Railfan17 wrote:Hello everybody, first post here.
Welcome to RR.Net.
Forty years ago would be in the 1970s and probably -- or possibly -- while the line was still operated by Erie Lackawanna. It's possible a train derailed at W. Central Avenue. It would have been a local freight or switching move. It might not have been widely reported on except in the local paper and then only a brief item.
I think you're asking how recently was the line between Spring Valley and Suffern in operation? As far back as 2000, someone I know walked the line from Suffern east. The line was still active then from Suffern to Airmont Road. Not very active but still surviving. To the east of Airmont Road the line was obviously out-of-service, with sections of track missing. There was also the washout that you noted. Part of the line in Monsey has been converted to a recreational trail.
At Spring Valley there was one customer left on the Piermont Branch, Beckerle Lumber on Chestnut Street. As recently as fifteen years ago I saw flat cars of lumber there being unloaded. I do not believe they are still an active rail user. The line west from there is also obviously out of service.
People at Metro-North say the line is not legally abandoned though. Metro-North owns it and though they have no intention of using it they are not abandoning it.
You might not know this, but the Piermont Branch is not only one of the oldest original rail lines in New York State, it was once a very important rail line. When it was opened in 1841 it served as the main line of the Erie Railroad, then called the New York & Erie. It stretched from Piermont Landing to Suffern. By 1851 the Erie was open to Dunkirk NY and Lake Erie. The Piermont line was very busy. In 1861 the Erie began operating passenger service and some freight to a new terminal at Jersey City using what is today the NJ Transit line via Ridgewood and Paterson NJ. In 1869 all main line freight was shifted away from Piermont Landing and the line between Suffern and Piermont became a branch. Piermont-Spring Valley-Suffern local passenger service remained, however, and lasted until the late 1930s.