New York Central Freight Train - History

New York Central Freight Train - History

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New York Central Freight Train - History

Southern Central Rail-Road

The Southern Central Railroad ran almost north-south from Fair Haven on Lake Ontario south to a connection with the Lehigh Valley Railroad. A principal reason for its construction--and the reason for the Lehigh Valley's initial interest, financial support along the way, and eventual takeover--was coal traffic from the anthracite fields in Pennsylvania to shipping on the Great Lakes.

Actually, the idea for such a line preceded the Southern Central by years, but successful creation of a new rail line took advantage of a realistic plan put forth by a group of level-headed and influencial community leaders, and an act of the New York State Legislature. The New York State General Bonding Act of 1869 provided a practical means for financing by allowing towns along the planned route to borrow money in an amount up to 20% of the towns total assessed value. Each town had to get approval for its plan from the Legislature.

The original plan outlined in the 1867 annual report was to build from Fair Haven in the north to Owego to the south, using a right-of-way owned and sold by the never-built Lake Ontario, Auburn and New York Railroad from the lake to Auburn, and the right of way of the Moravia Plank road south of Auburn. Once sufficient capital was raised, grading began in 1868 and was generally complete by the end of that year. Purchase of rails, freight and passenger rolling stock, and locomotives began the next year, with the final shipment of rail in January of 1870. The first through freight train to Auburn ran in March of 1870 and the first shipment of anthracite to Auburn took place in April.

Construction continued north from Auburn to the lake, and south from Owego to the Pennsylvania state line. The impracticality of a standard-gauge railroad interchanging with the wide-gauge Erie at Owego as planned originally must have become obvious. Instead, the Southern Central built south to Athens Pennsylvania to connect with the Pennsylvania and New York, subsidiary of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. This expension required funds in addition to what had been raised, so the railroad went to the Lehigh Valley for a $500,000 loan the LVRR in turn received that amount in Southern Central stock as collateral, trackage rights for 5 years, and a seat on the Southern Central board of directors. By January 1871 the extension was complete, and through coal trains behind Lehigh Valley locomotives began running to Auburn. The full Athens to Fair Haven route was complete for trains to run in May 1872.

The junction between the Southern Central and the Lehigh Valley Railroad 2 miles north of Athens became Sayre, a major railroad town on the LVRR for a hundred years. The Southern Central interchanged with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western at Owego the New York Central at Auburn the New York Central and eventually West Shore at Weedsport and the Rome, Watertown and Oswego (NYC) at Sterling.

Passenger traffic in 1886 totalled 202,838, out of which 1,512 were through passengers and the balance local traffic. Freight traffic in that year totalled 495,000 tons, of which coal made up 71%, lumber 6%, and the balance other goods, largely agricultural and manufactured items.

As can be seen from the preceding data, the Southern Central hauled largely coal, which would be supplied to dealers and manufacturing facilities along the line as well as taken to large coal docks on Lake Ontario for export. Grain, lumber, and ore were imported at Fair Haven. Where the line crossed the Erie Canal at Weedsport, north of Auburn, docks allowed transfer of coal from train to canal boat.

3. Takeover by the Lehigh Valley

The absorption of the Southern Central by the larger railroad was probably inevitable when it occurred in 1887. In addition to the money the LVRR provided for construction south of Owego, they also provided financing for the building of rail facilities and rolling stock. By the time of the takeover by the Pennsylvania and New York in 1887, the SCRR owed the Lehigh Valley $900,000, largely in unpaid interest. Influence of the Lehigh Valley over the affairs increased steadily until that year in 1888 the LV took over directly. The Southern Central name gradually disappears from the records, although it remained a separate corporation under Lehigh Valley control for several years more. It eventually became part of the Auburn branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

More details on the history of this line, histories of the other portions of the Auburn Branch, and photos can be found in Herbert Trice's book "The Gangly Country Cousin The Lehigh Valley's Auburn Division" published in 2004 by the DeWitt Historical Society of Thompkins Couty, Ithaca, NY, from which this history is written.

The first part of the line was built as the Saratoga and Hudson River Railroad, incorporated April 16, 1864, and opened in Spring 1866. After only about a year of independent operation, the line served as a branch of the New York Central Railroad (NYC), splitting at Athens Junction near Schenectady and running southeast and south along the west side of the Hudson River to Athens, New York. Early plans included acquiring the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad as a northern extension. The Saratoga and Hudson River was bought and merged into the New York Central as their Athens Branch on September 9, 1867.

The terminal at Athens was destroyed by fire in 1876. The line ran intermittently from then into the 1880s, with its tracks being torn up for good in 1888. It had been called the "White Elephant" Railroad for most of its existence because it quickly outlived whatever usefulness it may have had. Today a row of brick houses known as the Brick Row Historic District which was built in 1850 for the workers of the failed railroad stand in Athens as the only remaining structure related to the "White Elephant" Railroad project.

At the south end of the route, the Ridgefield Park Railroad was incorporated April 4, 1867. This was planned as a branch of the New Jersey Rail Road, splitting at Marion Junction and running north on the west side of the New Jersey Palisades via Ridgefield Park to the state line at Tappan, New York.

Across the state line, the Rockland Central Railroad was incorporated May 23, 1870, to continue the line to Haverstraw, and the Rockland Central Extension Railroad, incorporated May 29, 1872, was to continue further north along the west side of the Hudson River. The Rockland Central and Rockland Central Extension merged on July 29, 1872, to form a new Rockland Central Railroad, and that company merged with the Ridgefield Park to form the Jersey City and Albany Railroad on June 24, 1873, with the intention of building a full line from Jersey City to Albany.

The line first opened in 1872 as a spur of the New Jersey Midland Railway, which had built the section south of Ridgefield Park. At that time, the northern terminus was at Tappan the extension north to Haverstraw, New York, opened in 1879.

Bankruptcy struck soon, and the New York section of the line was sold on September 28, 1877, and reorganized October 12, 1878, as the Jersey City and Albany Railway. The part in New Jersey was sold August 17, 1878, and reorganized with the same name, and the two companies merged in January 1879 to form a consolidated Jersey City and Albany Railway.

The North River Railway was incorporated April 3, 1880, to extend the line north to Albany with a branch to Schenectady and a connection to the New York, Ontario and Western Railway (O&W) at Cornwall, New York. The North River Railway was consolidated with the Jersey City and Albany on May 5, 1881, to form the North River Railroad, again forming a single planned line between Jersey City and Albany.

The Hudson River West Shore Railroad was incorporated February 16, 1867, and the West Shore Hudson River Railroad was incorporated October 28, 1867, absorbing the Hudson River West Shore on February 16, 1867. This was a second proposed line on the west shore of the river from New Jersey to Albany. The New York, West Shore and Chicago Railroad was incorporated July 13, 1870, and absorbed the West Shore Hudson River on July 21, 1877, with a planned line not only to Albany but then west along the south bank of the Mohawk River to Buffalo. That company was sold and reorganized as the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway on February 18, 1880, and on June 14, 1881, the North River Railroad was merged into it, forming one company in charge of the whole route from New Jersey to Buffalo. [ citation needed ]

In 1883, the newly formed company inaugurated service from Newburgh and Jersey City at the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot, where passengers transferred to ferries across the river. [1]

A new alignment was built along the east side of the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (formerly the New Jersey Midland) to North Bergen. By 1886, service operated to Weehawken Terminal through a tunnel under Bergen Hill that had been built in the three preceding years. [2]

The company leased the Athens Branch of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, the old Saratoga and Hudson River Railroad, and incorporated it into their main line between Coxsackie and Fullers. At Ravena, along the Athens Branch, the main line turned northwest towards Schenectady, while a new branch continued north to Kenwood Junction on the Albany and Susquehanna Railroad in Albany. This full line formed an immediate threat to the NYC monopoly. [ citation needed ]

In addition to its owned trackage, the West Shore (WS) also had trackage rights over the Suspension Bridge and Erie Junction Railroad and Erie International Railroad, providing a route from Buffalo to Ontario. After the New York Central took over the West Shore, this was useless, as the New York Central had a parallel line, the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad. [ citation needed ]

The West Shore also had relations with the Boston, Hoosac Tunnel and Western Railway (BHT&W), which would have run from the Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts west to Buffalo. Instead the BHT&W built only to Rotterdam Junction west of Schenectady it was later taken over by the Fitchburg Railroad.

In 1881, the WS had been planned as a link in a new cross-country line from New York to San Francisco, using the Nickel Plate Road, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway, Northern Pacific Railroad and Oregon Navigation Company. However, William Henry Vanderbilt of the NYC had bought the Nickel Plate in 1882, killing that plan. The NYC then proceeded to drive the New York, West Shore and Buffalo into bankruptcy.

The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) recognized that the WS would make a great addition to their system, allowing them to penetrate deep into NYC territory. At the same time, the NYC was building the South Pennsylvania Railroad across southern Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Railroad's territory. Pressured by financier J.P. Morgan, who was vehemently opposed to ruinous railroad rate wars, the two railroads came to an agreement by which the NYC would buy the WS and stop building the South Pennsylvania (sections of which were later used for the Pennsylvania Turnpike). The NYC bought the New York, West Shore and Buffalo Railway on November 24, 1885, and reorganized their new acquisition as the West Shore Railroad on December 5, leasing it for 475 years from January 1, 1886.

In many sections, the WS ran on a straighter path than the NYC, and was thus used for through freight. For instance, between Oneida and Utica, the WS followed the general line of the never-built Syracuse and Utica Direct Railroad, which had been merged into the NYC.

Classic Railroads That Served Massachusetts

* Massachusetts was home to the first railroad actually put into service in the United States, the small Granite Railway which opened 3 miles in 1826.  It was purpose was singular, to transport granite between Quincy and the Neponset River at Milton to build the Bunker Hill Monument (completed in 1843). 

The system, which initially utilized horses, proved successful and remained in use after the monument's completion.  It was later acquired by the Colony & Newport Railway which itself wound up as part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford.

Altogether, these railroads along with Amtrak and the MBTA operate just over 1,000 miles of track throughout the state although during the industry's "Golden Age" Massachusetts boasted just over 2,100 miles.

Since the 1920s the state has seen its rail network decline by 49%, which, while a staggering amount is actually about average for most states.

In any event, for a more detailed look at Massachusetts in terms of route mileage over the years please have a look at the chart above.  

Passenger trains today continue to be an important part of the Massachusetts rail system with the ex-New Haven Railroad main line to Boston serving as Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (Massachusetts is also home to longest stretch of high-speed rail in the U.S., totaling 10.5 miles at 150 mph).

Amtrak trains such as the Vermonter, and Downeasters also serve the Bay State.

Boston & Maine S5 #854 works yard in Somerville, Massachusetts (Boston) on September 4, 1965. Roger Puta photo.

Passenger and freight operations aside, Massachusetts is also home to a number of railroad museums and excursion trains, like the very popular Cape Cod Central Railroad.

Others include the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum, Cape Cod Central Railroad, Chatham Railroad Museum, Edaville Railroad, Lowell National Historical Park, Old Colony & Fall River Railroad Museum, Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, and the Walker Transportation Collection.  

So, whether you are interested in high-speed passenger trains or bucolic local short line railroads, Massachusetts offers a bit of everything. And, if you tire of that then be sure and stop by one of the state's many railroad museums to learn more about its history.

Breaking Out.

As the iron horse reached increasingly critical needs, the federal government made plans to complete a transcontinental route to the Golden State. 

The book "Railroads In The Days Of Steam" by Albert L. McCready and Lawrence W. Sagle, notes that investors had spent some $372 million on railroads in 1850. 

In his book, "The Routledge Historical Atlas Of The American Railroads," John Stover points out this number had skyrocketed to $1.15 billion by 1860.  Almost single-handedly railroads transformed the United States into a world power.

The 1850s not only established railroads as the preeminent mode of travel but also witnessed a flurry of additional new construction.   

While future decades witnessed greater mileage (notably the 1880's) the 1850s demonstrated the iron horse's remarkable abilities to transport considerable freight and passengers and previously unheard of speeds. 

Perhaps Mr. Stover stated it best: "By the mid-fifties the United States, with no more than 5 percent of the world's population, had nearly as much rail mileage as the rest of the world. Few other institutions in the country did business on so vast a scale or financed themselves in such a variety of ways.

This sentiment is confirmed in the book, "The First Tycoon: The Epic Life Of Cornelius Vanderbilt," by T.J. Stiles as he articulates how railroads were the first large corporations, employing thousands and capitalized in millions. 

Another major achievement reached at this time was the first use of telegraph in 1851 to control train movements. 

This new system allowed railroads near instant communication, in coded dots and dashes, and spurred the construction of line-side poles, which became a common sight along nearly every rail line through the 1980's (by then used primarily for signaling purposes). 

Finally, most of the now widely-regarded tycoons were involved with railroads by the 1850s names, like Vanderbilt, Collis P. Huntington, and Jay Gould.  These individuals, and others, oversaw most of the new construction which took place through the latter 19th century.

More Reading About 1850's Railroads And More

Even the government was becoming involved as the iron horse became a vital means of transportation.  By the mid-1850's, the United Stats controlled virtually all of central North America from the Atlantic to Pacific coastline. 

Because of this, leaders in Washington recognized a fast and efficient means of transportation was needed.  This was furthered by California achieving statehood on September 9, 1850. 

While the "Gold Rush" brought tens of thousands of prospectors across its borders, it was rich farmland within the San Joaquin Valley, and seaside ports (totaling 840 miles), that transformed California into the country's most successful economy.   

The state's involvement with the iron horse predated the Transcontinental Railroad by more than a decade. 

The Sacramento Valley Railroad is identified as its first, filing articles of incorporation as a common-carrier on August 4, 1852.

California's very first railroad actually put into operation was theਊrcata & Mad River Railroad, established in 1854 and opened later that year.  It was built by private interests to load lumber schooners in Humboldt Bay near Arcata.

According to the book, "The Northern Pacific, Main Street Of The Northwest: A Pictorial History" by author and historian Charles R. Wood in the spring of 1853 Secretary of War Jefferson Davis (who later became president of the Confederate States of America) initiated the task of surveying western routes to the Pacific Coast.

There were eight options put forth running along various, north-to-south parallels.  Due to the ongoing issue of slavery Congress could not agree on which. 

As a result the entire undertaking remained dormant for years. As tensions between northern and southern states grew it reached a crescendo when Abraham Lincoln was elected president on November 6, 1860. 

Only weeks later, South Carolina formally seceded from the Union (December 20, 1860) soon afterwards several other states followed, Confederate forces opened fire on federal troops stationed inside Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, and the Civil War officially began. 

With the nation's fracturing, northern leaders settled on the central option although its construction did not begin until 1862 and was not finished until May 10, 1869. 

In spite of this, the 1850s did witness one successful endeavor of the federal government the granting of large tracts of lands to railroads in an effort to build and develop new areas west of the Mississippi, the Great Plains which became home to many of the classic granger lines like the Rock Island, Milwaukee Road, Burlington, Chicago Great Western, and others.

Baltimore & Ohio 4-6-0 #2026 (B-18) is sene here at the small, rural depot in Reedy, West Virginia on the (now-abandoned) RS&G Branch circa 1940s. Author's collection.

Two of the 1850's most significant corporate developments was the original New York Central Railroad's formation on May 17, 1853 and the Erie Rairoad's completion in the spring of 185.

The former opened a through route from Albany to Buffalo and later became part of Vanderbilt's New York Central & Hudson River Railroad connecting New York with Chicago. 

The latter opened its original main line between Piermont and Buffalo, New York in 1853.  The Erie was the jewel of New York and the only railroad at that time to boast a route of its length under common ownership. 

In later years the company finished a through corridor from New York to Chicago, acting as the smallest as the four major eastern trunk lines. 

The other two noteworthy systems, the Baltimore & Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroads continued their push westward past the Ohio River.  As this was ongoing, Chicago was fast becoming the "central hub" of the industry, then-served by 11 railroads.

Around the Mississippi River the Illinois Central completed its so-called 705-mile "Charter Lines" on September 27, 1856. 

This corridor formed a rough "Y" the main line would head north from Cairo, Illinois, pass through Clinton, and reach Freeport before turning west and terminating at Dunleith (East Dubuque) along the Mississippi River.  It would span a total of 453 miles.  

In addition, a so-called branch would track due north from a point which later became Centralia (incorporated in 1859 it is named for the point where IC's Charter Lines converge) and reach Chicago, totaling 252 miles

A Baltimore & Ohio passenger train makes a stop at the small depot in Waverly, West Virginia during the early 1900s. Author's collection.

Also, in 1859 George Pullman completed his first sleeping car.  The company he later founded would blossom into the most successful and well-known passenger car manufacturer of all-time. 

The book, "The Cars Of Pullman" by authors Joe Welsh, Bill Howes, and Kevin Holland note that it was named "Old #9" and was rebuilt from a former day coach.  The car was 40 feet in length, featuring 10 upper and 10 lower berths containing mattresses and sheets but no sheets. 

It also boasted a small toilet, wash basin, wood-stove for heating purposes, and candles for lighting.  While rudimentary by later standards it was quite revolutionary for the time.  Railroads in the 1850s also saw a major shift in traffic flow.

Before trains became a reliable means of transportation the fastest way to move people and goods was via the water.  For this traffic to move from the East to Midwest required the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers which flowed in a predominantly southern direction, eventually reaching New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.

With railroads building directly westward into Ohio, Indiana and Illinois traffic could flow directly east-west with Chicago fast become the terminating western hub because of its location along Lake Michigan. 

Crews pose for a photo during construction of the Ohio River Rail Road in West Virginia (Huntington - Wheeling) circa 1883. Author's collection.

The city also was the ideal northern terminating point for railroads built north-south such as the Illinois Central and after the western railroads opened they chose Chicago as their eastern terminating hub since so many railroads already served the city and interchanged people and goods there.   

Railroads in the 1850s and the expansion that took place during the decade set the stage for what would transpire during the Civil War and how the campaign transpired.

The North would hold a commanding advantage in the war not only because most of the country's industrial base was centered in the Northeast but also because most of the railroads with most of the trackage centered in the Northeast and Midwest (it also didn't help that since much of the war was fought in the South significant infrastructure was damaged or destroyed).

Aside from the war other factors that were becoming issues in the 1860s included many different track gauges which were affecting traffic interchange and the number of bridges crossing major waterways.

New York Central Freight Train - History

The flagship operation of the NYC was the luxurious first-class Twentieth Century Limited , operated on a crack 16-hour schedule between New York's Grand Central Terminal and Chicago's LaSalle Street Station. It was one of America's premiere passenger services, and the subject of pop culture lore. The service was started in 1902, and came to an end in 1967 as a victim of corporate belt-tightening.

As a result of shifting traffic patterns to trucks and Federally-funded interstate highways and a rapid decline in passenger traffic due to the advent of commercial jet travel, American railroads suffered from reduced revenue. More so in the industrialized northeast, where factories were closing and relocating to the south to take advantage of cheaper labor. On February 1, 1968, NYC merged with its chief competitor, the Pennsylvania Railroad to form the ill-fated Penn Central. A year later, the new company was forced to absorb the ailing New York, New Haven & Hartford. The cost savings from eliminating duplicate facilities and workers never happened, and Penn Central declared bankruptcy in 1970. A massive bailout came from the Federal government in 1976 in the form of Conrail, who took over the operation of the majority of the former PC system, along with five other bankrupt northeastern railroads. Today, much of the former NYC is operated by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern.

Origins of Penn Central Train LI-2

Today we're going to take a look at the origins of Penn Central Train LI-2.

In 1 968 the newly formed Penn Central began diverting traffic from its ex PRR Greenville - Bay Ridge car floats to the River Line. In 1969 when the New Haven became part of the Penn Central all New Haven floating ceased and its traffic was routed to the faster, more reliable and less costly River Line.

In 1970 the New Haven route to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) removed the LIRR traffic from the Greenville car floats. To accommodate this traffic the Penn Central built the "NAVE" (Newark Avenue) connection between the River Line and the ex PRR P&H Branch in Jersey City

With LIRR traffic now going to Selkirk PC Train LI-2 was born and would use the NH connection to the LIRR. The train would go east from Selkirk on the NH Beacon Branch into Connecticut and then come back going southwest into New York at Port Chester before heading south into the Bronx and over the Hell Gate Bridge to Fresh Pond Junction where the train was turned over to the LIRR.

In 1971 the connection at Beacon with the NYC Hudson Line and the New Haven Beacon Branch was upgraded to allow trains to operate between the NH Maybrook Line and the NYC Hudson Line to New York City. The LI-2 is reported to have been rerouted from Selkirk to the Hudson Line sometime after this. The 1974 timetable shows the LI-2 using the Beacon Branch Route.

Operations before the Penn Central Takeover:

Prior to January 1969 the New Haven Railroad had two east west gateways, one at Maybrook Yard and the other at the Bay Ridge Brooklyn Car float.

The NH was part of the eight RR "Alphabet Route" with Maybrook being the Northeast connection of this east west freight service that competed with the PRR-NYC-ERIE and B&O.

The second east west gateway was the Bay Ridge 65th Street Yard where the PRR floated cars to and from Greenville NJ to Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

The New Haven route thru Brooklyn, the Bay Bridge Branch, was owned by the LIRR, a PRR subsidiary until 1965 and the Queens portion of the route and the Hell Gate Bridge into the Bronx was owned by the New York Connecting Railroad, a paper RR jointly owned by the PRR and NH. The entire line was electrified with overhead catenary to power the NH electric freight trains. Unfortunately the overhead catenary on the Bay Ridge Branch came down after the PC takeover.

During the New Haven era the NH interchanged cars with the Long Island RR at Fremont Street Tower in the Glendale neighborhood of Queens NY where the N.Y.C.R. met the L.I.R.R. FN Tower controlled the switches an signals.

A 1950 NH Timetable indicates that the New Haven dispatched westbound train M-7 "The Maine Cannonball" daily except Sat and Sun from Portland, Maine to Bay Ridge NY picking up LIRR cars from around the system and delivering them to the LIRR at Fremont.

A second westward NH train, NG-1 departed Cedar Hill daily for Bay Ridge with cars for the LIRR at Fremont.

The timetable does not show any eastbound connection with the LIRR which I believe was due to the LIRR having it's own car float connections.

N.Y.C.T.L. Model Railroad Operations:

In PCCM 83 the large amount of virtual ops freight traffic for the LIRR coming from Ralph's KPD and Sir Neal's APRR gave me the opportunity to research Penn Central freight schedules and to once again run a fictional version of Penn Central Train LI-2.

Prior fictional versions of the LI-2 had been run in PCCM 63 in August 2019 and before that in PCCM 48 in June 2018 with both pretending to use the traditional Hudson Line routing for Empire City but with neither being a solid block for the LIRR.

The third time's the charm as this time I did the research into the train. While my LI-2 wasn't close to the prototypical operation of either the NH or PC it did add some enjoyable modeling and operational opportunities like reversing the train at Terminal Yard.

Delivering the entire train to the LIRR at North Side Yard was a fun twist to my normal operations here.

It may not make it to the virtual ops but even without catenary I like the look of this E33 combo rolling thru Empire City.

Here's another look at my PCCM 83 version of the LI-2. It was enjoyable to run and a s virtual ops traffic permits I plan to run that version of the LI-2 again with a solid block of freight cars for the LIRR. The only question then will be should I pretend it's coming off the Beacon Branch like in the video or the Hudson Line into Empire City.

The National New York Central Railroad Museum, located in Elkhart, Ind., recaptures the glory days when America’s railroads were symbols of progress and goodwill ambassadors across the country.

The Museum was founded in 1987 and is an ever-growing preservation site of both local and national railroad heritage pertaining to the New York Central System. The New York Central was once the second-largest railroad in the United States, with 11,000 route miles of track in eleven states and two Canadian provinces. Elkhart is a natural home for the Museum: the New York Central’s Robert R. Young Yard (now Norfolk Southern Railway’s Elkhart Yard) is the second-largest railroad freight classification yard east of the Mississippi River. Just as when the railroad first arrived in Elkhart in 1851, Elkhart functions as a vital link in the chain connecting the Atlantic Seaboard with the Midwest and beyond.

The Museum’s goal is to tell the story of the vast New York Central System, and its predecessors and successors into the modern era.

721 S Main St Elkhart, IN 46516



Please note:
General photography / videography is prohibited at the New York Container Terminal facility.

I submitted a written request and was granted permission by officials of Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and New York Container Terminal
to photograph the locomotive operations. If you do not have permission, you will be stopped and detained - security is tight!

Special thanks are due to:

Frank Rose
Gary L. Smith
Arie Van Tol

You may view the New York Container Terminal website here: New York Container Terminal

February 26, 2009 - New York Container Terminal, Howland Hook, Staten Island, NY
Morristown & Erie Railroad (leased power) #20 - SW1500
NYCT locomotive #2109 (GP38-2) was temporarily out of service with a cracked gear pan.
NYCT leased this locomotive from Morristown & Erie while NYCT #2109 was awaiting receipt of the new gear pan.

February 26, 2009 - New York Container Terminal, Howland Hook, Staten Island, NY
Morristown & Erie Railroad (leased power) #20 - SW1500
just east of Western Avenue crossing
Arlington Yard in background

February 26, 2009 - New York Container Terminal, Howland Hook, Staten Island, NY
Morristown & Erie Railroad (leased power) #20 - SW1500
Western Avenue crossing

February 26, 2009 - New York Container Terminal, Howland Hook, Staten Island, NY
Morristown & Erie Railroad (leased power) #20 - SW1500
Western Avenue crossing
(taken from Arlington Yard)

Returning to the New York Container Terminal in May 2009 for my exploration of the Procter & Gamble property,
I caught #2109 back in service:

May 1, 2009 - New York Container Terminal, Howland Hook, Staten Island, NY
New York Container Terminal #2109 - GP38-2
Western Avenue crossing

May 1, 2009 - New York Container Terminal, Howland Hook, Staten Island, NY
New York Container Terminal #2109 - GP38-2
Western Avenue crossing

February 26, 2009 - CSX municipal waste container train PN-08 pulling into the AK Bridge approach from the Travis Branch Loop (west).
CSX #5277 and #5327 (ES44DC)

February 26, 2009 - After clearing the turnout from the Travis Branch into the AK Bridge Approach (left track),
the train pulls clear of the crossover in the Arlington Yard throat tracks.
The train then reverses direction and backs the municipal waste containers down (east) into Arlington Yard.
That's James the of the CSX train crew hitching a ride into the yard.

February 26, 2009 - The CSX locomotives on the Arlington Yard throat track crossover backing (east) into the yard.

February 26, 2009 - Trackman of the New York Container Terminal throwing the turnout,
after the CSX crew dropped of the municipal waste cars, and pulled back forward (west).
Now it will back down (east) on the intermodal container stack train to couple up.

While the CSX crew is moving forward to pick up the container stack train already assembled in Arlington Yard,
the NYCT crew is already bringing up more containers from the NYCT into the Arlington Yard.

NYCT locomotive (leased M&E #20) moving back down the incline to the NYCT facility.

February 26, 2009 - CSX crew backing down (east) on the intermodal container stack train.

February 26, 2009 - CSX locomotives coupled up to intermodal container stack train and preparing to pull train forward (west)
clear of turnout, and back down on municipal waste containers with the intermodal container stacks.
Once the intermodal container cars are coupled up to the municipal waster container cars, the CSX crew
will wait for the AK (Arthur Kill) Bridge to drop, and will then proceed west to Cranston Junction, NJ.
The CSX crew on this trick was particularly friendly and informative! Thats JJ in the cab (engineer) and
James (conductor / brakeman) on the ground.

One of, if not my favorite railway bridge, is the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge " AK Bridge" connecting Cranston Junction, in Elizabeth, New Jersey with Arlington Yard and the North Branch, Staten Island, NY.

This bridge is the longest vertical lift bridge in the world, and was built by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.

The Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Railroad Bridge was constructed in 1958 through 1959, and officially opened August 25, 1959 by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

This vertical lift bridge replaced an older swing span that was damaged in a ship collision.

This single track bridge connects Cranston Junction in Elizabeth, New Jersey and Arlington Yard in Staten Island, New York

This bridge is the largest vertical lift bridge in the world.

The two towers are 215 feet in height.

The movable span is 558 feet in length.

In the raised position the span is 135 feet above Mean High Water

In the lowered position the span is 31 feet above Mean High Water.

In 1991, it was taken out of service when the last freight train to use the North Branch (former Staten Island Rapid Transit) crossed it.

In 1994, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) purchased the bridge and the North Shore branch of rail service from CSX.

In 2004, NYCEDC and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced plans to rehabilitate the bridge and reactivate freight rail service on Staten Island. Repairs to the bridge included repainting the steel and rehabilitating the lift mechanism.

The bridge has been painted in "royal blue" in homage to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The rehabilitation project was completed in June 2006.

On October 4, 2006, a "train" crossed the bridge for the first time in 16 years. It consisted of just a single locomotive which took on switching duties at the New York Container Terminal.

The bridge now sees regular service for both arriving and departing container stack trains for the New York Container Terminal, and trains of municipal waste departing Arlington Yard.

The bridge is kept in the up position to minimize marine navigation obstacle.

It is lowered on a predetermined schedule, and after the US Coast Guard has announced its scheduled lowering several times during the day of lowering
(2 hour warning, 1 hour warning, 30 minute warning, 15 minute and 5 minute warnings are issued)

It is usually lowered twice a day: one in the morning for inbound traffic, one in afternoon for outbound traffic.

It used to appear that the bridge was lowered twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), but increased rail traffic seems to warrant almost daily operation.

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009 - CSX # 5393 (ES44DC) & #504 (CW44AH)
(according to Gary Smith of the NYCT, that bridge approach grade is approximately 2½ %!)

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

May 1, 2009

This active railroad has been moved to its own page. Please click here:

The Port Jersey Railroad is a small shortline, but don't let that fool you. They move a substantial about of freight in Jersey City from various modes of shipping.

As of December 2010, New York New Jersey Rail purchased the Port Jersey Railroad. Information is now placed withing the Port Jersey RR chapter of New York New Jersey Rail.

DID YOU KNOW? Interesting facts about the New York Central Railroad

The New York Central Railroad Company was a corporation of the State of New York, having its principal office at 575 Broadway, in the City of Albany, State of New York. It also maintained executive offices at 466 Lexington Avenue, New York City.

Buildings in the vicinity of Grand Central Terminal were owned by the

Commodore Vanderbilt’s statue at Grand Central Terminal was originally placed downtown at St, John’s Park in 1869. When the original downtown freight house was moved, the statue went to Grand Central in 1929.

The agreement (“in perpetuity”) allowing the New Haven Railroad to enter New York City on New York Central right-of-way and share the terminal dates back to 1848.

In 1853, The Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad Company opened (later Lake Shore & Michigan Southern), NY Central, Penn Central, Conrail, Norfolk Southern) thus forming the last link in the chain of roads from Chicago to New York and Boston.

In 1882 William H. Vanderbilt utters his famous “The public be damned!” quote. The rest of the quote is “I am working for my stockholders. If the public wants the train, why don’t they pay for it?” (The train in question was a premium fare, deluxe weekly).

Watch the video: Trains Unlimited - The New York Central