abandoned D & H line south of Albany

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abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby highwayman » Fri May 08, 2015 12:18 am

I don't know if this has already been discussed, but here goes. An abandoned railroad line is easily visible on the south side of Albany, appearing to head out of CP's (D&H) Kenwood yard. Does anybody know anything about the history of this line? I know that nowadays trains running from Binghamton to Kenwood run via Scenectady and Mechanicsville. Would the former line have been an alternate and shorter route between those two terminals? Thanks ahead of time for any responses.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby Steve Wagner » Mon May 11, 2015 10:27 am

The line you're referring to was part of the original main line of the Albany & Susquehanna, which was built as a wide gauge line connecting Binghamton and Albany. The D&H leased the A&S on a very long term basis after its builders managed to keep it from being taken over by the predatory characters who then controlled the Erie Railroad. The history is available in Chapters of Erie by Charles Francis Adams Jr. and Henry Adams and in Jim Shaughnessy's Delaware & Hudson; it was fictionalized by Edna Ferber in Saratoga Trunk, which was made into a movie with the same title starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. (Cooper played a Texas cowboy who supposedly led the A&S forces against the Erie's toughs at the famous battle of the Tunnel; in real life the good guys were commanded by the man in charge of the railroad's shops, named van Valkenburgh, I think.) The line went through Voorheesville and Altamont to Delanson, which was or became the junction with the line to Schenectady and points north. Albany-Binghamton passenger trains ran over it until their discontinuance in 1962. Canadian Pacific abandoned the line northeast of Voorheesville sometime after buying the D&H c. 1990-1991. Switching of autorack cars between Delanson and the Voorheesville industrial park was provided in recent years by SMS, which operates mostly in southern New Jersey. The opening of new facilities in Mechanicville may have brought that operation to an end. I don't have the time at the moment to look up further details. Sorry.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby highwayman » Mon May 11, 2015 10:05 pm

Steve, no further details are needed. That was one heck of a lot of info you provided about that line. Thanks for the response.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby newpylong » Tue May 12, 2015 2:48 pm

Steve Wagner wrote:The line you're referring to was part of the original main line of the Albany & Susquehanna, which was built as a wide gauge line connecting Binghamton and Albany. The D&H leased the A&S on a very long term basis after its builders managed to keep it from being taken over by the predatory characters who then controlled the Erie Railroad. The history is available in Chapters of Erie by Charles Francis Adams Jr. and Henry Adams and in Jim Shaughnessy's Delaware & Hudson; it was fictionalized by Edna Ferber in Saratoga Trunk, which was made into a movie with the same title starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. (Cooper played a Texas cowboy who supposedly led the A&S forces against the Erie's toughs at the famous battle of the Tunnel; in real life the good guys were commanded by the man in charge of the railroad's shops, named van Valkenburgh, I think.) The line went through Voorheesville and Altamont to Delanson, which was or became the junction with the line to Schenectady and points north. Albany-Binghamton passenger trains ran over it until their discontinuance in 1962. Canadian Pacific abandoned the line northeast of Voorheesville sometime after buying the D&H c. 1990-1991. Switching of autorack cars between Delanson and the Voorheesville industrial park was provided in recent years by SMS, which operates mostly in southern New Jersey. The opening of new facilities in Mechanicville may have brought that operation to an end. I don't have the time at the moment to look up further details. Sorry.


The date of abandonment east of Voreheesville was much later than that - 2003. Prior to that they were running across the diamond from Kenwood to service the Industrial park up until ~2000 then used CSX and the connection at VO briefly. If I remember correctly they did this because the Normanskill bridge needed costly repairs. Eventually they rebuilt the western portion from Delanson to the park and began to service it from that end. In 2007 SMS leased the lines from CP, and they have been running it since then but yes the racks all go to XO now.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby Steve Wagner » Wed May 13, 2015 2:29 pm

Newpylong, thanks very much for the additions and corrections!
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby newpylong » Wed May 13, 2015 7:26 pm

You are very welcome. That line has always fascinated me - I wish it was still intact, especially with Norfolk Southern coming into the picture.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu May 14, 2015 4:55 am

I qualified to the industrial park when I hired out in 2000. Timetable south of the wye to the park, the line was OOS due to washouts. Shortly after, they condemned the Normans Kill bridge. For a little while, the job would run to Selkirk, and get CSX pilots for the trip to the park, which CSX also has access to. At the same time, they repaired the south end from Delanson. A local from Saratoga would bring down cars for Agway, while the piggyback train dropped off the racks. The crew took a taxi from Kenwood to Voorheesville.Eventually the auto traffic was lost. SU11 would run down for the feed mill.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby newpylong » Thu May 14, 2015 7:58 am

Looks like I have pretty decent memory :)
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby pumpers » Sat May 16, 2015 2:02 pm

There is speculation as to whether NS will try to get the abandoned section from Kenwood to Vorheesville back from from State of NY (I think that is who owns it now for the trail but am not sure), so they can reach the port of Albany, which handles a lot of oil etc. I think I did read NS will get Delanson to Vorheesville as part of the D&H sale (approved by the STB yesterday!). On the negative side, I haven't seen a clear post on what the legal status of trying to get it back would be, especially if it indeed was sold, whether getting as far as Kenwood yard would be enough (would they need some rights from D&H?), and there is now apparently the cost of fixing Normanskill bridge. JS
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby newpylong » Mon May 18, 2015 9:42 am

I forgot how much of a stub CP still owns of the Albany main west of Kenwood but they would need rights over there and use of the yard as well. Albany certainly has to be a big carrot for them but at what price?
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby charlie6017 » Sun May 24, 2015 7:53 am

newpylong wrote:I forgot how much of a stub CP still owns of the Albany main west of Kenwood but they would need rights over there and use of the yard as well. Albany certainly has to be a big carrot for them but at what price?


If New York State does indeed hold title to this ROW, I would bet money NS could pry it away from NYS. Money
talks, after all! Question is how much value does NS see in getting the access to the Port of Albany?

I would love to see this old piece of the D & H back in service!

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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby Engineer Spike » Sat Jun 27, 2015 7:56 pm

Even though it is longer, the present route via Schenectady and Mechanicville has less grade. It might take an act of Congress to get CSX to put the diamonds back in..
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby newpylong » Mon Jul 13, 2015 9:21 am

Depends if the easement was held by CP (NS soon) or NY State or given up as part of the abandonment.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jul 13, 2015 10:37 am

newpylong wrote:Depends if the easement was held by CP (NS soon) or NY State or given up as part of the abandonment.


Believe the county bought it for a planned trail, which is going to make it doubly difficult to get back vs. if the state held it.
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Re: abandoned D & H line south of Albany

Postby greenwichlirr » Wed Jul 15, 2015 5:50 am

Copied from the Albany County Rail Trail FAQ's:

Is the County concerned that after all of its efforts to develop a rail trail, the corridor may be restored to active rail surface?

Not really.

Railbanking has been around since 1983 and has been applied to rail trail projects all over the country, but the restoration of a trail to active rail service has been a very rare occurrence.

It is a very complicated and expensive endeavor to restore rail service and the underlying justification needs to be compelling. Therefore, the County is confident that the public will be the beneficiaries of many years of recreational enjoyment through this project.

It should be noted, however, that if public transportation needs were ever significant enough to justify a return to rail service on this corridor, then it is likely that the County would be supportive of addressing that need, even if it meant the possible loss of the rail trail. In that event, the County would be compensated for the fair market value of the corridor.
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