• Putnam Division Freight Operations In Later Years

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Otto Vondrak
Earle Baldwin wrote:Thanks to all for the additional information and the two book recommendations. I have both titles and they are great. I particularly enjoyed the color photos of latter day Putnam operations in the “Forgotten Railroads” book and was interested in learning more as to how the line was serviced during this period.

While doing some research, I discovered two images of a Conrail train on the Put taken by Mr. Bill McBride on George Elwood’s site.
I died a little bit inside when I saw Bill McBride's photos AFTER we published the book! They would have been included FOR SURE.

  by pbass
All youse guys are shaking loose the dust and cobwebs between my ears as I go to all the websites I do favor.I do now recall the KD switcher that I believe it's purpose under Penn Central was to bring loads & empties to BN yard and do some work on the Electric Division.Time was of the essence for a job such as BNBO to service the customers and return to W72nd street yard within the hours of service laws.The KD switcher also started and ended it's run at W72nd.Exactly how these 2 jobs worked I cannot remember,but under PC,there were many more freight trains to & from the West,some trains worked out of the west side and many more switcher jobs for all the divisions involved,PC was still interested in retaining Putnam Division customers.
  by Tommy Meehan
One correction that I'm not 100% sure even is a correction! :)

But judging by comments I've read on an NYC Yahoo group (with many former NYC employees and mostly pertaining to the 1960s) the KD jobs did work all the way to 72nd Street but they were based out of the Yonkers yard which was KD. For Putnam Division traffic they often placed cars for pickup by main line freights near Spuyten Duyvil or sometimes at the Yonkers yard. They worked in reverse delivering loads. There was also a job based at Kingsbridge (FH-1) that used to place or pickup cars at BN for the Put and switch the yard there. FH-1 also made trips to Westchester Avenue.

In earlier (busier times) eastbound road freights used to drop Put loads between Kingsbridge and BN on Track 2 and westbound empties went on Track 1. They were handled by FH-1 or one of the KD jobs. In the 1960s DM-2 (the Dewitt-Westchester Avenue Yard meat train) sometimes dropped A&P loads directly at BN, shoving them into a yard track.

All of the KD and FH trains were traveling switchers by agreement. Meaning they were assigned to a specific territory and could perform multiple tasks within that territory.

At least back in the 1960s the crew for BNBO reported for work at BN.

Happy New Year to all the NYC Forum folks!
  by pbass
I didnot spend my entire career in engine service but the time I spent as a towerman on the NYC side of PC I do recall many more thru freights and local switchers and had occassion to work some of these jobs.By the time of Conrail,much had changed and not for the better as to freight operations,so Tommy your post is most likely more accurate than what I remember at this time in my life.Most of what I stated was true but memories tend to lapse as one gets older and as I've said before,operations change with new ownership.Before the startup of CR,I was in the NH signal dept.and was stunned when I went into engine service at the loss of jobs and businesses associated with Conrail's desire to divest itself of customers,especially on the former NYC lines.
  by Tommy Meehan
Well pbass I enjoy very much reading and learning from your posts. Please, keep 'em coming!

But I also have the advantage of being able to look in a Yahoo archive and retrieve and reread messages posted by NY Central employees who worked those lines in the 1950s and 1960s. What they remembered collectively about operations in those years.

Yes I understand a lot changed during Penn Central and even more so during Conrail. In fact today it's ALL gone. The Put, BN freight yard, the Nepperhan Industrial track, A&P, and also Westchester Avenue, Bronx Terminal Market, Kingsbridge, Yonkers freight yard, W. 72nd Street. :(
  by charlie6017
Tommy Meehan wrote:Yes I understand a lot changed during Penn Central and even more so during Conrail. In fact today it's ALL gone. The Put, BN freight yard, the Nepperhan Industrial track, A&P, and also Westchester Avenue, Bronx Terminal Market, Kingsbridge, Yonkers freight yard, W. 72nd Street. :(
Thank the "Mighty Heavens" that many people had the foresight to capture the images of these places (or most of them, anyway) and had
them published. At least they can live on in print for us to see..........in the warmth/comfort of our own homes!

Gotta try to make "Lemonade" out of lemons! :-)

Happy New Year, Guys!

  by Jeff Smith
Best thread I could come up with to link this article: New York Times

NOTE: This is not a current proposal; this article is dated 1983. I found a link to it on someone's FB page. I printed the whole article as PDF, but for copyright purposes I only post a few paragraphs here:

Published: June 19, 1983
The last passenger train, with 500 loyal commuters aboard, was 25 years ago. The last freight train moved in Westchester in August last year. Now the Westchester section, Yonkers to Ardsley, is rusting badly and the weeds make it look as if the end is near.

But is it? If the city of Yonkers has its way, the old ''Put,'' as it was sometimes called - or at least the remaining 11 miles from High Bridge in the Bronx to Ardsley - may be revived to play a role again in this city's economy.
Karen Hardaker, a Conrail spokesman in Philadelphia, said the next step for Conrail was to take up the track and offer the land for sale. But Conrail has postponed that step, she said, to allow local supporters time to try to save the line.

Earlier this month, Yonkers officials announced that they had begun a cooperative effort with Westchester County and the State Urban Development Corporation to that end. The parties, they said, had agreed to finance a $7,000 study of the feasibility of restoring service.
Many of the details, including the source of money to buy the line and rolling stock, still need to be worked out, although one source might be the state. According to city officials, the state set aside $1.4 million for rehabilitating the Putnam Line a few years ago. They said Senator Flynn was working ''to assure that the money is retained.''
Yonkers officials apparently believe enough interest exists. At one time, said officials, more than 25 businesses with 2,000 employees were being served by the Putnam freight line. Most, it said, converted to truck freight after rail service ceased.

The head of one of these businesses, the Miracle Plywood Corporation of Yonkers, with about 50 employees, said last week his company may be forced to move out of Yonkers if rail service on the Putnam Line were not restored.

''My distribution should be where my rail is,'' said Steve Gilinson, the company's president. On the other hand, John T. Hurley, manager of the Stauffer Chemical plant in Ardsley, which has a rail siding next to the Putnam Line, said his company would no longer go back to rail service. Stauffer, he said, invested in its own special over-the-road tank trailer when it saw the rail line was about to be abandoned, and now ''there isn't enough to be saved by going back,'' he explained. ...
According to the official, Yonkers at one point ''had a company that was interested'' in buying the railroad. ''They made an offer of $365,000 and the I.C.C. turned them down.'' Mr. Pepe identified it as a railroad company specializing in operating short lines.
Not a lot of love for CR. I was surprised at this; I thought the line just kind of faded away. I wonder what would have happened if that offer had been accepted?
  by Sir Ray
Not a lot of love for CR. I was surprised at this; I thought the line just kind of faded away. I wonder what would have happened if that offer had been accepted?
Stanley Crane era ConRail - nope.

Considering that Stauffer chemical ended production at the Ardsley site in 1984, and that Miracle Plywood seems to have closed in 1993, and the Stella D'Oro Bronx plant was closed several years ago, it's quite possible that the ATL line would have been closed by the early 1990s.
Considering that many companies had switched to truck service by 1983...how many of those companies still exist and do business in Westchester today?
  by Noel Weaver
Stanley Crane was the best leader that Conrail ever had and I worked for them most of that time as well. I don't think it would be practical to restore regular passenger service on this trackage BUT I do think it could be considered for light rail. A decent light rail connection could be done at University Heights or Morris Heights or both and it could probably go as far as Elmsford which would serve a good area. Would it work? I don't know but I don't think full rail would work anyway so this might be a decent alternative.
Noel Weaver
  by Otto Vondrak
It was an attempt by Yonkers to maintain and possibly grow their industrial base. I think they had the right idea about developing Nepperhan as an industrial park with good rail access. Once the A&P warehouse in East View/Elmsford closed in 1975, there was little reason to travel beyond Stauffer Chemical and Penn Central let the local business dry up. No reason to keep the tracks maintained, so speeds dropped, derailments became frequent, and the local switch crew took two to three days (DAYS!) to service the Nepperhan Branch. It's no wonder that the remaining customers switched to truck service by the time Conrail took over. Conrail had little reason to make improvements to track or service, and they weren't interested in having the City of Yonkers or its designated operator come in to attempt a revival.

The fantasy arrangement? Walter Rich and his DO System comes in, inserts about 100,000 ties, offers personalized service to the remaining customers, gains back a few more, keeps the operation afloat until about 1991 or so until the last customer dries up and leaves because of increasing taxes and decreasing business due to early 90s recession. City of Yonkers would cut off subsidy since Mayor Martinelli would be long gone and the new administration would want little to do with the operation. Even in the best scenario, continued operation past 1992 or so would be difficult at best. So you'd put off the creation of a rail trail by about five years. Look at the larger economic picture and you'd see that it would be tough going for a shortline in the New York Metropolitan Area no matter what.

Just my two cents. On a side note, the Nepperhan Branch alone would make a GREAT subject for a model railroad switching layout!

  by Jeff Smith
While the article mostly concerns the trail, there is something in here concering the late efforts to save the line for freight.

Nice remembrance of the efforts to preserve the ROW: WestFair Communications
Remembering the Putnam Line and its champions
But all that changed in 1981 when Conrail, the successor of the New York Central, filed for abandonment, meaning no service restoration ever and granting Conrail rights to pull up the tracks and sell the real estate. The abandonment filing started a “clock’’ giving governmental agencies narrow time frames to opt to purchase the line
In Yonkers, Mayor Angelo R. Martinelli hosted an emergency meeting with shippers on The Put. I was an assistant to the mayor at the time and would work with him on the issue for the near term and, years later, as a consultant for Westchester County.
Martinelli appealed to DelBello and Deputy County Executive Roger Biagi. They moved immediately to stop the clock and with it, Conrail’s plans to sell the 14- mile right of way parcel by parcel.
In 1991, County Executive Andrew P. O’Rourke and his deputy Biagi were determined to acquire the line for public use. A new plan was made, negotiations resumed and 90 days later, on the Friday of Labor Day weekend that year, a deal was struck in the county executive’s office in White Plains.

The route of the former Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad was preserved. Forever. After 10 years.