Chasing railroads for my birthday

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Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby RussNelson » Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:35 am

Yesterday was my 51st birthday. For my birthday present my wife gave me the weekend to go chase railroads, which was very nice of her because my new job requires me to be away nearly every weekend.

Started off by chasing the Ogdensburgh, Clayton & Rome. Found the section north of Lowville, in the campground. It has a very nice culvert which they finished but never backfilled. Or maybe the water overflowed the culvert and eroded the embankment?

Followed my conjectural route south of Lowville, created by staring at aerial photos. I found one embankment which was slightly sloped on the top, and too wide. More likely to be an esker. I found another embankment, though, which was straight, level, and a consistent width. No strong evidence that it was a railbed, though.

North of Pixley Falls I found a bit of "road" going through a field which just didn't look like a road. It's possible that 46 was routed through the middle of the farmer's field where the old road went along the edge.

Unfortunately, the cut that I speculate leads to the western portal of aa tunnel was completely snowed-in with a good 6' of snow. It probably has snow until June. No sign of a tunnel, but I've seen reports saying that the tunnel is collapsed. The western end looks unfinished.

Found something like a fill on the south side of the river just above the Five Combines locks on the Black River canal. Also found where they would have brought the railroad back over the river, and on the western side of the river is a CLEAR embankment in the side of the hill. Runs for several miles on the western hillside.

Then I switched over to the Rome & Osceola. I'm NOT at all sure that the railroad was built to Lee Center. I saw zero evidence of a railroad north of Sleepy Hollow Road. South of it is a nice cut, which goes a few tens of feet north, but that's as far north as I see any sign that tracks had been laid. East of Steadman Road and north of Lee Center-Taberg Road is an embankment with a concrete culvert labelled 1*0* where the "*" could be any digit, but the first is most likely 9.

Found a stone arch bridge right here: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.31162,-75.54172&z=18&t=S
The fellow who lives in the trailer to the west of this road crossing says that it's definitely a railroad because it shows up on his deed as a ROW: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.32949,-75.55766&z=16&t=S
The people who live in this house said there was a railroad down this road, but I couldn't find it on the ground. Sometimes that's just how it is: something is obvious from an aerial photo, but invisible from the ground: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.32064,-75.55207&z=17&t=S

After that I went to the south end and there's a clear ROW heading up north towards Lee Center, but I saw no sign of ties or any other railroad infrastructure.

Crossed 69 and went down 46 a bit, to see that the rails had been pulled out of the highway and replaced by concrete paving stones. http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.22869,-75.49650&z=14&t=M

Had dinner, met up with a friend. In the morning, I walked the inner wye: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.21620,-75.47906&z=17&t=S The north side is being used to store CSX gons. The west leg is free of brush and being used by ATVers. The south leg is completely brushed over, as is the inner wye.

This short stretch of track (probably two sticks) is completely cut off from everything: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.21306,-75.47222&z=17&t=S This siding, too:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.20569,-75.44622&z=18&t=S and both of these:
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.20476,-75.44334&z=18&t=S (the building at the southwest which looks like it has just the steel now has nothing. Just two loading docks and tracks out in the open.

This siding is still connected: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.20461,-75.44077&z=18&t=S as is this one: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.20499,-75.41746&z=18&t=S but I didn't look at the complex of industrial buildings it serves.

Chased the Glenfield and Western. A very sorry railroad. Not much remains of it. Found a few bridge abutments but it's been plowed away wherever any farmer could.

On to Lowville, where even the small remnant of the Utica and Beaver River has been expunged from the plant. They needed the space for some huge tank, so the tracks were removed back to the chain-link fence.

Then on to Copenhagen, to chase the trolley line down the hill to West Carthage. Not much left of it, but that's typical of trolley lines.

Lots of cars being stored on the Newton Falls branch. Center beam cars near Carthage, and gons up near Natural Bridge. I think there's a LOT of spare gondola cars these days.

I saw the sadness that is Balmat. The zinc mine is closed again, not to reopen until zinc becomes MUCH more expensive. I presume that they'll just leave the railroad there, hoping that the mine will reopen sooner than the ties all rot away.

Saw some train between Canton and Dekalb about 5:20PM. Two CSX engines, mixed freight.

Back home in Potsdam, I stopped by the former Potsdam Hardwood plant. I knew it had been served by three sidings at one point. The aerial photo sure LOOKED like the tracks were still there. Stopped by, and yup, they were.

As of this posting, only a few of the photos are up on flickr.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby tomjohn » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:53 am

Russ - sounds and looks like you had fun on your birthday! Oh be fore I forget happy belated birthday...

Tom
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby Mark_K » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:45 pm

Happy Belated, Russ.

Jim Donnelly and I honored your birthday unintentionally this past weekend by ROW-walking in and around Kingston.

Otis Incline (Both top and bottom termini. We were a little underdressed for a hike up the ROW. Spiked soles would have helped.)

http://i41.tinypic.com/xkoguh.jpg

http://i44.tinypic.com/2ewksqe.jpg


The ex-U&D caboose in the woods above Kaaterskill Falls

http://i39.tinypic.com/2qvuq3b.jpg

http://i42.tinypic.com/2n71hte.jpg

Ulster & Delaware (ex-narrow gauge lines as well as down in Ponckhockie)

http://i43.tinypic.com/dzdoqe.jpg

http://i42.tinypic.com/okcz9u.jpg

All or most are geo-tagged for your convenience.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby RussNelson » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:28 pm

Mark_K wrote:Otis Incline (Both top and bottom termini. We were a little underdressed for a hike up the ROW. Spiked soles would have helped.)

Haha, yeah, I was up on the Tug Hill Plateau trying to make my way through 6" to 12" of snow. Fortunately it was mostly frozen so my feet would usually only go in an inch or two.
The ex-U&D caboose in the woods above Kaaterskill Falls

Oh, neat! You know there's a water tower still standing there, too.
Ulster & Delaware (ex-narrow gauge lines as well as down in Ponckhockie)

Is that on the way to the cement plant?

Y'know, you should feel free to add these points of interest to OpenStreetMap.org. I'm (slowly) adding all my NYS RR ROW data to OpenStreetMap.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby ffmike9 » Tue Mar 24, 2009 4:08 pm

as is this one: http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=43.20499,-75.41746&z=18&t=S but I didn't look at the complex of industrial buildings it serves.


Russ, You should have folowed this one. It leads into the former Griffis air base. The Adirondack Scenic has their shop thereand you would have been able to photograph much of their equipment. Also Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern serves the East Coast Olive Oil plant on the former base property.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby Mark_K » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:02 am

Hi Russ,

-- I did see the water tower you mentioned. It's right next to Rte 23A in Haines Falls. 2 trestles once stood next to it carrying the narrow gauge and the U&D over a gorge.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source= ... 2&t=p&z=15

I have a photo if you're interested.

-- Yes, that abandoned U&D line in Ponchockie, Kingston is the one which ran up to International Cement. It was the last constructed piece of the U&D (although built as recently as the 1940s or '50s, so technically NYC). Much of the ROW is off-limits because the area from East Kingston south to Ponckhockie is in contention regarding one or two condominium developments. In the John Ham U&D photo-book you can see a Penn Central engine at a diamond with one of the narrow gauge brickyard railways which ran in the area into the mid-1900s.


-- Ope Street Map is beyond me. Or I'm too lazy. Or both.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby RussNelson » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:30 pm

Mark_K wrote:-- Open Street Map is beyond me. Or I'm too lazy. Or both.


Well, yeah, there's a learning curve, but the nice thing about it is 1) better support for metadata than my NY railroad data file format, and 2) better rendering support. I could, for example, make a map style that says "Show all current railroads in green, all railroad abandoned prior to 1970 in yellow, and prior to 1940 in red". Or I could mark the bridges as bridges, which I currently can't do. Then we can add metadata to show which bridges still exist. Then you could load them into your GPS receiver and easily be able to find the Abandoned Railroad Bridges of NY out in the field.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby Mark_K » Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:27 pm

RussNelson wrote:
Mark_K wrote:-- Open Street Map is beyond me. Or I'm too lazy. Or both.


Well, yeah, there's a learning curve, but the nice thing about it is 1) better support for metadata than my NY railroad data file format, and 2) better rendering support. I could, for example, make a map style that says "Show all current railroads in green, all railroad abandoned prior to 1970 in yellow, and prior to 1940 in red". Or I could mark the bridges as bridges, which I currently can't do. Then we can add metadata to show which bridges still exist. Then you could load them into your GPS receiver and easily be able to find the Abandoned Railroad Bridges of NY out in the field.


Rebuilt railroads might need their own color category, for example, the Catskill & Canajoharie -> Catskill Mountain Rwy and the Post Road Branch ripped by Penn Central rebuilt by AMTRAK. But anyway, the overall concept is worthy of future investigation.

Abandoned Rail Bridges of NY page needs some ex-LIRR Rockaway Branch pix!

http://www.forgotten-ny.com/SUBWAYS/Roc ... kline.html
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby RussNelson » Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:33 pm

This year, I'm chasing the Brookfield Railroad (east of Hamilton), the Pennsylvania and Sodus Bay (west of Ithaca), and maybe the Penn Yan, Lake Keuka & Southern if I have time. Also planning (if the weather holds) to bicycle the Outlet Trail from Penn Yan east or the Catherine Valley Trail.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby joshuahouse » Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:15 am

What of the Penn Yan Keuka Lake and Southern was actually worked on graded etc? I found them in a NYT article from 1899 and it sounds as if it would not have had much success. Even at that time 400000 seems a bit low for a 35 mile railroad that would have required at least 2 shifts of watershed. I'm hiking the Dresden end of the Outlet Trail myself this weekend.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby tree68 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:17 am

Russ - I'm presuming you found "the cut" on the G&W. I haven't "chased" the railroad, but I'd love to figure out just where it crossed present day Rt 12. I figure it's in the area of the BOCES.

Oh - and it's the Utica and Black River. But you knew that. :wink:
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby SST » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:13 am

I've never heard of the Outlet Trail before. I just looked it up and did a little reading on it. Sounds great. This just got posted on my "places to go" list. Thanks for mentioning it.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby RussNelson » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:11 pm

Sitting in the Day's Inn in Cortland, after a productive day. Found and hiked (well, was shown by a native guide) the Brookfield Railroad, or at least the portion that was graded. Found several railroads in Oneida. Took about a half dozen photos of abandoned bridges (will post to my Flickr page). Stopped by the Madison County Clerk and got scans of the Brookfield Railroad as planned. Bicycled out to the mystery railbed west of Canastota. It is indeed a railbed! Found traces of the Midland railroad east of DeRuyter.

Am planning to bicycle the Outlet trail onSunday, if the weather holds. Snowing right now!
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby Matt Langworthy » Sat Apr 10, 2010 4:42 pm

joshuahouse wrote:What of the Penn Yan Keuka Lake and Southern was actually worked on graded etc? I found them in a NYT article from 1899 and it sounds as if it would not have had much success. Even at that time 400000 seems a bit low for a 35 mile railroad that would have required at least 2 shifts of watershed. I'm hiking the Dresden end of the Outlet Trail myself this weekend.


I found the article: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 94689ED7CF

I'm thinking there wouldn't have been much traffic for the proposed line. There were (and are) few major businesses along the "route" to generate freight traffic. There were no large villages between Savona and Penn Yan, so it would have been light in passenger traffic as well. If the line had been built, it probably would have suffered the same fate as the K&P... a series of bankruptcies, followed by abandonment. Cancelling the construction was a good idea, IMO.
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Re: Chasing railroads for my birthday

Postby RussNelson » Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:57 pm

Went for another trip last weekend.

Drove down to Syracuse. Stayed at the Red Roof Inn. It wasn't very expensive, but it certainly was cheap.

Started with the unfinished OnTrack bridge next the Transportation Center. Went out back to see the never-used station at the stadium. Went down Wolf Street then Salina Street and spotted some trolley tracks sticking through the roads.
Chased abandoned bridges. First, there is one near the east end of Fabius Street. Still has a rail sticking through the fence.

Next saw three bridges east of Jefferson Street, very close to the MOST and NYS&W station. Two are on the west of the main, and one on the east; all four bridges go over Onondaga Creek. Then it was up to the east of Maltbie St., again over Onondaga Creek. Two more bridges there. Then the north end of Magnolia Street for two bridges over West Fayette (they used to serve a yard which is now a playground.) Finally, the yard west of Willis Avenue, for a bridge which used to carry the West Shore over the DL&W. Looks like a hell of pollution, which pumps and stacks and various other mitigation equipment. But I digress.

Up to Binghamton, to visit the Empire State Railways north of the Baldwinsville High School, and see some WWII industrial ruins and sidings.

On to Binghamton, or more accurately, Vestal, for the Vestal Rail Trail. Buzzed through Waverly (yes, yes, I know, but it wasn't on my list for this year.) Then Elmira where they seem to be building a rail-trail south-east along NY-17. There's three bridges in town there, but I didn't do adequate research to know about them. Did a search and found the Big Flats Rail Trail. Just a short thing. Runs into missing bridges on both ends of it. Popular trail, tho. Finally, Corning, for the Corning Bike Path, plus three bonus bridges to the east. Met up with a young NS employee who was working the freight. Friendly sort. Found a bridge on the way into the NS yard on the north side of town. Spent the night at the Budget Inn. Inexpensive, but nicer than the RRI -- at least it was clean.

Headed up to Naples in the morning. Stumbled across two trolley bridges I didn't know about. Followed the Kanona and Prattsburgh. Boy was THAT ever a low-investment railroad. Found the station in Naples and was pointed at the turntable by a local. Bicycled the Lehigh Valley Rail -Trail otherwise known as the Naples-Middlesex trail (in spite of the fact that it stops short of Middlesex for no obvious reason), also known as the High Tor Rail Trail. It got too wet even for me near the north end, so I doubled back from there to get within a few hundred feet. Happened across the Moody Hiking Trail (also on the Naples Branch of the LV) in Rushville. Bicycled that.

Then went looking for West X / East X north of Geneva. Have written that up in other topic here. Was much fun and I found enough to be sure that what I saw on the aerial photos was all real. On to Auburn and the Auburn-Fleming Trail. Spent the night in the Day's Inn. Again, cheap but was pretty nice, AND no password on the wi-fi. Went looking for the Owasco River Railway but saw no sign of any railbed; just two bridge abutments crossing the Owasco River. On to Seneca Falls.

Went searching in Seneca Falls for traces of the Pennsylvania & Sodua Bay, which also has its own topic here. The highlights? I found some railbed north of the river and north of CSX. Was definitely going to cross at grade; maybe with an interchange. Found culvert remains in somebody's backyard in Seneca Falls (you can see them from the road, but I asked for permission and got nice piccies). Tried to go south but it got posted AND muddy, so I tried bicycling around on the LV railbed. Had a nice ride, and found the P&SB but it was grown over with prickers. Also found culvert remains south of Willers Road. My shins are still scratched up from the pricker bushes. Also found two of three maps showing the route of the P&SB in the county clerk's office. Unfortunately, the mystery route north of SF and south of Clyde is in the missing map.

My blog entry, with maps, is here: http://blog.russnelson.com/bicycling/1302366416.html
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