Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Valleys

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Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Valleys

Postby drobertson » Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:00 am

Several weeks ago an article appeared in the “100 Years Ago” section of the Walton Reporter (Walton, NY) regarding Delaware & Hudson plans in the Schoharie Valley and Delaware East Branch. This article (that would have appeared in the newspaper in 1906) discussed the surveying of a line for the D&H from Schenectady to Grand Gorge. The plan was for this line to go onto Arkville and on down the East Branch of the Delaware River. The main purpose was to bring coal from PA to Schenectady. The D&H was in the process of expanding capacity and this plan was an offshoot of that. The idea had been looked at for over a decade but surveying was now actually taking place. The article goes on to say that 12 years previous to this a D&H rep was touring the East Branch and Schoharie Valley with an eye toward this proposed expansion and not wanting to leave the valleys open to competing lines. Did the Delaware and Eastern plans in that area kick off the D&H to, at least, start to look a little more seriously at this region?

This same article also talked about the Schenectady & Southwest Railroad surveying for a line in the same region but they were starting their surveying in Arkville and going northeast toward North Blenheim. Did this railroad ever have any operations?

Does anyone know if any gradework was started on either of these projects and if so is any still visible?

I think I’ve read that the Delaware and Eastern/Northern Railroad also had ideas about continuing past Arkville northeast into this area, also. Did this work compete or work off of any of these earlier plans?


Southwest of Stamford, NY, at the intersection of Peters Rd and State Route 10 there is gradework for, what was then, the proposed continuation of the Ulster and Delaware from Stamford through Harpersfield and on to Davenport. At the time the line had ended in Stamford. I believe the towns of Harpersfield and Davenport got some funding to start planning for the extension of the railroad through their communities as a way for it to get to Oneonta. Gradework for this extension was in progress when the Hobart Branch was built which ended their effort. The visible grade is in a field on the uphill side of Rt. 10 just east of Peters Rd. Does anyone know if any other gradework was done or is still visible for this intended line?

A couple of efforts were made to run a railroad up the Little Delaware out of Delhi and to Margaretville. I believe one was in the 1870s and one in the 1890s. Some of the gradework on the south side of the Little Delaware River, near the community of Lake Delaware, is (or was - as of 15 years ago) visible from State Rt 28. What were these railroads? Did they have anything to do with the NYO&W in Delhi? The topography gets a little tougher east of Lake Delaware. Is there any evidence of gradework beyond Lake Delaware or the plans to get through the hills to Margaretville?

The easiest topography to work with coming out of Delhi would seem to be up the West Branch of the Delaware River to Bloomville. I recently saw a map for the NYC (I think – maybe a predecessor) drawn in 1893 in a book titled Railroad Atlas of North America . This map also included the Ulster & Delaware. At that time the U&D ended in Bloomville but this map showed it continuing on to Delhi and not Oneonta. Were there any plans or efforts to connect the U&D and the NYO&W along the West Branch? It would almost seem natural given how much railroad building was going on at that time and that less than 10 miles would have separated the two lines in this valley. Maybe too little potential business though.
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Postby henry6 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 3:03 pm

Check out either of the two books...one rare and out of print from the 60's I think, the other from the mid 80's...about the Delaware and Eastern/Delaware and Northern plus any book about railroading in the Catskills including histories of U&D and O&W. Most libraries in the area have access to them. Basically there were plans to circumvent the D&H from WIlkes Barre to Mohawk Valley to Montreal of which the D&E/D&N plus the Middlburg and Schoharie were part. There was to have been an extension from Central Bridge area north along Schoharie Creek to near Amsterdam, then cross the Mohawk and head through the Mountains (Fonda, Johstown and Gloversville may have been part of this scheme, too). And the U&D was in fact aiming at hooking up with a line from the west at Oneonta, perhaps the Southern NY to Richfield Springs and Herkimer or the West Shore line that made it across the hills to Earlville from Syarucse. If you look at the Delhi branch of the O&W, it could have connected at Bloomville with the U&D if someone so wished. Plus there were probably many charters issued that can only be uncovered by digging through state and county archives. There were probably other roadbeds that were just used by lumber roads for a season or two.
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Re: Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Val

Postby RussNelson » Thu Aug 10, 2006 5:05 pm

drobertson wrote:The plan was for this line to go onto Arkville


Are you talking about the Delaware and Northern? The Delaware and
Northern ran up the East Branch of the Delaware River from East Branch
to Arkville. There was also a branch line that ran up to Andes from
the Union Grove / Shavertown area. You can see it labelled as the [url=http://rutlandtrail.org/mapview.cgi?theme=Historic&lat=42.100&long=-74.850]"Delaware
and Northern"[/url] on the collection of old topo maps I have published.

The visible grade is in a field on the uphill side of Rt. 10
just east of Peters Rd. Does anyone know if any other gradework was
done or is still visible for this intended line?


Oh-ho! Indeed, yes, that looks very much like a railroad. You can see it cross SR10 at A and a cut at B in this map near Stanford (links below)]. There are no more obvious remains visible on the aerial photo / topo maps.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=42.39557,-74 ... %20NE%2FSW
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=42.39557,-74 ... ugh%20hill
I can't see any remains of the grading you mention near Lake Delaware.
Last edited by RussNelson on Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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YES THERE IS A LOT

Postby henry6 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 5:21 pm

Yes there is a lot to see from East Branch to Downsville including stations at Shinopple and Downsville and Andes (branch difficult to find as a lot was built on trestles) and into Arkville. M&S is also very visible with station and museum at Schoharie. Other lines, elsewhere, not so easy.
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Re: Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Val

Postby BHubbell » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:09 pm

drobertson wrote:A couple of efforts were made to run a railroad up the Little Delaware out of Delhi and to Margaretville. I believe one was in the 1870s and one in the 1890s. Some of the gradework on the south side of the Little Delaware River, near the community of Lake Delaware, is (or was - as of 15 years ago) visible from State Rt 28. What were these railroads? Did they have anything to do with the NYO&W in Delhi? The topography gets a little tougher east of Lake Delaware. Is there any evidence of gradework beyond Lake Delaware or the plans to get through the hills to Margaretville?

The grade along the Little Delaware can be found from Delhi all the way to Lake Delaware. No grading seems to have been done on the Gerry Estate Property (they are reported to have opposed the line). East of Lake Delaware, grading can be seen on the hill south of Route 28. It is quite a distance above the road, but comes even at the summit between Lake Delaware and Andes. There is also some evidence of grading on the Andes side. From Andes the line was graded down the Tremperskill Valley and then up the East Branch of the Delaware towards Margaretville. This grading and some bridge abutments were used by the D&E (later D&N) when they built their line.
There is also a little bit of grading down in the "Bullet Hole" on Bullet Hole Rd. south and west of Andes. This was an alternate route, which would have bypassed Andes. I believe this was part of the first (1870's) effort.
The first attempt was the Delhi & Middletown which was to go from Delhi to Dean's Corners (now Arkville) and connect with the U&D. The O&W was not built at that time (c. 1872).
Neither this effort nor the second effort had anything to do directly with the O&W. Delhi was, as you know, the county seat, and they wanted a railroad. One of the early meetings by organizers of the Midland, as the O&W was first known, was held in Delhi, and Delhi had high hopes of being on the mainline. This was not to be, but Delhi had caught "railroad fever" and forever after was trying to get one or more lines built.
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Re: Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Val

Postby BHubbell » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:14 pm

drobertson wrote:The easiest topography to work with coming out of Delhi would seem to be up the West Branch of the Delaware River to Bloomville. I recently saw a map for the NYC (I think – maybe a predecessor) drawn in 1893 in a book titled Railroad Atlas of North America . This map also included the Ulster & Delaware. At that time the U&D ended in Bloomville but this map showed it continuing on to Delhi and not Oneonta. Were there any plans or efforts to connect the U&D and the NYO&W along the West Branch?

There were plans to build a railroad from Delhi to Hobart. It was to have been an electrified line, of all things. Surveys for this and other "paper railroads" of Delaware County can be found in the County Clerk's office.
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Re: Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Val

Postby drobertson » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:19 pm

I recently found a reference to a Delhi-Bloomville trolley in the “One Hundred Years Ago” section of the "Walton Reporter." The surveys were in work for the line. The Delhi end was to start at the O&W station. No mention was made of the Bloomville end. It seems the U&D station would not have fit too well for a line coming from Delhi.

There were also articles regarding completion of the D&E in Downsville, plans for Stamford to become the next Saratoga (with plans underway for a trolley system, a tram up Mt. Utsayantha and a large casino), and the Erie RR doing marketing surveys in Cannonsville for milk suppliers as they were looking to put a line from Deposit to Trout Creek (was any construction ever started on this?).
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Re: Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Val

Postby ChiefTroll » Sat Jan 20, 2007 11:13 am

Doug -

The unoccupied grade west of Stamford, around behind Mudd School House at Peters Road and west toward Odell Lake was to be the line of the Rondout and Oswego as laid out by Thomas Cornell and his Superintendent, Frank Hecker. The line was mapped all the way through Davenport to Oneonta, but the R&O construction only went as far as Roxbury.

The work was resumed by the contractor under the name of New York, Kingston and Syracuse, which reached Stamford with track in 1871, and extended the grading almost, but not quite, to Odell Lake Road. The promoter of the NYK&S, one Litchfield, was also building a line southwest from Syracuse that became the Chenango Branch of the West Shore, and eventually connected with the O&W at Earlville. His promotion included plans to connect the two with an unspecified (as far as I have found) line from Oneonta to Earlville.

The U&D Society, a few years ago, set out to explore that grade west of Stamford. It is easy to locate exactly where it leaves the U&D behind the greenhouse in Stamford, and to follow it along the tree line behind the late Herb Darling's farm. Herb told me once that there was a cut where the line curved away from Peters Road, but the farmers filled it after the railroad abandoned construction. We didn't find the end of the grading that day, but a later excursion which I couldn't make found an abrupt end to the a cut in the woods just west of there, which seems to be the west end of the grading operation. It appears that the grading never made it to Odell Lake Road. The location map shows the line going over "Warners' Pass," just east of the Warner house which exists up there.

When Cornell took the railroad back as the Ulster and Delaware, he extended it to Hobart via the Hobart Branch Railroad Co., instead of to Harpersfield. Then, his Delaware and Otsego RR took it to Bloomville. He put out the idea that it was a branch to eventually reach the county seat at Delhi, deflecting criticism from the Town of Harpersfield that it was being bypassed. Harpersfield finally caught on to the plan when the D&O started grading from Bloomville to Kortright, but by then their cause was lost.

In my time on the D&H I had some chances to rummage around the archives on the 13th floor of the D&H building. There were lots of sketches of proposals by others to build lines like the Schenectady and Stamford electric line, the Delaware and Eastern toward Schenectady, and such. I never saw evidence of a D&H plan to build anything south of Middletown in the Schoharie and Delaware East Branch valleys. The D&H plotted maps in those areas, but they all represented plans by someone else.

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Postby Shawn » Sun Mar 11, 2007 11:26 pm

I realize this is an older post but I felt the need to add something here. I remember my grandfather saying he worked on a rail bed that never materialized into a full scale railroad. It was in the Stamford, NY area. My Dad used to think it was Middleburgh / Schoharie connecting with Stamford line. I've read in this forum, there was never a plan to do that, at least not on paper.
I remember as a kid walking the old rail bed of the middleburgh / schoharie line. The rails were still partially buried and you could see a number of trestles. I don't see anymore rail but, spikes continue to surface every now and then.
I live near Central Bridge and have a caboose tucked back in the woods near my house. The previous owner worked for the D&H and managed to get this caboose back in the woods about 1/2 -3/4 mile off the road. Rumor has it, that he was going to lay a track around the property. Due to the incline of the property, I don't think it would be possible. The caboose is used as a camp now.
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Re: Unfinished lines in the upper Delaware and Schoharie Val

Postby ChiefTroll » Mon Mar 12, 2007 4:32 am

Shawn -

That line that your grandfather worked on could well have been the Delaware and Eastern between Grand Gorge and Prattsville. It was projected to extend to Middleburg and beyond. I think the original plan was to use the Middleburg and Schoharie and Schoharie Valley Railroads, but the D&H got control of the SV and the plans changed. The D&E grade extended from Grand Gorge to near Prattsville when they ran out of cash, and that was it.

The D&E grand plan was to build from Wilkes-Barre to around Rotterdam Jct, but all that was actually operated was East Branch to Arkville. They were also planning to use trackage rights on the U&D from Arkville to Grand Gorge, but I think the Coykendalls "granted" those rights with their fingers crossed. The era of all this was around 1910. The NYK&S grading west of Stamford was around 1872, so the D&E time frame would have been more in keeping with the era I assume for your grandfather.

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Postby BobLI » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:03 am

Shawn, What road is that caboose in the woods om.. I'm only familiar with 1 caboose in the Central Bridge area which a neighbor has on his property. He aquired it a few years ago.
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Another caboose around?

Postby march hare » Mon Mar 12, 2007 5:06 pm

Geez, I thought I had the only caboose in the woods in the Central Bridge area.
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Postby Shawn » Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:40 pm

Are you on Sanitarium Rd.? If you are, You are my neighbor. When did you purchase this property? About 10 years ago?
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Postby Shawn » Mon Mar 12, 2007 11:44 pm

Chief troll. I do believe that 1910 is the correct time frame. My Grand Father met my grand mother in Stamford in 1912. She was vacationing up there with a family and he must have been on one of the work crews.
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Postby BobLI » Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:55 am

March Hare,

I'll have to look for that caboose next time I am on that road. Guess you arent the only one in the area with a caboose.

Shawn, March Hare is down the road from where I am. His caboose is visible from the road.
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