC Hudson Mohawk, D&H Saratoga, B&M Fitchburg, and Rutland. The Rutland dispatching ended at North Bennington, but they still had a wire to Troy.
Tower 1 had a NYC dispatcher’s telephone. Tower 2 had NYC, B&M and Rutland dispatcher’s phones. Tower 3 had a phone to the D&H CTC operator at Albany ca. 1957. The positions in the Troy towers were “Telephoner Leverman,” and they were not required to be telegraphers. They were mostly instructed by the stationmaster, who communicated with dispatchers by telegraph through UN.
The inbound and outbound D&H main tracks between WX Tower and George St., Green Island, and the single main track from George St. to River St., Troy (TURR boundary) were ABS. The exception was the “square-end blade signals at George St.” which governed movements from double to single track at a remote interlocking controlled by TURR Tower 3. The Green Island Bridge was also interlocked, so the bridge tender had to get an unlock from Tower 3 before he could raise the bridge.
In 1959, the B&M CTC extended from the end of the TURR to Johnsonville, controlled by the operator at Johnsonville. There might have been some non-circuited main track through the B&M yard. There was a CTC home signal at the east (B&M) end of the yard. The earler B&M ABS system that was in place when their railroad was double track may have been more extensive.
Another interesting division problem was the Troy and Greenbush Branch from Rensselaer to the Troy Union Railroad. In the 1920’s, when the Hudson and Mohawk Divisions were separate, it belonged to the Hudson Division and was dispatched from New York. When the Hudson and Mohawk Divisions were combined, the T&G was still dispatched by the Hudson dispatcher, at Albany, until sometime in the 1940’s. When the Hudson and Mohawk were split in the 1950’s, the T&G went to the Mohawk Division and was dispatched from Utica.
Again, thanks to Gordon Davids
Picture of Green Island Bridge above is from an old postcard.
The first bridge to span the Hudson in the area was built in Lansingburgh in 1804. This covered bridge was 800 feet long and 30 feet wide. Horses and wagons (later trolleys) drove through the center and pedestrian walkways flanked each side. The bridge burned in 1909 and an iron bridge replaced it.
The Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Company tried to lease the bridge but was refused, so the company built a wooden covered bridge on 8 stone piers and spanned 1600 feet from Troy to Green Island. This bridge was the first between New York City and Waterford. The first railroad cars ran over it in 1835. It also had a carriage road and footway. This bridge burned in 1862 taking most of Troy’s business district with it. A new iron bridge was built in beginning in 1876. The eastern end fell into the river in 1977.
Last regular use by the D&H of the Green Island Bridge was an ore train to Republic Steel. I always wondered when were the rails removed from the Green Island Bridge; who owned the Green Island Bridge; was it been owned by the Troy Union Railroad, or was it covered by a joint facilities arrangement?
D&H and the New York Central had reciprocal passenger train trackage rights from around the turn of the century involving the former Troy & Greenbush, the D&H Colonie Main, the D&H Green Island Branch, and the Maiden Lane Bridge for operation of the Albany-Troy Beltline passenger service.
The D&H abandoned the segment between Green Island and Troy (i.e. basically its operations over the Green Island Bridge) in 1964. I don’t have information whether the New York Central or Penn Central used the bridge after that. Apparently the New York Central must have had trackage rights (from Albany) over the D&H to serve the Ford warehouse and other customers once the bridge closed. I wonder if the NYC negotiated access to the T&S around the same time the D&H needed access to Troy via the NYC’s Livingston Avenue bridge? The D&H customers in Troy and the NYC customers at the eastern end of the T&S became landlocked from their respective roads when the rails were removed from the Green Island bridge.
The answers lie in excerpts I found from official documents:
“D&H trackage rights on other roads
Troy to Eagle Bridge on B&M
Livingston Avenue in Albany to Madison Street in Troy on NYC (reinstituted in 1964)
River Street to Madison Street in Troy on Troy Union RR (abandoned in 1964)
Other roads trackage rights on D&H
NYC Livingston Ave in Albany to Green Island
NYC Green Island to River Street in Troy”
Who Owned the Green Island Bridge?
Many thanks to Gordon Davids
formerly Design Engineer, D&H RR Corp. for a great explanation
I can tell you definitively that the bridge was owned by The Delaware and Hudson Railroad Corporation. The Troy Union Railroad ownership ended at the west side of the River Street crossing in Troy, just east of the bridge. However, TURR Signal Station 3 controlled the signals governing train movements over the bridge.
The bridge tender on the bridge was employed by The D&H. He needed an unlock from TU
The Schenectady and Troy Railroad (NYC) had arranged for trackage rights on the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad (D&H) from Green Island to Troy at the time the Troy Union Railroad was organized.
Penney Vanderbilt developed the map of Troy, including the Troy Union Railroad, when she was writing a blog about the Boston & Maine going through the Hoosac Tunnel to serve Troy. It shows important points like Troy Union Station, the Adams Street Freight House and the Green Island Bridge. Other blogs you might like include the Troy Union Railroad Towers; abandonment of train service to Troy; and last but not least, the Troy Union Railroad.
More on the Interstate Highway Grade Crossing
The former Troy & Schenectady line was still operating when the Northway (I-87) was built (1960’s) and there still was a grade crossing on the Northway a short distance south of the “Twin Bridges” over the Mohawk River (this was probably one of only a very few grade crossings on an Interstate Highway in the United States). It wasn’t there long, as the line was cut back within a couple of years to an industrial site just east of Route 9. You can still see where the line passed under Route 9 perhaps a mile north of Boght Corners.
During the period that the line crossed Interstate 87 (ETT has a typo “89”) at Dunsbach Ferry, the following instruction appeared in the Employee Time Table under “special instruction 103 public crossings at grade: Manually controlled traffic signals:” “Trains or engine must stop in rear of stop sign and a member of crew must operate pushbuttons in manual control box. After traffic signals have been operating for at least twenty seconds train or engine may proceed over crossing, signals must be restored to normal position after movement over highway has been completed.”
REFERENCE and OTHER INTERESTING SITES
|Detailed map of the Schenectady section of the T&S
|List of New York Railroads|
|Link to local Railroads in Capital District|
|Conductor Jackie T. throws derail at United Baking Company in Schenectady|
| Green Island Freight House (another view)
From RPI Railroad Site
|A Great ALCO history site|
| Switching for the T&S
From RPI Railroad Site
| Troy & New England Railway
Trolley from Troy to Averill Park (Troy & New England) which missed its goal of reaching New England
Businesses on the T&S
The Troy & Schenectady as well as the D&H branch crossed the Hudson River on the Green Island Bridge. The former New York Central/Troy & Schenectady freighthouse in Green Island is adjacent to Grimm’s building supply. Both the D&H and the T&S start side by side at this point with the T&S starting to climb up and cross above the D&H main while the Green Island branch is at the same level as the main.
Near the Nashua/Stone Management siding, the D&H Green Island Branch passed under the T&S. The T&S bridges over the D&H Green Island Branch and the D&H Colonie Main were not removed until 1980. A T&S/D&H connection was near this point. The T&S then swung north to pass through Cohoes (concrete bridge still in place) west of where the D&H still is today. While they paralleled each other, the difference in height is quite evident. The T&S kept climbing while veering north and west. There was a three or four track yard overlooking the city. The old textile mills where once served by rail.
The D&H played a role in the line’s final years, being named operator of the eastern end of the line when Conrail was formed in 1976. In a 1970’s issue of the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter NRHS newsletter (with photo) the D&H ran locals to a Ford Motor Co. tractor parts warehouse along Route 9 in the town of Colonie. Ford no longer owns the building, but you can see the old roadbed at Rt. 9 and Fonda Road. The tracks entered the building on the south side for boxcar loading. There was also a sand & gravel elevator at the same spot along the branch.
On the west end of the T&S, there wasn’t much business until Niskayuna, where The Knolls Atomic Research Lab and possibly the GE Research & Development Center where located on the branch as it paralleled the Mohawk River. Continuing on to Schenectady, there were a few customers in that city. A short spur climbed the hill along Aqueduct Road as far as Hillside Avenue to reach what has been (since being built in the 1940’s):
a testing facility for Army tanks assembled downtown by Alco;
(2) Consolidated Diesel Equipment Corp. (Condec) who manufactured large military vehicles; and (3) the Nova Bus company.
The Several Railroads of Troy
In 1826 a railroad was projected, to run from Troy to Schenectady, but it didn’t gain support because the citizens had the Erie and Champlain Canals.
The people of Albany thought otherwise and pushed for a railroad to Schenectady. They got their railroad in 1832. Troy had a lot of trade with the north, especially, Saratoga Springs and Washington County. The people of Albany attempted to grab some of this trade by building a railroad from Schenectady to Saratoga. So Troy then pushed for a railroad to
Ballston Spa. It was called the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad. The first passenger train crossed the bridge between Troy and Green Island. The northern terminus of the road was in the south end of the village of Ballston Spa, and the southern terminus was at No. 10 First street, Troy. From the bridge the cars were drawn by horses down River street, turning into First in front of the Troy house, the engine leaving the train at the bridge. While the Rensselaer & Saratoga road extended only as far north as Ballston Spa, the Schenectady branch of the Mohawk & Hudson road had been built as far north as Saratoga Springs, the latter road thereby securing a monopoly of the traffic between Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa. But the Rensselaer & Saratoga purchased control in the other road. This kept Troy as a commercial center.
The State Legislature in 1836, passed an act incorporating the Schenectady & Troy Railroad company. Work was begun in 1840 upon the road connecting Troy and Schenectady. The expense of the work, $649,142, was borne by the city of Troy, which bonded itself for that amount. The first regular trains were run over the road beginning in 1842, the cars being drawn by horses across the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad bridge to the company’s office on River street. In the spring of the following year the tracks were extended along River street from the Troy house to State Street, in order that both roads might land and receive passengers and freight at the steamboat landing.
In 1845, the Troy & Greenbush Railroad company was chartered. The road extended to Washington street, at which point it intersected the Schenectady & Troy railroad, and the cars were drawn by horses over the track on River street to the station built in 1845 at the intersection of River and King streets. This road was leased to the Hudson River Railroad Company. Through trains between Troy and New York began running on the new road. That road (currently just north of the Troy-Menands bridge) was the location of the Burden Iron Works. They made cast iron, and produced coke from coal to burn in the blast furnace. The gas released from the coal in the heating process to make coke was called “Producer Gas” and was captures in large tanks and sold thru out all of south Troy to heat and light homes, and street lights. In the Civil War, the Iron plates for the Union Ironclad “USS Monitor” were manufactured at this mill.
Troy’s fourth railroad, the Boston & Maine, arrived later.
Schenectady to Troy
|Schenectady||0.0||Signal Station 8 open day and night in 1949|
|Crescent||15.49||Open weekdays 8-5 in 1949|
|Cohoes||17.78||Open 8-5 in 1949|
|Troy||20.78||Troy Union Railroad|
Timeline of the Troy & Schenectady
|1835||First Green Island Bridge completed by the Rensselaer & Saratoga|
|1840||Troy borrows $600,000 to build line|
|1851||Troy Union Railroad formed|
|1854||Troy Union Railroad completed in downtown Troy|
|1862||Green Island Bridge burns along with most of Troy|
|1876||New Green Island Bridge completed|
|1900||New railroad station built in Troy|
|1932||End of passenger service on the T&S|
|1950||Tank plant built on Hillside Avenue in Schenectady.|
|1958||Troy station demolished.|
|1959-1960||Tracks in downtown Troy torn up except one for the “Rutland Milk”|
|1964|| Delaware & Hudson abandones its operations into Troy and over the Green Island Bridge.
Remaining track through downtown Troy removed.
|1965||Railroad cut between Crescent and Niskayuna|
|1976||Conrail formed. D&H named operator of branch from Green Island to Crescent.|
|1977|| Green Island Bridge falls into the river.
Sandbank Yard in Scotia shut.
|1980||T&S bridges over D&H Colonie Main and D&H Green Island Bridge removed|
|1984||Conrail “Aqueduct Secondary” (the little bit of the T&S that remained) was formally abandoned.|
American Museum of Electricity
The collection of the American Museum of Electricity was stored (in the early 60’s) on the Niskayuna section of the T&S (approximately mile marker 5…Aqueduct…Balltown Rd area was 3.8) right next to Lock Seven Road. In the 60’s, the line had been cut to a point where there was a bridge over Lock Seven Road.
The collection was kind of unique, but the museum didn’t make it. The collection went several ways:
A couple of Chicago North Shore interurbans, a box electric motor and the “Ponemah” went to Warehouse Point. The Ponemah was a very early electric locomotive that had switched an old textile plant in Taftville, Connecticut.
A Panama Canal locomotive went to Transportation Museum in Roanoke.
The NY Central S-Motor went to the Mohawk & Hudson Chapter NRHS.
Status: On display, work in progress.
Operator: Ponemah Mills
Manufacturer: General Electric
Weight: 35 Tons
Length: 24 Feet
Motors: (4) General Electric Schenectady, NY
Brakes: Train Air K14F
Type: Double truck, steeple cab, steel direct-electric freight locomotive.
To see this locomotive, visit the Connecticut Trolley Museum
Troy’s first depot was the “Troy House” on River Street, lasting until the move to Sixth Avenue in 1851. The second one burned in the Great Fire. The third one was built shortly afterwards, and lasted until 1900, when it was replaced by a more “modern” one. The architect firm of Reed & Stem, who had already been commissioned by the NY Central to work on Grand Central Terminal, used the Troy station to test out some of their concepts. The Troy station was one of the earliest to forego the massive train shed in favor of individual platform umbrella sheds. Passengers reached the platforms by means of an underground passageway, rather than crossing the tracks at grade.
Portion of 1949 USGS map showing the former American Locomotive Company in Schenectady.
From this map:
(1)there were numerous rail sidings throughout the plant;
(2) no track connection appears to exist with the New York Central Mohawk Division;
(3) New York Central’s connection to the plant appears to be from the T&S via the D&H; and
(4) D&H connection appears to have been a crossing of Freeman’s Bridge Road between Nott Street and Seneca Street.
Note also on map the NYC and D&H crossings of the Mohawk as well as Sandbank Yard.
Troy Union Railroad
The first railroad in New York State, and one of the first anywhere, was the Mohawk & Hudson, connecting Albany and Schenectady. The Rensselaer & Saratoga Rail Road followed in 1832, only a year later. Within twenty years, three more railroads came into Troy:
(1) Troy & Greenbush;
(2) Troy & Boston; and
(3)Troy & Schenectady.
The resulting congestion led to the formation of the Troy Union Railroad in 1851, owned jointly by the four roads. It opened in 1854. The tracks were moved from River Street to Sixth Avenue and a new station built. One of the lines was eventually bought by the D&H RR (Rensselaer & Saratoga RR), two were merged into the New York Central RR (Troy & Schenectady RR and the Troy & Greenbush RR), and the fourth became part of the Boston & Maine RR (Troy & Boston RR).
Although the tracks in Troy were moved inland to avoid congestion, the growth of the city overwhelmed it still. Row houses, stores, and factories crowded in on all available land near the track. There wasn’t room for the conventional two-storied interlocking towers needed to control the switches at each end of the terminal, so both towers had to straddle the tracks. Switches were thrown by the tower operators through a series of rods and cranks.
In other major cities, early 1900’s grade crossing elimination programs rebuilt the right-of-way above or below the streets. Similar plans were drawn up for Troy, but never were built. Numerous streets required a gate guard, to flag the crossing or drop the gates. The track ran part of the way in the pavement of Sixth Avenue, and steam road locomotives inched their way past parked cars. This looked like industrial trackage but was a passenger main.
Troy’s first depot (before the Troy Union Railroad) was the “Troy House” on River Street. The second one burned (1862) when Troy had what is known as the “Great Fire”. The third one was built shortly afterwards, and lasted until 1900, when Troy finally got a “modern” one. The depot was designed by Reed & Stem, who eventually worked on Grand Central Terminal. The Troy station pioneered individual train platform sheds reached by an underground passageway instead of one huge shed.
The 1900 station was a colonial revival design with Beaux Arts columns and decorated by Grecian castings.”
The station was 400 feet, and the passenger tracks weren’t much longer. Most trains blocked grade crossings at each end of the station. In 1910, there were 130 passenger trains a day. Most of these, except the Albany- Troy beltline, required an engine change.
The station was torn down in 1958, with only a single track left in place because of Rutland trackage rights for their milk train to Chatham, NY. This track came out in 1964, after abandonment of the Rutland. The tunnel for the tracks was between Congress and Ferry Streets.
This area was known in history as the first “red-light district”. Off-duty railroaders visited houses of “working girls”. The railroaders hung their lanterns outside so the crew- callers could find them.
Much of the industry served by the railroads was in South Troy
Signal Stations on the T&S
The signals on the T&S were located at stations. They were used in connection with the delivery of train orders and to separate trains with a manual block system. Each signal was manually controlled by the telegraph operator at that station. The T&S never had an automatic block signal system.
In 1950, there were two stations open along the T&S, at Crescent and Cohoes, but the signals were gone. The stations were shown in the time table as communicating stations, but not as train order offices or block stations. The entire branch was operated under yard limit rule 93, with no need for train orders. The maximum authorized speed was 10 mph on the entire branch.
In 1959 the yard limits had been cut back to include only Green Island to Cohoes, and train orders were again used to operate between Cohoes and Schenectady. The only open office was Signal Station 8 at Schenectady, and manual block rules did not apply on the branch. Trains received train orders and a Clearance Form A at SS 8 to run to Cohoes. Maximum speed was still 10 mph.
The only interlocking on the T&S was NYCRR Signal Station 8 at Schenectady, which governed the junction of the T&S and the Mohawk Division Main Line, and the T&S crossing of the Delaware and Hudson. At Green Island, a signal governing movements on the switch that joined the T&S with the D&H Green Island Branch was controlled by Troy Union Railroad Tower 3 on River Street in Troy.
From Gordon Davids
In the Summer of 1979, the wheels were in motion to tear up the Crescent Industrial Track. Bike Trail funds were in place and the rail was going to scrap. Funny thing is, this part of the T&S saw service until 1976, whereas the Aqueduct Branch hadn’t seen business since the early 70’s and remained ‘active’ until 1984, scrapping coming a year later.
If you ever wondered why the NYC’s yard in Scotia was called sandbank: Sandbanks namesake was William Fawthrop and Son Sand Company who loaded industrial sand at the NYC-PC-CR yard in Scotia, New York.
Sandbank Yard was shut down around 1977. They weren’t even using the Chicago Line through Schenectady. It’s last use before Amtrak started going to Schenectady again was storing hoppers full of snow on the line in Glenville.
The connection track from what was once Tower 9 to the D&H was the second (1838) alignment of the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad.
The S&S (D&H) was the second railroad to begin operation in New York State (July 12, 1832) after the Mohawk & Hudson (NYC). The two connected in Schenectady proper, where the S&S originally used horse power to move its cars across the Mohawk River on a highway bridge.
In 1838 that route in Schenectady was abandoned. The S&S built a connection to the Utica & Schenectady (NYC) “with which a connection was made a short distance north of the Mohawk River.” This continued until 1871, when the Rensselaer and Saratoga, the new owner of the S&S, built its own Mohawk River bridge on approximately the same alignment as the present D&H bridge north of Maxon Road.
That explains why the D&H connection at Tower 9 pointed toward Schenectady instead of into Sand Bank Yard, which would have made more sense for its later purpose.
The Original S&S started in Downtown Schenectady, crossed the Mohawk River at Washington Avenue (same spot that the FJ&G and Schenectady Railway crossed the river) went through the area of Sandbank yard and North to Saratoga. The line was later moved to go north through Schenectady and cross the Mohawk near Maxon Road. Looking at a list of towers on the NY Central Mohawk Division, the two missing towers between 8 and 11, SS-9 and SS-10, became Remote Interlockings SB and NA, and eventually Tower 11 at Hoffmans became Remote Interlocking HF. All three were controlled by Tower 8 at Schenectady by 1959. After 1959, there was no NYC interlocking at Sand Bank, and no crossovers on the NYC main. The connection ran to a small interchange track, and there were only transfer moves by D&H and NYC yard engines over the connection.
See a picture of Penn Central at Sandbank Yard.
Troy Station, owned by Troy Union Railroad
Heres the path of the Troy & Schenectady Railroad.
What if it Still Existed?
The Troy and Schenectady Railroad:
What If It Still Existed Today?
A lot of my readers create model railroads. Instead, I fantasize about them on the computer.
Let’s assume for this project that the T&S (and several other nearby rail lines) were not abandoned.
In our scenario, a big railroad headquartered in northern Florida just purchased the former New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail lines running through the capital district of New York.
They want to get rid of everything that is not money making train load freight.
Their initial transfer will be the entire T&S with trackage rights to Sandbank Yard. The next step will be transfer of the trackage from West Albany to Hoffmans including the Carman Connector. Other transfers would follow: Renssaeler to Troy, Albany trackage and Rensselaer to West Albany. Now, you have to realize, just because we abrogated the destruction of the Schenectady to Green Island railroad (man-made), we did not abrogate the Green Island bridge destruction (natural disaster).
So to begin, we own from just West of the Schenectady station to the Green Island freight house (adjacent to the new Green Island Bridge). We have a situation where we can only cross Interstate 87, the Northway, between the hours of 2 am to 5 am. We have several industries located all along the line. We are assuming there has been a lot of new development and several ficticious industries have been added (well, don’t all you modelers do it too!)
Operations initially are planned as follows:
Local switching would be done at each end with separate crews during daylight hours.
At night, a train would run from Schenectady to Green Island and return.
Our company is a small conglomerate, operating several businesses unrelated to railroads. We are strong in information technology.
We plan to dispatch from our corporate headquarters in Champlain, New York like Delaware Otsego System dispatches from Cooperstown. Champlain, like Cooperstown, no longer has any active railroads (Rutland used to go from Rouses Point to Ogdensburg).
We will need to shop for at least three used locomotives and any other equipment we might want.
A list of our customers and their location is shown below
Once comfortable with this railroad, we intend to expand.
End corporate history as of December 10, 2005
At last, my first helpful comment for my fantasy railroad!
Passenger Service! Why didn’t I think of that?
Suggestion was for service from Latham area to station in downtown Schenectady. I’d also like to have service from the Crescent area to Troy and Albany. Now remember, I can’t cross the Northway during daylight hours. This means I’ll need two separate trains. The Schenectady side is fairly simple. I can set up some small but convenient “park and ride” stations. On the other side, I’ll definitely need a couple of stops in Cohoes. Now as far as Troy, since I already “wrote out” the Green Island Bridge, I’ll have to set up a shuttle bus from Green Island to Troy. Too bad I don’t have the bridge, I could have gone all the way to the Renssaeler Amtrak Station. All is not lost, I could negotiate to run my train down the D&H into Albany.
Now as far as equipment, my first choice is to fix up some Budd RDC’s. I’ll need two in service at a time and at least one spare.
Schenectady to Troy (FANTASY)
|Schenectady||0.0|| Trackage begins at switch just West of station.
Railroad has trackage rights to Sandbank Yard
Across Mohawk River bridge in Scotia
|New Siding to garbage transfer facility||2.19|| Customer on this siding ships covered hoppers of compacted garbage.
|Siding to Condec plant||3.62|| Customers on this siding are Nova Bus (end of siding) and new Acme Plastics plant (sbout half way up the siding. Nova receives parts by rail and ships finished busses on flat cars.
Acme is a plastics extrusion manufacturer who receives covered gondola cars of plastics pellets and ships containers of finished goods.
|Aqueduct||3.82|| Small siding used by auto salvage yard to ship scrap steel.
|Niskayuna||9.82|| Siding used by organic food products manufacturer to ship refrigerated cars.
|Mohawk View||12.11|| Siding for Widget Manufacturing Company. Ships containers of finished products.
|Dunsbach Ferry||13.94||Fantasy Railcar Co has a small yard where rail passenger cars are repaired and rebuilt.|
|Interstate 87 crossing||15.19|| Crossing at grade
Must set fusees in addition to flagging crossing
|Crescent||15.49||Ford Tractor Warehouse|
|Cohoes||17.78||Ace Manufacturing has siding to their new plant and ships finished gadgets on oversize flatcars. They receive just in time (JIT) parts on a daily basis in box cars.|
|Green Island||20.78|| New trailer on flat car loading/unloading facility near exit of Interstate Highway 787.
End of line (bridge to Troy out)
|Troy||20.78|| Troy Union Railroad
Line serviced from Renssaeler