• Baldwinsville Sub Info

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by deandremouse
Seeing now that the line is up for sale, and was just tracing it on Google Maps from Oswego to Syracuse. What is the history of this line? I did a quick search on here and found that the crossings were paved over pretty much Fulton and onwards with the crossing gates left in place. So just a curious mind and I like reading history, what’s the full story on this line and what happened to the customers. Why was it just taken out of service and not abandoned if there was no need for the plant to receive oil anymore?
  by nydepot
NYC Syracuse to Fulton and NYC/O&W from there to Oswego. You can see old maps where the O&W came into Fulton from the east.
  by Clif
NYC Syracuse to Fulton and NYC/O&W from there to Oswego.

That is not the Baldwinsville sub, but a branch off the St. Lawrence Subdivision that separates at Woodard. It is known as the Fulton Subdivision

The Baldwinsville sub is the old DL&W branch from Syracuse to Oswego, The part from Solvay to Baldwinsville was still in use for the Anheuser-Busch Plant, last I knew.

The branch was also used in the 80's and early 90's to run the tank train to a receiving yard west of the old NYC Oswego yard to unload fuel which was piped to the NM west side steam plant. That has long since been replaced with a pipeline.

The two different subs are on opposite sides of the Oswego river, and used to connect in the city of Oswego, however even that has long been cut with all rail in the city streets and west side yard long gone. I spent six years in the early 80's living in Oswego NY, went to high school before that in Baldwinsville NY in the early 70's and have rail-fanned all these lines.
  by lvrr325
Former DL&W line to Oswego, however it makes a tight U-turn to join the old NYC/RW&O for a mile or so to the tank farm, track within the city itself is all gone.

North of Fulton it's owned by whoever owns the power plant, successor to Niagara Mohawk, it was sold around the time of the Conrail split and one or two final test trains were run - in one instance they had to overnight in correct fittings for the cars before the oil cooled, because the NiMo cars were long gone off lease and the new set they used had the wrong ones.

In Fulton they served Birds-Eye maybe twice a week until it closed. I don't know if the new outfit in there uses rail. CSX apparently abandoned a bit of track between there and the utility owned portion, for some reason, per secondhand reports.

Outside of that the line sees a daily local serving primarily Budweiser; the only other active customer I'm aware of is within the limits of the interlocking at CP293, the Lehigh Portland Cement terminal. There are sidings into Americold and River Valley Foods at Stiles Rd., into Tessy Plastics (old Syroco) that appears OOS, and a siding runs north off the brewery lead into the industrial park with one spur but I don't know that it's ever been used at all. Former customers include the old P&C Warehouse, a third siding at Stiles Rd, and a long gone Agway right in downtown B'ville (where Northside Collision is located).

For a shortline to operate this would require either rights into Dewitt to pick up cars, or repairs to the tracks in the yard behind Crucible to be used as interchange tracks. It also runs across the front of the NYS Fairgrounds, I'm somewhat surprised the state hasn't had them reroute it around the back.

It does have some potential for a scenic excursion train, especially with the line north of B-ville not used by anything else. I had the opportunity to ride this many years ago and it's fairly scenic. A park and ride into the Fair might have some success too.
  by CP4743
Back in the mid to late 1980's International Multifoods was a big covered hopper customer right in Baldwinsville at the Rt 31 crossing.
  by tree68
lvrr325 wrote:It also runs across the front of the NYS Fairgrounds, I'm somewhat surprised the state hasn't had them reroute it around the back.
If they were running 100 car trains across it several times a day, you'd probably be right.

My grandson can see the Seneca River bridge from his bedroom window. Back in his Thomas days, seeing the train cross was quite the event for him.
  by deandremouse
Lvrr325 Thanks for the info, I did see the other unused industry sidings and the portion to Fulton that was cut after bird dye foods left. Any photos of last freights north of just the Budweiser around?
  by nessman
The line is OOS north of the Budweiser brewery... most crossings are paved over (starting at Rt 48) and there are washouts along the way (one between Kellogg and Rt 48). Most crossings beyond that are paved over as well.

From Birds Eye to end of track is owned by the Oswego Steam Station's owner (NRG). Once upon a time that was a major electric plant - 1,700 megawatts. These days it is used as a "peaker" plant sand sits idle except for extremely hot or cold days when electricity demand is highest - or if there's disruption or too much demand for natural gas. As a result, the large tank farm that's served by the railroad isn't needed - and any fuel oil (generally #6 bunker) that gets delivered is by tanker on the lake to fill the tanks at the plant. Reasons being the much higher cost of oil, the carbon emissions, and the low cost of natural gas to generate electricity (there's a 1,000 megawatt gas fired plant near Alcoa on the other side of Oswego - that and the two nuclear power plants). One of the two units at the Oswego Steam Station can also burn natural gas... but not as efficiently.
  by lvrr325
Right, the primary purpose of the rail line was to fill the tanks during colder months when ships couldn't get to the port (Seaway closes in the winter), instead they unloaded to train in Albany.

Although apparently they could run year round as my one chase of that train was somewhere between June and October, without digging to look it up I just recall the trees in full leaf. The only other one I remember seeing was also in a warm month.

It's basically minimally maintained as a backup should it ever be needed, although that likelihood grows smaller with each passing year.

The trip I followed they had issues with the engines dying and the conductor had to restart the trailing 8-40CW in Oswego, resulting in a big plume of smoke as they crossed 5th street. About the time they got done yarding it it was too dark for any more photos, the last one is a little out of focus. That had to be circa 1994.
  by nessman
Unless there's a serious disruption in natural gas supplies to upstate NY and two of the 4 nuclear reactors along Lake Ontario unexpectedly go offline, the Oswego Steam Station will continue to be idle until it's called upon for peak power demands. NY already has an excess of generation capacity - even with all the coal plants shut down. Between the condition of the line north of Baldwinsville, the lack of demand for oil-fired power generation and flat demand growth for power... it'll continue on as a peaker until it's determined that it is no longer needed.