• 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 Earle Baldwin
I'm interested in learning more about how freight service was provided to the few remaining customers on the Putnam Division in later years. By later years, I'm referring to the final few years of the New York Central's existence up until the time Conrail completely abandoned service. I believe I once read after the job based out of BN Yard was abolished, a crew from North White Plains worked the line, at least during NYC days. I looked through the previous Putnam Division threads but didn't find much in the way of discussion regarding latter day freight service. Any information about how the freight was handled from the last days of the NYC, through PC and into Conrail would be very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

  by Backshophoss
Believe the remaining customers on the "Putnam Ind Track " were served from Oak Point based local,the lower Harlem line
was served by a Oak Point based local as well that went as far as N.White Plains.

The put was split into 2 active sections in 1962,East view to Lake Mahopac was ripped out,Lake Mahopac to Carmel was ripped out
in 1969, Carmel to Put Jct was ripped out by the PC in 1972,Eastview to Chauncey was removed by Conrail in 1978 after the A+P
warehouse closed in 1975, not sure when Chauncey to BN finally bit the dust.

If you can,try to find a copy of the book;The Putnam Division, by Gallo and Kramer.
  by pbass
Prior to Conrail,BNBO came out of the West Side,worked daily except Saturday.Primary customer was the A&P warehouse at Elmsford.A&P shut down by the autumn of 1975.White Plains 1 worked out of North White Plains in the AM and would service customers along the line as far as Chauncey and the "Hole" from Neperhan.Under Conrail,WVOP 5 worked out of Oak Point,usually Sunday & Wednesday @ 11PM for Stella Doro in the Bronx,a lumber company at Neperhan whose name I don't recall and Staufer chemical at Chauncey.I did work this job on a Sunday and a week day afternoons.The last time I worked the "PUT" was late Sunday night,early Monday morning in July,1982 and dropped all 4 axles of the last boxcar and caboose between Mile Square Road & Neperhan station.Loved the job! The engine dispatcher could always count on me to work WVOP 5.
  by Earle Baldwin

Thank you very much for the informative responses. It is much appreciated.

  by Tommy Meehan
Gee it's been forty-eight hours and no Otto yet? He's slipping. :)

Seriously, Bob I would wholeheartedly recommend the book Forgotten Railroads Through Westchester. The chapter on the Put (which I'm linking to) is wonderfully done. When I first read it I was immediately struck by the fact it covered the latter day Put operations that many other books just skim over.

Wonderful book.

  by Tommy Meehan
That is very interesting pbass. I grew up in White Plains and used to see the Putnam freight quite often. But just glimpses, mostly during the PC years. A single Alco RS-3 either heading to or coming from the A&P warehouse in Elmsford. Used to see him mostly in the afternoon going south. Was that the crew based out of North White Plains?

I think A&P was still getting 10-15 cars a day in those years.

I also discovered there was a small storage yard at Nepperhan (or between Bryn Mawr Park and Nepperhan, just north of Tuckahoe Road), that as late as 1974 often had 10-12 freight cars in it. Guess that was for the Nepperhan spur? I remember mostly boxcars. I never did see a crew there or a locomotive. A 1942 ETT gives the capacity of the yard as 28 44-foot cars. I recall maybe four or five siding tracks. You could see the cars from the Tuckahoe Road overpass (how I found it).

That was the problem for a fan, trying to catch the line when it was being worked. In the 1970s I used to see cars at Stella Doro, notice the cars had been changed, that the siding had been worked, but I never saw the crew working them darnit!
pbass wrote:Under Conrail,WVOP 5 worked out of Oak Point,usually Sunday & Wednesday @ 11PM for Stella Doro in the Bronx, a lumber company at Nepperhan whose name I don't recall and Staufer chemical at Chauncey.
I believe that is Torre Lumber. (In the '42 ETT they're called Westchester Lumber Co.). They're still there. I live not too far away and have even bought building materials from them. One of the older guys there remembers when the "freight train" used to spot loads of lumber on their siding.

  by Buffalobillho
The last two customers served in Yonkers on the Put were Precision Valve on Nepperhan Ave, and Otto Brehm & Sons. Precision Valve was on the Saw Mill running track, they used to receive 3 to 4 Covered Hoppers of Styrene Resin a week, they made valves for aerosol cans. Otto Brehm was on Tuckahoe Road, at Runyon, just North of the bridge. They received bagged flour in 50' boxcars, most of it coming from Buffalo. Brehm had relocated to the former Plywood Company warehouse, from Alexander ST. in Downtown Yonkers, next to the City Jail, just before the end came.

The announcement of end for the line came late in the summer or early in the fall of 1981, not long after the passage of the Stagger's Act. The Putnam Industrial track had been a "Study Line" since the closure of the A & P Warehouse in Elmsford. When Stauffer Chemical closed their "Pilot Plant" in Chauncey in late 1980 or early 1981, it was over, the remaining customers could not support the cost of maintaining operations on the line, even with the per car surcharge Conrail had put in place. By the end I don't believe Torre Lumber was receiving cars. There was also a customer who received boxcars on the Saw Mill runner just south of Lake Ave during the early 70's. But he was also gone by the end.

I actually thought service ended in the fall of 1981, but I could be wrong. That was when I left the Metro Region. Service was 5 days a week until A & P closed. The traffic was relatively heavy until just before A & P pulled out. Then service dropped I believe to 3 days a week. After Stauffer closed, I believe it was down to once a week.
  by bridpath
To expand the topic just a bit, anything at all which might be offered on consignees and levels of service in Carmel and Mahopac during final years of service to those locations?
  by chrisnewhaven
In Carmel there was the Dain Supply Company near the Willow Road Crossing, opposite Lake Glenida. The Carmel Lumber Co. was located on the west side of the Rt. 6 bridge, going up the hill from the shopping center. I believe the buildings are still there. S. Hickman Coal and Fuel was on the east side of the Rt. 6 bridge, their siding was built into a long embankment spanning the valley. I would assume Carmel Lumber would receive boxcars or flatcars, and S. Hickman received coal hoppers (mostly Reading). I don't know what Dain would get.
  by pbass
I donot know when BNBO was abolished and WHITE PLAINS1 was established.Business between PUT JCT.and Lake Mahopac and Carmel was terminated just before my hiring with PC in 1973.A section of the Putnam Division out to Route 6 was used for many years for turning trains & engines around[this section was called the WYE].The rest of the track to Carmel was removed prior to 1973.All my timebooks that kept a record of all my engine service assignments have long since been trashed so I am unable to recall exactly when I worked the PUT,but I know it was in the summer of either 1981 or 1982.Before my employment,I did see a string of boxcars at the Nepperhan passing siding on a few occassions most likely awaiting the engine to return from the Saw Mill industrial track or some other switching task.There were only 3 customers left on the PUT that I was assigned to service being Stella D'oro,a lumber company and Stauffer Chemical.The Saw Mill industrial track had been abandoned at that time.
  by Earle Baldwin
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.

Labeled Yonkers Avenue, May ’81:


Same train, labeled Mile Square Road:


Understandably, photos taken during the Conrail years are rare so I was very pleased to see a color photo of a CR train in the “Forgotten Railroads” book. For trains operating on the Put, it appears the RS-3 was the unit of choice for Penn Central and CR favored the SW1500.

Thanks again,

  by pbass
At one time Conrail tried using the GE B23-7 on the PUT,but on the engine used,the radiator wing span got dented by the steel work of the canopy at Van Cortland Park station and were restricted from use on the PUT.The RS3 Modified were retired around 1980 and was decided for most local switching and peddler freights the GM SW1500 would be utilised.On occassion when the GM'S were not available I was given the the B23 for Harlem or New Haven use only.
  by Earle Baldwin
Thank you for sharing the interesting story about the B23-7 striking the canopy on the Van Cortlandt Park station. I wasn't aware of the attempt to use a B23 on the line.

  by Otto Vondrak
Tommy Meehan wrote:Gee it's been forty-eight hours and no Otto yet? He's slipping. :)
Here I am! Here I am!

Thanks for the kind words on the book, and yes, we discuss freight on the Putnam Division through the last days of Conrail. There was a job based in White Plains (North White Plains Yard) called WP-1 that was assigned to do whatever work was needed mostly on the Harlem Line, and often they were called on to work the Putnam Industrial Track. The WP-1 would go down to MO, up to BN, and onto the Put. Track speed was less than walking and derailments were frequent. The crew outlawed on hours and had to be taxied home. Took two or three days to switch and return. There were still customers on the Nepperhan Branch that still depended on service, but Penn Central and Conrail scared them off.

At one point in 1983 there was a movement by the City of Yonkers to purchase the Nepperhan Branch and the line down to BN and operate it as a short line, but Conrail and Yonkers could not meet on a purchase price. Also a survey conducted by the city showed that nearly all of the customers had switched to truck and had little interest in going back to rail.