• West Shore between Rotterdam Jct. and Utica

  • 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 curiouscamper

I know this thread is a few years old now, but I just stumbled upon it in a Google search, and hoping someone may reply.

Starting in the late 1960's, we would visit my grandparents that lived on old route 5S (now Southside Road) in West Frankfort, near the old San-Bro plant. The old West Shore line was directly across the road. I was always excited when, every other day or so, a small freight (pulled by a switch engine) would come by. I'd normally get a wave and a short horn blow from the crew as they passed by. Before I could even hear the engine approaching I would hear the "CLANK CLANK CLANK" of very old rails that looked like they were ready to fall apart! In the late 70's the trains became far more infrequent, and then in '81 (I think), the tracks were used to store old flatbed cars. I didn't visit again until '86 whereas I saw that the tracks were gone. Sad for me indeed.

In any event, I used to walk the tracks with my grandpa or my dad and notice things that I never found an answer for. Maybe one of you folks may know? Here goes.....

* The line had a switch just west of the old San-Bro plant that snaked down to and through the Crash's Auto Parts yard and onto the main Conrail line. It looked to me that the West Short didn't always connect there as there was evidence on either side of the Conrail Line of an old bridge (old concrete supports). Is it possible that this portion of the West Shore actually went over the Conrail Line, over or under Dyke Road, and on into the Utica Yard?

*Did the old bridge that is still in place over "new" 5S span the Erie Canal instead of a road when built?

* The smaller bridge over the old 5S had the word BAGUTE spray painted on the east side of it (some spray paint.....it lasted for well over 25 years!). Anyone remember seeing it and any guesses on what that meant?

* Directly across from the San-Bro Plant along side the tracks was a small and very old concrete foundation of sorts. Any idea what this may have been? Was there a switchhouse there perhaps when there were 2 tracks all those years ago?

* Any idea when the 2nd set of tracks were pulled up in that area?

Thanks very much!

Littleton, CO
  by shlustig
Hi, Derek, and welcome to the Forum.

There was a double connection between the West shore and the NYC main line in the vicinity of Dyke Rd.

An overhead bridge carried 2 tracks over the mainline directly into Utica Yard, and there was a single-track which was called the Harbor Connection that junctioned with the mainline on the east side of the overhead bridge, later ID'd as CP-24.

hope this helps.
  by curiouscamper
Thanks for the information (and welcome!)

Any idea of when the tracks and bridge were removed?
  by Noel Weaver
I can remember when I was young back in the late 40's and early 50's. My mother's family was from Otsego County (Cooperstown and Roseboom) and she had more family in and near Canajoharie and my father did not care to listen to family conversation all day so my father, grandfather and myself would get in the car and head for the railroad. We covered the area from Palatine Bridge all the way to Herkimer and North Ilion. In those days the mainline was four tracks, the two south tracks were passenger and the two north tracks freight. Most of the signals were semaphores and the local passenger station at Fort Plain was staffed by an agent at least in the daytime. We did not have a timetable but at that time you didn't really need a timetable as there were so many trains that the rails were seldom silent. The West Shore between Utica and Rotterdam Junction was still double track with automatic block signals at that time and we could usually count on a couple of trains on the West Shore as well. Most of the trains in the 40's were still steam but diesels took over in the early 50's and the last steam ran in August, 1953. I can't swear to it but I think we witnessed the last steam train westbound that month with the 6020, it was the only steam powered train that we saw that entire day but it made our day. There was still some barge traffic on the canal in those days as well and we usually were in a spot where we would be fairly close to the mainline but could also see the West Shore and the canal as well. These were great times. Today the mainline is still a busy and critical piece of railroad and you can still enjoy a day along the tracks along the beautiful Mohawk.
Noel Weaver
  by curiouscamper
Hi Noel,

Thanks for the response. Good insightful reading! Steamers were a bit before my time (I was born in mid 60's), but come to think of it, there was some tell-tale signs of their presence along the section of the West Shore I refer to above. I recall now my dad pointing out "divots" in the tops of the rails on the incline coming out of the Crash's Auto Parts yard, explaining that these divots were caused by steam locomotive wheel spin when starting from a stop. He also showed me the series of hash mark cuts on the tops of the old ties, marks that were left from manual installation with hand tools. Also remember seeing stray hunks of coal here and there. Lastly I recall wires affixed to the bolts that connected each rail section. I think my dad had said they were for telegraph purposes, but unsure.

My grandmother is now 96 and STILL lives in that old house on Southside Road. I may take a trip from Colorado to visit her this Summer, and will of course do a little rail exploring! :-)
  by mlaughlinnyc
I should begin my comments by stating that whatever I say on this list pertains only to the NYC, from which I departed five months after M-day. I have no knowledge or interest in what happened under PC or CR.

For the NYC, the turnaround point on the West Shore was always Canajoharie. It had the only train order office on the line and it was the location of the largest customer toward the middle of the line. The 1966 timetable shows a local from Utica, at CJ from 8:15 to 11:30. Tomes for the turn from Selkirk were 10:00 am and 1:30 pm. That meant that they could exchange traffic to serve all points on nthe line from both Selkirk and Utica.