• Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge's History - Connecting New England to the Nation's Freight Network

  • Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.
  by Noel Weaver
derail wrote:Ok one more time to beat this dead horse!! all of this is IMHO. As part of the PC (pretty corrupt) merger, the NYC and Pennsy were force fed the new haven; had to include it in the merger or no deal. The NH was an orphan that hadn't made any money since at least 1953, nobody wanted her. By 1974, most of the traffic had been taken off the bridge, and sent up the west shore to selkirk. So- since the NH was a railroad nobody wanted anyway, what better way to get rid of the maybrook line than to take 700 feet out of the bridge?? On PC day, the suits from Philly were sent to maybrook to essentially destroy the maybrook connection. It went downhill from there. Right after the fire, there was an estimate of $550,000 to fix the bridge made available. and in the USRA master plan of 1975, plans called for a merger of the Erie- lackamoney and Providence and Worchester, and some other roads to keep the maybrook going. Money was available to fix and rehab the line, resignal, etc, but it was never pushed and never came to fruition. The b*stards got their way. They wasted little time in removing the track from the maybrook side, and a few yrs later, '84, I think, they tore up the track from Pok to hopewell. The deed was done. BTW,I have one of Woody Cohen's slides of the last train across the bridge; SD-45's I think, pure EL Power!!! Draw your conclusions. I also understand that they don't have enough $$ to finish the walkway, but with old money like Dyson's, it will probably be done in some way, shape or form. I'm sure the history will be forgotten once the drug dealers and yuppies on $5000 bicycles are up there.
What exactly caused the fire, probably either sparks from the stack(s) or maybe a stuck brake or brakes on cars in the train.
Both happened occasionally and still do. As for Penn Central, the New Haven was absolutely broke and had little future if
the Penn Central had not taken it over when it did.
As for the Maybrook Line, it was a very scenic and interesting line to work or even to just ride over BUT in the early 70's
it was not really needed. Penn Central had a far better east/west railroad on the former New York Central with a very
new and modern yard at Selkirk and a far better physical plant over the former New York Central. Why should they
maintain this route for a competitor namely the Erie Lackawanna.
The biggest thing that killed this line was the nearly total loss of freight business in Southern New England and especially
Connecticut. It is pretty amazing that this line lasted as long as it did with major connections at Maybrook history long
before the Penn Central entered the picture. Penn Central had a good route into New England from both the south and the
west that had good clearances and good connections with very little passenger interference and it made track connections
at a number of locations with the former New Haven Railroad.
Finally the walkway over this historic bridge can and probably will be a big plus for Poughkeepsie, the Hudson Valley and all of
the surrounding area. If I make it to Connecticut this coming November and I am planning to, I fully intend to attemp to
walk over this bridge end to end if it is open and in use and my sources say that it will be. I have ridden over it many times. Thankfully this bridge will be around for generations to enjoy for years to come.
I think you will do yourself a favor if you had a more positive outlook on this.
Noel Weaver
  by Otto Vondrak
derail wrote:Ok one more time to beat this dead horse!! all of this is IMHO. As part of the PC (pretty corrupt) merger, the NYC and Pennsy were force fed the new haven; had to include it in the merger or no deal.... blah blah blah
Derail, your long post of nonsense did absolutely nothing to answer the question of "last train over the Poughkeepsie Bridge."

  by MP 0.1
Wait...what's this about drug-dealing yuppies riding bikes on the Poughkeepsie bridge setting fires from the last train ever, pulled by an Erie-Lackawanna engine? Pictures?
  by derail
Otto- thanks for your display of obnoxious behavior; I can see you haven't changed any.

On the Pok side of the river, the approach to the bridge has a crime problem so bad that a Police cruiser sits there often.

It's my opinion that the fire was set intentionally to , once and for all, finish off the maybrook, or what was left of it. I will post the pic of the last train if I can find the slide. I was figuring that some of the folks could read between the lines, but brutal honesty gets the job done. read my post again.

My biggest fear is that the history will go away once the yuppies use it for a bike path. We shall see. I was told last week that they don't have enough $$$$ to finish the walkway.

I'd be willing to bet mr. Vondrake deletes this post......

derail :-D
  by RussNelson
derail wrote:My biggest fear is that the history will go away once the yuppies use it for a bike path.
Oh? And what are you *doing* about your biggest fear? Bernie put out a call for reminisces from railroaders. Did you participate?

And perhaps you err in thinking that it's only ignorant yuppies who want to bicycle on railbeds. SOME OF US are railfans born too late to have ridden those lines when they HAD rails. And anyway, my bike only cost me $500.
  by nysw3636
In Sunday's (10-4-09) Kingston Freeman celebrating the opening of " Walkway Over The Hudson ", there is mention ( and picture ) of the last engineer that crossed the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge. It states... " I've made a thousand trips over this bridge, so I know what it is "- John May, Wallkill engineer on final train to cross span in 1974.

I thought this was interesting....
  by gawlikfj
I heard it was Erie Lacawanna engines with engine number #3636 in the lead ,that caused the spark that caused the dreaded fire and because Penn Central took out the water barrels on the bridge in the hope the bridge would catch fire and end the Maybrook Route.
  by gawlikfj
Its been stated many times in this forum by Noel Weaver & Bernie Rudberg what they saw & know . It could be argued till we're blue in the face and what really happened will never be known.
  by Noel Weaver
I do not believe for one minute that Penn Central directly caused this fire. I do believe that neglect by Penn Central made
the consequences much worse than they needed to be.
Having said that, it is plainly evident today that this route would not have survived the future cuts that took place after the
Penn Central went bankrupt and was taken over in part by Conrail.
Interesting thing that I noted last week while going through the Penn Central employee newspaper titled "Penn Central Post"
that not one mention in any issue of this fire anywhere and I have every known issue of this publication. I checked very
closly last week and nothing, nada, nada.
Penn Central wanted out so far as this route was concerned but I do not for one minute think that they lit the fire.
Fortunately the bridge has a bright future and I am looking forward to walking at least part of it next month while I am in
Noel Weaver
  by Gilbert B Norman
Here is material I first posted at Rails to Trails Forum:
It appears that the New Haven RR Hudson River Bridge at Poughkeepsie is now "up and running".

http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/arti ... GECAROUSEL

Tuesday October 5, The New York Times favorably editorialized on the Bridge's restoration as a walking trail:

Brief passage:

----The Henry Hudson anniversary sparked many plans for legacy projects, many of them - including land purchases as a bulwark against view-destroying sprawl - still unrealized. Maybe as the economic and aesthetic benefits of this once-dreamy, impractical vision - saving and fixing a big old bridge - become clearer, people will summon the will and means to dream even bigger.-----


Two weekends ago, I was "out" for a family wedding. On approach to HPN Runway 16 Friday, from a good flightseeing seat, I saw the Bridge. While in all likelihood it was simply the sun, "I'd swear" the Bridge had been painted Silver!!!
  by Gilbert B Norman
Noel Weaver wrote:
TomNelligan wrote:I realize that conspiracy theories are fun, and a lot of railfans want to believe that evil Penn Central torched the bridge, but given the regulatory environment of 1974 with Conrail on the horizon, and PC's extremely fragile health, they could have just announced that the bridge was no longer safe for traffic, embargoed it, claimed they didn't have the cash to repair it, and rerouted the EL interchange (one train a day was all that was left) via one of several longer routes that were available (and were used after the combustion). As long as EL got the same rate division, they wouldn't have cared.

Plus, I always figured that if they were going to torch it, wouldn't they do it in the middle of the night rather than midday when the act might be spotted? And since a number of people would have been involved (from the management that ordered it down to the guy with the gasoline), would everybody have been able to cover up for thirty years?

There has indeed been a vast amount of discussion on this subject on various forums, and the rumors will be around forever, but I don't believe them. Brake shoes start accidental fires now and then, and I think that was one.
I totally agree with Tom on this one. It was unlikely that there was any road power based in Maybrook by that time. The one job there handled whatever work there was around Maybrook as well as local work east toHighland and Poughkeepsie (before the fire). It wasn't difficult to swap out the unit in Maybrook through Kingston on the Walkill Valley Line. Kingston had around three or maybe four engines based there at the time. Still had a roundhouse and turntable at that time too.

Noel Weaver
Since these comments by fellow "old New Haven hands, Nelligan and Weaver, appear early in the topic, i have taken liberty here by quoting same in their entirety.

True, i had learned that 'there was talk' of continuing the DERECO properties, principally EL and D&H, as an independent road, limiting Conrail to the Penn Central and New Haven as well as of course CNJ and RDG.

The Maybrook interchange was simply 'dead' - and had been so since "PC Day". No amount of ICC's dictating that it is to be an "open gateway" is going to alter the fact that any traffic routed through there represented a "short haul' to PC and successors. There was never any appreciable on line traffic source along the Maybrook Line, assuming that would have been sold to DERECO. They would have ended up in New Haven - and in the hands of an unfriendly connection. Likely by 1974, there was enough momentum in place to realize that the Shore Line was sooner or later going to become public property predominately for passenger trains.

So I can only conclude that the fire simply 'happened'; while the potential for claims assured that the areas beneath the bridge had to be made safe, it no longer was a structure that could handle meaningful railroad transportation. But fortunately, it will stand "pro bono publico'. I too, if ever I am to have a trip "out' that was not choreographed with family obligations, would like to take the walk myself.
  by Bernard Rudberg
The bridge had a history of small accidental fires from Brake shoes etc. Those fires were put out by the bridge watchman or the train crews using fire fighting equipment on the bridge.

After discontinuing the watchman and neglecting the fire fighting equipment, It was only a matter of time until the next accidental fire finished the job.

Bernie Rudberg
  by gawlikfj
Yea Bernie , thats what Sam Christian told me. Penn Central took out the water barrels and the hoses that were rotted . They knew it was just a matter of time before the bridge would catch fire & end the Maybrook route once & for all.
I know there wasn't much left of it anyway so,nobody has to write and tell me.
  by Jeff Smith
I read an article on this on historicpatterson.org (not sure if that's the exact web-site, google it). Or the article could have been on kinglyheirs. I came across it while researching both the Maybrook Line and Beacon Secondary.

The article surmised that the bridge, while a marvel at the time of its building, had become quite obsolete at the end of its life, unable to carry modern freight at speed and weight. With railroads dropping like flies at the time, no one could have afforded to rebuild the bridge, much less maintain it. I'm sure this has been said by experts in the field and bridge earlier in the thread, or elsewhere in the forum. It was a great route, very busy, more direct, but probably outlived its useful life.

We're lucky it wasn't scrapped.
  by Bernard Rudberg
There is one big reason why it was not scrapped. They discovered that it would cost almost twice as much as the walkway just to tear it down for scrap.

Bernie Rudberg
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