Wallkill Valley Railroad

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Norfolk Southern freight near southern end of the former Wallkill Valley Railroad in Campbell Hall, NY
Wallkill Valley Railroad
Kingston
Whiteport
Binnewater
Rosendale trestle over Rondout Creek
Rosendale
Springtown
Springtown bridge over Wallkill River
New Paltz
Plattekill Creek bridge over Plattekill Creek
Forest Glen
Overpass at Forest Glen Road
Gardiner
New Hurley
Wallkill
Walden
Overpass in Walden
Montgomery
Campbell Hall

The Wallkill Valley Railroad is a defunct railroad which once operated in Ulster and Orange counties in upstate New York. Its corridor stetched from Kingston in the north to Montgomery in the south, with a leased extension to Campbell Hall; it crossed both the Wallkill River and Rondout Creek.

The railroad was founded in 1866 and ceased regular service in 1977. Throughout its history, the Wallkill Valley Railroad was owned by a variety of companies, including the West Shore and New York Central railroads, as well as Conrail. After its closure, portions of the rail bed were purchased by municipalities along the corridor and were converted to rail trails.

History[edit]

Wallkill Valley Railroad[edit]

It was founded in 1866, and was constructed to match the Erie Railroad's six-foot gauge so that it could be easier to transport goods from one railroad to the other. It was operated by the Erie for the next ten years after its construction. It came to New Paltz in 1870, and bridged Rondout Creek and the Delaware and Hudson Canal in 1872. That year, steamboat Captain Thomas Cornell became president of the railroad, though people thought that he bought the railroad just for his own sake. He completed it to Kingston, but left his post soon thereafter. Plenty of newspaper articles suggested that it was a financial scandal, and the Wallkill Valley went bankrupt.

However, Cornell purchased it again in 1877. Later, he learned, with the help of his step-son Samuel Coykendall, that the West Shore Railroad was chartering a route to New York City and that it would pass through Kingston on the way. Cornell responded by chartering an extension for the Wallkill Valley right into West Shore-chartered land. But what this meant to the West Shore was that it could have a new branch. The West Shore purchased the line at a price of almost $1,000,000 in 1881.

The southern end of the remaining WVRR tracks, in Walden.

New York Central[edit]

It soon became the rural Wallkill Valley Branch of the West Shore Railroad, although the locals whose profits were wiped out during the previous bankruptcy didn't agree with this. And an occasional scheme was hatched to extend it to the Pennsylvania coal mines to bring more money to the railroad, though it was never successful. The New York Central then bought the West Shore Railroad in 1884 when passenger service was slowly declining, as with most rural branches. Passenger service was completely abandoned in 1937.

After that, some of the previous Ulster and Delaware locomotives were sent to operate on the Wallkill Valley Branch, since they were light enough to cross the Wallkill Valley's Rosendale Bridge. But those were all gone by 1949, and the branch was soon entirely dieselized.

Conrail[edit]

Conrail almost entirely abandoned the branch, though it was considered briefly as a new route to Allentown, PA, via Kingston, Campbell Hall and the L&HR. It was discovered in 1977 that the piers supporting the Rosendale Viaduct had shifted, and that repairs were not worth the money to keep the line open. The physical plant was formally abandoned in 1982, and the infrastructure was torn out and sold for scrap, except for the Rosendale trestle; a little spur from Walden to Campbell Hall and a team track in Kingston. The process of dismantling the railroad took from 1983 to 1984.

Norfolk Southern Railway and remaining facilities[edit]

The remaining spur from DeGroodt's Paving in downtown Walden to the Campbell Hall Metro-North station is used for freight service by Norfolk Southern. The station in New Paltz remains along the trail, though the station in Gardiner burned down in 2002. Walden station was moved to a village park, and remains intact. The Middletown and New Jersey Railroad currently provides freight service on the line.

Rail trails[edit]

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz.

Portions of the line in both Ulster and Orange Counties have been converted into rail trails, described here from north to south. Note that north of River Road in Rosendale, the Wallkill Valley Railroad actually runs in the Rondout Valley.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail runs 12.2 miles (19.6 km) from Gardiner through New Paltz to Rosendale.[1] The addition of an 11.5-mile (18.5 km) section in 2009 extended it farther north to Kingston.[2]

The Walden–Wallkill Rail Trail has been paved and runs from NY 208 in Wallkill south to Walden, NY, in Orange County. Parking availability is limited to street parking. The section of the rail bed north of Rte 208 to Birch Road is owned by the Town of Shawangunk but is unimproved. The 1.4 mile section from Birch Road north to Denniston road (southern terminus of the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail) is owned by the New York State Department of Corrections where the Shawangunk and Wallkill Correctional Facilities are located (and is closed to the public).

Stations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of the Trail". Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  2. ^ Bosch, Adam (2009-06-01). "Wallkill Rail Trail could double in size". Times Herald-Record (Middletown, NY: Dow Jones Local Media Group). Retrieved 2010-11-01. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 1. Ulster and Delaware Railroad Historical Society
  • 2. The Old "Up and Down" Catskill Mountain Branch of the New York Central
  • Best, Gerald M. (1972). The Ulster And Delaware: Railroad Through The Catskills. San Marino, CA: Golden West Books. ISBN 0-87095-041-X. 
  • Mabee, Carleton (1995). Listen to the Whistle: An Anecdotal History of the Wallkill Valley Railroad. Fleishmanns, NY: Purple Mountain Press. ISBN 0-935796-69-X. 
  • Sylvester, Nathaniel Bartlett (1880). History of Ulster County, New York, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers: Part Second: History of the Towns of Ulster County. Philadelphia, PA: Everts & Peck. ISBN 978-1-55787-130-5. 

External links[edit]