Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

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Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Dec 27, 2006 9:30 am

Anyone uncover any information about this proposal to build a high-speed trolley between Danbury, CT- North Salem, NY-Golden's Bridge, NY? IT was proposed about 1900 and by 1901 all construction stopped. By 1902 the Westchester Traction Co. (operators of the Ossining Electric Railway) bought a controlling interest.

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Postby salminkarkku » Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:24 am

I used to have a link to an online copy of a contemporary Danville newspaper report, which link is now dead so here's what I can remember:

Claimed to be "building" all the way to Golden's Bridge and started public service to from Danbury to State Line, with the intention of continuing this to North Salem "next week". So presumably track was laid at least to the latter place, and some grading done on the rest.

If I trace the source, I will give the exact date and any other relevant info.
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:50 pm

If there were any tracks, they've been gone for about 90 years or so. History of the line after 1901 is murky at best. It appears they attempted to continue construction towards Goldens Bridge from North Salem, but aside from cutting some trees and preparing bridge culverts, not much was accomplished. Apparently the owners had to pay the contractors in stock.... eventually they ran out of stock to sell and the contractor now owned the railroad! Didn't seem to do him much good either. Aside from the strange partnership with the WTC, it appears this project was dead by 1910...

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Postby salminkarkku » Fri Jan 04, 2008 6:18 am

The New York Times has a short 1908 article in their online archive:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 946997D6CF
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Postby salminkarkku » Fri Jan 04, 2008 6:21 am

And here's another one concerning a punch-up at a shareholders' meeting:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 946397D6CF
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Postby salminkarkku » Fri Jan 04, 2008 6:25 am

Here's the first map anywhere I've found featuring it. Scroll to the end:

http://jackfsanders.tripod.com/maps.htm
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Postby Otto Vondrak » Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:13 am

I wish I had thought to search the NYT archives when I was writing about the Danbury & Harlem! Thanks for digging these up... that circa 1900 map that shows the Danbury & Harlem (and the defunct Port Chester & Danbury) are similar to what I found at the White Plains Public Library.

There is a short history and a map of the D&HT in my new book:

http://nywbry.com/forgotten/

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Postby Otto Vondrak » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:50 pm

The D&HT had a short life from 1901 until it was foreclosed and sold at auction in 1909. It was purchased in part by the Philadelphia board of directors who had taken over financing of the line. From all appearances, it seems they scrapped all trackage between Danbury and North Salem in an effort to get back some of their investment.

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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby Ridgefielder » Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:01 pm

Otto, thanks for solving a long-standing mystery for me. The ROW of this line is still visible in places in the Ridgebury section of Ridgefield, and I could never figure out what it was-- best I could come up with was some part of the grade for the New York, Housatonic & Northern, but it seemed to be in the wrong place given that most maps I've seen of the NYH&N (and WN) had the line going right through Ridgefield Center.
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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:45 am

Ridgefielder wrote:Otto, thanks for solving a long-standing mystery for me. The ROW of this line is still visible in places in the Ridgebury section of Ridgefield, and I could never figure out what it was-- best I could come up with was some part of the grade for the New York, Housatonic & Northern, but it seemed to be in the wrong place given that most maps I've seen of the NYH&N (and WN) had the line going right through Ridgefield Center.


You very well may have stumbled on NYH&N grading. From the looks of some maps, it appears that their routes were very similar east of Ridgefield.

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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:31 pm

The old ROW that I think was the traction line is in the north part of Ridgefield, parallel to a road called George Washington Highway (which, despite its name, is a very narrow 2-lane town blacktop). GW Highway basically runs due East-West from near the Danbury Mall to the crossroads that is the "center" of Ridgebury. Between there and Ridgefield Center is a lot of pretty high ground + an almost sheer 200' drop into the Titicus River valley (there's a really hairy switchback on Ridgebury Road to get down the hill). I knew the NYH&N planned to go through Ridgefield Center, so I could never figure out that ROW, since the logical path would be that taken by Route 7 through Sugar Hollow, then CT Rt 35 into the Center. Incidentally, some developer recently put up a McMansion development off GW Hwy and named it "Old Trolley Road"

There are remnants of the NYH&N grade in Ridgefield, though: you can see it quite clearly in winter along Rt 35 when you're driving toward Katonah-- the grade goes off along the hill to your left just before you get to the Gulf station at the NY State line. There's also a street- Golf Lane- that runs from 35 to Peaceable Street that I was told was laid out on the old ROW.
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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby RussNelson » Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:03 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:The old ROW that I think was the traction line is in the north part of Ridgefield, parallel to a road called George Washington Highway (which, despite its name, is a very narrow 2-lane town blacktop). GW Highway basically runs due East-West from near the Danbury Mall to the crossroads that is the "center" of Ridgebury. Between there and Ridgefield Center is a lot of pretty high ground + an almost sheer 200' drop into the Titicus River valley (there's a really hairy switchback on Ridgebury Road to get down the hill). I knew the NYH&N planned to go through Ridgefield Center, so I could never figure out that ROW, since the logical path would be that taken by Route 7 through Sugar Hollow, then CT Rt 35 into the Center. Incidentally, some developer recently put up a McMansion development off GW Hwy and named it "Old Trolley Road"


Here's what I see. Whomever did the topo map clearly saw something on the ground, because he marked it in the contour lines:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=41.35926,-73 ... nbury%20CT

There are remnants of the NYH&N grade in Ridgefield, though: you can see it quite clearly in winter along Rt 35 when you're driving toward Katonah-- the grade goes off along the hill to your left just before you get to the Gulf station at the NY State line. There's also a street- Golf Lane- that runs from 35 to Peaceable Street that I was told was laid out on the old ROW.

The place you describe (the Gulf Station) seems to be right here, but I don't see the grade you're talking about. Could you move the photo so the crosshairs are on the map, then click on "Mark"? Then right-click on "Link to this page" and select "Copy Link" from the menu that pops up. Post that link here. Please and thank you, of course. The route you suggest is plausible.
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=41.26466,-73.52449&z=18&t=H
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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby Ridgefielder » Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:18 pm

I went to both locations this weekend. With the one that I think is either the NYH&N or one of the other failed projects (was any grading ever done on the Danbury & Port Chester?), the most visible part of the grade has been obliterated by an enormous McMansion w/in the last 11 months or so. However, you can still see it if you look closely, near Cobbler's Lane. It comes in at about a 45 degree angle to 35, along the side of the Mill River valley. You can see more of it if you turn off 35 onto Golf Lane; the driveway of 117 Golf Lane is almost certainly the old grade (way too engineered for a regular driveway, and it comes into the road at a really weird angle). I marked out what I think are traces on the topo map (link at the bottom).

Up in Ridgebury, I'm almost sure that what I found is the D&HT. I first followed the ROW along George Washington Highway. You can clearly see the remains of bridge abutments just to the north of the road where it crosses Miry Brook. I then followed the length of Old Trolley Road (which I'd never been on) and found it oddly straight for a subdivision road; it also follows the contours of the hill, looping first north, then west, then finally southwest toward the center of Ridgebury. Finally, I found the well-preserved remains of a culvert or small bridge, parallel to Ridgebury Road, just about across from the cemetery. The old ROW at that point seems to merge into the roadbed of Ridgebury Road, heading toward the church-- I looked, but I couldn't find any indication of the ROW crossing or exiting on the other side of the road. I got some pictures of this, will post them as soon as I can figure out how to do so.


http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=41.26678,-73 ... field%20CT
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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby RussNelson » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:12 am

Thanks for that fieldwork, Ridgefielder! I've edited my map at http://rutlandtrail.org/gmap.cgi?NYHnN. ... d.ny.track
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Re: Danbury & Harlem Traction Co.

Postby Otto Vondrak » Fri May 22, 2009 11:54 am

My book "Forgotten Railroads Through Westchester County" has a fairly accurrate map of the Danbury & Harlem Traction, derived from an early prospectus.

I'd have to check on the Danbury & Port Chester. The New York, Housatonic & Northern was fairly well documented in maps and atlases of the 1870s and 1880s. The route is fairly easy to derive, even when it is clear the final route had not been determined yet. Some maps from the 1910s and 1920s show the route of the Westchester Northern, the NYW&B's stillborn extension north of Westchester, overlapping in some areas the route of the NYH&N and the D&HT. I describe these "failures" in as much detail as available in my aforementioned book.

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