• 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 N_DL640A
 
Hi,
I've got lots of questions about the West Shore, but I guess I'll start out with these. When the WS was complete between Rotterdam Jct. and Utica, how was it operated as far as local work went? How far would the Utica local go, and how far would the (Selkirk?) local go? I've heard on some branches union crews had disputed the line of separation, each one wanting more territory. Did this ever happen on the West shore?
I've also wondered when the jumpover at Schuyler Jct. (or was that called Harbor?) was removed - did the jumpover last until the West Shore was torn up completely, or did it go early?
Thanks!
  by Noel Weaver
 
Harbor Junction was torn up before the end of all operations on the West Shore but I would have to check my old timetables
to try to get a better time frame as to the date when this took place. Maybe somebody else can come in with the exact
date.
As to what local freight switched what point, this was the option of the company. Usually in a situation like this a local out
of Selkirk might for example go west as far as Fort Plain and a local out of Utica might go east as far as Little Falls and
there might be a section in the middle that would not have any regular use although it was there if it was necessary in an
emergency or in the event that a car or cars needed to be handed off from one job to the other. It was all Mohawk Division
roster territory of the New York Central.
Noel Weaver
  by lvrr325
 
I'd guess the split was between Fort Plain and Little Falls, because that's about what got torn up first. I know a guy who was on the last run down into Mohawk and it came out of Utica. He worked a lot of "lasts" in that area in the early Conrail era.

What's interesting is his story conflicts with published data showing the section through Mohawk torn up many, many years before he hired out. So I'm not entirely sure what's accurate. But it's safe to assume crews worked out of Utica as far west as Canastota (end of the line in the early '70s) and as far east as Little Falls. The section from Canajoharie to the gravel pit just west of the Albany area lasted until about 1982 - it was rehabbed by the state for Conrail, only to be torn up when there were problems with a bridge at the line's main customer (Beech-Nut), and even though some people expressed interest in operating it.

Because the line is dead parallell to the NYC main in a lot of places, I think that it saw little to no through service once local passenger runs came off in the '30s. In some places the two are so close that to this day customers actually located on the West Shore are served from connections off the main. The grain elevator (or fertilizer dealer, whatever, they get covered hoppers in) in Jordan is a good example; further east segments once served an Agway in Warners and another, seperate section a gravel pit - the two are close enough they could just as easily have been handled off one switch.
  by Noel Weaver
 
lvrr325 wrote:I'd guess the split was between Fort Plain and Little Falls, because that's about what got torn up first. I know a guy who was on the last run down into Mohawk and it came out of Utica. He worked a lot of "lasts" in that area in the early Conrail era.

What's interesting is his story conflicts with published data showing the section through Mohawk torn up many, many years before he hired out. So I'm not entirely sure what's accurate. But it's safe to assume crews worked out of Utica as far west as Canastota (end of the line in the early '70s) and as far east as Little Falls. The section from Canajoharie to the gravel pit just west of the Albany area lasted until about 1982 - it was rehabbed by the state for Conrail, only to be torn up when there were problems with a bridge at the line's main customer (Beech-Nut), and even though some people expressed interest in operating it.

Because the line is dead parallell to the NYC main in a lot of places, I think that it saw little to no through service once local passenger runs came off in the '30s. In some places the two are so close that to this day customers actually located on the West Shore are served from connections off the main. The grain elevator (or fertilizer dealer, whatever, they get covered hoppers in) in Jordan is a good example; further east segments once served an Agway in Warners and another, seperate section a gravel pit - the two are close enough they could just as easily have been handled off one switch.
I believe some of this trackage east of Utica remained in place and used occasionally although it no longer appeared in the
timetable. This has happened in various places over the years when a line becomes a yard track or an industrial track.
It was not possible to serve customers on the West Shore off the main line east of Utica due to the Erie Canal/Mohawk
River between them.
West of Utica it was possible to cross serve and there may even be one or two sidings on the old West Shore west of
Syracuse. During my time working between Selkirk and Buffalo there was a neat little stretch of former West Shore
trackage at Clyde to serve an outfit. The line branched off at a point west of CP-323 and went over the canal on a good
size bridge and was visible along the south side of the canal for a while. It finally went out of use in the mid 90's and was
torn up.
Noel Weaver
  by N_DL640A
 
LVRR - I have been told that the last customer in Mohawk was the cement company. I've always read that the West Shore between Little Falls and Ilion was gone in '73, but the account I've heard says they went to the cement company after that date. If the story is correct, they used to run around the train in Ilion or Frankfort and shove into the cement plant, as they had no runaround. Maybe your friend is correct.
I'd be interested to hear more about this.
One other thing always confused me - what was Schuyler Jct. and what was Harbor? Were the two names used to differentiate the jumpover from the other connector?
Thanks to everyone for the quick answers!
  by erie2521
 
lvrr325 made reference to how close the main line and West Shore tracks were in some places. Most of this was between Syracuse and Wayneport. During the 1930's, the employee timetables listed the West Shore as Tracks 5 and 6.
In the mid 1930's, the West Shore was pretty much single-tracked between Buffalo and Syracuse. Between Wayneport and Buffalo, nearly all traffic moved west and consisted of 130-car empties. Exceptions were way-freights and an eastbound train that ran (I think) three nights a week carrying oversized cars. Signals were erected only for westbound traffic. East of Wayneport, the signals were set for eastbound traffic. I don't know whether these trains went as far as Syracuse or only to Lyons - or what they carried. Maybe someone else knows.
Around WWII, the 20th Century, which did not stop in Rochester, was diverted to the West Shore between Wayneport and Chili for awhile.
  by Cactus Jack
 
Sure wish I had paid more attention to the WS. I recall that there were TTX flats stored out near Frankfurt CA 1980, and that was about the last I recall tracks being there. Do not recall the cement business, but perhaps that portion could have been turned into a long industrial siding by then and not in the timetable ?

In CR years I remember Canajaharie to the east and Utica west was Oneida Ltd. I think the last Oneida WS side traffic occured about June of '82 and it was to an Agway? near the Route 46 overpass.

The last train over the Route5S bridge east end of Utica was in March '82.

Years ago a good place to see a train was on Genesee Street by Dandee Donuts. Not sure what is in that area anymore but it is in the 1700 - 1800 Block vicinity. Alco S eries switchers and later there were SW-1's.

One neat WS operation was after 1971 the Utica crew went over the EL's Schuyler Street trackage. I recall the first time I saw that. I was down at the EL St. Joseph St Yard office talking with the Conductor of the Sherburne Local. The EL yard crew was in the yard working and up the ladder comes a headlight attached to a PC black switcher (SW-1, I think). They came putting right on through with a car or two and a green doghouse caboose. "Who the heck is that?" I asked in amazement ! Oh, says the conductor, it's the PC going over to the "Mills", they have rights here now".

Oh yeah, Vernon lasted into at least 1977 and usually had a NW-2 or equivalent. I don't recall who they served over there, feed mill or fertilizer I think.
  by RSD15
 
Schuyler jct was on the nyc, also known as tower 29 or "J" tower at the east end of utica yard.
Harbor was on the west shore also known as "WF" tower.

some abandoment dates,

South Amsterdam - South Fort Plain abd 11-1981.

South Fort Plain - South Little Falls abd 1971.

South Little Falls - Ilion abd 1973.

Ilion - Harbor abd 1982 ??

Harbor - NY Mills branch abd 1971.

NY Mills branch - Vernon abd 1964.

Vernon - Canastota torn up 1984.

Canastota - Kirkville abd 1955.


any additions or corrections are welcome.

charles
  by TB Diamond
 
West Shore Abandoments (corrections/additions):

Ilion-South Little Falls, 9 miles, 1973

Vernon Industrial Track, Wampsville-Canastota, .9 miles, 28 Oct 1982

Vernon Industrial Track, Onieda Castle-Wampsville, 5 miles, 09 May 1983
  by lvrr325
 
DId Conrail connect to the West Shore segment in Onieda using the connector track off CP-266 that was also used to connect to some customers on the original NYC mainline?

Per a Model Railroader article on the former joint O&W/WS station in Oneida, the last customer was in Onieda Castle. The Agway was on the O&W, and the rails from their siding ended up in front of the restored Munnsville station. I believe that the NYC served a few O&W customers as well, but that may have been via a connection from the original mainline.

For those not sure what I mean, the New York Central relocated the mainline from the streets in Onieda, and to do this built a bypass to the north from roughly halfway between Canastota and Wampsville, rejoining the original ROW some ways east of Onieda - perhaps 1/2 to one mile west of the Thruway overpass by exit 33. In addition, I believe today's elevated ROW in Canastota is actually on the location of the West Shore ROW.

Do your abandonment dates show anything for a Canastota Industrial Track?
  by TB Diamond
 
Nothing on the Canastota IT, but the CR lists pertain only to E/1980s abandonments.
  by N_DL640A
 
Wow, this is really great information!
Cactus Jack, do you recall what businesses were served by the Rt 5s bridge trackage at the end of operations? Was any of the trackage along Broad St. still there?
BTW, was the big 5s bridge (the one that crosses over NEW 5s) built to cross over the OLD Rt 5s, with the smaller one (that crosses over OLD 5s now) built for some side street? I never could understand the purpose of such a large bridge unless the roads had been moved around at some point.
Re: Schuyler Jct & Harbor - Ok, now I understand! Was Tower 29/ Schuyler Jct. located at the current site of CP 235, with the West Shore (non jumpover connection) coming in at the southeast side, and the yard trackage coming in at the northwest side?
Thanks!
  by Cactus Jack
 
DL640A - I have been trying to remember what they were going down the WS for - over the 5S bridge and just don't remember. The last trip they made down there was in March of 82 and I did not happen to have my camera in hand that day. I was right at the 5S bridge up at track level as they shoved caboose first back towards the main. I am not sure that the Broad Street trackage was still there. It may have been but in rough shape. Memory seems to make me believe that the customer was located somewhre down by the old GE Broad Street plant. I do recall that crews would stop for lunch at Spaghetti Joes, on Pellettieri Ave if at all possible.

Seems there were flats and also big DF style box cars spotted at the end of Broad Street.

Sorry, wish I could remember more or had pics

Re: the 5s Bridge, someone I think once said that it was the NYS Railways that went under the RR bridge. NYS Railways was the interurban that rand out of Utica towards Little Falls - among other places
  by lvrr325
 
Canastota IT, or whatever it may have been called, was in service as late as '72 with 3 or 4 customers, that's the last info I have.

On the 5S bridges, are those the two located just east of Utica proper, right about at the Herkimer County line? Of those two, the shorter one to the north is of newer construction. I go under the other one frequently.
  by kinlock
 
some abandoment dates and other stuff

Canastota - Kirkville abd 1955. The line between Canastota and Kirkville Junction was abandoned and connection to the main line was at
Canastota. Kirkville Junction was the start of the Syracuse Division. "CONRAIL" by MBI publications, states that the New York Central
cut it's West Shore as a through route between Utica and Buffalo in the mid '50's.

NY Mills branch - Vernon abd 1964.
The line between South Utica and Vernon was cut between 1961 and 1965. 1961 employee timetable shows it open,
1965 timetable does not. The "Rome Daily Sentinal" from May 3, 1964 announced: "The New York Central Railroad is seeking
permission to abandon a 12.3-mile section of its West Shore line from New York Mills to near Vernon. A 1969 publication of
Waldo Nielsen's "Guide to Abandoned Railroads" states that Vernon to Utica was abandoned in 1966. The only piece left is the 1/2
mile or so in New Hartford ( part of the NYS&W New York Mills Industrial)

South Fort Plain - South Little Falls abd 1971.
Nothing there!

Harbor - NY Mills branch abd 1971.
The line through South Utica to a junction with the NYC mainline at Harbor was out of service sometime after 1965.
This section featured at least 16 unprotected grade crossings that required a flagman to cross. Industrial trackage which served the
old textile mills in New York Mills remained. In 1949, Harbor line West was double tracked and had a 35 MPH speed limit.
By 1961, it was single tracked and had a 15 MPH speed limit (some 10 MPH).

Ilion-South Little Falls, 9 miles, 1973
no customer left

South Amsterdam - South Fort Plain abd 11-1981.
Torn up by Conrail when the Beech-Nut business in Canajoharie dried up. Canajoharie (mile marker 190.3) was the only station
open on the line at the end. A twice-weekly freight from Selkirk ran to Fort Plain and laid over.

Ilion - Harbor abd 1982 ??
Harbor (mile marker 226.2; connection to NYC mainline near Utica). Connection continued West of Harbor to serve industries on
Broad Street industrial trackage in Utica. The Harbor connection (CP-24) lasted until at least 1987. It served both the Broad St.
Industrial Track and the West Shore eastward to Frankfort, South Ilion, and Mohawk. Line was first cut back to Frankfort
where the ex-West Shore RR shops were still standing, and some of the yard trackage was still there. CP-24 was always Harbor
Connection to Tk. 2 only. No need for crossover to Tk. 1 as CP-25 was a universal plus access to the North Control Siding and
Utica Yd. Double track connection to Utica Yard was via the overhead bridge at CP-24.

Vernon Industrial Track, Wampsville-Canastota, .9 miles, 28 Oct 1982

Vernon Industrial Track, Onieda Castle-Wampsville, 5 miles, 09 May 1983

Vernon - Canastota torn up 1984.

Canastota was an interchange with the Lehigh Valley. NYC/PC left the main at Canastota on a switch back and ran east to
Vernon 3 days a week in the 50's.There was switching action at the Beacon Feed Mill, Dalton Lumber, Chapman Gas, coal for
Oneida Ltd and a few customers (feed, grain, farm machinery) in Vernon.

West Shore continued to South Amsterdam mile marker 165.9. At Cranesville (mile marker 161), it served a large quarry (Cushing) and
several other industries. This section was torn up in 2004 after being out of service for several years.

South from mile marker 159.6 was always important, never abandoned. Tower "RJ": mile marker 159.6; open day and night in 1961
but closed by 1965. Connection to New York Central mainline at Hoffmans. NYC continued to operate the West Shore as it was built until the early 20's,
when plans were made to construct a bypass around the difficulties of freight operation through Albany.
The "Selkirk Bypass," as it was called, incorporated a high steel bridge across the river, and a two-hump classification yard
in the swampy area between Selkirk and South Bethlehem. This yard evolved into today's modern Selkirk Yard.
A piece of the original route between Feura Bush and Ravena through South Bethlehem was abandoned in
sections over the years after Selkirk was originally built (1924) and when it was rebuilt (1967).

Before all the abandonments, the West Shore saw many detour movements. The last documented one I have seen was 1967.
December 1983 "Call Board" (M&H Chapter-NRHS) front page shows a Jim Shaughnessy photo of the "Empire State Express"
detouring over the West Shore at Pattersonville, NY, on November 30, 1967. It involved movement from Schuyler
Jct to Harbor to WH (South Schenectady) over the Carman Connection to Tower 7, then into Albany.