(Editor's note: This original unpublished article was written in 1994. I left it as is to give a sense of all that has changed since then...not for the better unfortunately. The Hospital Branch has been abandoned by CSX since 2001 and the yards in Poughkeepsie are rarely used. Miron and Dutton lumber facilities are closed. The famous bridge remains inaccessible, entrenched in legal battles and questionable motivation.)
Mainline enthusiasts are likely to gravitate to the west shore River Line in the Mid-Hudson Valley. However, a little known industrial area around Poughkeepsie can provide an interesting day of outstanding branch industrial activity. It includes heavy grades, switchbacks, and local lingo like "CNE Yard,""River Yard," and the "Maybrook Line." All of this takes place within sight of the awesome New York, New Haven & Hartford Poughkeepsie Rail Road bridge. The bridge, built by the Philidelphia & Reading and now unused after a fire in 1974, spans the hills in Poughkeepsie and the former-New York Central Hudson Division Water Level Route across the Hudson River to Highland, NY and the steep hills next the River Line on the west shore, crossing these two busy mainlines. This fine feat of engineering once connected Poughkeepsie to the historically important rail hubs at Campbell Hall and Kingston via New Paltz on the Maybrook Line. It is such an imposing sight that it has captured the imagination of a local group (Walkway Over The Hudson) who hope to restore it public use.
1994 Conrail map of the trackage.
A northbound Amtrak train passes a WAPO-10 in the CNE yard with the famous Poughkeepsie bridge in the background. This shot was taken after 6 inches of new snow and at about 6 degrees farenheit!
Poughkeepsie is served by Conrail's WAPO-10, usually called by 8am Monday-Friday. The power, usually GE B23-7s, is often located on the south end of the ex-Central New England yard, still called the CNE by the crews. Originally the connection between the historic Poughkeepsie & Eastern and the Hudson River Railroad, it also served as access to the New Haven's bridge and to the Maybook Line. Now this trackage into Poughkeepsie is called the Hospital Industrial Branch (named after previously serving the hospital's steam plant, now located at the switchback) and now connecting a few small industries in Poughkeepsie such as the Poughkeepsie Journal, an industrial scrapper, and a ceramic supplier.
WAPO-10 clear of the main for a northbound Amtrak. This switch in the foreground is the switch leading to the Hospital branch
B23-7s 2811 and 1995 on a push-pull going up the grade into the city of Poughkeepsie
Climbing the grade up from the CNE yard.
Even though it is overgrown with weeds, in many places the Hospital Industrial Track still looks like the main line that it once was, with wide sweeping curves and level track.
On the Main Line about to cross Clinton Street.
"Conrail 1975 East to the Maybrook Line Dispatcher. We need the signal at SS195" This lone search light no longer governs movements on the former Maybrook Line. In fact, during summer, the signal is overgrown by the dense foliage and cannot be seen. The switch leads to the original Poughkeepsie & Eastern main line to Pine Plains and Millerton.
CR 1975 South about to cross under the former Maybrook Line. The former two-track main is now just rusted industrial track with super-elevation and 132 lb rail.
Crossing the street near McGillicuddy's Ale House in Poughkeepsie, approaching Smith St yard.
Gondolas for scrap materials can be found at a small yard at Smith Street in Poughkeepsie.
Fulton Street. To aid switching push-pull operations are used. CR 1975 will be shoveed clear of the switch. CR 1995 will pull past the switch, turn the targets, and replace one car on the siding with one from the consist. After reassembly, the train will continue south down the CNE yard.
The adjoining waste water treatment plant makes access difficult, however fine shots can be taken from the former NYC trackage known as the River Yard across on west side of the main line. After switching the CNE yard and Hospital Branch customers, the crew will call to Metro-North Commuter Railroad's Regional Track Controller to get permission to cross the main line north of the yards at CP75.
Once in the River Yard, the crew will switch as needed before heading down a short steep grade to service Miron Lumber and the Dutton rail-to-track lumber transload facility.
(Editor: Notice no ditch lights!)
Usually the power will be on the north end to avoid a reverse move to Dutton.
Although on private property, with permission a good shot can be had of the power with the Hudson river and the Poughkeepsie bridge in the background. In winter 1994, derailments due to ice and snow caused Conrail to contract with Metro North for grade crossing clearance in the city .
Here you can see Metro North crew trucks have just helped clear and rerail one unfortunate WAP0-10 move.
Metro-North also keeps a variety of power in Poughkeepsie. Former New Haven FL9s and ex MBTA/ex ICG F10s can be found here:
FL9s CDOT 2002 (in New Haven paint) and MNR 2033-2013 wait north of the ex-NYC station in Pougkeepsie.
MNR F10 412 and FL9 2020 have arrived as lite power for a failed power set.
From the other end, MNR 2020.
The Oddessy of WAPO-10 by R. R. (Originally published by CRTS 1997)
On Wednesday July 30, 1997 WAPO-10's day started with a trip up the Hospital Industrial Track at Poughkeepsie, NY. Then a trip to the River yard on the west side of Metro North's mains to switch Miron lumber and get 8 cars, including 4 grain, for Hudson, NY.
While we were switching at Miron, Amtrak #250 was heard to call the Hudson Dispatcher to inform him that their unit 701 was "dead in the water" around MP 80 north of Hyde Park, NY. Meanwhile, we were finishing up our switching and making up our train to go north. As events unfolded, we were ordered to go to MP 80 to "rescue" #250. It was anticipated that we would bring the train to Poughkeepsie, unload the passengers, and put the train off the main until Amtrak could retrieve it.
After tying on to #250 with my two (ugh) B23-7s 1969 and 1973, we made a brake test and highballed for Poughkeepsie. Upon calling the Metro North RTC to inform him that we were on the way, he tells us to that we were going to Penn Station! What a trip! We can only make 50 MPH with our B23-7s account speed control, but it was great going 50 MPH everywhere. We took Peekskill at the 45 MPH for passenger trains.
At Inwood we cut our engines off and an Amtrak Geep (766 or 768) took the train into Penn Station. Then we sat at Inwood for almost 2 hours until Amtrak FL9s 485 and 486 arrived. They had been sent from Albany Rensselaer to rescue #250 but were too late. They coupled up to us and the four units, led by the FL9s, headed north to Poughkeepsie...AND I DIDN'T HAVE MY CAMERA WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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©2002 Joseph Klapkowski and Alan Schenkel. ALL images on this page are copyright by Joseph Klapkowski.