Exploring Utica's old railroads

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Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Benjamin Maggi » Thu Apr 07, 2011 8:15 am

So I have been planning to take a day trip to Utica to do some exploring this summer and thought I would start my research here. I am interested in finding what is left to see of Utica's old railroads. I saw via online maps that a Roundhouse just north and west of the passenger station still exists. What else is to see (not including the Adirondack Scenic Railroad)?

As I kid, I remember driving through Utica (near the brewery I think) and passing in-street trackage. This would be the mid-late 1980s, I think. Also, I remember driving down Rutger Street and seeing either OOS tracks or just the roadbed, which still remains. This roadbed ran between the intersection of Culver Ave./Blecker Street and ran South West through Utica. Near Proctor Park it was on an enbankment that still exists.

Basically, exploring old parking lots is not what I am interested in, but if anything still exists that might be fun to check out on a Summer day please give me ideas. If anyone has an older map of the city showing all of the tracks in place that I can use as sort of a "travel guide" that would also be great.

Thanks.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby tree68 » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:11 pm

Susquehanna maintains a presence there in the old Lackawanna shops, but they're cut off from the southern end of their line by a washout.

MA&N works almost daily during the week, but there's not much to see.

That said - I know what I know of Utica from working with the Adirondack and some reading. This site would probably be as helpful as anything.

Unless you happen to be there during the Hoffman's bridge replacement, some time at Union Station may well be worth your while. Bring your scanner (160.800) - trains in both directions call CP's a mile on either side of the station, and there's the defect detector at Whitesboro, too. There's also a little snack bar at the station, which has been nicely restored, in case you haven't been there for a while.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby kinlock » Thu Apr 07, 2011 3:24 pm

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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Cactus Jack » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:00 pm

A few things of interest:

1. Utica Union Station - like tree68 said, worth spending some time there

2. The NYO&W freight house still stands just to the west of Union Station and the Genesee Street overpass

3. Further west is the ex-DL&W / EL freight house, now part of the NYSW mechanical facility

4. Across the CSX main tracks from the NYSW is the old Utica & Black River RR (RW&O) roundhouse / car shop that is now a private industrial facility.

5. East of Union Station is one of the few remaining New York Central interlocking towers (Tower 30) long ago decommissioned and later a yard / crew office in Conrail days.

6. Follow the DL&W / NYSW tracks west (railroad south) and you may be able to see the remains of the post 1900 DL&W locomotive facility area. Last I knew down in the forest the turntable was still there. This is just north of Oriskany Street Crossing and east of the tracks.

7. After checking that out folloow the DL&W south of Oriskany Street and you will see the old DL&W crossing tower. An elevated structure painted and restored by the U&MV Chapter, NRHS over the years wearing DL&W colors. This is at the foot of Schuyler Street. It was erected about 1952 when the LAckawanna abolished the multiple crossing watchmen down the street and the tower itself probably was the tower that originally protected the Erie Canal crossing in an earlier era (Oriskany Blvd being the route of the canal).

8. From the tower south is the approximately .62 miles of street running where in EL days 100 cars trains ran down the street twice a day (Trains NE97-NE74 from 1974 - 1976). Current operations end at Sangerfield about 22 miles south.

9. Follow the arterial (Route 12) south from Oriskany Street and on your right will be (if not recently removed) an old abandoned looking spur. This was the NYO&W from Clinton and Norwich and you can follow it south until just before the point it crossed (later tied into) the DL&W / EL).

10. Following Route 12 south from there you come upon Canal Branch the area where the old Scheidelman's warehouse is located. This was the "new" NYO&W yard area and the yard office and roundhouse where torn down in the Mid- '60's to make room for the new warehouse. The NYSW is at this point on the O&W right of way due to the arterial construction in 1963.

11. Exit at French Road and make a left onto Chenango and you will pick up the O&W again which dead ends near the Onondasis Golf Course and serves as a tail track for backing into the area behind New Hartford Shopping Plaza. This was all industrial sidings and originally O&W, later DL&W and NYSW is the current operator.

12. Just past the old GE / Martin Marietta plant you will see the former WestShore that now comes off the DL&W/NYSW main. Originally this was a diamond with the Westshore heading east towards South Utica and Harbor. Much is still visible as a wide open empty corridor and it is not too hard to find the old Right of Way. The O&W / Westshore also had a diamond near where the Westshore "Mills Branch" takes off for New York Mills now operated by NYSW also.

13. Follow Oriskany Street west from where the DL&W crossed Schuyler Street and you will be following the "Blue Line" a DL&W industrial spur built out about 1900 to Yorkville area (the end of the line was a restaurant called the Red Barn but I think now it is an adult book store. This line was removed sometime in the '90's but there are a few remains to be seen.

14. East of Union Station about in the area of the Post Office facility and sewage treatment plant was the site of the big NYC RR roundhouse and locomotive service facility. On your visit to Union Station check it all out where there are plaques on the east wall (means room and barber shop Amtrak ticket)

Much has disappeared in recent years and I probably forgot a bunch of neat stuff but maybe that will get you started. If you get to Clinton there are some historical markers near the old O&W yards and I think the O&W freighthouse may still stand.

Also just out of town south of New Hartford is the DL&W depot on Kellogg Road (removed from trackside to the west 1/4 mile or so) and a little further south is the DL&W Chadwicks depot still at trackside.

North of Utica at Holland Patent is the ex NYC (U&BR / RW&O?) depot and visit Remsen to see their rebuilt NYC depot with an old NYC wooden caboose and an old Pullman sleeper on display along with an ex NYO&W semaphore order board from Oriskany Falls transplanted for your interest and enjoyment.

15 (this should have been 13 following 12 but for some reason I can't get it to move there). At Genesee Street in New Hartford across from Friendly's restaurant is the DL&W New Hartford Depot.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Benjamin Maggi » Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:38 am

Wow, Cactus Jack, that is some great information you have there. I was in Utica yesterday for a funeral and saw a tiny (10') portion of buried track in the street in a couple of places. It was part of that diagonal track I was talking about yesterday. You have been most helpful! Thanks.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby thebigham » Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:49 am

Here's the turntable mentioned in #6 above:

http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=r5j3t8 ... ntable____
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Cactus Jack » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:00 am

Yes, that is indeed the turntable and the roundhouse was built off it up against Oriskany Street. If you scroll east along CSX you get a great view of the old U&BR / RW&O Roundhouse.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Cactus Jack » Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:16 am

Now a question:

I remember what was called "The Broad Street Spur" that ran past the GE plant and ended up kind of at the front of Union Station (don't remember the business, it may have been a team track or a radiator company or steel beam place ?) What was this originally built for and what was the location called and where that it separated from the Westshore Main ?

I remember the last train on this in March, 1982 but did not have a camera. I stood up at the east end of the Route 5S bridge as the train shoved back towards the connection with the mainline and cursed as I did not have a camera with me. I think it was either the crew of UT-52 which was the Sangerfield Local or an extra UT-95 or such (crews on locals at this time were pooled between ex EL, Mohawk and St. Lawrence division guys so the same faces showed up all over at that time). A few days later the line was OOS and the EL side sold off to NYS&W.

Occaisionally in the late 1970's I would see a bob tail switcher working this line with a green transfer caboose. Crews would sometimes stop for lunch and eat at the Charlestown Outlet area and a place called Spaghetti Joes's but I never pulled out the camera and shot as much as one frame of film on it all.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby lvrr325 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:03 pm

NYS&W has some industrial tracks down into the city, I went to the Ollies Outlet and was surprised to find an active track that crossed one of the plaza entries, it seemed to head towards Genesee St. and petered out. West Shore?

Now the turntable is still there, although a coal trestle that was next to the main track coming south was removed last year. Some of the timbers are still there.

Not a lot to see on the DL&W blue line except the odd spot where a closed gas station had a private crossing over the former line - and that is an Adult World about where it would have ended. A little further east if it's open you may as well try the Voss Bar-B-Que, it's the best place I've found to eat around there. However it wasn't open for the season yet as of April 3rd.

Going out 5S there are still a couple former West Shore bridges, one across the main road, and the ROW can be followed more or less on east as far as you want to go. In Mohawk (about 15 mins east) is the closed Mohawk Station restaurant which has a boxcar and a former Bangor & Aroostook caboose along with some other things outside.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Cactus Jack » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:14 am

The track near Ollies Outlet was the NYO&W mentioned above under #11. It originally crossed Genesee Street years and years ago and dead ended. The other end connects with the remains of the O&W line from Clinton and crosses the Route 12 Arterial.

The dock off Oriskany Street near the terminal was actually called the Ore Dock but did unload coal. Not sure if it was ever covered, never saw a photo that showed anything more than an open pit.

Indeed, check out some good eating as mentioned.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby westshore94706 » Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:54 pm

"It originally crossed Genesee Street years and years ago and dead ended"

Cactus - seems I read somewhere in the history books that O+W originallycame into Utica on Genesee St - via horse power - can't recall and don't have time to check.

Anyway, this sanborn map shows the O+W siding dead ending to the west of Genesee. Campion Road used to be called Whitesboro Street - the O+W ran on the west side of Whitesboro and crossed just after Campion Building supplies ( Carparelli or whomever at this point) - have a companion map showing this condition - if anyone wants to see that map let me know and I will post it.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby Cactus Jack » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:03 am

The beginnings of the Utica, Clinton & Binghamton (later operated by NYO&W as part of their Utica branch) was a horse drawn omnibus from New Hartford to Utica via Genesee Street. About 1871 the line down to Clinton was linked into a new all rail alignment into Utica bypassing Genesee Street street running. At one time for a time after January, 1865 the line had a steam dummy but not sure how long it lasted.
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby kinlock » Wed Apr 13, 2011 12:34 am

What is the date on the New Hartford O&W map? My familiarity with the line was in the 1950's. By looking at building names, I think it must be 1930's. Farthest point O&W reached is same in 1930's and 1950's: a coal pile that once caught on fire and burned for what seemed like ages?

Yes, would love to see your companion map.

...Ken
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby westshore94706 » Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:14 pm

Kinlock

Here are two maps - the first map is date stamped 1915 and is a montage of several locations in NH, showing Whitesboro street Capron area ( Sauquoit Spinning) and Richardson Place.

I believe the second map is 1925 vintage - don't see note on this map for a coal pile - could it be the place called out as High Power Fuel & Oil Corp.? (an interesting bit of zoning, placing the fuel company next to the canning company).

These files have been substantially reduced in size from original format - therefore legibility suffers. I have the original in PDF format but apparently PDF can't be viewed in line - the pdf is substantially crisper but same file size as jpeg. I will post the original PDF's if requested.

Cheers
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Re: Exploring Utica's old railroads

Postby kinlock » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:36 am

westshore97406, thanks for posting additional maps.

The 1925 map posted April 12 checks out against other notes I have on the Whitesboro Street (Campion Road) area. 1915 map shows three sets of tracks crossing Whitesboro Street. 1925 map shows only 1. The end of the track is shown as two coal silo's. The silo's were there in the 1950's, but also a big pile of coal. All is gone now because of highway construction. http://www.ominousweather.com/images5/NewHartfordCampionRoad2011NOTES.jpg
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