Catskill Mountain Railway

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For the current heritage railroad, see Catskill Mountain Railroad.

The Catskill Mountain Railway (CMRy) was a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad, 15.73 miles (25.31 km) long, running from Catskill to Palenville in Greene County, New York.

Organized as the Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR) in 1880, construction was begun in 1881 and completed in 1882. Unlike most railroads, the CMRR was built primarily for the purpose of transporting passengers and intended to operate seasonally. Most people using the line were summer tourists who travelled by steamboat from points along the Hudson River. Their final destinations were Hotels and boarding houses located high in the Catskill Mountains. While the railroad served its purpose of bringing passengers closer to the mountain top resorts, it still left them with an arduous hour long stage trip up the face of the Catskill escarpment (also known as the Wall of Manitou).

In 1885 a branch was built to Cairo, NY with the intent to carry bluestone, hay and fruit and run year around. That same year, the CMRR was reorganized as the Catskill Mountain Railway.

The principals had interests in shipping on the Hudson and in Hotels in the Catskill Mountiains.

Competition[edit]

Competition soon arose, in the form of the Stony Clove & Catskill Mountain and the Kaaterskill railroad companies, both controlled by the Ulster and Delaware Railroad. These narrow gauge railroads brought passengers much closer to their final destinations, saving them the difficult stage trip CMRR patrons had. To counter the competition, the Otis Elevating Railway was formed, hiring the company of Elisha Otis's sons[1] to build a cable railroad. This railroad was completed in 1892. 7,000 feet (2,100 m) in length, it raised passengers 1,600 feet (490 m) in x minutes saving saving a one hour stage ride. At the summit, 1-mile (1.6 km) of track was laid to connect with the terminus of the Kaaterskill Railroad.

By 1897 connecting service on the Kaaterskill Railroad had become so bad, that a new railroad, the Catskill and Tannersville Railway was constructed to run from the Otis to Tannersville. This line paralleled the existing Katterskill[dubious ] one as far as Tannersville. Hastily built, this line had curves as sharp as 20 degrees and a maximum speed of 7 miles per hour. Locally, it was affectionately known as the "Huckleberry" for the fruit which grew along its right of way.

During a 1904 reconstruction of the Otis, a switch was installed to connect with the C&T permitting through freight to operate from Catskill to Tannersville. Because of the slanted seats necessary on the Otis, passengers still had to change cars.

A great boon to the CMRR was the development of the shale brick in 1888 by the Elmira Shale Brick Company. By 1898, raw material mined on the Cairo branch for the Catskill Shale brick company comprised, by tonnage, 95% of the freight carried.

The last trains were run in 1918.

Locomotives[edit]

Number Name Builder Type Date Shop No. Notes
1 S. Sherwood Day Dickson Manufacturing Company 4-4-0 1882 335
2 John T. Mann Dickson Manufacturing Company 4-4-0 1882 336
3 Charles T. Van Santvoord Dickson Manufacturing Company 4-4-0 1885 522 Retired in 1911.
4 Charles L. Beach Schenectady Locomotive Works 4-4-0 1895 4333 Burned in 1908. Boiler used on #2.
2nd #4 Charles L. Beach ALCO Schenectady 4-4-0 1909 46645 Sold in 1920 to Oak Grove and Georgetown Railroad.
5 Alfred Van Santvoord ALCO Rogers 4-4-0 1912 51126 Sold in 1920 to Oak Grove and Georgetown Railroad.

Passenger Cars[edit]

Number Builder Type Date Capacity Notes
1 Jackson & Sharp baggage car 1882 12 tons Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
2 Jackson & Sharp baggage car 1882 12 tons Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
3 Jackson & Sharp baggage car 1882 12 tons Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
4 Jackson & Sharp baggage car 1882 12 tons Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
5 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 50 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
6 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 44 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
7 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 44 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
8 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 44 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
9 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 52 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
10 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 52 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
11 Jackson & Sharp coach 1882 52 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
12 Jackson & Sharp excursion car 1882 longitudinal bench seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
13 Jackson & Sharp excursion car 1882 longitudinal bench seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
14 Jackson & Sharp excursion car 1882 longitudinal bench seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
15 Jackson & Sharp coach 1893 46 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.
16 Jackson & Sharp coach 1893 46 seats Sold in 1920 to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México.

Freight Cars[edit]

Number Builder Type Date[2] Capacity[2] Notes[2]
1 Jackson & Sharp flatcar 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
2 Jackson & Sharp flatcar 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
3 Jackson & Sharp flatcar 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
4 Jackson & Sharp gondola 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
5 Jackson & Sharp flatcar 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
6 Jackson & Sharp flatcar 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
7 Jackson & Sharp gondola 1882 12 tons 31 feet long.
8 Jackson & Sharp gondola 1882 12 tons 31 feet long.
9 Jackson & Sharp flatcar 1882 12 tons 31 feet long.
10 Jackson & Sharp gondola 1882 12 tons 31 feet long.
11 Jackson & Sharp boxcar 1882 12 tons 30 feet long.
12 Jackson & Sharp boxcar 1882 12 tons Converted to 24-foot (7.3 m) caboose by railroad.
13 Jackson & Sharp boxcar 1893 12 tons 24 feet long.
14 Jackson & Sharp boxcar 1893 12 tons 24 feet long.
15 Catskill Mountain Ry. gondola 1906 or 1907[3][4] 8 tons [5] 22 feet long. Built for interchange with Otis Ry. and Catskill & Tannersville Ry.[6]
16 Catskill Mountain Ry. gondola 1906 or 1907[3][4] 8 tons [5] 22 feet long. Built for interchange with Otis Ry. and Catskill & Tannersville Ry.[6]
17 Catskill Mountain Ry. boxcar 1908 or 1909[3][4] 8 tons [5] 22 feet long. Built for interchange with Otis Ry. and Catskill & Tannersville Ry.[6]
18 Catskill Mountain Ry. boxcar 1908 or 1909[3][4] 8 tons [5] 22 feet long. Built for interchange with Otis Ry. and Catskill & Tannersville Ry.[6]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  • Helmer, William F. (1970). Rip Van Winkle Railroads. Howell-North Books. ISBN 0-8310-7079-X. 
  1. ^ "The Otis Elevating Railway", Scientific American, Oct. 5, 1895;as reprinted by The Catskill Archive
  2. ^ a b c Helmer (1970) reference at page 137, unless otherwise noted.
  3. ^ a b c d Annual Report of the Board of Railroad Commissioners of the State of New York. New York State Legislature. , various dates.
  4. ^ a b c d [[Standard & Poor's|Poor, Henry V. and Henry W. Poor (various years). Poor’s Manual of Railroads. H.V. and H.W. Poor Co.  ]], various dates.
  5. ^ a b c d Helmer (1970) at page 137.
  6. ^ a b c d Helmer (1970) reference at page 83.