• NYC / PC local freights, Utica

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Alek9997
I was interested in knowing more about the NYC / PC locals that were based in Utica NY.

How many NYC / PC locals were based out of Utica on a normal work day? For example was there a crew who was specifically assigned to run up the Lyons Falls branch, a crew for the NY Mills / Broad Street Industrial on the West Shore, a crew for maybe serving Rome and maybe another for Herkimer? Or was it consolidated, and a crew did one run one day and another the next? Was there a crew specifically assigned for yard switching in later years?

Did these locals' crews have separate symbols like UT-1 on the NYS&W today ?

What were the schedules? Did all the crews meet in an area for their assignments at a certain time? What motive power was used for the different locals? I know lots of EMD SW's and Alco S series were used at least on the West Shore lines, but did anything else ever show up in the pool? Where can I find a list of customers each different local served?

As you can tell I am quite foggy on this topic so any info is appreciated.
  by Cactus Jack
Will try to do the best I can to kick this off and provide some information, although most certainly subject to correction from those there and closer to it than I was.

This is a hard question to answer as over time many things changed but will give it a shot with focus on later years and into Conrail.

At some point by the time of CR in 1976 the Penn Central had abolished "yard jobs" and everything was designated as Traveling Switchers. Crews would perform their own yard work prior to setting out for their intended destination. After CR the EL side in Utica still had a Yard Job, but this was abolished in 1980. Sort of a big deal as there was both yard and road seniority rosters. So the abolishment of the yard position to a man without road seniority was a big deal.

Anyway, NYC, and later PC crews reported to Tower 30 after the big yard and roundhouse were shut down. They had lockers in the lower level of the tower. Power was serviced outside behind the building and so were cabooses with a elevated tank for their stoves. I don't remember a coal bunker there but there may have been for earlier years. A variety of cabooses but the transfer type was commonly seen there. Power was SW-1's and other SW or NW switcher units with a supplement of RS-3's or GP-7's, Dewitt Geeps and other units as needed or available such as U25B's, GP35's and even saw infrequent U25C's on the Lyons Falls.

There were at least the following jobs well into Conrail and these were basically bid jobs with assigned crews. However at some point in NYC or PC days? equity jobs were set up to accomodate the loss of work and allow for the brothers to work as promoted men or work their prior rights seniority so there was a mix where both St. Lawrence and M&M (ADK Division) crews had rights to the Lyons Falls job account of the loss of the work over the ADK Division over at Herkimer, Poland area. I think after a while that Mohawk men were also in this equity arrangement that rotated so that for certain blocks of time over a year period they had an exclusive right with their prior rights seniority. This may also have extended to other jobs and most certainly exteneded to the former EL side by 1981.

1. Lyons Falls Crew - I remember this as UT-41 and they ran to Lyons Falls and back - originally a St. Lawrence roster job, but later sharing equity with Mohawk, St, Lawrence and former EL after 1982.

2. Rome Local - These guys also ran to McConnellsville and Camden when that track was open and I recall it belonging to the St. Lawrence guys, although it may have shared equity with the Mohawkers too. I recall this as being combined with the Westshore job to Oneida in later years. Do not recall the UT- #. Might have been 30 something.

3. Little Falls job - a local working east. May have combined with the "Frankfort Job" - not too sure on that. A Mohawk job originally. This may have been UT-31?

4. Here is where I get hazy. There was a job that did Broad Street, NY Mills and ? - possibly went to Frankfort out the Westshore side as needed and maybe Oneida for the Westshore work. With consolidations and loss of traffic over the years jobs consolidated and the equity arrangement went into affect. After all these years it has gotten hazy. I recall a job designated as UT-95 taking care of some of this but whether that was actually the assigned number or not I don't know for sure as in late CR days (1982) UT-95 was called as an extra only as needed (like maybe several times / month) and would do whatever needed including the former EL side and Mills Branch. By this time it was guys working off the Utica extra board and could be ex EL guys or St. Lawrence or Mohawk men.

5. By 1980-81 era the ex EL train to Sangerfield (209-210) was under the jurisdiction of the Mohawk-Hudson division. This was former CR Susquehanna Division and it may have been when Susquehann Division was replaced by Lehigh Division that M-H got the Sangerfield EL run. Anyway it was re monikered as WV-UT-52 or simply UT-52 in the PC (NYC?) Travelling Switcher identification until NYSW came in 1982.

6. In NYC and PC days there was an M&M crew that ran up to Lake Placid. They ran over the St. Lawrence to Remsen (or later Snow Jct.) staying overnight on the way instead of a dog catch crew coming out to relieve them. On days they were not slugging up through the North Woods they may also have done the Newport & Poland work on the now disconected southern end of the M&M. Not sure on that or if it was a separate or extra job.

At some point in the late 1980's or early 1990's UT-41 was run out of Dewitt to Lyons Falls (I no longer remember what it was actually called by that time) and also assumed the Rome work. This did not seem to work out well and I think CR moved the job back to Utica before the MA&N took over in late 92 or 93. I could be wrong about that remove back to Utica but I do remember CR power and crews there, however they may have been only dog catching as when the job came out of Dewitt it seemed to fall down on the road a lot. I also do not remember, if I ever knew, when MA&N took over Lyons Falls & Rome.

That is the best of my recollections of later PC days into CR. Hopefully someone else can provide more detail and some earlier information in NYC days of the '50's and sixties.

Oh, and for times .... it varied somewhat and obviously varied over the years but most of the jobs went on sometime early to mid-morning and came back to roost just after the 2nd trick yard clerk / yardmaster went on duty (3pm-7pm at the upstairs of Tower 31) depending on the job, work load etc. At other times there were some night jobs like UT-52 went to a 3pm start for a short while in an effort to save motivepower and I recall riding a Lyons Falls job that left mid-late afternoon for a short while and got back in sometiime after midnight.

As years went by and business decreased not all jobs worked everyday other than UT-41 and 52. I recall 52 working Broad Street as needed instead of calling a UT-95. Traffic east got lighter and I have forgotten how that was handled by the mid -80's but know it became part of the equity work as in Fall 1982 there was an ex EL crew (or part of ..) that was working it at Little Falls. I am not sure if they or another job worked the Herkimer yard and what industries were still there like Agway or that went to an extra. I believe the last local working out of Utica as an assigned home terminal was UT-41 as the east work dried up, was torn out (WS to Frankfort) or was conveyed elsewhere (Little Falls work).
  by BR&P
02-08-68 (about 1 week into Penn Central). Job name unsure, teletype shows 1105 but jobs were usually named or had a letter & number symbol so I'm not sure. Called for 1130AM, engine 5310 (RS-3), caboose 17007 (wooden NYC cab, probably renumbered from a higher NYC cab to make room for transfer cabooses numbers) Conductor Brockway.

PRR 269240 LH coal Marcy NY Marcy State Hospital (came off B&LE at Erie PA)

CNW 6694 LB Feed Boonville Burisneke (came off PRR at Buffalo)

RI 44409 LB Starch Lyons Falls Georgia Pacific (came off RI at Depu..?)

This was an advance consist so no actual departure shown.
  by Alek9997
Thanks for the information

"5. By 1980-81 era the ex EL train to Sangerfield (209-210) was under the jurisdiction of the Mohawk-Hudson division. This was former CR Susquehanna Division and it may have been when Susquehann Division was replaced by Lehigh Division that M-H got the Sangerfield EL run. Anyway it was re monikered as WV-UT-52 or simply UT-52 in the PC (NYC?) Travelling Switcher identification until NYSW came in 1982."

What about before 1981 (When CR abandoned the stretch between Sangerfield and Sherburne), I know this is slightly off topic but what did they do when the whole stretch was open? Did the crew out of Utica run as far as Norwich and then get taxied or take a Northbound back to Utica? That is what used to happen in Norwich under NYS&W - A southbound and northbound would meet and the crews would swap trains and head back home to where they were based.

I do know that when Sangerfield - Sherburne was closed, the Norwich crew went up to Sherburne and back. Did the Norwich based crew have a symbol? Not trying to get too off topic here.

Back to Utica, Another quick question...A bit off topic to NYC / PC / CR locals but maybe someone can tell what company owned the yellow passenger cars in the distance in this shot and what they were used for?

http://rrpicturearchives.net/showPictur ... id=1472305
  by Cactus Jack
In reality the NYC operation was melded into PC after the merger in 1968 but it was largely the same cast of characters and locos and cabooses and jobs for the working folks, although changes would happen in higher up positions and in the Division Offices at Union Station across the main tracks. Nothing was really static as is the case with all history and life. When CR came in 1976 there were still most of the same guys who drew a NYC paycheck and many of the same locos still haunted the area although now most had PC lettering or numbers or were supplemented by new bought PC eqpt. The changes were gradual. I think after April 1976 the change did accelerate and there were a rainbow of colors on locos running through on the main as in your posted photo link and this trickled down to the freights based out of Utica. PC, RDG, LV, EL colors on locos on the locals.

Very early on the EL Yard job was moved to the PC facility behind Tower 30. This is due largely to the fact that the Mohawk Hudson Division absorbed the EL from the EL yard connection with PC by the old EL Freighthouse (Now NYSW offices and shop) to New Hartford Yard board, inclusive of the old O&W lines. The Mills Branch of NYC (Westshore) was always under jurisdiction of PC's Mohawk-Hudson. South of the New Hartford Yard Limt the ex-EL was in the Susquehanna Division of CR all the way into Binghamton and the EL main beyond with Headquarters in Hornell (M-H was headquartered at Union Station and I do not recall when the Mohawk and the Hudson Divisions were consolidated). The ex EL crew of the Sherburne local went on duty as always over at the EL yard which was referred to under CR as the "West Yard" while their former yard mates joined the PC guys behind Tower 30.

The ex EL between Sangerfield and Sherburne was shut down in November 1979. Prior to that the job worked between Utica and Sherburne where many times they would swap power with the Norwich local in order to cycle power. Quite a few cars at first would be interchanged through between the two jobs and that trickled down to the last about August 1978. So after Summer 1978 the only reason the Utica based crew would go to Sherburne was to spot a rare Earlville car or run around the Hubbardsville feed cars. The Utica crew never went to Norwich but would make a turn to Sherburne returning to Utica. If they outlawed a dog catch crew provided relief. After November 1979 the Sherburne Local became the Sangerfield Local and except for storage TTX flats stored in Brookfield Swamp never ventured south again. NYSW opened the middle up when they assummed operations in 1982. When the Susquehanna Division was abolished? or rearranged the Lehigh Division took control of the Binghamton area and up to the north end of Sherburne (just north of the old Cotton Mill facility on Route12). M-H got the rest of the line even though it was Out of Service as they had a signal maintainer for along time doing tests on the crossing apparatus and they kept the phone in at the Earlville phone box which was live until transferred to NYSW.

Sherburne was always the responsibility of the Norwich crew, although the Utica guys did from time to time perform work there for the Dog Food and I think Richer. Utica would usually provide cars and spot them for the Mill complex north of town too until that business went to all truck in 1977-78. The Norwich based crew worked to Binghamton and north to Sherburne (interfacing or interchanging with the Utica crew at times) Business at North Brookfield fell to zero and Earlville was only a few cars / year. Actually Earlville belonged to the Sherburne Agency and the Norwich local but under CR I do not think Norwich ever ran up there, the work was done by agreement with the Utica crew. Hubbardsville had feed cars and these were moved to Sherburne as a transload after Nov. 1979 - becoming a revenue stream for the Lehigh Division and taken care of by the Norwich Local.

By 1980 the whole of the NYC / PC operation basically swallowed and absorbed the EL lines and employees into the NYC / PC way of doing things and as mentioned on previous post the business continued to decline which made for the equity jobs so that you could see an ex EL crew in Lyons Falls, Oneida, Little Falls or a PC crew in Sangerfield (rare to never though was there ever a pure ex PC crew on the ex EL). Also by 1980-82 there was more of a Conrail feel of how things were done but it still greatly resembled the NYC / PC foundation and culture and of course most guys were ex NYC with a few new PC guys and the remaining orphaned stepchildren from EL. There were no CR hires on train & engine crews, indeed there were guys with 30 years seniority working extra boards.

Those yellow cars were MofW cars. I do not recall just what they were specifically, may have been storage or possibly rigged up as bunk cars, but probably stored here at this cold date. There were some of these that came in and wound up at Chet Jajo's scrap yard deep down in the old NYC yard. They were cut in the early '90's or thereabouts. These cars look like they are on Track 6, which was by this time disconnected from the main due to a 1974 derailment on the east end, so they are at the end of the tail.

One thing I don't know is if there was a separate Westshore seniority or if that territory was always under just a Mohawk Division seniority agreement. When I was around there I never heard tell of such but many years had passed. Certainly there was a strong St. Lawrence presence but I don't recall any specific Adirondack Division (M&M) presence by early CR, possibly account of those guys gone or melted into the St. Lawrence.
  by Alek9997
GREAT insight! Thanks.

When exactly did the Earlville customer stop getting carloads? I would guess Spring or Summer of 1979?

And a minor question that is not really related but was something I was curious about - How many TTX flats did they store in the Nine-Mile and how did they get them down there? Did they lead the flats South to Sangerfield where the power ran around them and backed them into the Swamp stretch? I know when CSX stored the 100 or so coal hoppers down in North Norwich in Winter 2008 / 2009, I'm pretty sure the way they did it was they had a locomotive lead them to Sherburne where the loco ran around to the North end of the train and pushed them all the way to North Norwich from there, with someone to flag the crossings...I think they might have did a couple runs to get them all down there because I don't think the Sherburne runaround is capable of 100 hoppers...
  by Cactus Jack
Without looking at my notes I think the last load into Earlville was April 1979 and was an OTTX flat of New Holland farm machinery for Talbot Equipment.

The flats were pulled down from Utica and if memory serves they went a few at a time in the local and were run around at Sangerfield and shoved down. At one time there were cuts both south and north of Stockwell's Crossing. Then I think they were all pulled and a new batch set in north of Stockwell's only. This caused trouble as CR had to pull them out prior to NYSW taking over and we had a tough and long winter in early 1982. It was quite an event getting those snowdrift and ice bound cars out of there in late March / early April of 1982. I think they went out in at least 2 separate cuts of 70-100 cars as extra trains.... maybe 3 cuts. It was interesting to see them come down Schuyler Street to say the least and they didn't waste anytime crossing over to the PC yard as the tail end of the train was still up on Schuyler Street as the power was down at the low home signal at the main line.
  by Cactus Jack
Getting more back to the subject of the post, it would be interesting to hear from anyone with more info.

NYC must have had a lot going on back when the steam to diesel transition took place in Utica, but ultimately that is largely what did the yard and service facility in. The big yard made sense when trains were running north via the M&M to Montreal, the RW&O (U&BR) to Watertown and out to Rome and up the RW&O side. These multiple lines served a declining traffic base with little freight generated in between. Ultimately under Perlman there was much consolidation and the Northern NY market and Montreal was consolidated into the Dewitt operation. Dewitt also made more sense from a crew productivity standpoint out of Selkirk or Buffalo where road crews would change. Later of course the long pool was initiated with crews running right through Selkirk to Frontier (Buffalo).

Out of Utica in NYC / early PC days would have been:

Lyons Falls Branch - severed about 1964, late NYC days
The old south end of the M&M from Herkimer to Poland
The Westshore from Dewitt to Amsterdam area and assorted local industry of which the Frankfort / Ilion area was still vibrant. The last freight cars I recall in Frankfort were stored piggybacks circa 1980-81 era. The Westshore also had the Mills Branch in Utica and the Broad Street spur.
Crews ran to Camden - McConnellsville after the line was cut back "by Perlman the scrap dealer"
There was a strong Utica connection with Watertown prior to these cuts but by CR days Watertown and Massey Yard did not amount to much.

About 1960 there was a lawsuit brought against the NYC by an employee / stockholder group. This went to the ICC and involved the moving of trains off the M&M to Montreal and over the St. Lawrence via Remsen and thence connecting to the Rutland at Norwood and runing over Rutland to Malone Junction and back on the M&M to Huntingdon and Montreal. The NYC claiming ruling grade at Big Moose and the plaintiffs claiming ruling grade on Remsen Hill. Charts and graphs were produced as evidence by Al Malerba. One of these exhibits I think is posted on the wall of the Trainmasters Office of Adirondack Scenic at Thendara depot. Ultimately the M&M was severed as a through route. Crews had worked Utica to Tupper Lake in steam days and later extended to Malone with the diesels and Trains UM-1 and MU-2 (Banana Trains). The Herkimer - Poland freight got much leaner and by CR traffic to Poland was gone but the tracks were still in till 1982?

The Westshore kept getting cut back and by early PC days was no longer a through route and trains no longer passed the old General Herkimer homestead and the line east towards Oneida via Hecla was pulled beyond New York Mills area.

Just when the big yard was shut down I don't know right off but if anyone does it would be nice to post. So by the end of the 1960's Utica had lost that "connection" with Watertown and Montreal that had been so strong from a culture, community fabric and back and forth with train crew families. There very much was an attitude against Perlman in the '70's that he was a scrap dealer only interested in tearing up the railroad. That can be understood better looking back all these years as in a few short years 1958-68 there were many operational changes and abandonments and changes to the NYC infrastructure that radiated out of the Utica area. What was left by 3-31-76 going into Conrail was a mere shell of what had been 15-20 years prior. Many men of moderate seniority got hurt pretty bad with train offs. Most were guys hired in later 1943 -45 who lost jobs due to line consolidations, passenger train offs, switch to diesels etc. It was pretty ugly. I remember one guy who was called as an extra fireman circa 1981-82 with a hire date of 1938. He had gone everywhere on NYC / PC to keep working. Originally a Watertown St. Lawrence man. I think he finally retired as engineer off the Lyons Falls job about 1985-86. Utica industries also were hit hard and those that held on were later hit after the Vietman War wound down. Coal heat turned to oil and much of the traditional traffic was lost.

At one time there was a lot of lcl business in Utica and a huge freighthouse operation. By 1976 that was all gone and all the jobs that went with it.

Utica went from having a big roundhouse in the '50's to an outdoor diesel parking / service area by the '60's. Consolidation at Dewitt with the "new" diesel shop and hump yard and access to the north country and centrally located between Selkirk & Buffalo and local Syracuse industry made sense leaving Utica to what might be termed a backwater terminal and it would have had less prestige if not for the Division Headquraters being located there and associated activity.
  by charlie6017
Wow............great reading, Mr. Ellison. I would have loved to have seen all this "back in
the day." Sure gives a lot better understanding to what happened to the people who have
been there and done that. Thanks for sharing!

  by Cactus Jack
Ok, a little clarification:

I found a slide I took with some notes.

UT-41 - Lyons Falls local
UT-52 - Sangerfield Local
UT-22 - East Local, Little Fallls
UT-31 - West Local, Rome

All in the same frame in Utica Yard. Winter 1981-82
  by BR&P
For those who have not seen it, I'd recommend the book "Clear The Tracks" by Joe Bromley. I believe it was published back in the 1940's but it's likely available if you search. The man started as a kid on the old U&BR in woodburner days, then went firing on the DL&W between Utica and Binghamton. Some truly fantastic stories there, it really was a different world, both on the railroad and off. Lots of detail about railroad operation, and some of the non-rail stuff is funny. (like the time they arranged a fake "hanging" out in the woods, but it got out of hand and had half the town scouring the woods for a "body" :P )
  by Cactus Jack
Bromley's book is very entertaining and a fun read. It really brings those old days 1880's - very early 1900's to life.

While it focuses on the DL&W out of Utica, Joe started on the Utica & Black River running north to the St. Lawrence and fired work trains up Boonville way with a few engrossing tales to tell.

Beware however that although based on real events there is a fair amount of fiction involved ..... but it is all fun reading.
  by Alek9997
BR&P wrote:For those who have not seen it, I'd recommend the book "Clear The Tracks" by Joe Bromley. I believe it was published back in the 1940's but it's likely available if you search. The man started as a kid on the old U&BR in woodburner days, then went firing on the DL&W between Utica and Binghamton. Some truly fantastic stories there, it really was a different world, both on the railroad and off. Lots of detail about railroad operation, and some of the non-rail stuff is funny. (like the time they arranged a fake "hanging" out in the woods, but it got out of hand and had half the town scouring the woods for a "body" :P )
Thanks...I'll just have to check that one out, no pun intended !!