Today’s collection of historical Harlem Division photos features the Upper Harlem… including several crashes that occurred on the line. A huge thanks goes to Ron Vincent, who shared these photos from his family’s collection. Ron’s grandfather worked as an RPO clerk on the Harlem for 36 years. Many of the photos feature the long gone station of Hillsdale, where Ron grew up.
The photos capture an intriguing “slice of life” on the Harlem Division – we see Hillsdale’s station agent, Elliott Hunter, and his wife Marion. We see the occasional crash and derailment that brought gawkers from all around. And we see the softer side of the Harlem, as it hosted the “Plug the Dike Train,” collecting donations for victims of the 1953 North Sea flood. In all, this is a great little set of photos… thanks again for sharing these with us, Ron!
Excerpts from old Hudson River Railroad timetables, from 1853 and 1889, showing the station name as “Garrison’s.”
If you’re looking for attractive views along the Hudson, Garrison might be the station for you. Garrison station is located along the waterfront, and from there are lovely views of West Point on the river’s opposite bank. Due to the proximity to West Point you may think that the name derives from some military installation, however the name is a reference to the Garrison family. The first Garrisons arrived in the area in 1786, but it wasn’t until 1803 that Harry Garrison purchased waterfront property that the area became known as Garrison’s Landing. The name caught on, largely because of the ferry to West Point, established by the Garrisons in 1829. When the railroad arrived, and a station established, the name became permanent – though over the years it has morphed from “Garrison’s” to just “Garrison.”
Just passing through Garrison…
Today’s train station is located just shy of 50 miles from Grand Central, in the un-electrified territory of the Hudson Line. The old stone station, just north of Metro-North’s station, still stands and is in use by the Philipstown Depot Theatre. Completed in 1893, the station was built by William H. LaDue, who was also responsible for the construction of several other stations in the area. Right next to the old station is the entrance to a tunnel leading under the tracks, built in 1929. The newer platform, used by Metro-North, consists of two side platforms, connected by an overpass. Thus Garrison is one of very few Metro-North stations to have both a tunnel and an overpass.
Photo of the 1897 train wreck, just south of Garrison station. Photo from the George Eastman House Collection, though erroneously labeled as Harrison, NY and not Garrison.
In railroad lore, Garrison may unfortunately be remembered for the terrible train crash that occurred on October 24, 1897. A nine-car train, containing six sleeper cars, left Albany at 3:43 AM and derailed just south of Garrison station at around 5:46 AM. The engine and several train cars were thrown into the river, and eighteen of the nineteen people that perished drowned in the Hudson. Among the casualties was the engineer, at 35-year veteran of the New York Central, and the fireman, who had been working for the railroad for seven years.
This train was wrecked either by derailment, which destroyed the embankment, or that the embankment gave way and threw the train into the river. Therefore the board feels it to be its public duty to recommend in urgent terms and to require that all railroads in this State whose roadbeds or parts of roadbeds are carried on embankments lying alongside of and washed by water courses, shall give careful inspection to and constant efficient maintenance for such embankments.
That is about it for Garrison, though it may be worth mentioning that north of the station is a tunnel. An elevated roadway provides a nice vantage point to watch southbound trains passing through that tunnel.
Next week the Tuesday Tour will be heading south and visiting another one of Westchester county’s Hudson Line stations. Want a hint? A hear next week’s station has a restaurant nearby that has some tasty lobsters…
An older, and a bit more attractive Bridgeport station
Throughout my tour of the New Haven Line I have discovered quite a few beautiful train stations. Unfortunately, I would not include today’s featured station, Bridgeport, among them. The current station is a somewhat imposing concrete structure, amassed with people heading in all directions via Metro-North, Shore Line East, and Amtrak trains. And all of those people are a quite diverse lot, ranging from girls in rainbow fishnet stockings, to a guy with a soulpatch wearing a miniskirt and high heels. I’m totally not judging.
A literal train wreck at Bridgeport.
The current Bridgeport station was completed in 1975, though it not nearly as beautiful as the station it replaced. The previous station was built in the early 1900’s for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, but burned down in the 1970’s. The station is located alongside the water, and not far from the ferries to Long Island, as well as Harbor Yard. The station is a transfer point for folks riding the Waterbury branch, and it is approximately 55 miles from Grand Central.
Here are some photos of my visit to Bridgeport… I will state, for the record, there would be more, including a panorama of the M8 that passed by, had I not been visited by a police officer that told me picture taking was forbidden. I suppose the popo don’t realize that there are a lot of ways to secretly record things… I mean if I were a terrorist, it would be quite easy to secretly record the happenings at the train station without, you know, that big “terrorist device” known as a camera. Just sayin’.
My name is Emily, though I am known by many who ride the train simply as Cat Girl, for the hats I customarily wear during the winter time. I am a graphic designer, a former Metro North commuter and lifelong Harlem Line rider. This site is a collection of my usually train-related thoughts, observations, photographs, and travels, as well as my never-ending hunt for intriguing historical artifacts.