Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

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Postby RussNelson » Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:41 am

Next spring, people who go on the Maybrook line tour should get a chance to go out on the bridge.
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Postby b&m617 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:35 am

More on the walkway project: Dyson foundation has given the group 1.5 million $$$ for more studies; this in addition to the $800,000 they have given already. Plan is to use a concrete deck. damaged iron from the fire needs to be replaced. plus railings, they want to put windows in the concrete deck so that you can look thru the deck to the bridge below. City of Poughkeepsie is giving cautious and non monetary support to the building and its like socialized medicine: everybody thinks its a great idea but nobody is thinking about who's gonna pay for it. And I'm surprised that no one seems to be concerned about the liabilities of the bridge.

I stand by my statement that there ain't enough money in the world to make this happen......

work safe :-D
Derail :P
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Postby LCJ » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:58 pm

I'd rather stand on the ground (or on a boat) below and look up. But then, that's just me.
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Bridge Arson

Postby gawlikfj » Tue Dec 04, 2007 7:27 pm

Instead of all these studies,How about giving some to me who can't get a job because so much Manufacturing has gone oversea's.
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Re: Bridge Arson

Postby tech2187 » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:17 pm

gawlikfj wrote:Instead of all these studies,How about giving some to me who can't get a job because so much Manufacturing has gone oversea's.


If there is enough private $ going towards the bridge, its hard to argue what they do with it as private orgs can do what they want (to some degree) with the $. Having split the valley due to poor job prospects, its unclear to me how much tax money has been and may/will be invested in the bridge. So as far as tax payers go, I'm with you, that money should go elsewhere if it has been earmarked for the bridge. Sad to say that as i would really like to see the bridge do well, but not at the expense of putting money into active transit improvements, tax cuts, etc.
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Bridge Arson

Postby gawlikfj » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:47 pm

I would love to see something good done with the bridge ,Maybe a walkway or a tourist line but, we need jobs here & not oversea's & maybe some money could be spent for that .
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby nysw3636 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:50 pm

In Sunday's (10-4-09) Kingston Freeman celebrating the opening of " Walkway Over The Hudson ", there is mention ( and picture ) of the last engineer that crossed the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge. It states... " I've made a thousand trips over this bridge, so I know what it is "- John May, Wallkill engineer on final train to cross span in 1974.

I thought this was interesting....
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby gawlikfj » Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:28 am

I heard it was Erie Lacawanna engines with engine number #3636 in the lead ,that caused the spark that caused the dreaded fire and because Penn Central took out the water barrels on the bridge in the hope the bridge would catch fire and end the Maybrook Route.
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby gawlikfj » Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:44 am

Its been stated many times in this forum by Noel Weaver & Bernie Rudberg what they saw & know . It could be argued till we're blue in the face and what really happened will never be known.
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby Noel Weaver » Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:14 pm

I do not believe for one minute that Penn Central directly caused this fire. I do believe that neglect by Penn Central made
the consequences much worse than they needed to be.
Having said that, it is plainly evident today that this route would not have survived the future cuts that took place after the
Penn Central went bankrupt and was taken over in part by Conrail.
Interesting thing that I noted last week while going through the Penn Central employee newspaper titled "Penn Central Post"
that not one mention in any issue of this fire anywhere and I have every known issue of this publication. I checked very
closly last week and nothing, nada, nada.
Penn Central wanted out so far as this route was concerned but I do not for one minute think that they lit the fire.
Fortunately the bridge has a bright future and I am looking forward to walking at least part of it next month while I am in
Connecticut.
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:50 am

Here is material I first posted at Rails to Trails Forum:

It appears that the New Haven RR Hudson River Bridge at Poughkeepsie is now "up and running".

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/arti ... GECAROUSEL

Tuesday October 5, The New York Times favorably editorialized on the Bridge's restoration as a walking trail:

Brief passage:

----The Henry Hudson anniversary sparked many plans for legacy projects, many of them - including land purchases as a bulwark against view-destroying sprawl - still unrealized. Maybe as the economic and aesthetic benefits of this once-dreamy, impractical vision - saving and fixing a big old bridge - become clearer, people will summon the will and means to dream even bigger.-----

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/opinion/06tue4.html

Two weekends ago, I was "out" for a family wedding. On approach to HPN Runway 16 Friday, from a good flightseeing seat, I saw the Bridge. While in all likelihood it was simply the sun, "I'd swear" the Bridge had been painted Silver!!!
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An Independent DERECO

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:24 am

Noel Weaver wrote:
TomNelligan wrote:I realize that conspiracy theories are fun, and a lot of railfans want to believe that evil Penn Central torched the bridge, but given the regulatory environment of 1974 with Conrail on the horizon, and PC's extremely fragile health, they could have just announced that the bridge was no longer safe for traffic, embargoed it, claimed they didn't have the cash to repair it, and rerouted the EL interchange (one train a day was all that was left) via one of several longer routes that were available (and were used after the combustion). As long as EL got the same rate division, they wouldn't have cared.

Plus, I always figured that if they were going to torch it, wouldn't they do it in the middle of the night rather than midday when the act might be spotted? And since a number of people would have been involved (from the management that ordered it down to the guy with the gasoline), would everybody have been able to cover up for thirty years?

There has indeed been a vast amount of discussion on this subject on various forums, and the rumors will be around forever, but I don't believe them. Brake shoes start accidental fires now and then, and I think that was one.


I totally agree with Tom on this one. It was unlikely that there was any road power based in Maybrook by that time. The one job there handled whatever work there was around Maybrook as well as local work east toHighland and Poughkeepsie (before the fire). It wasn't difficult to swap out the unit in Maybrook through Kingston on the Walkill Valley Line. Kingston had around three or maybe four engines based there at the time. Still had a roundhouse and turntable at that time too.

Noel Weaver

Since these comments by fellow "old New Haven hands, Nelligan and Weaver, appear early in the topic, i have taken liberty here by quoting same in their entirety.

True, i had learned that 'there was talk' of continuing the DERECO properties, principally EL and D&H, as an independent road, limiting Conrail to the Penn Central and New Haven as well as of course CNJ and RDG.

The Maybrook interchange was simply 'dead' - and had been so since "PC Day". No amount of ICC's dictating that it is to be an "open gateway" is going to alter the fact that any traffic routed through there represented a "short haul' to PC and successors. There was never any appreciable on line traffic source along the Maybrook Line, assuming that would have been sold to DERECO. They would have ended up in New Haven - and in the hands of an unfriendly connection. Likely by 1974, there was enough momentum in place to realize that the Shore Line was sooner or later going to become public property predominately for passenger trains.

So I can only conclude that the fire simply 'happened'; while the potential for claims assured that the areas beneath the bridge had to be made safe, it no longer was a structure that could handle meaningful railroad transportation. But fortunately, it will stand "pro bono publico'. I too, if ever I am to have a trip "out' that was not choreographed with family obligations, would like to take the walk myself.
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby Bernard Rudberg » Mon Oct 12, 2009 10:42 am

The bridge had a history of small accidental fires from Brake shoes etc. Those fires were put out by the bridge watchman or the train crews using fire fighting equipment on the bridge.

After discontinuing the watchman and neglecting the fire fighting equipment, It was only a matter of time until the next accidental fire finished the job.

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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby gawlikfj » Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:25 pm

Yea Bernie , thats what Sam Christian told me. Penn Central took out the water barrels and the hoses that were rotted . They knew it was just a matter of time before the bridge would catch fire & end the Maybrook route once & for all.
I know there wasn't much left of it anyway so,nobody has to write and tell me.
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Re: Poughkeepsie RR Bridge Arson?

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:32 pm

I read an article on this on historicpatterson.org (not sure if that's the exact web-site, google it). Or the article could have been on kinglyheirs. I came across it while researching both the Maybrook Line and Beacon Secondary.

The article surmised that the bridge, while a marvel at the time of its building, had become quite obsolete at the end of its life, unable to carry modern freight at speed and weight. With railroads dropping like flies at the time, no one could have afforded to rebuild the bridge, much less maintain it. I'm sure this has been said by experts in the field and bridge earlier in the thread, or elsewhere in the forum. It was a great route, very busy, more direct, but probably outlived its useful life.

We're lucky it wasn't scrapped.
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