Abandoned ROW near Mass. border

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Abandoned ROW near Mass. border

Postby trainsinmaine » Tue Aug 17, 2004 6:37 am

Earlier this year there was a thread on the old website that dealt with an obscure abandoned roadbed that winds from Canaan, N.Y., near the Massachusetts border, south/southwest toward Chatham. It was determined that the ROW dates way back to the 1850s and that the railroad (whose name I can't recall) was a predecessor to the present-day Boston and Albany (CSX). I was told that the roadbed is clearly visible for some distance alongside I-90. I was on I-90 a few days ago, however, and I couldn't find it for the life of me (though I did see the old Rutland roadbed and the ROW of the old trolley line that went south out of Brainerd). So, tell me: Where do I look and what do I look for?

An allied question: Did I read somewhere (or am I dreaming) that the CSX trestle over the Hudson, south of Albany, is being abandoned? It was pouring buckets when I went through that area and I couldn't get a good look at the tracks.
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Your Abandoned ROW In Canaan, New York.

Postby Dieter » Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:00 pm

I recall seeing some interesting maps of that area, and for the first time, saw State Line Tunnel in Canaan NY in February, '04. A friend was looking at the property on top of it for sale at the time, so I went along for the ride - just to see the tunnel.

Anyway, Canaan New York. An interesting place for any Central Head to pay homage to. I'd have to look at maps, but I can't help but wonder if your torn-up ROW bisecting Canaan and heading into Chatham, is part of The RUTLAND? Anyone know?

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Abandoned R/W near Canaan, NY

Postby ChiefTroll » Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:32 pm

It is possible that the Western Railway of Mass. could have built their original line between Canaan Center and East Chatham along Frisbee Creek, parallel to Interstate 90 and south of the present-day B&A, but I don't see a reference to it on an 1897 topo map. There are two possible routes through valleys there - the B&A uses the northern valley along Stony Kill, and I-90 runs through the southern one.

The Boston and Albany uses most of the original Western Railway route, but there have been some relocations over time. I will have to leave that one to the B&A experts.

You know where I-90 crossed the Rutland (Lebanon Springs RR) at Old Chatham, so it's not that one. From State Line east to West Stockbridge the State Line Branch of the New Haven parallelled I-90 to the north, and then crossed underneath the highway just south of West Stockbridge. NYC and NYNH&H had an active interchange at State Line until about 1960, including coal for the Cos Cob Power House.

The Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge, carrying the Selkirk Branch of CSX over the Hudson River at Castleton, is very much in service and nowhere close to abandonment. It is a vital link in the principal railroad freight route to New England.
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Postby shlustig » Wed Aug 18, 2004 4:53 pm

The ROW that is visible (mainly on the south side) from I-90 in that area is the old NH branch that connected with the Hudson Div. at Rhinecliffe.

Don't know when it was abandoned, but you can see where it crossed the I-90 right-of-way.

Hope this helps.
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Abandoned ROW near Mass. border

Postby eddiebear » Thu Aug 19, 2004 7:05 am

It might be the Hudson & Berkshire.

The H & B was planned as the extension of the Western Railroad building from Worcester across Massachusetts to the NY State Line in the early 1840s.
The H & B was constructed from the Massachusetts border through Chatham to Hudson on the Hudson River. The earliest railroads in the Northeast were built as separate corporations in each individual state.
It appears that the H & B, while the logical extension of the Western into New York, was not controlled by the same interests as the Western. In addition, the initial goal of the Western was to tap Erie Canal traffic at Albany.

In short order, the Western managers met with Albany interests and the product of this was the Albany and West Stockbridge. The City of Albany pledged its credit for construction and the Western actually paid for it. A & WS built from Greenbush (opposite Albany) to Chatham.

Western soon constructed a link from Massachusetts border to Chatham. Now there were two railroads from Mass. Line to Chatham, the older Hudson & Berkshire and Western. Hudson & Berkshire went bankrupt and was reorganized as Hudson & Boston and acquired by Western in 1854. Western abandoned the more or less parallel H & B section from Chatham to Mass. Line.

The Chatham-Hudson segment was complete into late 1950s maybe a little later.

The Hudson & Berkshire also brought the Western a half ownership in the West Stockbridge RR, the State Line Branch, which eventually went 100% to the Housatonic.

As info., Hudson steamboat interests were so politically powerful in New York, that there wasn't a through freight route from NY City via what was the NYC RR well into the Railroad Age. One freight route set up was boat from NY City to Bridgeport, Housatonic RR to State Line, Western to Greenbush, ferry to Albany, and rails beyond.

See FORMATION of the NEW ENGLAND RAILROAD SYSTEMS (Baker). A good second-hand copy shouldn't set you back more than $25.
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Postby ChiefTroll » Thu Aug 19, 2004 1:46 pm

Now THAT was a good question. I went way back, into my 1857 Report of the NY State RR Commissioners, and found a map with both routes between Chatham and State Line. The Western Railroad is clearly named in other locations, in both Mass and NY, but not on the segment in question.

The book also contains a fairly complete set of profiles of railroads in NY State. It has one for the Albany and West Stockbridge, from State Line through Canaan, East Chatham and Chatham to Greenbush. It has one for the Hudson and Berkshire, from Hudson to Chatham, showing both towns as terminii, but no profile for a second line between Chatham and State Line.

Since the A&WS profile has it running through East Chatham, that shows it to be the existing B&A. The second line on the map, probably the Hudson and Berkshire, was probably in transition when the Report was published. I will leave the elaboration on that to someone with a more detailed reference.
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Postby Engineer Spike » Tue Aug 24, 2004 9:25 pm

I think that the New Haven line is what everyone is thinking of. It lasted into the early 60's. Since it was ripped up most recently, I guess that that is what you see. Lots of this roadbed can be seen along Mass. rt. 41 heading south toward Great Barrington.
The Berkshire line of the NH did not have that much freight later on. Pittsfield was close, and it was also a passenger connection. The large B&A connections were in Springfield, Worcester and Framingham.
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