Early Transportation in Dutchess County--Part 4

By James H. Smith

Chapter XI

Boston, Hartford & Erie Extension Railroad Co.-New York & New England Railroad Co.-Other Railroad Projects-Clove Branch Railroad Co.-Rhinebeck & Connecticut Railroad Co.-Projected and Abandoned Enterprises

        While these railroad projects engaged the attention of the people of Duchess, two others of greater importance, and one of them of scarcely less local interest, were earlier pushed to completion-the Hudson River and New York & Harlem railroads-the latter of which is said to have doubled the value of the eastern towns in this county, and the former to have more than doubled the value of the western towns, while the interior towns scarcely increased a dollar during the same period. (Poughkeepsie Eagle, Nov.16, 1865.) Both were in the process of construction and were completed through the county at nearly the same time.
        The scheme of a railroad running along the east bank of the Hudson originated in and was advocated by the prominent citizens of Poughkeepsie-most conspicuous among whom were Matthew VASSAR, D. B. LENT, and A. J. COFFIN-until the capitalists of New York and other places were convinced of its feasibility, its safe investment, and its great practical worth as a connecting link with the commercial channels of the North and West. The first survey of the road was paid for by Poughkeepsians; and it was through their influence that a charter was obtained May 12, 1846. The construction of the road was commenced in 1847, and seventy-five miles were completed in 1849, which year it was first opened to the public. It was opened to Peekskill from New York, Sept. 29, 1849; to New Hamburgh, Dec. 6, 1849; and to Poughkeepsie, Dec. 31, 1849. The road was rapidly completed, and the northern section was opened from Albany to Hudson, June 16, 1851; to Tivoli, Aug. 4, 1851; and through its entire length, from New York to Albany, a distance of 143 ½ miles, Oct. 1, 1851. It has 3,018 feet of tunnels, varying from 60 to 835 feet, one of which is through solid rock just above New Hamburgh in this county. Nov. 1, 1869, it was consolidated with the New York Central Railroad, under the name of New York Central & Hudson River Railroad. The second track of this road (the Hudson River) was laid in 1863-’64.
        The stations within this county upon this line of road and their distance in miles from 30th Street, New York, are:

Fishkill 58.85
Low Point 62.38
New Hamburgh 64.95
Milton Ferry 69.41
Poughkeepsie 73.3
Hyde Park 79.01
Staatsburgh 83.42
Rhinebeck 88.75
Barrytown 94.35
Tivoli 98.59
The latter being 43.54 miles from Albany.

        The project of the road was emphatically a child of Poughkeepsie, and hence there was great rejoicing among her citizens when ground was broken for its construction. A number of the leading citizens celebrated the event by a grand super, given March 4, 1847, at the Poughkeepsie Hotel, then kept by John H. RUTZER. One who was present says it surpassed anything of the kind ever witnessed in Poughkeepsie. The large dining hall of the Poughkeepsie Hotel was handsomely and appropriately decorated, and the table was filled to overflowing with the choicest viands, with a miniature locomotive and train of cars, in sugar, for a center piece. After removal of the cloth several toasts were read. That to “The Pioneers of the Hudson River Railroad” called out Matthew VASSAR; “Our Merchants” was responded to by Hon.James Bowne; “The Bar”, by Leonard MAISON; and “The Press”, by Theopolus GILLINDER, then editor of the Poughkeepsie American. While this animated scene was enacting there was general rejoicing in the streets. “On Main and Market Streets bon-fires sent up volumes of flames and smoke, and young and old of both sexes thronged the sidewalks, while Young America hurled fire balls through the air. “Some of the citizens” illuminated their residences and called in their neighbors to partake of bountiful spreads which they had prepared in the exhuberance of their joy.” (The Sunday Courier, Poughkeepsie, Oct.12, 1873.)
        The New York & Harlem Railroad Co. was chartered April 25, 1831, to build a road from 23rd Street, New York, to Harlem, and commenced the construction of of their road Feb. 24, 1832. One mile was built and opened that year, an additional mile in 1833, and two miles in each of the years 1834, ’37, and ’39. In 1840, the company was allowed to extend to meet the New York & Albany Railroad, and in 1842, they opened an additional six miles of road, and twelve miles in 1844. In 1845, they were allowed to continue this road to Albany. Twenty-five miles were opened in 1847;twenty-nine miles in 1848;and fifty-one miles in1852, on the 19th of January in which year it was opened to Chatham Four Corners, where it connected with the Albany & West Stockbridge Railroad. April 23, 1870, it was continued by the Harlem Extension Railroad from Chatham Four Corners to Vermont and Canada., thus forming a great through line of travel. That part of the road operated by steam-north of Harlem-is leased to the New-York Central & Hudson River Railroad Co. In this county it passes in a northerly direction through the eastern tier of towns.
        The stations upon this line of road within this county and their distances in miles from the Grand Central Depot in New York are:

Pawling 63
South Dover 69
Dover Plains 76
Wassaic 81
Amenia 84
Sharon 87
Coleman’s 88
Millerton 92
Mt. Riga 95

        The Boston, Hartford & Erie Extension Railroad Co. organized to build a railroad from Fishkill Landing to the Connecticut State Line, filed articles of association Oct. 1, 1863, and was consolidated with the Boston, Hartford & Erie Railroad Co. Aug. 23, 1864. About eighty per cent of the grading from Hopewell was finished in 1870. Possession was taken by trustees, under the terms of a mortgage, Sept. 13, 1871, and work on the road was for some time suspended. In 1873, the name was changed to the New York & New England Railroad. In June, 1877, the road was completed from Boston to Willimantic and from Providence, R. I., to Waterbury, Conn. with sundry branches, and partly graded from Waterbury to Hopewell Junction. In that year a committee of the Massachusetts Legislature examined the route to determine whether it was best for the state to complete or sell the road. At present, (1881) a branch of the road between Hopewell and Brewsters on the Harlem Road in Putnam County is under construction.
        The Cornwall Suspension Bridge Railroad and the Eastern Branch of the Duchess & Columbia Railroad were projects of 1868, but both were abandoned. The former was organized with a capital of two and a half million dollars, as a branch of the Erie Railway from Fishkill to Newburgh, and filed articles Jan. 14, 1868.
        Clove Branch Railroad Co. was chartered Nov. 21, 1868, with a capital of $150, 000, to construct a road from Clove Branch Junction to Sylvan Lake, a distance of 4. 25 miles, which was built and opened in 1869. April 28, 1870, the company were allowed to extend their road from any point on the line then located, into or through East Fishkill, Fishkill, Beekman, or Union Vale, by a branch to any iron mines in those towns, also a branch from the Duchess & Columbia Railroad. A branch was opened in 1877, from Sylvan Lake to Clove Valley, a distance of 4. 01 miles, and is leased to the New York, Boston & Montreal.
        The stations and distances in miles from Clove Branch Junction are:

Adriance 1.77
Sylvan Lake 3.31
Ore Mines 4.09
Beekman 6.09
Clove Valley 8.04

        The Rhinebeck & Connecticut Railroad Co. was chartered June 29, 1870, with a capital of $1,000,000, for the purpose of building a railroad from Rhinecliff, on the Hudson River Road in Rhinebeck to the state line. Amended articles of association were filed with the Secretary of State in 1872, in the fall of which year construction was commenced. Wm. CHAMBERLIN, Wm. B. PLATT, Ambrose WAGER, Thomas CORNELL, Anthony BENSON, Edward MARTIN, and John S. THOMPSON were then the directors. Twenty-eight miles of road were finished and opened in 1874, and 7. 2 miles in 1875. The entire length of the main line is 41. 6 miles. (The track from Boston Corners to the state line, 6. 4 miles, is held under lease.) The cost of road and equipment up to 1879 was $1,440,920. 30.
        The stations upon this road and their distances in miles from Rhinecliff are:

Rhinebeck 3
Red Hook 7.4
Spring Lake 11.2
Ellerslie 13.6
Jackson Corners 17.6
Gallatinville 23
Ancram 25.4
Copake 31.5
Boston Corners 35.2
Mount Riga 38.6
State Line 41.6

        The Putnam & Duchess Railroad Co. filed articles April 4, 1871. It was formed for the purpose of constructing a railroad from a point on the New York & Boston Railroad in Carmel northerly to the Duchess & Columbia road, at or near Hopewell, a distance of about twenty miles. The capital of the company was $1,000,000. It was consolidated in 1873 with the New York, Boston & Northern Railroad Co., which the same year was consolidated with the New York, Boston & Montreal Railroad Co.
        The Iron Hill Railroad Co. in Duchess and Putnam Counties, was chartered in 1873, but has become extinct; likewise the Pine Plains & Rhinebeck Railroad Co., chartered the same year. The Fishkill & Newburgh Railroad Co. was chartered in 1876 to build a road from the terminus of the Duchess & Columbia road to Newburgh, but it is not in operation. The Poughkeepsie Grand Junction Railroad Co., formed to build a road from the west bank of the Hudson, at a point in the town of Lloyd, Ulster County to connect with a line of railroad designed to cross the proposed Poughkeepsie Bridge, and extending thence south-westerly twelve miles to a point on the Wallkill Valley Railroad, in the town of Gardiner, Ulster County which filed articles Feb. 27, 1879, and, with the State Line & Eastern Railroad Co., which filed articles April 18,1879, and was formed to build a road from the point where the Poughkeepsie Grand Junction should intersect the Wallkill Valley road, to the locality of Port Jervis, was consolidated to form the Poughkeepsie & Grand Junction Railroad Co., which filed articles June 14, 1879.


Typed and submitted by Richard Coon

Back to Town History and Biography Index Page