D & H Passenger service

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D & H Passenger service

Postby atlpete » Fri Jan 27, 2006 12:52 am

I have aquired a rather plain green skinny 1964 D&H public timetable that has piqued my interest in that passenger service pre-dating the PA's and Prospector cars era on this road. Could one of you D&H fans recommend a book that looks at that post war period prior to the great Laurentian valhalla which, while great, was somewhat of an anamoly. I understand the road used RS's and some rather distinctive ACF lightweights, any tips on a good source?
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Postby Dieter » Tue Mar 21, 2006 2:25 pm

When it comes to books about the D&H, you pretty much have to take whatever you can get, and should without hesitation before it's out of print.

Keep in mind this is a road of spectacular scenery and interesting equipment. I've NEVER heard anyone rave about service or cuisine aboard a D&H train. It's also not a very big railroad, so likewise, available information about it in print is limited.

Personally, I rode D&H trains in the 60's and early 70's that lacked heat in the winter which were usually running terribly late. Outside of the scenery, the best parts of most trips on the D&H was seeing the train come into view, and getting off of it.

If you see it, buy it. You will be glad you did.

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Thanks

Postby atlpete » Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:51 pm

I appreciate your advice Dieter; and certainly "get" the spartan nature of the service. Since my original post I've learned that Morning Sun has a couple of volumes on "The Bridge Line." Any one familiar with them is invited to contribute their .02 It's been my opinion that MS books while always entertaining (hard to argue with 120-odd pages of color) vary significantly in regards to content and focus. As an example some LV, Rdg or CNJ fans will recognize the significant differences in the respective MS volumes 1,2+ on those roads. I'm really interested in the pre-Sterzing D&H, as I'm hooked on anthracite roads in general.
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duh!

Postby atlpete » Sat Mar 25, 2006 12:07 am

You know, I just need to get better at surfing- the D&H Historical Soc.'s site http://www.bridge-line.org/ has a well done section on all books extant on the D&H and, based on this comprehensive listing of reviews, the first MS volume appears to be the best source for info on the pre-'67 post war D&H.
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Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:40 am

Contrary to a previous post, I have been riding the D. & H. since the late
1950's and found their trains were clean, cool in the summer and warm in
the winter, generally on time and good meals. In short, the D. & H. was
a pleasure to ride. I have ridden both the day and night trains to or from
Montreal and found both trains great to ride.
They ran some mighty good excursions over various lines and they have
been good trips too.
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Postby Dieter » Thu Mar 30, 2006 9:53 am

Well, come to think of it, my rough trips on the D&H were in New York Central coaches! :wink:

Mr. Weaver, I have to ask you this. You've driven locomotives it seems on practically every line in the region. Is there any line in the Northeast you wanted to drive and never got to?

I recall years ago at Harmon (probably 1967) overhearing Central employees running D&H into the ground over some problem with a caboose that had just come down the river. I thought at the time it was funny coming from guys working for an operation in obvious decline.

My mother rode the Delaware & Hudson to Montreal far more frequently than I did, and in the days of Penn Central, came to dread it. Around 1970, she finally balked at pre-Amtrak rail travel and switched to flying the Penn Central of the skies - Eastern Airlines.

After several Penn Centralish episodes of my own with Eastern, I balked at flying, and decided to give the train a shot, and see how bad it had degenerated since my last trip. OH, Amtrak was so horrible, with a spanking NEW TURBOLINER to Montreal over the D&H, I haven't flown that corridor since! I just wish the Turboliner was still on that run.

When the D&H flag fell, I was really sad. When Penn Central died and became Conrail, I felt like a mercy killing had been performed on a sick relative, and dreaded what was next. When Eastern went belly up, I cheered!

So, food and service on the D&H. Anybody remember what they ate and details of the service?

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Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Mar 30, 2006 3:53 pm

With a 41 year railroad career and 37 years of that either as a fireman or
engineer, I covered a lot of territory. Pass use got me a lot of trips all
over the place in years past.
When the mergers and takeovers occurred, our seniority rights expanded
and especially freight traffic shifted from one route or one area to another.
I took advantage of every expansion of rights.
I started on the New Haven Railroad and as a fireman covered much of
the former New Haven until the Penn Central takeover in January, 1969.
In 1974, I started with my "expansion" by qualifying and working on the
former New York Central River Line which had a lot of through freight
work and I could hold better work there than I could as an engineer on the
New Haven at the time.
I furthered my territory by qualifying on various territories of the former
New York Central out of Grand Central that presently make up Metro-
North.
By the mid 1980's, I was extremely fed up with living in New York City
with its problems and do nothing attitude. I ended up moving up the road
to a suburb of Albany and using my one shot transfer in 1987 to work for
Conrail out of Selkirk where by that time, I could hold just about any road
freight job that I wanted. My last ten years were spent on a Selkirk -
Buffalo through freight job, not quite as much money as Metro-North but
the cost of living was quite a bit less too so it balanced out very nicely.
I worked on every major class of locomotive during my time from single
Budd Cars to the biggest freight engines, both electric and diesel.
I have no regrets, it was a great career for me.
As far as where I would like to have worked but never did, well, I guess
if I had been with Amtrak in Albany, I would have worked the D. & H.
between Rensselaer and Montreal, it is a beautiful ride. Probably would
have liked to work the line to Rutland as well.
My original intent was to retire off a New Haven - Boston run but once
Amtrak took over and all I could think of was 160 miles each way in a
very noisy F-40 and pay on an hourly basis, it was again thanks but no
thanks. The electrification came too late between New Haven and Boston
for me.
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Re: D & H Passenger service

Postby ChiefTroll » Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:40 pm

So, food and service on the D&H. Anybody remember what they ate and details of the service?
Until about 1964, the D&H ran a full-service dining car on Trains 34 and 35, The Laurentian. The trains also had a NYC lounge-observation car with first class parlor accommodations and light meal service. After the diners came off, they carried a NYC parlor-lounge that continued the light meals.

In the fall of 1967, right after the rush to Montreal Expo '67, the D&H acquired the 12 ex-D&RGW passenger cars, including two full diners, under the all-too-short presidency of Frederick C. (Buck) Dumaine, Jr. That heralded the reinstatement of dining service on 34 and 35, with full meals like steak, fish, and all that good stuff.

The former dining car staff, who had been working in Albany as elevator operators, messengers, etc. returned to one of the dining cars as a fully operational crew. The railroad hired a group of young ladies with restaurant experience to staff the other car, with an experienced railroad chef in the kitchen. Both crews did an exellent job in their cars and the service was very well received.

The Montreal Limited, trains 9 and 10, didn't really need much dining service. They left New York after supper time, and arrived Montreal fairly early in the morning. During the time that 34 and 35 didn't have diners, one of the D&H dining car staff worked out of Plattsburgh, serving a "Continental Breakfast" on No. 9 into Montreal, and helping in the lounge car on 34 back to Plattsburgh. He bought his doughnuts, rolls and juice in town, and brewed his coffee in a small room on the second floor (street level) in the Plattsburgh station.

When I was Track Supervisor at Plattsburgh, 1966 through 1968, I normally rode over the Champlain Division about once a week on 34 and 35, (and sometimes on WR-1 and RW-6 when I wanted to punish myself). I would either ride 34's engine from Rouses Point to Whitehall and have lunch during my return on 35, or vice versa. I was (really!) more concerned with alternating directions on the engine than with which crew was in the diner (honest!) and I have to say that either way was a pleasure, at least as far as lunch was concerned.

I also need to say that I was much less worried over my track when I was at Plattsburgh than I had been in my former time as a Track Supervisor on the New York Central. I switched railroads voluntarily when I realized that the Penn Central merger was not about to make good sense. Going to Plattsburgh was like going to Heaven.

The dining service ended with the trains in 1971, but when Amtrak reinstituted The Adirondack the D&H put their diners back in the trains. I wasn't working there then, but when I was married in 1975 we spent our honeymoon in Willsboro. We rode The Adirondack to Fort Edward and back one day. We had a full meal in the D&H diner on the way back, so I know that they were in the train in June of 1975.

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Postby Dieter » Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:59 am

Gentlemen,

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us! :-D

I dare say that as a child travelling with my mother, she always carried a large bag of sandwiches and sodas for us. We NEVER got into the diner as kids :( . Yeah, that really stinks!

I do recall the NYC Obs on the day train in 1967, and got to go back for chips and a drink, and I will never forget it. What I thought strange was the counter blocked the rear window, and they wouldn't serve you unless you sat at a table. No carry-out service.

By the time I was out of school and travelling between Montreal and New York without a mother w/bag of unwanted sandwiches, the Turbo was the ride of the day, with the best fare in the cafe being those microwaved cheeseburgers where the cheese ran off and made a ring around the bottom of the bun in it's plastic bag. What a far cry from the stories of trout and steak I've always heard about! I have to admit that the very first time I ever saw a microwave oven was in operation on the Rohr Turboliner.

Are any of those D&H passenger cars mothballed in the region? I've been surprised there hasn't been a dinner train starting up to creep along the cliff, high above Champlain.....

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Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:25 am

Dieter wrote:Gentlemen,

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us! :-D

I dare say that as a child travelling with my mother, she always carried a large bag of sandwiches and sodas for us. We NEVER got into the diner as kids :( . Yeah, that really stinks!

I do recall the NYC Obs on the day train in 1967, and got to go back for chips and a drink, and I will never forget it. What I thought strange was the counter blocked the rear window, and they wouldn't serve you unless you sat at a table. No carry-out service.

By the time I was out of school and travelling between Montreal and New York without a mother w/bag of unwanted sandwiches, the Turbo was the ride of the day, with the best fare in the cafe being those microwaved cheeseburgers where the cheese ran off and made a ring around the bottom of the bun in it's plastic bag. What a far cry from the stories of trout and steak I've always heard about! I have to admit that the very first time I ever saw a microwave oven was in operation on the Rohr Turboliner.

Are any of those D&H passenger cars mothballed in the region? I've been surprised there hasn't been a dinner train starting up to creep along the cliff, high above Champlain.....

Dieter/


Way too many trains on this line to allow for something like a dinner train
or other tourist type operation. The CP is quite good to Amtrak with their
two daily trains north of Whitehall and four daily trains south of there.
I do not know of any major railroad that allows a privately operated
tourist or dinner train to operate on their tracks.
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Back to the original question...

Postby march hare » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:16 pm

If you'll allow a small amount of self promotion (I was a co-author), let me recommend Morning Sun Books "D&H Color Guide to Freight and Passenger Equipment" as a source of info on, well, freight and passenger equipment.

The other relevant Morning Sun volumes (D&H in Color, Volumes 1-3) offer additional info and lots of pictures, and their "Trackside in the Albany Gateway with Gerritt Bruins" has some detailed coverage of the Binghamton trains and the commuter trains.

The classic railfan book on the D&H, Jim Shaughnessy's "Delaware and Hudson" was published in 1967 by Howell North, and was recently reissued. Definitely worth a look.

By the time of the Dumaine-era upgrade of passenger service (1967, linked to the Montreal Word's Fair of that year), the Montreal-Albany route was all there was left.

Farther back, as of 1960 or so, there were the two pairs of trains to Montreal (the Laurentian and the Montreal Limited) a single pair of day trains from Albany to Binghamton (generally 1-2 coaches and an RPO) and either 1 or 2 pairs of commuter trains north out of Albany. I can't recall right now when the commuter trains came off, the Binghamton service went away in early 1962 if memory serves.

Prior to Dumaine, all of this was behind RS2/RS3 power. Simple reason for that: that's all the road power the D&H owned from intial dieselization in 1946 til the first RS11s in the early 60s. It was one of the least diverse motive power rosters in all of American railroading. Even after the newer power arrived, they lacked steam generators, so RSs were the rule on passenger trains until the PAs arrived.

One oddball feature was that for the last few years before Amtrak, the Montreal trains would occasionally draw Erie Lackawanna E units for power. During the winter especially, the PAs would be doubled up for extra steam heat capacity, leaving the RR power short (four trains daily, two pairs of PAs, do the math...). EL and D&H were both in the N&W Dereco camp at the time, so the semi-surplus Es were a natural choice. Many of their sisters were hauling freight trains in Ohio at the time.

After Amtrak started up the Adirondack in 1974, the PAs were sent out to Morrison Knudsen for rebuild, and for a while, RS36s and RS3s could be found on the train.

Amtrak substituted Rohr turbos for the PAs in the summer of 1977, and these were replaced by ordinary amtube consists in the early 90s. Genesis and amtube consists have ruled the roost now for nearly 10 years.

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Postby Steve Wagner » Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:56 am

Here is a link to a review of Doug Lezette's quite recent book on D&H passenger train service. It concentrates on the "era" of the Adirondack, but there is one chapter devoted to pre-Amtrak trains and quite a few photos of cars used on them.



Reviews LogoRide through time on the D&H: The Final Decade
By Otto Vondrak

I often find myself browsing various railroad books on subjects where I have a passing interest, and wouldn't mind learning a little more. Since I am not familiar with the subject matter first-hand, will the book be of value to me years down the road? With this particular book, there was little question! The publishers of Railroad Explorer Book Coverhave brought forth an amazing offering for both the Delaware & Hudson fan and the passenger train fan. Carefully authored by Doug Lezette, Delaware & Hudson Passenger Trains: The Final Decade is a well-detailed account of the late streamliner era on The Bridge Line. If you enjoy passenger trains, you are probably interested in the era leading up to the formation of Amtrak. In a time when most railroads could not wait to escape the burden of providing passenger service, the Delaware & Hudson was looking to improve their existing trains and entice more people to ride.

RS-2 PhotoFor years, D&H trains were a simple mix of everyday heavyweights with streamlined parlors and coaches from the connecting New York Central. The new president of the D&H, Frederic "Buck" Dumaine, formerly president of the New Haven, was responsible for the major changes to come. By the late 1960s, the only remaining D&H service was between Montreal and Albany, with through connections to Grand Central Terminal. In 1967, D&H acquired several surplus streamlined cars from the Rio Grande to re-equip its Laurentian and its Montreal Limited. In late 1967 the first new equipment arrived, but continued to be pulled by the existing steam-equipped RS-2's. This certainly would not do! In December 1967, four PA-1's were purchased from the Santa Fe, plus a fifth from the New Haven that was used for parts. The famous Alco PA era on the D&H had now begun.

The Final Decade covers each era with carefully selected photos and detailed captions. Each chapter explains a period of train development along the way, from the late 1960s, through the excursion era with president Bruce Sterzing and the Sharks in the 1970s, to the rebirth of Amtrak's Adirondack in 1975, to the disposition of the equipment in 1979.

PA PhotoInteresting is the story of the development of the Adirondack, and D&H's prominent role in operating the train. Amtrak was so desperate for equipment and an operator that they conceded to the railroad on many points. Trains were often staffed with D&H employees in D&H uniforms. Sterzig once scrambled to staff the dining car with D&H office employees after Amtrak pulled their staff. Also noted in the infamous 1975 "Who painted the dome car?" incident. To the dismay of railfans everywhere, Amtrak re-equipped the train with Rohr turboliners before all the D&H equipment came back from rebuilding.

Diner PhotoSadly, not much of the trains survive today. The original Rio Grande cars were sold to Venezuela. The Adirondack cars, rebuilt with NYSDOT funds, were used on MTA commuter lines (former Penn Central Hudson and Harlem Lines) until 1984. Sadly, most of the cars were the victims of arson while in storage in Grand Central Terminal. The PA's were sold to Mexico after a brief stint as freight power, and as commuter power for MBTA. Two shells of the PA's have returned to America for cosmetic restoration.

Sharknose PhotoThirty-six individual photographers contributed to this book, including Jim Shaughnessy, Jim Odell, Jeff Martin, Gardiner Cross, Len Kilian, and Kip Grant. The author also interviewed former D&H president Bruce Sterzig; as well as Peter Dillon, one of the former dining car crewmembers. Lezette's thorough research and attention to detail in preparing this book is evident throughout, and the color reproduction is fantastic. The book is easy to read, presented in an attractive format. I personally think that the map artwork is very handsome, but I may be somewhat biased.

I learned so much from this book on a subject I thought I was already pretty familiar with. This is one of the most enjoyable railfan-subject books that I have come across in a while. Whether you are just a casual fan, or you bleed blue-and-yellow, this is great book that is full of informative personal accounts and great photography that you will not want to miss.



Delaware & Hudson Passenger Trains: The Final Decade
By Doug Lezette
$24.95 plus $4 S&H
76 pages, soft cover.
A limited-edition book with more than 150 color photos. High gloss, heavyweight paper.

Final Decade
PO Box 9069
Schenectady, NY 12309

Back to my own message. I'll add that the D&H commuter service to Albany (at the end, one train per weekday each way from and to Saratoga Springs) ended even before the service to Binghamton did. Back in the Fifties, my family rode to Whitehall on the one car of a late afternoon or early evening train from Albany that left all of its other coaches at Saratoga.
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Thanks, Steve

Postby march hare » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:25 pm

Geez, I can't believe I forgot to mention Doug's book.

It is an excellent work, and I highly recommend it.
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Thanks to all

Postby atlpete » Mon Apr 17, 2006 9:49 pm

Far more info than I expected, most appreciated. The only thing I can add is that I believe Doyle McCormack intends to restore his PA in NKP colors and in running order with a 251 whereas the Smithsonian's will be restored cosmetically to it's original warbonnet scheme.

I especially appreciate all the personal stories of you veteran riders and writers, wish I'd been there myself.
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Postby LI Loco » Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:11 pm

Here are a couple of shots of the Adirondack when it ran as a D&H style train, i.e. before the Amtrak turbos took over.

http://64.246.11.82/images/d/DH_19_2.JPG.51264.jpg
http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=103189
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