Category Archives: History

Cooperstown, New York


Cooperstown Train Station……Now a private residence

Cooperstown is noted for baseball, of course. There is a great golf course with a hotel too. Find out more about vacationing in Cooperstown.

Not much railroad activity in Cooperstown, but the New York, Susquehanna & Western has offices and dispatcher there. I believe a visit or tour can be arranged if you call them. Closest railroad activity is Oneonta (D&H).

Cooperstown is no longer really on an active rail line although the Leatherstocking Line runs between Cooperstown and Milford with tourist trains. Their stopping point is south of the village on NY 28 south of the former crossings at Chestnut and Walnut Streets.

The NYS&W headquarters is in the old freight station in Cooperstown which lies between Main Street and Glen Avenue (NY 28) on Railroad Avenue and this structure has been altered a number of times to make it more suitable for the NYS&W offices. At one time, there was also a trolley/interurban line into Cooperstown from Index which is south of Cooperstown on route 28. This line was a branch off the line which ran between Oneonta and Mohawk and the line into Cooperstown lasted until the very early 1940’s as a freight railroad. The Delaware & Hudson used to serve Cooperstown from Oneonta every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They had a water tower with a standpipe, a decent electric turntable and a very nice passenger station which had been converted to a residence. For a long time, the local freight train came in with a combo (coach and baggage car) rather than a caboose. I think this was because they still carried Railway Express shipments to the station at Cooperstown and the job probably had an express messenger on it too. They still did a reasonable amount of freight business in Cooperstown with lumber, coal, grain and feed being the big items but local LCL stuff too. Both Milford and Cooperstown at the time still had full time agents too. This was in the late 1940’s. Shortly after the arrival of the diesels, the turntable and water plug came out but Cooperstown still had three day a week service for a long time after that.

Find more stories like this one.



Guardsmen Killed By A Train

This is the spot where the two NY State Guardsmen were killed in the First World War.

They were walking on the track and hit by a NY Central M&E Train and died instantly

Shown above is an overhead view of the New York Central Railroad bridge over East Creek. The location is on the New York Central Mohawk Division between Little Falls and Amsterdam.

Then Google Maps had an actual picture of the bridge


We found a “street view” of the bridge view” of the bridge from the parallel State Route 5. The railroad bridge looks to be a two truss bridge. It would have carried four sets of tracks in 1917 (only 2 now).

We had an inquiry from the New York Guard concerning this incident.  The New York Guard is compiling its history and requested our help.

Elsewhere, the New York Guard had a First Provisional Regiment guarding the aqueduct to NYC, one man was struck by a train and lost his legs and died. That was down near NY City. The Second Provisional Regiment guarded the Erie Canal, bridges, Niagara power houses and munition plants all upstate. These were the State active duty part of a NY Guard reserve force statewide of 15,000 during WWI replacing the National Guard when it was activated.

The New York Guard has the complete history of the First but nearly nothing on the Second and they are trying to piece things together from news articles, etc.

Of course, that was just WWI. The NYG was again organized in WWII, and finally stayed in place starting in the 1950s.

There was also have a train incident on a bridge 9 miles east of Elmira, and a sniper incident on that same bridge.

The New York Guard is the State Defense Force of New York State. The New York State Guard is one of the largest and best organized State Guards in the United States and is historically derived from Revolutionary and Civil War era State military units that were reorganized several times in American history in response to various international and domestic crises.

Organized under the Military Law, State of New York, the New York Guard cannot be federalized and cannot be deployed outside New York State without the consent of the governor.

Members of the New York Guard are entitled to many of the benefits accorded members of other components of the ‘Organized Militia of the State of New York,’ the legal collective term describing the New York Army and Air National Guards, New York Naval Militia and New York Guard. These include ‘military leave’ for employees of state or local governments and many private employers.

Find some more great stories


Lackawanna Cutoff

Of all the commuters in America, residents of a small town in eastern Pennsylvania spend the most time behind the wheel, according to the Census Bureau.

Commuters living in the area of East Stroudsburg, a town near the New Jersey border, averaged 40.6 minutes from home to work or vice versa, according to the 2008 Census report.

That’s a lot longer than the nationwide average of 25.5 minutes.

Roger DeLarco, president of East Stroudsburg council, said that’s because many of the locals travel to jobs in the New York City area, more than 60 miles east as the crow flies. He said that 10,000 people live in his town, but three times that number commute to New York from the greater area of East Stroudsburg.

In a reversal of the trend it appears that some of the abandoned Lackawanna Cutoff is finally being rehabilitated!
I’m not holding my breath for the full restoration to Scranton, PA, but this is a good start.

The Unofficial Web Page for the Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Rail Project
Click on picture above to find out about the Penn Jersey Rail Coalition
Another Lackawanna Cutoff Page

The Great Lackawanna Cutoff – Then & Now discussion of the Lackawanna Cutoff

Scranton’s Lackawanna Station

Lackawanna Cutoff from the Wiki
Also known as “New Jersey Cutoff”

Six Rail Station Sites
From the Pocono Record

Delaware Water Gap
From the National Park Service

See more stories on the Lackawanna




This Company was formed April 29, 1839, and the route was surveyed during the summer of that year. The Company was fully organized March 25, 1847. The road was opened in October, 1848, thirty-five miles and a half in length. In 1872 it passed under the management of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company. It finally merged with the DL&W in 1945.

DL&W in Oswego

The Lackawanna had a coal dock in Oswego, but it was older and not too large. Many Great Lakes boats were too long and too deep for loading at the Oswego dock. Lots of times, coal loads had to go to the Pennsylvania for loading at Sodus Point. The matter of extra dredging at Oswego was up but the Railroad did not seem disposed to spend the extra money to dredge to a sufficient depth and length to accommodate the modern boats.

See link for more stories about the Lackawanna


Plimmon H. Dudley (1843-1924) – metallurgist

Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley, the New York Central Railroad’s expert on rail metallurgy, would also accurately predict the weather. He was considered the “scientist of rails”. He died in 1924 at age 81. He had joined the New York Central in 1880 and had lived in the Hotel Commodore since it was built.

Steel men expressed great interest yesterday in the announcement made by President A.H. Smith of the New York Central Railroad that the road’s staff of specialists under the direction of Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley had discovered the cause and remedy for the hidden flaws in steel rails.

HOW ONE MAN HELPED MAKE RAILROADS SAFER; Inventions of Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley Point Out Roadbed and Track Defects and Make Steel Rails Impervious to Cold
February 17, 1924,
EVERY one of us who slips into a Pullman berth at night and wakes up safe and sound in a distant city owes a debt to Dr. Plimmon H. Dudley’s half century of the study of the steel rail. As his eighty-first birthday approaches, science and transportation are preparing to do him honor.

Gifts can become unworkable in many ways. Consider the Dudley Professorship of Railroad Engineering at Yale. The chair was created in 1923 with a $US152,679 gift from Plimmon H.Dudley, a New York Central Rail engineer.

His express desire, he said, was that his research into railway safety be continued, in particular in connection with the development and improvement of designs of rails, roadbeds and crossties.

But railway engineering lost its lustre as a hot academic topic. And the professorship sat vacant for more than 70 years.

“I was kind of stumped as to what to do with this chair,” Yale’s president, Richard Levin, admitted.

Then Yale realized that the steam engines and wood ties of yesterday had been replaced by today’s magnetic levitation and superconductivity. So since 2002, Stephen Morse, an engineer who has studied urban transportation and switching strategies for the control of uninhabited vehicles, has been the Dudley Professor of Engineering at Yale.

See more stories like this one

Detroit Terminal Railway

Of the 20,000 shares of capital stock issued by the Detroit Terminal Railroad Company, one-fourth was owned by the Michigan Central Railroad Company; one-fourth by the New York Central Railroad Company and one-half by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company.

The Detroit Terminal Railroad Company incorporated Dec. 7, 1905 and was a switching line at Detroit. It was merged May 1, 1984, into Conrail.

See all the locations in Detroit.

See a 1916 map.

See some great old pictures of the Detroit Terminal Railway.

Michigan Central Station from the WIKI


See more short stories at

Niagara River Bridge Company

The first Michigan Central Railway Bridge was located just South of the Whirlpool Bridge and was built for rail traffic only.

The Michigan Central Railway Bridge was the dream of owner/businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt needed a rail link between Canada and the USA, but was not prepared to pay the high rental price which the owners of the Lower Arch Bridge were asking for in lieu of using their bridge.

Mr. Vanderbilt owned the Michigan Central Railway and had controlling interest in the Canadian Southern Railway. In lieu of paying rent, he decided to build a new bridge. Vanderbilt formed the Niagara River Bridge Company and received a charter to build a new bridge.

From old bridge plaque:

Niagara River Bridge Company
Cornelius Vanderbilt, President
James Tillingham, Vice-President

Built by
Central Bridge Works, Buffalo
Geo. S. Fields, Manager
C.V. W. Kitridge, Treasurer
Edmond Hayes, Engineer

Length of Bridge 906 feet
Work commenced April 15th, 1883
Completed December 1st, 1883

A new bridge was built in 1925.

Now owned by CP and CN

See more short stories


Here comes the big “John B” locomotive

Here comes the big “John B” locomotive rolling down the track and attracting hundreds to every depot along the way. They’re there to get a close look at the new, powerful engine, one of the largest in the country at 31 tons.

The mail train from Schenectady now is drawn westward by the “John B,” named in honor of Utica’s John Butterfield. On both sides of the engine appears a good likeness of Butterfield and his name. Why Butterfield? Well, why not?

In 1857, he opened the west with his overland stagecoaches that were the first to carry mail from the Mississippi River to the West Coast in fewer than 25 days. He had signed a contract with the U.S. Post Office to deliver mail on regular runs to California. Many said it could not be done.

Butterfield built dozens of stations along the 2,800-mile route, equipped them with fast, fresh horses and hired the best stagecoach drivers in the country. His first stage between St. Louis and San Francisco completed the trip in 24 days, 18 hours.

Butterfield became known as the country’s “Mr. Transportation.” He also built and operated hotels and two years ago was elected mayor of Utica. In 1862, he opened a trolley line along Genesee Street from Broad Street to New Hartford. Utica thus became the only the fifth city in the country with trolley service – after New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans. Later, Butterfield, Henry Wells and William Fargo were among the founders of a company that evolved into American Express. His son, Daniel, was a major general in the Civil War and co-composer of the bugle call, “Taps.” (John Butterfield is buried in Utica’s Forest Hill Cemetery.)

This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino.

Historian recalls Ashley ‘Funeral Train’

It was dubbed “The Funeral Train.’’

On March 31, 1972, the Central Railroad of New Jersey closed its Ashley Yard, ending more than 100 years of operations that were closely tied to the region’s anthracite industry.

Unionized employees of the CNJ refused to assemble the final train or to take it to New Jersey. Management employees, including the yardmaster and trainmaster, filled roles they held in their younger days.

The CNJ lasted only a few more years. On April 1, 1976, the railroad and several other failing lines were rolled into the Consolidated Rail Corp., known best as Conrail. The federal government created Conrail to take over potentially profitable lines of bankrupt carriers including the CNJ, Penn Central, Lehigh Valley and Erie Lackawanna.

The colorful history of the CNJ was laid out in a talk, augmented by a slide presentation, by Ed Philbin at a recent meeting of the Huber Breaker Preservation Society at the Earth Conservancy building, South Main Street, Ashley.

Tracks in the Ashley Yard were only 100 feet west of the EC building. The historic Huber Breaker, which was razed two years ago, sat to the southwest.

Mr. Philbin, 41, of the Port Griffith section of Jenkins Twp., is a railroad historian and an active railroader. He is an engineer on the Reading Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad that runs on former CNJ and Lehigh Valley tracks. Created in 1983, the regional line stretches from Taylor in Lackawanna County south to Reading in Berks County.

Mr. Philbin said the CNJ was “always in bad shape financially’’ but managed to survive because it hauled anthracite and it enjoyed good relations with other railroads, especially the Delaware & Hudson Railway. On one slide, Mr. Philbin pointed out the lack of substantial ballast between the rails and said this was common. “Every one (all of the railroads) was hurting,’’ he said.

The CNJ dates to 1839 when the Elizabethtown and Somerville Railroad was chartered in New Jersey. In 1849, that line bought the Somerville and Easton Railroad and they were chartered as the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The CNJ pushed east as the Lehigh Valley began to haul coal to eastern cities. Eventually, the railroads would supplant canal boats as coal haulers.

Leases, joint operations and use of other railroads’ tracks allowed the CNJ to grow into a major coal hauler. The pivotal lease was that made in the 1870s of the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad, a subsidiary of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. The downtown railroad station in Wilkes-Barre is a landmark of the L&S and the CNJ.

Lehigh Coal & Navigation built the famous Ashley Planes in 1837. The series of inclined planes moved coal and freight, hauled by a cable system, from Ashley to Mountaintop where the Penobscot Yard’s multiple tracks allowed the makeup of trains. The coal that was hauled out over decades fueled the U.S. industrial revolution.

The planes were closed in 1947. Mr. Philbin said the advent of diesel locomotives allowed easier and cheaper movement of trains over the ”Back Track’’ built from Ashley, around the mountain, through Laurel Run and to the Penobscot Yard.

A plan to create an Ashley Planes Heritage Park is dead and the land is overgrown. Earth Conservancy has been unsuccessful in trying to obtain the land. A trail envisioned from Penobscot into Ashley along the planes also is being rerouted around the mountain, following the “Back Track’’ route.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Golias, retired managing editor of The Citizens’ Voice, covered the last CNJ train from Ashley, “The Funeral Train,’’ as a reporter for the former Times-Leader, The Evening News. Less than three months later, the Agnes Flood would wreak havoc on area


All the Little Railroads Around Bridgeport Connecticut

1. the old HRR main line that followed Housatonic Ave. (natch!) and descended to ground level at Grand St.; served Bpt Brass and other customers, small yard;

2. Seaview Ave Industrial RR (SAIRR): electric service to many customers down to Carpenter Steel (originally American Tube & Stamping, later Stanley Works, etc);

3. Union Metallic Cartridge RR (Remington Arms) that served Singer (sewing machines) and was extended to General Electric on Boston Ave, Remington Woods powder farm, etc.;

4. Railroad Ave. from the West End yard (Bresky’s/Burr Rd. tower) to Casco, Dictaphone, circus winter-quarters trackage, Wordin Ave reverse curve to rendering plant, etc.;

5. Crane Valve RR, independent company that went from West End Lumber down to Sikorsky; when Alcoa took it over in the 1940s, it became the Cedar Creek RR.


See more about Bridgeport railroads