ChiefTroll wrote:OK, Russ. Now I can see the darker colored grass in the form of a wye. I never would have found it on my own. It's possible ...
It's barely visible on the Google aerial photos, not at all visible on the USGS topo or ortho photos. I suspect that if you went there you wouldn't be able to see anything. As for what it was going there, there are probably twice as many possibile reasons as any of us could guess. I'm confident enough that it's a real feature to leave it in OpenStreetMap.
I found a similar trace on an aerial photo south of Stamford, where the New York, Kingston and Syracuse graded toward Harpersfield around 1872 but never laid track past Stamford on that grade. The beginning of the grade away from what became the Hobart Branch Railroad of the Ulster and Delaware begins behind Stamford Greenhouses, and climbs toward the south south west to a knob behind Mud School House. You can barely see a discoloration of the ground where the graders had made a cut in the field.
The late Herb Darling, who owned that farm, told me that there had been a railroad cut there at one time, but the farmers had filled it back in well before 1900. The Ulster and Delaware later built from Stamford through Hobart and Bloomville, and then to Oneonta, bypassing the original proposed route through Harpersfield and Davenport.
Gordon, that railroad was discussed here earlier. There are links to it from here: http://russnelson.com/unfinished-railro ... ndSyracuse
where I have a few notes and photos, links to some New York Times articles, and links to more photos on Flickr. I visited that site in 2008 to see what could be seen, and if you squint at the best photo I could take, you can barely see it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/russnelson ... 4544209330
I've mapped as much of that railroad was I was able to find actually
graded. I imagine there might have been more, but I have a good imagination! I'd love to see more than is mapped here: http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/way/71687903
Y'see, here's the thing about unfinished railroads. VERY often they were started in multiple places by multiple contractors. So you'll find a bit here, a bit there, and none of it connected. Even the Brookfield Railroad, which was 2/3rds completed, was built starting from both ends, with a pronounced gap in the middle. So it's very very possible that there is more of the NYK&S graded, but I can't find it. The ONLY sensible routing is along Basset Brook, but there's no sign of it there. AND in order to get through that pass down to Harpersfield, they would have had to go down a 2.5% grade (1960 down to 1680 in 10825 feet). Not unreasonable on the Up & Down Railroad, but still a steep grade.