• Van Nest Electric Shops, Bronx

  • 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 Fishead
 
I posted this elsewhere on this site and it was suggested I post it on this forum.
I have been looking for any images of the old New Haven Van Nest yards.I guess this place was closed down in the late 50's or early 60's.It has now become a Con
Edison yard.It is between Bronxdale Ave and Whit Plains Rd in the 10462 area code.I lived right by it most of my life.It connected to what is now Amtrak line but I guess was an old New Haven freight line.I no longer see any freight being hauled on here but as a kid used to walk these lines and counted the cars with my friends.We use to hitch rides on the slow moving freight trains from Bronxdale up into Pelham Bay Bridge area.
There was also a tunnel going under Bronxdale Ave that was walled off and I never found out how far it went or what its purpose was.It has always intrigued me.
This yard was a maintenance yard with a large building for doing work on repairing and fixing trains.
  by Statkowski
 
The Van Nest Shops closed circa 1957. They were the New Haven's heavy electric repair shops and could rebuild anything from MUTs up to the EF-3s and EP-4s. It had its own shop switcher. The NHRHTA's Shoreliner had a complete article on it a while back.

The wall-off tunnel you speak of was a direct connection from the Harlem River Branch to the Morris Park Racetrack. At one time, through trains operated over the 2nd Avenue El and the Harlem River Branch for races.

Suggest you pop over to the NHRHTA website for more information.
  by Fishead
 
Thanks Statkowski I will check that out.I lived right by there and my uncle use to take me into the yards to check out the Diesel engines up close.
Thanks for the info about the tunnel.It went right under a building across the street(we as kids called the building the perfume factory because it had a perfume smell when ever we went past it).I thought that the tunnel may have been a direct connection to that building for sending and delivering goods to that building.
  by Noel Weaver
 
I was working in Stamford when the Van Nest Shops closed in mid 1959. At that time the Alpert bunch on the NHRR declared
that all heavy locomotive maintenance was to take place in New Haven which at that time was not nearly the size of Van
Nest and they had to take care of all heavy repairs both electric and diesel.
Van Nest at one time could virtually build a locomotive if it needed to. I don't think this ever happened though. I got through that facility only a month or two before the end in 1959 and at that time they were working to finish up the pending
work on a jet (374), a couple of MU motor cars and a couple of MU trailer cars. They were still doing the monthly inspections
on the electric motors then too.
I can't begin to tell you how well equipped that facility was right up till the end. It was not easy getting inside the property
though, I had to arrange it through the MM at Stamford at the time whom I was on good terms with.
Some of the electric work was moved to Stamford which was ill equipped to take on more and the rest of the work was
moved to New Haven which was not equipped properly to take it on either. As a side, Readville Shops just outside of
Boston was closed down during the same general period. Van Nest had the di-electric machine which was designed and
built by a supervisor at Van Nest and upon closing of that facility the machine was moved to Stamford. The required
insulation tests on electric motors and MU's were conducted at Stamford after the summer of 1959. Quite a few of the
employees from Van Nest ended up at either Stamford or New Haven in the process too.
We had a real bunch of crooks running the New Haven Railroad during that period. I could go further on this one too.
I don't know what you will get from the New Haven outfit, I no longer post on there and often go for days without even
looking at it these days.
Noel Weaver
  by Fishead
 
Thanks for all the background Noel.I remember my parents and grand parents talking about the racetrack that Statkowski talks about.
There use to be a guard at the gate on the Bronxdale entrance but he allowed my uncle to take me down near the diesel engines that were on a side track I guess waiting to be worked on or repaired. I was even allowed to get up into the engineers seat which for a kid was the highlight of my life.Trains played a big part for us as kids.I know we use to sit along the tracks which were very easily got to back then because there were so many empty lots along the line with very little in fences or anything to stop you from getting near the tracks.We use to count all the freight cars back then because that was a major freight line back then.Now I mostly see Acela passenger trains.I believe its owned by Amtrak now.Don't know if they run any freight on that line any more.Can't say I have seen any on there in a long time.I live right near the tracks now.I'm on Williamsbridge rd and Sacket Ave.
I had heard a while back that they were looking into fixing or rebuilding the old stations there for passenger service again.There are remnants of a few right around near me.The Morris Park Station ,Bronxdale,Eastchester Road,WhitePlains Road.They are all fenced in but you can still see the stairs going up to the old platforms and some of the old buildings still stand.
Bring back the old days.It was so much simpler then. :)
  by chnhrr
 
Here are two views of the Van Nest shops circa 1910. One can see the catenary masts are up, but the wires have yet to be strung. The building pictured is quite different in appearance to subsequent views (1930’s to present) of the facility. I’m not certain if the structure was substantially altered or was replaced altogether. The name Van Nest is derived from the old Van Nest station on Tremont Avenue. The station was named after the father of Abraham R. Van Nest. Van Nest was a director of the New Haven in late nineteenth century. In the photo (VanNest2), to the right of the main shop building is shown the clubhouse for the Morris Park Racetrack. By 1910 the track had ceased to operate.