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Chapter Four - Catskill

Adventurers in New England

Chapter Four

Walkway over the Hudson and Catskill Trains


Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author

June 13, 2015

After loading the car and leaving the motel our first stop was for breakfast at McDonald's which was an easy find because it was across the road from the Subway shop. Then we were headed west towards Poughkeepsie, Walkway bridge and Marist College.

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Our good ride for the next two weeks.

From Dover Plains, NY we take NY-343 to NY-82 and then on to US-44. Our first venue was Marist College, just north of Poughkeepsie. This week my nephew Struan, graduated from high school in Honolulu and has chosen to attend Marist College so I have the chance to check out his new digs.
Originally settled by the Dutch, Poughkeepsie became the state capital in 1777. The city is built on the rocky terraces rising 250 feet above the Hudson River and the level plateau above.

Marist College. Liberal arts college on the Hudson River. Home to approximately 4,100 traditional undergraduate men and women, 1,100 adult continuing education students, and another 1,000 graduate students. In 1947, the first graduating class of modern-day Marist College consisted of four Marist Brothers. Today, close to 30,000 alumni and alumnae call Marist alma mater; offers professional training to business, government and nonprofit organizations. Marist's Art Gallery (Steel Plant Studios) showcases faculty, student and Hudson Valley artists. Musicals, plays and lectures in the Nelly Goletti Theatre and new music building's Fusco Recital Hall and Symphonic Hall. Men's and women's NCAA Division 1 athletic contests on site as well as crew races on the Hudson River. Longview Park overlooks a scenic stretch of the Hudson River along the Marist waterfront.

Marist College follows in the tradition of great institutions like Harvard University and the College of William and Mary that were founded as seminaries and developed into independent academies of higher learning.  

see Marist campus

As we arrived at the campus, we couldn't enter because it was closed and being used as a staging area for the marathon which we had no knowledge was happening. One of a few surprises we had on this trip. Leaving Marist we drove about a 1.5 mile south to the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Crossing the bridge we go from Duchess County with the FDR Home and Presidential Library plus the Culinary Institute of America into Ulster County. On the west side of the Hudson River we go a few miles north on US 9W to the entrance to the West Gate. Parking was crowded with runners autos. Walking to the gate we are meet the runners awaiting the start of the race. We could not walk on the bridge till after the racers left.


Souvenir of past railroad bridge traffic. A Pennsylvania Railroad N5 caboose, built by the railroad in 1926.

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Waiting to start the 5K Marathon.

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Before it became Walkway State Park, this massive 1.28 mile steel structure was know as the Poughkeepise-Highland Railroad Bridge, an Industrial Age Superstar! When trains began rumbling over the bridge in 1888, it became key transportation hub linking western raw materials to eastern industrial centers, until a fire in 1974 crippled the railroad bridge.
Thirty-five years later it opened on October 3, 2009 as Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. More than 3 million people have visited the park to stroll, cycle, walk, jog and roller blade over its mighty steel trusses.

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Several minutes before start of Marathon.

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Runners on bridge awaiting the start.

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We are allowed to enter and walk on the bridge.

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Mid-Hudson Bridge for route US 44.

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Boathouse Row and Marist College on east side of Hudson River.

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Looking down on the freight track on the west side of Hudson River.

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Mid-Hudson Bridge.

After we are allowed to enter on the bridge, Chris and I walk out about on a third of a way out. The wind is blowing and with runners crowding the bridge we decide to proceed to the next stop. The 5K started on the west side and went to Marist and the 10K started at Marist, went over the bridge and back to also end at Marist.
With my nephew going to be here for the next four years, I have serious intentions of returning to visit and walking the entire length of the walkway.

Leaving the bridge we travel north on US 9W to Kingston, NY to the New York Trolley Museum. As the museum is not open at this early hour, we only can take a few pics before continuing on to the next stop.

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Brooklyn and Queens Transit PCC car 1000 built by Clark Equipment in 1936.

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Front of museum.

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New York Subway Car 825 built by American Car and Foundry Company in 1932. It ran for over 40 years serving various subway lines in New York City. In 1974, car 825 was repainted into a silver and blue paint scheme used on the New York City Transit Authority at the time. It was also re-numbered 1677 and retired from passenger service in early 1977.

Trolley Museum:

Leaving Kingston we take NY 28 to Phoenicia, NY about 25 miles away. Here is the Empire State Railroad Museum.

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Empire State Railway Museum History

The Empire State Railway Museum is a non-profit railroad museum located in the historic Ulster & Delaware Phoenicia Railroad Station, Phoenicia, New York. The station was built in 1899 by the U&D, and is one of the few surviving examples left along the line. In 1985, the station was purchased by ESRM and a local community redevelopment organization. The structure was restored and renovated to serve as the home of the museum.

The museum has seasonal exhibits in the station related to the history of the railroads in the Catskill Mountain region. The station had served as a stop on the Catskill Mountain Railroad until floodwaters from Hurricane Irene washed out the tracks. Train rides have been temporarily cut back to Mount Tremper station.

The organization's history stretches back to the 1960s, when they were headquartered in Middletown, New York and sponsored many steam excursions and other railfan activities in the area.

The museum is the owner of several pieces of vintage railway equipment, including former Lake Superior and Ishpeming 2-8-0 23, being restored to operating service in conjunction with the Catskill Mountain Railroad in Kingston, New York.

Additionally, the museum owns two former Delaware and Hudson and Boston and Maine wooden baggage cars, a 1926 former Central Vermont Auto Carrier Car and a steel former New Haven caboose, which are in storage on the museum's siding in Phoenicia. The railroad equipment is not restored and is not open to the public.

Finally, the museum owns former New York Central 519, former Delaware and Hudson D-74 heavyweight diner 154 "The Lion Gardiner" which is in derelict storage outside of Kingston.

The museum was also the publisher of the Annual Guide to Tourist Railroads and Museums until the 2006 edition, the 41st. The guide is now published exclusively by Kalmbach Publishing.

The museum is staffed entirely by volunteers.

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Track maintenance equipment.

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New York Central transfer caboose 18015 built by the railroad in 1966 (f) and Delaware and Hudson caboose 35952 built by the railroad in 1921 and damaged by floodwaters back in 2005. It is currently covered to protect it from the elements.

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Central Vermont 40 foot outside-braced auto carrier car.

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Lehigh Valley caboose 95041 built by the railroad in 1944 and lettered as Catskill Mountain Railroad 673.

Delaware, Lackawanna and Western MU trailer 670 built by Pullman in 1917 as a non-powered coach for the Lackawanna's steam hauled commuter trains in New Jersey. It was converted to run as an electric MU in 1930 when the Morris & Essex division out of Hoboken Terminal was electrified. It is currently numbered 703.

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In the heart of the Catskill Mountains.

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New barn.
Hurricane Irene came thru this area in 2011 and did a lot of damage here and they're still cleaning up.

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When we arrived the area was deserted so we just walked around taking pictures. After a while a couple of volunteers arrived to do work, we chatted for a time and were told about the big storms and the damage done by them. The damage was overwhelming and the museum still has a lot of work needed done.

Our next venue was Arkville, NY to ride the Delaware and Ulster Railroad about 20 miles northwest.The name is taken from the counties here.

Our First Train ride of the Day.

Delaware and Ulster Railroad.

Rt. 28, Arkville, NY  12406

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Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 477479 which became Penn Central 19304 and later Conrail 19304, builder and year unknown, is on display to the south of the parking lot.

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Delaware and Ulster Railroad S-4 5106, ex. General Chemical 4A, exx. Allied Chemical 4A, nee Chesapeake & Ohio 5106, built by American Locomotive Company in 1953.

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Brooklyn East Terminal District 0-6-0ST 14 built by H.K. Porter as Mesta Machine Company 5 at West Homestead, Pennsylvania. In 1932, it was sold to dealer Birmingham Rail & Locomotive Company. Three years later, it was acquired by Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal 14 at New York then in 1964, sold to Rail Tours, Incorporated at York, Pennsylvania and was leased to Black River & Western Corporation, which ended in 1967. It is currently owned by Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society.

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New York, Ontario & Western NW2 116, ex. private owner (Walter Rich), exx. Conrail 9264 1976, exxx. Penn Central 8684 1968, exxxx. New York central 8684, nee New York Central 9501 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1948.

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Pennsylvania Railroad MP54 trailer 432 built by Pressed Steel in 1912, lettered as New York Central 444.


New York Central auto parts boxcar 153964 used for storage.

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Delaware and Ulster dome car "Locust Grove", ex. Mid-America Railcar Leasing 7891, exx. Philip Sheridan 2004, exxx. part of the short-lived "Acadian" Montreal-Maine-Halifax service 2002-2003, exxxx. Mexican American Railway division of MARA operating on the South Orient Express Mexico Copper Canyon tour service- based in Chihuahua, Mexico. Service terminated and car withdrawn from Mexico in 2001, exxxxx. DRC Railtours 1994, exxxxxx. Texas Southern lease for Texas Limited (Houston to Galveston), exxxxxxx. Denver Railcar DRCX 7891 "Maroon Bells" (converted to dome diner) 1989, exxxxxxxx. Roaring Fork charter 1986, exxxxxxxxx. Butterworth Tours (Golden Arrow, lease) 1973, exxxxxxxxxx. Illinois Central 2201 1967, retired 1970, exxxxxxxxxxx. Missouri Pacific 591, exxxxxxxxxxxx. Missouri Pacific "The Eagle", nee Missouri Pacific "Colorado Eagle" built by Budd in 1963.

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Delaware and Ulster observation car 21, ex. Acadian "Silver Queen" 2002-2003, exx. MexAm Rail 1999, exxx. Denver Rail Car 9061 (leased to Texas Southern), nee New York central observation/lounge/parlour car 61 built by Budd in 1948.

green arrowClick for Moving passenger cars video.

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Delaware & Hudson RS-36 5017 built by American Locomotive Company in 1963.

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Ulster and Delaware Railroad

The Ulster and Delaware Railroad (U&D) was a railroad located in the state of New York. It was often advertised as "The Only All-Rail Route To the Catskill Mountains." At its greatest extent, the U&D ran from Kingston Point, on the Hudson River, through the Catskill Mountains to its western terminus at Oneonta, passing through the counties of Ulster, Delaware, Schoharie and Otsego.


In 1866, the Rondout & Oswego Railroad was chartered to build west from Rondout, New York, now part of the city of Kingston. At that time, Rondout was a separate town and, more importantly, the east terminal and headquarters of the Delaware & Hudson Canal. The railroad's goal was not Oswego on Lake Ontario, but a connection with the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad (later Delaware & Hudson Railroad) near Oneonta. Construction began in 1866. By late 1870, 32 miles of line were in service.

The rails continued to push westward - over the Catskills and into the valley of the East Branch of the Delaware River, then up and over into the valley of the West Branch at Stamford, reached on December 12, 1872. That same year, the company was reorganized as the New York, Kingston & Syracuse Railroad, and in 1875 it was sold and reorganized again as the Ulster & Delaware Railroad (U&D).

The Catskill Mountains were rapidly developing into a summer resort area. The Stony Clove & Catskill Mountain Railroad was organized in 1881 by U&D management to build a three foot narrow gauge line from Phoenicia on the U&D to Hunter, with a branch, the narrow gauge Kaaterskill Railroad, to serve the Hotel Kaaterskill and the Catskill Mountain House. Service on the SC&CM began in mid-1882 and the Kaaterskill line opened in June 1883. That same month the West Shore Railroad opened between Jersey City and Kingston, giving the U&D a direct rail connection to New York.

In the mid-1880s work resumed to extend the U&D over another divide and into the valley of the Susquehanna River. While that was in progress, the U&D merged its two narrow gauge subsidiaries in 1893, and converted them to standard gauge in 1899. On July 16, 1900, the U&D finally arrived in Oneonta, where it connected with the D&H. The Delaware & Hudson Canal had ceased operation only two years before, and the U&D acquired some of its coal traffic. Coal traffic soon came to provide the bulk of U&D freight revenue.

U&D's peak passenger year was 1913, with 675,000 passengers carried. Paved highways began to penetrate the Catskills and the huge mountain hotels closed one by one as tastes in vacationing changed. U&D management approached the New York Central Railroad, asking if it would like to buy a railroad through the Catskills; NYC replied that it would not. Then the Interstate Commerce Commission added NYC takeover of the U&D (which entered receivership in 1931) to the conditions under which it would approve absorption of the Michigan Central Railroad and Big Four (the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway) by NYC. On February 1, 1932, the U&D became the Catskill Mountain Branch of the NYC.

In 1940, the Hunter and Kaaterskill branches, the former narrow gauge lines, were abandoned. Passenger service was discontinued on March 31, 1954. Coal traffic from the D&H disappeared, and in 1965 the NYC cut back the west end of the line from Oneonta to Bloomville, removing the rails in 1967. Conrail completed abandonment of the line in October 1976, with the final train operating between Kingston and Stamford on September 28, 1976; all remaining rolling stock returned to Kingston on October 2, 1976. Three short portions survive as heritage railways: Kingston-Kingston Point: Trolley Museum of New York, Kingston-Highmount: Catskill Mountain Railroad and Kelly's Corner-Arkville-Highmount: Delaware & Ulster Railroad.

The line remained out of service until transportation lawyer and New York native Donald L. Pevsner campaigned to preserve the railroad between 1962 and 1979. He enlisted the help of author William F. Buckley, Jr., who toured the line in 1977 and helped draw publicity to the tug-of-war between the communities and Penn Central over the sale price. Residents along the line succeeded in convincing local governments to purchase the line. Ulster County bought the 38.6-mile segment from Kingston to the Delaware County line at Highmount for $1.5 million in tax forgiveness in 1979, and leased it to the Catskill Mountain Railroad in 1983.

The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O'Connor Foundation purchased the railroad from the Delaware County line to the end-of-track in Bloomville for $770,000 in 1980, which would become the Delaware & Ulster Railroad (D&U). Then they conveyed it to the seven towns through which the line passed. Over $15 million has been invested in the D&U since then, which is now owned by the non-profit Catskill Revitalization Corporation.

Present conditions Ulster County

Starting at Kingston Point, Milepost 0, the Trolley Museum of New York operates the remaining trackage in Kingston east of the CSX River Line up to about Milepost 2.4. The line in this section is owned by the City of Kingston and leased to the Trolley Museum. The Trolley Museum is focused on the preservation of the use of trolleys and restoration of the former U&D Rondout Yard. It built a new engine house and shop in 1987 and the idea of rebuilding the utility building and the station has been suggested. The museum currently operates from MP 0, Kingston Point, to MP 1, Rondout Yard, with a branch along the Strand. The track from MP 2.4 to 2.8 has been removed and the right-of-way sold to private parties.

The line easements "for railroad purposes" from Kingston to the Delaware County line are owned by Ulster County, which acquired them from Penn Central in 1979 in lieu of backed taxes. The Catskill Mountain Railroad leases this portion from Ulster County for tourist operations between Phoenicia and Cold Brook Station. Trackage between Kingston and Cold Brook was cleared of debris, and is being upgraded between Kingston and Phoenicia; the line is in service from Kingston Plaza to the Hurley Flats bridge and from MP 21.3 (Bridge C30) to 27.9. The Catskill Mountain Railroad commenced operations in Kingston in December 2008. One bridge in need of repair separates the two ends of the railroad at MP 21.3 (Bridge C30). On August 28, 2011, Bridge C30 was washed away due to flooding from Hurricane Irene, severing the Phoenicia operation from the Kingston operation for the time being.

The line between Phoenicia and Highmount, also leased by the Catskill Mountain Railroad, is isolated by six washouts west of Phoenicia, and has not seen a train since regular service ended on October 2, 1976. However, a 2 1/2-mile section of the line, between Giggle Hollow and Highmount was cleared of debris in 2006. Another section from Big Indian to Shandaken was cleared in 2009.

Delaware County

The D&U currently operates tourist trains from Highmount to Roxbury. D&U's operations are limited to the Arkville-Roxbury section as the line to Highmount is out of service due to a weak bridge abutment east of Arkville.

In Roxbury, the station is being restored by the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society. Roxbury is the birthplace of railroad baron Jay Gould.

The Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society owns former New York, Ontario & Western Railway Bobber Caboose 8206, built at the NYO&W Middletown Shops in 1906, and former BEDT 14, an H. K. Porter, Inc Locomotive Works 0-6-0T steam locomotive, built in August 1920 at their facility in Pittsburgh. Both are presently being restored by the Society.

The Delaware County railbed from Highmount to Bloomville (45 miles) is owned by the Catskill Revitalization Corporation. The track ends at Hubbell Corners, where it becomes the Catskill Scenic Trail.

In Delaware County, the Halcottville Station, MP 53.0, was severed, with the passenger side moved a few hundred feet, where it serves as a shed on private property, and the freight side moved to Arkville, where it is now a tool shed for D&U. Both the Arkville and Fleischmanns stations have been razed, but the freight houses have survived. D&U uses Arkville freight house as its passenger station. The Kelly's Corners station was acquired by NYSDOT in 1964 and bulldozed during the reconstruction of State Route 30. The station at Stamford has been restored and is owned by the CRC, owners of D&U and used for offices. The stations at South Kortright, MP 81.5, East Meredith, MP 97.9 and Davenport Center, MP 103.2, are currently private dwellings, with the railbed in front of them also being privately owned.

Interstate 88 was planned in the 1970s to go from Schenectady, New York to Binghamton, New York, although the original plans suggested that it go to New England and near the Atlantic Coast. The portion that was constructed covers a portion of the U&D's railbed in the township of Oneonta, where it connects with New York State Route 28.

Schoharie County

The South Gilboa Station, MP 70.6, is the only station on the remainder of the U&D, and it is in poor condition. It is still in its original spot, between the Delaware County stations of Grand Gorge and Stamford. The old right-of-way in front of it is part of the Catskill Scenic Trail. It is also one of two other U&D railroad stations that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Town of Gilboa Historical Society has proposed that the South Gilboa station should have a full cosmetic restoration. However, this is only a proposal, and it is unclear whether or not it will take place.

Otsego County

The final station at Oneonta, MP 106.9, was part of a tourist line called the "Delaware and Otsego Railroad" that was created shortly after that portion was abandoned, in the late 1960s. It ran trains from Oneonta station to a bridge that crossed Charlotte Creek a little way from the old site of the West Davenport Station. It is currently a pub/restaurant called "The Depot". The line from Bloomville, MP 86.2, to Oneonta, MP 107, was abandoned in 1965, with rails removed in 1967, and is currently in the hands of private owners (mostly abutting landowners).

Greene County

The Greene County portion of the branches, which were torn up in 1940, along with the smaller portion of the branches in Ulster County, remain as overgrown paths and bridge abutments, with an occasional road covering the right-of-way. New York State Route 214 overlaps the former alignment at Stony Clove Notch. However, a two mile section of the line from Bloomer Road to Clum Hill Road in Tannersville has been converted into a rail trail, known locally as the "Huckleberry Trail". There are also a few bridge piers, such as one on the southern side of the Esopus Creek in Phoenicia, one in Chichester (both in Ulster County) and two in Edgewood.

There are only two surviving stations on what used to be the branches. Hunter Station, branch MP 2.5, is now a private dwelling. Haines Falls station, branch MP 18.5, is currently the headquarters of the Mountain Top Historical Society.

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Ulster and Delaware Arkville station built in 1871.

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right arrowClick for making the consist video.

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Our train awaits us.

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Dome and dining cars with power car in front of them.

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Our ticket to ride.

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Our train for a scenic ride through NY Catskill Mountains.

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After loading all the passengers the train left on time at 11:00 A.M. Passengers arriving by bus coach were seated in the dining cars or the dome car for their lunch. The general public had seating in either of two coaches or two open air cars. We chose the open car so to get better pictures.

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East branch of Delaware River.

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flashing arrow   Watch video.  Riding in open car

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We arrive on time at noon here in Roxbury, NY. There will be a 20 minute lay over here before starting back to Arkville. There is a small museum here with local artifacts to view.

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Layover at Roxbury, NY.

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Arriving back in Arkville on time at 1:00P.M. we then made our way to the next venue at Mt. Tremper, NY. We traveled back southeast on NY 28 on past Phoenicia to the depot at Mt. Tremper. It was a nice half hour drive through the NY country side.

Our Second Train Ride Today.

Esopus Creek Scenic Train, Catskill Mountain Railroad, Mt Tremper, NY


Mt Tremper Station on route 28.

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Ticket for Catskill Mountain Railroad Esopus Creek Route.

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Our little engine.

The power for our trip, 35 ton switcher 1 "The Duck", ex. Illinois Railway Museum, exx. Matthews Company, exxx. United States Air Force 7563, nee United States Army 7563 in Fort Chaffey, Arkansas, built by Davenport in 1942.

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Catskill Mountain Railroad History

In 2007 the railroad began track repairs in Kingston to fulfill the "ski lift" concept championed in the ALTA Engineering study for railroad operation from Kingston to West Hurley. The railroad worked hard to restore tracks in Kingston, with service opening to Washington Avenue in December 2008. In late 2009, the railroad opened more track west of Washington Avenue and offered additional seasonal service throughout that year. By December 2009, nearly two miles of track had been rebuilt in Kingston, from Cornell Street to the foot of Bridge C9.

For three years, the CMRR worked to complete the rehabilitation of Bridge C9 over Esopus Creek in Kingston. The bridge was opened for service on December 7, 2012, and allows for further expansion to the west, with Route 209 being the first destination. Route 209, MP 5.42, was reached on September 21, 2013, and Hurley Mountain Road, MP 5.94, was reached on November 16, 2014. The track is now open to MP 6.23 west of Hurley Mountain Road. The first passenger train to Route 209 ran on October 19, 2013 and the first to Hurley Mountain Road on November 21, 2014. Ultimately, this run will be extended to West Hurley to fulfill the ski lift concept envisioned in the Alta study.

West End Expansion

Through 2007 and 2008, work also continued on opening the 0.6 mile Cold Brook Extension. The first train arrived at Cold Brook Station on July 4, 2008; the first regularly scheduled passenger train to arrive at the station since 1954. Because Cold Brook station remains privately owned, the railroad maintains no agency there and there are no facilities to board or discharge passengers. In 2009, the CMRR repaired track another 0.8 miles to the Boiceville Bridge at MP 21.3 for work trains only.

By 2010, the physical limit of track restoration was reached on the "western" end of the operable railroad. To the west of Bridge Street in Phoenicia is a major washout preventing any serious restoration work beyond without sufficient outside funding. Volunteers have rebuilt tracks up to the limit of Bridge C30 (Boiceville Trestle), but Hurricane Irene washed away the entire trestle.

Work equipment and hi-rail trucks can traverse nearly the entire length of the railroad from Kingston to Phoenicia, however, and brush is cut and weeds are sprayed along the out-of-service segments regularly. The railroad has not relented in its efforts to negotiate for funding and other forms of assistance to rehabilitate Bridge C30, that would allow continued expansion east.

Hurricane Irene

On August 28, 2011, CMRR was devastated by the effects of flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene's attack. Flood waters inundated the yard at Phoenicia, scouring the right-of-way and threatening the depot. A significant washout occurred at Campground Curve similar to the situation encountered in 1987. All operating equipment had been moved to safe ground at Mt. Tremper, east of Campground Curve. Additional damage had been incurred where damage from a previous washout was already underway. In the non-operating segment east of Cold Brook station, the most significant damage was the loss of three of the four spans of Boiceville Trestle (Bridge C30) to rising flood waters. There was no significant damage to the restored trackage in the Kingston area.

The CMRR resumed operations on September 10, 2011 on a shortened length of track near Mount Tremper. The washout at Campground Curve was repaired in late 2011 except for reinstallation of track. Operations west of Mt. Tremper commenced on August 5, 2012. In November 2012, the County informed the CMRR that several repair projects had been approved by FEMA. The CMRR found out that seven projects, including restoration of the Boiceville Trestle, were approved for $2.3 million. However, the County has informed the CMRR that it will not release this funding until the CMRR agrees to terminate its lease from Kingston to the Ashokan Reservoir.

On August 3, 2013, the CMRR started reconstruction work of track on Campground Curve as part of returning to Phoenicia. This was done assuming that the County would never release the FEMA funding allotted for this repair.

On January 24, 2006, when the Kingston Daily Freeman announced "Trail Plan Could Mark End of Line for Railroad", trail advocates began promoting a plan to convert segments of the county-owned railroad corridor into a recreational path, which would permanently limit the length and location of the tourist excursions. ALTA Engineering was hired to devise a rail-with-trail plan for the line in Ulster County. The final report stated the following:

The future vision of the Ulster & Delaware Rail + Trail is a significant opportunity for local communities, Ulster County and the region. The combination of two historic tourist railroads, the trolley and railroad museums, restored historic sites, and a trail for multiple uses will complement the tourism and recreation economy of the Catskill Mountain Region. The project can become a model of sustainable transportation and cooperation between a wide range of public, private, and nonprofit partners."

On October 4, 2012, Ulster County Executive Michael P. Hein announced in his 2013 budget a plan to dismantle 32 miles of railroad in Ulster County to be replaced by a trail, leaving the Phoenicia-Cold Brook segment, and ending Kingston operations. He planned to start scrapping the railroad in 2013, using $642,000 in scrapping revenues to provide revenue for his budget. The budget was adopted by the Ulster County Legislature on December 4, 2012. The CMRR's lease, however, remains in effect until May 31, 2016. However, there is no reference to scrapping the railroad in the proposed 2014 Ulster County Budget.

Three days after the 2013 budget was approved, the CMRR opened Bridge C9 in Kingston for passenger train service, and began bringing passengers across the bridge for the first time in over 50 years.

On February 19, 2013, CMRR published a rail with trail study for MP 3 to 11 in response to a request from the County made on October 15, 2012. The rail with trail plan was rejected without review by the county on March 7, 2013.

On June 12, 2013, CMRR was served with a Notice to Cure. In a meeting with the Ulster County Executive, held on June 24, 2013, the CMRR was asked to vacate the line from Kingston to the Ashokan reservoir, and told that unless it complied its lease would be terminated on July 12. CMRR filed a Yellowstone Injunction on July 9 and was granted a TRO prohibiting the county from terminating the lease pending the outcome of a court decision on August 6. The Yellowstone Injunction was granted on November 6, 2013. Ulster County issued a notice of appeal on December 17, 2013.

On December 11, 2013, the outgoing New York City DEP commissioner announced a plan to support a trail along the U&D right of way from MP 10 to MP 21.6.

On December 8, 2014, the Ulster County Executive announced that at least two miles of tourist passenger train service would remain in Kingston, from the eastern end of Kingston Plaza, MP 3.6, to Hurley Mountain Road, MP 5.94.

Operations Phoenicia-Cold Brook

The CMRR operates a tourist excursion train from Phoenicia Railroad Station, Phoenicia, MP 27.5 to Cold Brook Railroad Station, MP 22.1. Its trains originate from the former U&D station in Phoenicia, which is also home to the Empire State Railway Museum. Passengers may board trains at Phoenicia or Mount Tremper Railroad Station, MP 25.2.

Initially, service was provided by track cars hauling trailers between Phoenicia and Mount Tremper. Realizing that the future lies in conventional railroad equipment hauled by locomotives, two flatcars were rebuilt as open air bench cars to accommodate passengers. A Porter 50-ton switcher was enlisted to haul the expanded consist. A 1922-vintage wooden caboose (former Delaware and Hudson 35952) often brought up the rear and offered additional capacity.

In early 2004 the caboose was taken out of service and replaced with a restored coach of Lackawanna heritage. This coach greatly increased the capacity of each train and also helped offer "all-weather" service. In late 2004, service was extended to MP 22.7. It was extended further to Cold Brook Station, MP 22.1, on July 4, 2008.

A second coach was put into service on October 2, 2010, just in time for the Fall Foliage trains. Work trains generally consist of transfer caboose 697 (former Conrail 18015) and "The Duck", a small Davenport switcher. Equipment restoration and maintenance takes place at the railroad's open-air facilities. The original Phoenicia section house is undergoing a multi-year restoration, and is used by the railroad to store tools and supplies for the track gang. CMRR work trains venture as far east as the Boiceville Trestle at MP 21.3, which will continue to be the eastern limit for Phoenicia operations until the trestle is replaced. On May 6, 2010, Phoenicia operations acquired a new locomotive, former LIRR/SIRY Alco S1 407, which was placed in service on May 7, 2010. It has been the workhorse engine for Phoenicia operations since the start of the 2010 season.

In 2011, construction of a new switch and siding began at MP 24.75, to park maintenance equipment and give the work train a place to alight. It was completed on May 25, 2012.

For the 2012 season, the train ran initially from Mt. Tremper west to MP 23.3 where subgrade repairs are necessary. On August 5, 2012, after repairs were made at MP 25.5, the passenger train began running west to the next damaged section at MP 25.8, one half mile west of Mt. Tremper, where repairs to the subgrade need to be completed. The line will gradually be reopened to Phoenicia and Cold Brook as repairs to damage from Hurricane Irene are completed.

Kingston-West Hurley

CMRR also has a yard in Kingston, referred to as "Cornell Street Yard". In 2009, a new siding was constructed to expand the yard facilities to allow for the storage and restoration of passenger cars for expanded tourist train operations.

Since November 2006, volunteers have re-opened track in Kingston. The current operable section stretches from Cornell Street (MP 3.0) to past Route 209 (MP 5.52).

On December 6, 2008, the railroad inaugurated seasonal tourist runs between Downs Street (MP 3.2) and Washington Avenue (MP 4.37). A small ticket office and loading platform was constructed off Westbrook Lane (MP 3.78) opposite Kingston Plaza to support passenger operations in 2008. Trains are powered by Alco RS-1 401 and consist of converted flatcar 278 and refurbished caboose 675). The critical Washington Avenue crossing was reopened for limited use in 2008 and the track was opened to Bridge C-9 (MP 5) on November 15, 2009. As of August 2009, the regular operating section was extended across Washington Avenue to the Holiday Inn (MP 4.6) (now Garden Plaza), and service was extended all the way to Bridge C-9 (MP 5) on December 5, 2009 for the 2009 Kingston Holiday Train.

Repairs to Bridge C9 started in September 2011 and were completed on December 3, 2012. The bridge was certified on December 7, 2012, and the first passenger train ran across the bridge on December 8. Track rehabilitation to the west of C9 is ongoing.

On September 21, 2013, CMRR workers completed track rehabilitation up to NYS Route 209 (MP 5.42). The next day, work began on the next extension past 209 to Hurley Mountain Road (MP 5.94). Rolling stock was removed from the west side of the crossing in order to continue expansion of the railroad west. Track is now open to MP 6.0.


CMRR's third base of operations is at MP 16.4 at Shokan, New York, at the site of the former Ashokan Railroad Station. Currently, the operating equipment there consists of a self-powered crane, flat car and an ex-Susquehanna caboose (privately owned). Shokan also serves as a base for the CMRR's track car crews, who are now charged with maintenance of the section of the line currently inaccessible to full-sized equipment from Route 209 at MP 5.4 to bridge C30 at MP 21.3. A main line switch is being installed in Shokan, part of a future run-around, so that the equipment stored at Shokan can be moved off the main line.

Long-term goals Kingston-Phoenicia

The CMRR's long term goal is to run tourist trains on the entire 25-mile run from Kingston to Phoenicia, which will include lengthy views of the scenic Ashokan Reservoir, and a stop at Ashokan Railroad Station. Track rehabilitation has until recently stopped at two bridges - Bridge C9 at MP 5 and Bridge C30 at MP 21.3.

With the recent restoration of Bridge C9 to service by the CMRR in late 2012, track restoration will be continued east up to West Hurley (MP 10.2) and beyond.

However, bridge C-30 (the "Boiceville Trestle") at MP 21.32 was washed away by Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011. FEMA funding for its repair was approved in November 2012 but until that repair is completed, no more track expansion east can be done. When C30 is restored, track rehabilitation will continue to Shokan (MP 16.2) where a new terminal for the railroad will be built.

Washouts at Hurley Flats (MP 5.53) and Butternut Cove (MP 18.6) also need to be repaired before the Phoenicia operation can be linked with the Kingston operation. Nearly the entire line from Phoenicia to Kingston is navigable by track cars and light maintenance equipment.

West of Phoenicia

A major washout at Bridge C34 (MP 28.8) west of Phoenicia effectively severs the CMRR. Many washouts and landslides between this bridge and Shandaken (MP 33.5) need to be addressed before more damage occurs to the right-of-way. Bridge C42 over Lasher Road needs to be restored to its original location; it was removed and set aside after the end of Conrail service to allow for greater vertical clearances. Volunteer crews continue to cut brush and keep the tracks clear all the way to the connection with the DURR at Highmount.

The DURR has also expressed interest in resuming service between Arkville and Highmount, and continuing south/east over the CMRR through the horseshoe curve at Pine Hill; possibly all the way to Big Indian (MP 36.4). With the recent developments in regards to Hurricane Irene, restoration of any track between bridge C34 west of Phoenicia and Shandaken (MP 33.5) appears to be an ever more remote possibility.

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The train had a consist of Catskill Mountain 35 ton switcher 1 "The Duck" built by Davenport in 1942, coach 701, coach 702 and an open car.

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An extra consist in storage. I think these tracks go to Phoenicia but now closed due to Hurricane Irene.

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Inside seating.

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arrowWatch train crossing Highway video.

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Train approaching NY 28 highway.

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Our flag man. Because the crossing arm was broken. See previous picture.

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We came to Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 477672 on a siding.

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Stored in the woods. Engine has thrown rod.

Catskill Railroad 50 ton switcher 29 "The Goat", ex. United States Navy 65-00329, nee United States Navy Portsmouth Yard 8 built by Porter in 1942.

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Esopus Creek with NY 28 bridge.

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Esopus Creek with NY 28 bridge and Catskill Mountains in background.

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After we finish our ride along the Esopus Creek, we take a few more pics and then depart for the next stop. We travel southeast on route NY 28 back to Kingston, NY.

Our Third Train Ride Today.

Kingston City Limited, Catskill Mountain Railroad, Westbrook Lane Station, Kingston, NY 12401.

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The Ulster & Delaware Railroad started construction in 1866 from the Hudson River at Kingston Point. By 1900, the line was completed to Oneonta, proving a vital link for freight and passengers through the Catskills. Acquired by the New York Central Railroad in 1932, the last passenger train ran in 1954. In later years, Penn Central offered freight service, but after decades of decline, the last freight train rode on the old U&D tracks in 1976. Ulster County purchased the railroad in 1979 to preserve the corridor for future rail use. In 1982, the Catskill Mountain Railroad was chartered to run tourist passenger trains as well as freight service. Today's train ride is just one part of a long-term plan to re-open the length of the railroad from Kingston to Phoenicia and beyond.

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We arrived around 3:30 PM with time to pick up our tickets for the 4:00PM departure.

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This was the next surprise for the day. This was the first of weekend of the last three in June for a Chuggington's Traintastic Adventure. Lots of young trainees have the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities. And we would be sharing and riding the train together. Asked where he wanted to sit, he said right behind to ALCO engine so he could hear it chug. With the dancing, singing and music led by two teenage counselors, Chris never did hear the engine chug. But he said he got the mileage.

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Returning from previous trip. Caboose forward.
green movingWatch returning to Westbrook Lane Station video.

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Catskill Mountain Railroad RS-1 401, ex. Green Mountain 401 1976, exx. Illinois Central Gulf 1262 1972, exxx. Gulf Mobile and Ohio 1052, exxxx. Illinois Terminal 1056, nee Illinois Terminal 756 built by American Locomotive Company in 1950.

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Chris enjoying the ride before the music, dancing and the noise makers were handed out.

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We travel out in the country side going under the NY State Thurway, US I-87, cross over the Esopus Creek and stop at US 209 because no crossing signals. This would be the turn around place of the ride.

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End of the line.

We arrived back at the platform and went to our car to drive to Vermont. Our stop for the night and the start of the convention tomorrow. We proceed to the New York State Thwy, I-87, a toll road, and head north to Albany. About a hour passed and we decided it was time to eat. Together we decided a stop at the colonel was just the ticket. Driving along we keep watch for exit signs telling about restaurants and shortly we spot an easy off easy on exit with KFC.  I order the 2 piece meal dark with mashed potatoes and gravy. Oh, this will be nice for my tummy. Chris got his chicken order with a side of mash and gravy.  By the time he returned to the car the bottom of the potatoes cup was leaking gravy. Soon it was a big mess all over his clothes and the seat. After time out to clean up we are back on the road passing by Albany and staying on I-87 to just near Glen Falls where we turn east to meet US 4 north to state line. Staying on US 4 in Vermont till US 7 and then north on to Rutland. Shortly we check in and I unpack and get the room ready for the next 8 nights and Chris goes to his first safety meeting.

The end of two big days, in Manhattan and the Catskills and the convention is starting tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Train ride and photo run by.