Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Otisville


Old Erie station at Otisville, photograph by James E. Bailey, dated 1909. This station was located closer to downtown Otisville, the current Otisville station is in a different location.

Though it feels like we’ve just begun our tour of the Port Jervis line, in reality, we’re almost complete. Of course, the Port Jervis line is not nearly as long as either the Harlem or Hudson lines which have already been featured here. The fact that the stations here are rather unremarkable, and a bit more forgettable, probably doesn’t help. Today’s station, Otisville, is another one of the line’s bland stops. We’re deep into the rural portion Orange County here – and about 82 miles from the start of the line in Hoboken. In terms of ridership, Otisville is the Port Jervis line’s least used station – something the infrastructure seems to reflect. Besides a small shelter on the low-level platform, and a few station name signs, there isn’t too much here.


Train exiting the Otisville Tunnel, 1948.

While the New York Central had its famed “Water-level Route,” following along rivers like the Hudson and providing a relatively flat journey – the Erie Railroad had to tackle more difficult terrain. The Shawangunk Ridge was one such obstacle, and although track had been built near Otisville going over the ridge, it was not the optimal solution for freight. The answer to the problem was the Otisville Tunnel, built in 1908, and likely more noteworthy than the station itself. From the station platform you can see the portal to the tunnel, and the extra track used as a siding for trains entering and exiting. The tunnel measures 5,314 feet long, is 30 feet wide, and extends 25 feet above the rails at the top of the arch. When the tunnel was first built it was used exclusively for freight – passenger trains still went over the ridge – but that was eventually abandoned and all traffic was sent through the tunnel.

  
 
 
  
 
   
 
  

Next week we’ll take a visit to the eponymous Port Jervis station, and the end of the line. After that we’ll move on to the short Pascack Valley line, followed by the one everyone has been waiting for – the Hudson Line.

7 thoughts on “Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Otisville

  1. As I believe I mentioned last week, the current Otisville station was constructed in 1954 with a brand new depot after tracks at FX (Guymard Junction or Graham Junction) were merged in the previous years to make a new line from Howells Junction. The station in downtown Otisville, seen in the historical photo above, was constructed in 1858 on a different set of tracks.

    Don’t quote me on the date, because I do not have that number, but the depot constructed in 1954, which was a bland white and green building with platform was demolished before 1980.

    1. You did, but the photo was undated, so I wasn’t sure which station this was and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing :P

      1. You’re using a James E. Bailey photograph, dated 1909. James E. Bailey was a switch operator out on the Erie’s Meadville Division (later worked at Youngstown). He was also hired from 1907-12 as the Erie’s official station photographer, and was given a private train all to his own to travel the Erie system and take all the photographs. For 1900s standards, Bailey’s work is good and got an idea of how large the Erie system was. There are over 600 plates of his work.

        1. Thank ya… hopefully the caption reflects that better now.

          Must admit, having a private train to travel and take photos is pretty badass.

          1. Well, except for the fact that it took 5 years, and we’re talking early technology. It would be nice for us nowadays, but sadly won’t happen.

            It sucks that you won’t get to cover Guymard (Graham) station, but that’s quite alright. Port Jervis will be fun to read, plus I have some good stuff for the PVL.

            – Also I forgot this piece that I had written for Tuxedo while the site was acting up for me: During the time of Erie president Frederick Underwood’s tenure, meetings with the board would commonly be held up intentionally by the board with silly debates including one well known one, what color should the Tuxedo station be painted?” Talk about railroad filibusters.

            1. I had hoped to get over to at least Goshen and Chester, but the day I was going to do it was downpouring. Perhaps at some point!

              If you want to email me anything I must make sure I say for the PVL, send it to info@iridetheharlemline.com. I’m going to try and write them over the weekend, since I’ll be on vacation. I’ll set the blog to post them automatically.

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