Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Rowayton


Twilight on the Sound, Darien – Painting by artist John Frederick Kensett.

Welcome to Rowayton – a delightful neighborhood of Norwalk (full of people with salaries significantly higher than mine), located right along the coastline of Long Island Sound. The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad ran through this area for many years, but a station was only established in Rowayton in February of 1868. According to popular lore the station was built at the urging of several prominent artists that worked in the area. Vincent Colyer and John Frederick Kensett worked out of a studio located on Contentment Island – although a part of Darien, the new Rowayton station was less than a mile away.


The eastbound station at Rowayton, photograph from 1916. [image credit]


Another shot of the eastbound station, taken in 1931. By this time the railroad had been electrified, and the catenary system is visible in the background. [image credit]

 

Thanks to Flickr user caboose_radio, we have a whole bunch of historical photos of Rowayton station. The eastbound station pictured at the very top was built in 1896, and was removed in 1955. After that time a new station was built, and this is the station building that still exists at Rowayton today… though it doesn’t look nearly as charming.


The current station building at Rowayton. Photo was taken in 1967. [image credit]

The major difference between Rowayton in the historical photos above, and what the station looks like today are the platforms – the former low-level platforms have been replaced with high-level versions. Located on these platform are a few newspaper, and ticket vending machines. The New York-bound side has a canopy, while the opposite side has only a small shelter area. Rowayton is about 39 miles from Grand Central, and the average trip to the city takes about an hour.

That is about all I have for Rowayton today. There are only ten more stations left to visit on the New Haven Line, which means by mid-March the tour will be all wrapped up – and it will be onto the Port Jervis Line.

 
   
 
   
 
  
 
   
 
 

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Springdale


Photo of Springdale station, April 1933

Faithful readers, our tour of the New Haven Line is heading into the final stretch. We’ve featured about three-quarters of all New Haven Line stations, including Metro-North’s newest station. I figured that today would be a great day to finally finish up the branch line stations, with the only outstanding station from the New Canaan Branch: Springdale. Springdale is a section of Stamford, and the station is one of three located in that city. It is situated in between Glenbrook and Talmadge Hill, and like those stations, is relatively unremarkable and fairly run-of-the-mill in terms of train stations. New Canaan is clearly the gem on this branch.
Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line:
New Canaan Branch:


Springdale station, June 1966. Although this older station had a canopy, it was taken down when newer, high-level platforms were constructed. The station was renovated in 2010, and a canopy installed, protecting commuters from the elements.

Springdale is about 37 miles from Grand Central, and has an average travel time of just under an hour during peak periods. During off-peak hours a transfer at Stamford is most likely necessary, increasing travel time to around an hour and a half. The station doesn’t have much in terms of amenities (there are no TVMs, for example), but it does have a brand new 400-foot canopy that was built in 2010, at a cost of around a million dollars. The canopy does quite a bit to make the station look more substantial and attractive, something that fellow branch line stations Glenbrook and Talmadge Hill lack (Glenbrook, however, seems to be next in line to get an upgrade).

 
 
  
 
   
  
 
  
  

Read More

Weekly News Roundup, 12/17

Here were some of the most interesting and relevant news stories to be talked about this week…

Extra Holiday Trains

Metro-North will of course be offering additional trains for the upcoming holiday, starting on Friday afternoon and continuing on Saturday and Sunday.

Permut looks to expand the Port Jervis Line

Metro-North President Howard Permut was the railroad’s Vice President of Planning before landing his current gig… so he’s got a pretty good sense of where and how things ought to be improved. Not only is he eyeing the New Haven Line for big improvements, but he’s also looking at service West of the Hudson. On his wish list is a second track on the Port Jervis Line, and a connection to Stewart Airport.

Improvements at Cortlandt to be finished soon

The train station upgrades at Cortlandt, which included new parking and amenities, are almost done – though slightly behind schedule.

Transit-based development considered in Mount Vernon

This week the city of Mount Vernon released a new comprehensive plan with suggestions for improvement. Suggestions included expanding Bee Line Bus service in the city, and further developing the areas surrounding the Mount Vernon East and West stations.


Construction of the Henry Hudson Bridge in 1936

Henry Hudson Bridge turns 75 this week

On Thursday the Henry Hudson Bridge turned 75 years old… and there was no way I could resist posting that old construction photo from 1936!

Rail Outlook 2012

Progressive Railroader has an interesting piece on thoughts for passenger rail in 2012, with thoughts on various transit systems across the country, including Metro-North.


A Look to Tappan Zee From Hastings, painting by Kent Patterson

Retired Metro-North employee, now artist, to have show in Briarcliff Manor

Kent Patterson worked for Metro-North for 37 years as a yard and train master, but in retirement has turned back to an old love – painting. Prominent in his work are the trains and scenery he worked with for so many years. His paintings will be on display in Briarcliff Manor, and are certainly worth checking out.

Photos from Santacon

Buzzfeed has an amusing collection of 22 photos from NYC’s Santacon, which was last weekend. And of course since it was in New York City, some mode of public transportation is involved. Who knew that Santa rode Metro-North?

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Westport


Postcard view of the station, labeled as Saugatuck. This card was postmarked 1915.

Today’s stop on our ongoing tour of the New Haven Line is Westport, a lovely station with a miniature identity crisis. Although Metro-North refers to this station simply as “Westport,” historically it has been called “Westport & Saugatuck.” The old station building that still remains – built around 1880 – also lists the name as “Westport Saugatuck” on the front. However, it seems that many of the locals refer to the station simply as “Saugatuck,” the name of the portion of Westport where the station resides. For consistency’s sake, I’ll use the Metro-North designation of “Westport” hereon.


Old train tickets listing the station name as Westport & Saugatuck

Much of Westport’s charm derives from the lovely station building, which was renovated in 2004. The station still contains the original ticket window, however Metro-North no longer staffs this window and tickets are sold through on-platform TVMs. Besides the obvious waiting-room and bathrooms the station contains, it also has a small book swap shelf, courtesy of the Westport Public Library (this is the second New Haven Line station I’ve featured with a book swap shelf. Redding was the first. I absolutely love the idea). During the aforementioned renovations an additional tunnel under the tracks was installed, with elevator, as to meet ADA guidelines. Though the main station is on the New York/westbound side of the tracks, another station building exists on the opposite side, which is used as a taxi stand and contains a car rental office. This building looks significantly more beat-up, and is covered in a layer of paint that has cracked over the many years.

 
  

1950’s photographs of Westport station


Photo of a 1912 train wreck that occurred near the station.

Westport is a lovely little station, surrounded by an interesting neighborhood, of which residents are extremely proud – despite the many changes over the years. Thanks to the railroad (which first arrived in 1848), getting to Westport station is relatively easy. The station is about 44 miles away from Grand Central, and travel time is about an hour and ten minutes.

 
  
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
   
 
  
 
   

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Talmadge Hill

Welcome to Talmadge Hill – the station just south of New Canaan on that eponymous branch of the New Haven Line. Although New Canaan station is quite charming, the remainder of the stations on the branch are fairly regular and unremarkable, and this station is no different. Talmadge Hill is small – the platform accommodates four train cars – and it straddles the space between Talmadge Hill Road and the Merritt Parkway. The majority of the platform is of typical concrete – however the north end on the Merritt Parkway side is a metal grate, which was added on later. From this side of the platform you can get a pretty good view of the Merritt, and the steady stream of automobiles that pass under the railroad tracks. Because of the station’s placement between these two roads, lengthening the platform any further would be extremely difficult. Trains picking up passengers at the station extend out into the road at the grade crossing, temporarily halting traffic on Talmadge Hill Road.


Photo of Talmadge Hill in 1954

Although I mentioned most of the New Canaan branch stations are unremarkable in comparison with New Canaan itself, Talmadge Hill provides a stark contrast. Where New Canaan is beautiful, historical, and most obviously cared for, Talmadge Hill is apparently not. There is a bit of graffiti on the station name signs, and the platform has stencil-lettered tags that say “Authorised Graffiti Area” in black paint. Even the underside of the platform has been tagged and painted over – though you’d never see it from a train. Clearly Talmadge Hill isn’t the worst station in the Metro-North system, but it certainly isn’t the best.

 
   
 
   
 
  
 
   
 
   

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Larchmont


Older Larchmont station that was replaced by the current station


1955 sketch of the replacement Larchmont station

Today’s stop on the tour of the New Haven Line is Larchmont, one of the handful of stations on the line located in New York state. Larchmont, situated about 18 miles from Grand Central and in between New Rochelle and Mamaroneck, is a rather unique set-up. The station and platform run parallel to Interstate 95 – and the parking garage for the station is constructed over the highway. The older station was demolished around the 1950’s when the highway was being constructed, and was replaced with what we have now.

  
 
  
 
 
The photos above are all from the collection of the Larchmont Public Library

Larchmont has all the newest Metro-North train tech, with both video boards in the overpass that list the next nine trains, as well as announcement boards over the platform that identifies the next train and where it will be stopping. These are standard at larger train stations, such as Harlem-125th and White Plains. There is a small station building, but it was closed during my visit. Which is unfortunate, because there was an Arts for Transit mosaic in there which I didn’t really get to see. I still must wonder why the heck Arts for Transit places artwork in station buildings that are most often closed. The forty foot long mosaic is by artist Joy Taylor and is titled The Four Seasons.

Taylor isn’t a stranger to Metro-North and Arts for Transit – she submitted a proposal for the sculpture at Wassaic station, which was ultimately not selected (the piece by Anne Huibregtse that was selected was a perfect match for the station). From the photos on the internet I’ve seen, the mosaic looks beautiful, however I never got a good look at it. You’ll find a single photo of the mosaic below (taken through the window of the locked station), along with the rest of my photos from Larchmont station.

 
  
   
  
   
  
 
 
   
 
  
 
   
 

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Cos Cob, and the Mianus River Railroad Bridge

Over the two and a half years I’ve maintained this blog, I’ve featured quite a few old railroad stations that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today is a little different, as not only do I have photos of another station that makes the list, but also of a bridge. I have mentioned Bridge L-158 before, and I’ve always thought it had a terrible name – though the Mianus River Railroad Bridge may be even worse. All you pretty much need to do is a google image search for Mianus – you’ll see plenty of fratboys (and the folks from the show Jackass) posing in front of various town signs. As much as they’d love to believe the name refers to a particular area on the body, it apparently derives from the name of a Native American chief.



Photos of the Mianus River Railroad Bridge taken in 1977 from the Library of Congress

The Mianus River Railroad Bridge (Sometimes referred to as the Cos Cob Bridge. Not to be confused with the Mianus River Bridge which carries I-95 over the river and famously collapsed in 1983) was built in 1904 by the American
Bridge Company. A previous two-track bridge existed in the same spot, but was deemed unsafe. However, not all parts of the previous bridge were dismantled, some portions were reused in the construction of the current four-track replacement bridge. Historically, this bridge was the final constructed portion of the railroad line linking New Haven and New York – completed on Christmas day, 1848.



Photos of Cos Cob station, first photograph is from 1946, and the second from 1954. Both are from the Dodd Research Center’s Railroad History Archive.

Located just west of the bridge is the Cos Cob train station. This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places, and was built around 1894. The wood-framed station is on the west-bound side of the tracks, and measures 50 feet by 20 feet. The station was constructed during a time when the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was working on a complete overhaul of the line. Curves were straightened, tracks were elevated to remove grade crossings where possible, and two tracks additional tracks were added for a total of four. The relatively simple station design was reused for other stops along the line as a cost-saving measure – the Old Greenwich station is an extant example.

Similar to many stations I’ve featured here, the railroad played an important part in the growth of the area. Greenwich became an upper-class suburb, and its citizens could easily commute by rail into the city. Looking out the window from the train, it is highly likely you’ll spot many boats and yacht clubs – and in the few photos I took of the Mianus River Railroad Bridge it is fairly difficult to even spot the bridge as there were so many boats.

Cos Cob is roughly 30 miles to Grand Central, and during off-peak times takes about an hour to get to the city. However, some express trains during peak hours make the journey in as little as 45 minutes. The station is one of four along the New Haven Line in the town of Greenwich, and the neighborhood of Cos Cob is one of fifteen that make up the town.

 
  
 
 
   
  
 
 
  
   
 

Read More

Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: New Canaan

 

If it isn’t obvious, I’ve been to a lot of train stations. My current count of Metro-North stations that I’ve photographed stands at 83. I’ve chronicled my various issues here – cops in Melrose, a rent-a-cop in Bridgeport, and I’ve even had people yell at me that they didn’t want me pointing a camera in their direction (sorry, honey, but I’m trying to take a picture of that train, not you). However, this past weekend when I visited New Canaan I had a little bit of a different experience. I think this is the first time that I’ve ever seen a person excited that I was taking a photos of their station. I saw an older man, and when he saw me with the camera, he said, “it is a nice day for it, it is a very iconic station.” I think he was actually proud of his station, and that I was taking photos there. That is a first.

Though when it comes to train stations, the citizens of New Canaan do have a lot to be proud of. Their station, originally built in 1868, is one of the oldest surviving (and currently in-use) stations in the state of Connecticut. There has been plenty of work on it since – and it has even been jacked up and moved in order to accommodate a high-level train platform. The platform itself is a bit deceiving, as entering from the parking lot it appears to be low-level. However, the station and parking lot is raised above the tracks, which is why the station had to be jacked up during its restoration. Most recently, there was an expansion of the tracks, so the new M8 trains could run on the branch line.

  
  
Undated photos of New Canaan station from the Library of Congress. They were most likely taken in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s, and before the station was raised.

Somewhere along the way, New Canaan station, terminus of Metro-North’s New Canaan branch, and 41 miles from Grand Central Terminal, became a haven wealthy commuters to the city. Not surprisingly, the railroad played a significant part in the growth of New Canaan, as it made New York City easily accessible – in a little bit over an hour. Today’s New Canaan Branch started out as the New Canaan Railroad, which ran its first train on July 4th, 1868, from Stamford to New Canaan. In the 1880’s the line was leased to the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, and by 1890 had merged with them.


1913 view of the station


1945 view of New Canaan station

I will not lie – I very much enjoyed visiting New Canaan station, and New Canaan itself. I had been told that the area was quite wealthy, and en route to the station saw houses (mansions?!) with six car garages. But despite the station being one of the oldest around, it certainly didn’t look ancient. On the contrary, it was beautiful and well taken care of. And to my delight, it is even open on weekends (as you’ve seen from my many tour stops, this is usually not the case, and I’m trying to get photos through the windows). Though the ticket windows may no longer be in use, it is lovely to see how they once looked in a station many, many times older than I am (I’m even younger than Metro-North – and @MetroNorthTweet has worked for Metro-North longer than I’ve been alive!).

 
  
   
 
  
 
  
 
  
   
 
  
 
 
  
 

Read More

Views of Kensico Cemetery

Dear readers, I am certain you are all acquainted with my terrible eBay habit. Lots of the old timetables, photos, and postcards find their way onto this site at some point in time. I must admit though, I love old things. Specifically, old paper things. Maybe it is because I am a graphic designer, and I love looking at old printed art, especially on pre-1900’s timetables and books. Though it is also possible that I’m just a nutjob destined to be one day featured on the show Hoarders. Either way, today I do want to share with you all my most recent acquisition, which is a little bit different than most things I come across on eBay.

If you’ve ever taken the Harlem Line north of White Plains, and past Valhalla, you are most likely familiar with the large cemetery that dominates the view in between stations. Kensico Cemetery shares a nearly mile-long border with the railroad, and astute observers can glimpse the main cemetery office, which once served as a railroad station, on the west side of the tracks. The choice of location of the cemetery isn’t hard to figure out – it offered both a beautifully rural final resting place, and was easily accessible from the city by the railroad. In fact, on the cemetery’s Board of Directors was Chauncey Mitchell Depew, whose name might be familiar, as I posted about him in April. He got his start as the legal counsel for the New York and Harlem Railroad under Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, and eventually worked his way up to the presidency of the New York Central – conveniently the railroad running right alongside the cemetery. Not only did the cemetery have its own private railroad station, it also had a private railcar named Kensico which could be rented for funerals. In 1910, the rental price for a locomotive with the railcar Kensico attached was $60.00, which today seems like a paltry sum.

All of these things I’ve discovered about the Kensico Cemetery were gleaned from a little hand-bound booklet printed in 1910, titled “Views in the Kensico Cemetery.” I bought the thing just for the single photo of Kensico station, and after flipping through it, I’m glad I did. I love it for the silliest reason, too – at the time of printing, the United States used three-digit phone numbers. There are plenty of things that I don’t really think about, and anything but seven-digit phone numbers are one of them (despite the fact that I know Brazil uses eight digits for cellular numbers, and don’t even get me started about their downright bizarre method of placing long distance calls). The book is chock-full of photos of the cemetery with plenty of open land, a much different view than today’s cemetery with over 130,000 “residents.” Below you’ll find a few of my favorite parts of the booklet, including the photo of Kensico Station.

Read More

Even More Monday Morning Old Photos, Part 2

As we hang out in the aftermath of Irene, stuck with no Metro-North service on this “lovely” Monday, we can at least remember a little bit of history. And even remember a time when our tracks were not covered in mud and trees, there was no flooding, and trains were actually running! As I mentioned last week, here is a “new” set of photos taken in the eighties and nineties, when Metro-North was just a few years old. There are a few more photos of Pawling, more construction in White Plains, and a photo or two of Hartsdale.

 
  
 
 
   
  
 
 

Read More