Timetables on the Pascack Valley Line

I’ve been joking around recently that the next time someone asks me why I like the Harlem Division/Line, I am going to answer that “I am a girl, and I like the color blue.” Because clearly female railfans choose their favorites based upon color! If that were the truth, then my second favorite line would have to be the Pascack Valley, as the color for that line is purple. Much to my chagrin, none of Metro-North’s printed timetables for the line are actually printed in purple (so I had to make a fake one – which is below). New Jersey Transit, however, does print timetables for the Pascack Valley line, and they are purple! Since we’re now touring the Pascack Valley line (and I not-so-secretly love old railroad timetables), I figured it would be appropriate to check out some of the printed materials that have been used over the years.

A few of the older timetables you’ll notice use the name New Jersey and New York Railroad, which was used up until the Erie-Lackawanna merger. You’ll notice that the one EL timetable I’m posting from 1969 does actually use the name Pascack Valley. Most of the timetables I have for show are more current, from both the New Jersey Transit and Metro-North. I’m sorry to have to say it, but the NJT timetables are quite a bit nicer, and actually purple. Metro-North has always been all about trying to cram as much junk onto the front of their timetables as possible… which is not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing. The newest east-of-Hudson timetables have a horrible and cheap-looking drop shadow, at least the west-of-Hudson timetable missed out on that crappy treatment!

Can’t we just go back in time to the late 1800’s or early 1900’s when timetables were beautiful and actually looked like this?


Early timetables from what is now known as the Pascack Valley Line. From the collection of (the awesome) Otto Vondrak.


New Jersey Transit’s timetables for the Pascack Valley line feature the color purple, and a pine tree, both of which represent the line. Although Metro-North also uses the color purple to represent the line, they do not make use of the pine tree image.


Current NJ Transit timetable for the Pascack Valley Line, and two older Metro-North timetables.


Metro-North does not print a separate timetable for the Pascack Valley line – it is combined with the Port Jervis Line and colored orange. I wanted a purple Pascack Valley timetable though, so I faked it!

Read More

A last look at Port Jervis…


Bird’s eye view of Port Jervis, circa 1900. The railroad tracks and roundhouses are visible in the lower right. From the New York State Archives.

As promised, before moving onto the Pascack Valley Line I said we would take one more look at Port Jervis. While the Metro-North station at Port Jervis is pretty boring, there are a few more interesting railroad-related things going on in this town. When arriving by car, you’ll likely notice signs not only directing you to the train station, but also to the historical turntable. This turntable is the only existing remnant of one of the roundhouses that was here in Port Jervis. Although the building got progressively more decrepit over the years, it ultimately met its end at the hand of an arsonist in 1987.



Roundhouse at Port Jervis in 1971, photos from the Historic American Engineering Record at the Library of Congress.

The turntable, which was at the center of that burnt roundhouse, is in pretty good condition today, as it was renovated in 1997. In the early 90’s, though, it didn’t look too great. Though it hasn’t been put to use recently, the turntable isn’t just for show, and does actually work.

 
 
This is the turntable today. I must admit that I have a thing for the iconic simplicity of the Erie’s logo.

The gem of Port Jervis, however, is not the turntable, but the Erie depot. If you’ve taken Metro-North to Port Jervis, you’ve passed it – it is located about a quarter-mile before the current station. The depot was built by Grattan & Jennings in the Queen Anne style in 1892. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

The contracting firm of Grattan & Jennings was formed in 1888 by William S. Grattan and Alva M. Jennings. Grattan had been a longtime railroad employee, starting as a clerk in the Scranton coal office of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western at the age of 18. Though the Erie Depot may be the most well-known building the firm had built, Grattan & Jennings did lots of contracting work for the railroad, including a trestle over the Blackwell canal.



Aerial views of Port Jervis station, photos from the Historic American Engineering Record at the Library of Congress.




Photos of the Erie station at Port Jervis in 1970, photos from the Historic American Engineering Record at the Library of Congress.

Like so many other stations and facilities, the earlier station at Port Jervis (which was the second to be built here), opened in 1889, was completely destroyed by fire in 1890. The historical Erie depot was built as a replacement for that station, and was opened on February 2nd, 1892. The lower level of the station provided waiting areas for passengers, a ticket office, locker rooms for railroad employees, and a restaurant. The depot’s upper level was used as office space for the railroad.

It is interesting to note that the Erie depot manages to reflect not only the surge in popularity of the railroad, but also its slow demise. With increasing volume of mail and baggage, the depot was expanded in 1912. An enlarged baggage room was added to the east end of the station, and a room for the Railway Express Agency was added to the west end. Gradually fewer and fewer people used the station over the years, and the depot was permanently closed in 1974. The windows were boarded up, and the building was left to crumble. Thankfully, by the mid-80’s several groups stepped up to prevent the depot from being torn down and worked to restore it to the wonderful condition you see today.

  
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
 

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Port Jervis


Stereoscopic view of the Erie Railroad near Port Jervis, circa 1870. From the collection of the NYPL.

Finally, we have arrived – the eponymous and final station along Metro-North’s Port Jervis Line. Port Jervis is located at the edge of Orange County, and bordered by the Delaware River. The river’s natural border splits New York and Pennsylvania, and the railroad station is within easy walking distance with border-town Matamoras, PA (New Jersey is also not too far, but the walk would be a little bit longer). While Matamoras tends to be known as “that place across the border where out-of-staters can buy fireworks,” I’d certainly suggest you not do this by train (although people have tried to bring some pretty crazy things on Metro-North trains before!).


Train at the Erie Port Jervis station, 1966. This station still stands, but has been converted to shops and is not used by the railroad.

The original Erie train station at Port Jervis is a beautiful building, constructed in 1892. However, when Metro-North took over commuter operations here, they constructed a new station about a quarter mile beyond the old station. Today, the original station is home to various shops, and is in very good condition after being renovated. It, of course, significantly overshadows the utilitarian Metro-North station that we are here to visit today. I won’t be talking more about the Erie station now, since it is certainly worthy of its own post, which I will hopefully get a chance to put up before the end of the week.


Hanging out at Port Jervis, 1988.

Similar to the other stations along the line, Port Jervis has a low-level platform, shelter, and not much else. Metro-North did a little bit of renovating within the past year (at a cost of about a million dollars), and now the shelter is actually heated. Other modifications were to be made to better accommodate passengers with disabilities. Located beyond the platform is a small yard facility where trains can be stored for service on the line, which is slightly less boring than the station. There is also a historic turntable not far from the station, but I’ll talk more about that in my post about the Erie station. Until then, here are some views of Port Jervis.

  
 
   
 
 
  
 
  
  
 
 

Read More

More artifacts from the Port Jervis Line…

As our tour of the Port Jervis Line is coming to a close, I figured now would be an opportune time to post some more random artifacts from the Erie Railroad and the Port Jervis Line! I’ve already posted a few timetables and such from the Port Jervis back when I introduced the line, and at tours of Suffern and Tuxedo. Since those posts, I’ve acquired (at least digital copies) of several other interesting things that I figured I’d share. Thanks to the awesome Otto Vondrak, who just happens to own many of these items and shared them with me.



 
 
 
 

Read More