• Port Morris Branch Melrose - Oak Point NYC PC CR CSX

  • Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.
Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.

Moderator: MBTA F40PH-2C 1050

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  by chnhrr
 
Wow – what great photos on the LTV website. You guys are intrepid to go down in there. I looked down into the South cut once from the Bruckner Boulevard and that’s all I could muster. Also the LTV site has interesting historic background and information on the tunnel’s current status. As noted in an earlier post and shown in one of the photos, the tunnel could accommodate two tracks. I’m still searching for historic photos of the tunnel and Port Morris yard. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately abandonment of properties in poor neighborhoods like the South Bronx is nothing new. CSX should have reviewed the abandonment procedures with the City and State, since there is the likelihood that the company has received tax benefits for capital improvements in the past.

For those interested, one can use Panoramio to do a virtual tour of the Port Morris area, including the New Haven approaches to the Hellgate Bridge from the comfort of home.
  by ChiefTroll
 
The tunnel had two tracks in 1961, when I last worked as second trick yard clerk at Westchester Ave. I had to go to Port Morris many nights for a yard check, and I never walked through the tunnel. If our conductor was still around that late, he would go with me, but I usually just borrowed the yard engine after the crew had tied up and ran down and back through the tunnel, making plenty of noise to alert the residents. That was SOP, and they never tried to bother me. I few nights things were getting dicey up on the street, and I called our Asst. Chief Dispatcher for a ride out. He would get one of the yard crews from Mott Haven to come over and give me a ride to 138th St. Station to catch a local. Normally I would ride the IRT from 138th St. and the Concourse to 149th St and 3rd Ave, but sometimes, especially if it was raining, I would ride the 3rd Ave El one stop to 156th St and 3rd Ave. I got real lucky a few times and got a ride all the way home to Dobbs Ferry with a "hotfoot," a crew from Harmon that ran around changing out yard engines that were due for inspection or maintenance.

NYC had some interesting labor agreements and some small seniority districts for train and engine crews. GCT had its own T&E seniority district which included all the yard and transfer jobs between GCT, Mott Haven and Port Morris. Hudson and Harlem Division road crews and traveling switchers could go into Port Morris, but the yard crews headquartered at Westchester Ave came from the GCT roster.

Gordon Davids
  by Noel Weaver
 
ChiefTroll wrote: NYC had some interesting labor agreements and some small seniority districts for train and engine crews. GCT had its own T&E seniority district which included all the yard and transfer jobs between GCT, Mott Haven and Port Morris. Hudson and Harlem Division road crews and traveling switchers could go into Port Morris, but the yard crews headquartered at Westchester Ave came from the GCT roster.

Gordon Davids
The Grand Central Terminal roster still had people on it in the Metro-North period when I was still in New York in the mid
80's. We had a order of selection which represented our roster combined between the Hudson, Harlem, GCT and the New
Haven Shore Line Rosters. There were other roster districts on both the New York Central and New Haven that contributed
engineers to Metro-North but only the four rosters that I mentioned were on the OSL at the start. I think all of the people
who were on the four rosters are retired by now but I can't be positive about that one. Many of the brothers did not like
the set up but it benefited some including me in the long run.
Noel Weaver
  by gasaxe
 
chnhrr wrote:Wow – what great photos on the LTV website. You guys are intrepid to go down in there.
One of the guys on the 2008 outing called it: "truly disgusting" and that guy likes to explore sewers for fun.

The East New York tunnel on the Bay Ridge Branch is a "walk in the park" compared to St. Mary's.
  by chnhrr
 
Chief Troll and Noel

The transfer with the New Haven at Port Morris seems a curious operation. Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to transfer near Mount Vernon? Also I’ve seen referenced the Westchester Yard for the New Haven. I am assuming this is a different yard than the mentioned Westchester Avenue Yard.

Separately, I hope the tunnel get’s restored to a beneficial use, but this maybe another one of my pipe dreams.
  by Noel Weaver
 
chnhrr wrote:Chief Troll and Noel

The transfer with the New Haven at Port Morris seems a curious operation. Wouldn’t it have been more efficient to transfer near Mount Vernon? Also I’ve seen referenced the Westchester Yard for the New Haven. I am assuming this is a different yard than the mentioned Westchester Avenue Yard.

Separately, I hope the tunnel get’s restored to a beneficial use, but this maybe another one of my pipe dreams.
Mt. Vernon/Woodlawn would not have been an appropriate place for any interchange of freight cars. You need to do that
where you either have a yard or at least enough tracks to do it and this was not the case at Mt. Vernon which was a
passenger stop on both railroads, nothing much more. Both railroads had freight sidings in Mt. Vernon but they were for
local delivery.
Westchester Yard on the Central and Westchester Yard on the New Haven were not the same nor in the same general location either. On the Central Westchester Yard was on the Port Morris Branch while on the New Haven Westchester Yard was a hand thrown switch off track 6 a little bit west of Pelham Bay. At least in the 60's the New Haven had an afternoon yard job (OP-1, later OP-21) which made up a train then went to West Farms, Van Nest and Westchester Yard off track 6.
At Westchester Yard after switching two or three customers there they would run around the train and shove out to track 6
and east to Pelham Bay (SS-14 in the NHRR days) to cross over to track 3 and work Gristedies (spelling?) and maybe Con Ed
at the old Van Nest Shop before returning to Oak Point. This job did not do anything at 174th Street, the connection with
the Transit Authority which was the old New York, Westchester and Boston connection, that work was done by a day job
out of Oak Point and if they had quite a bit of loaded stone to shove up in there, they would often need two engines whidh
also meant two crews for the move as the rail could be pretty slippery and it was upgrade.
Sometimes the transfer job (OP-1/OP-21) would work through its lunch and when we did we usually got an early quit at Oak
Point when we returned.
Noel Weaver
  by chnhrr
 
Thank you Noel for the clarification. Previously I was unsuccessful in finding anything on the New Haven’s Westchester Yard. It appears that the yard was a minor component along the line.

Chuck Crawford
  by FL9711
 
Does anyone have any photos of this line from when it was in use?
  by chnhrr
 
Ditto on that one and especially pictures of the Port Morris Yard. Also Oak Point would be good too.
  by Statkowski
 
The New Haven's Westchester Yard was, at one time, a fairly large yard, and was located east of Eastchester Road and west of Baychester Avenue. In its day it served a large less-than-carload transfer facility. It was essentially eliminated with the creation of Oak Point Yard, more or less turning into nothing more than an industrial park. Prior to the creation of Oak Point Yard, it also served as a storage point for cars destined to Harlem River.
  by urrengr2003
 
Read an interesting book called FDR'S FUNERAL TRAIN. It states this train from Washington to Hyde Park came up the PRR to Penn Station where a GG-1 was releived for a NH motor. Train, running in two sections, went up the NY Connecting and made a straight-a-way move to gain access to NYC where it was delivered with the NH power to Mott Haven. At this location the motor was swapped out for NYC steam.

It was always my understanding that the very few times FDR used the PRR Washington / Hyde Park (he perfered B&O - CNJ- West Shore) the train went to New Rochelle where it reversed to Mott Haven before resuming its forward operation. Where is the connection from the New York Connecting to the NYC Port Morris branch that allows a straight move to be made? Additionally, what class of NH motor would be used on the Port Morris Branch that would comply with the restricting clearance & curve constraints?
  by urrengr2003
 
A reading of the Port Morris topic in the NYC forum and a re-reading of the FDR'S FUNERAL TRAIN book show my inaccurate post above. This train, in two sections, did run to New Rochelle and reverse down the NH to Woodlawn where it gained access to the NYC enroute to Mott Haven. Pg #118 of author Klaras' book indicates this clearly.
  by Statkowski
 
However, any of the New Haven's passenger electrics could operate over the New York Central's Port Morris Branch since it had underrunning third rail. It was listed as an emergency detour route. The connection to the Port Morris Branch is through Oak Point Yard, running behind S.S. 3, Bungay.
  by Tommy Meehan
 
Statkowski wrote:It was listed as an emergency detour route. The connection to the Port Morris Branch is through Oak Point Yard, running behind S.S. 3, Bungay.
That's extremely interesting. Thanks for posting that information.

One question I have, though, is about the restrictions entering the branch from the Harlem Division at Melrose on a very tight radius curve.

Wasn't there a restriction on cars longer than seventy feet? That would seem to eliminate the possibility of most passenger equipment being operated there.

I understand the restriction was because of the danger of a sideswipe if another train was on the other track. So possibly they could've gotten around that in an emergency.

That brings us to the real question I guess. Does anyone know of or ever see a passenger train detouring over the branch?

[edited once to add the quote, clarify what I'm referring to.]
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