Otto Vondrak wrote: Most likely, there was to be one branch to feed coal to the power plant, and another branch possible to serve the State School or State Hospital to be built there.
Otto and Forum,
Once again, I’d like to thank everyone on this forum who responded and provided information on the mystery of the NYC “Mohansic Branch”. I would like to write a few lines summarizing the issue.
I first stumbled upon the Mohansic Branch in the Summer of 1985 when I was driving along U.S. Route 202 from Brewster to Peekskill and stopped to stretch my legs at the Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park. I uncovered what looked to me like a mysterious and long abandoned RR right of way that went north to the edge of U.S. 202 and may have gone further north but I was unable to follow it any further than that.
This struck me as most mysterious since I was under the impression that I was in an area in which no railroads had ever operated that I was aware of. Had I realized that I was less than two miles away from the New York Central’s abandoned Putnam Division, this wouldn’t have seen so far-fetched. What I saw appeared to me to be an abandoned right of way “out in the middle of nowhere”. The best I could do was to theorize that it might have been some kind of industrial railway built to serve a dam or perhaps a logging or quarry operation. In a sense my theory was close but the facts of the branch’s history proved to be “freakier than fiction”. Had it not been for the Internet and this forum, I would have most likely never found the answer.
We know that the NYC built into the area I’d seen to serve a huge state hospital that was stillborn and never built. When you think about it, this is really quite bizarre. However, a couple of mysteries remain in the case which may never be quite completely solved.
For one, why was the roadbed extended to U.S. 202? (Or, rather, to the predecessor to U.S. 202 as the U.S. Numbered Highway System only dates to 1926). I, for one, like the theory that there were several spurs on the grounds planned or built to serve different sites. However, a related mystery is whether these spurs were merely graded or if they actually received ties and rails. And if, in fact, track was laid, was there ever any movement over it? Were construction materials brought in by rail and later removed again after the planned hospital was cancelled?
My guess – and it’s ONLY a guess – is that track was probably indeed laid. I say this because usually when the government plans to do something, they pay private companies to do it and sign a contract. Probably the State paid the NYC to do the work which later proved to be completely unnecessary. You know, an ironic way, I can see certain similarities between this case and a lot of things that happen today. Government waste and projects stopped due to fears of environmental damage. Hmmmmn. Sound familiar? Except *THIS* happened nearly 100 years ago in the second decade of the 20th Century! What’s that old saying about “nothing new under the sun”?
Another mystery is whether the track was actually built over what was later called Crom Pond or around it. We seem to have turned up conflicting indications but they probably did build a small trestle over it.
However, in conclusion, we can say this with absolute certainty: This was truly one of Westchester County’s “Forgotten Railroads”.
Fred M. Cain,
Fred M. Cain,
New Haven Railroad fan
Not afraid to use my own name