Several months ago I wrote about some of the names of the towns located along the Harlem Line, and how they have evolved over the years. Many of the names were taken from the families that owned the land, or perhaps donated it for the railroad to use, and the name had a possessive. For example, Brewster was known as Brewster’s after former land owners James and Walter Brewster. “Golden’s Bridge” was always a particular enigma, as the majority of use has evolved beyond the apostrophe (town signage does not use it, and the railroad stopped using it in 2003 on public timetables), yet the area’s fire department still uses the apostrophe, as does Google maps. There, however, is one remaining station that still bears the apostrophe of yesteryear, and that station is Purdy’s.
According to Louis Grogan’s book, The Coming of the New York & Harlem Railroad, the name Purdy’s comes from landowner Daniel Pardieus. How exactly the name evolved into Purdy’s is not certain – yet the same scenario exists for Goldens Bridge (the namesake in question may have been named Golding, Goulding, or even Colden). I wasn’t able to determine whether the area was called that prior to the railroad – and it might be yet another example where a hamlet/village takes its name from the station (Brewster is a good example of this. Brewster is part of the town of Southeast – though more people are familiar with the former than the latter. This played a part in the renaming of Brewster North, a railroad invented name, to Southeast, the actual town’s name). The land for the station was donated to the railroad by Isaac, grandson of Daniel, in 1844. It certainly isn’t the most noteworthy of stations, but on a rather cloudy day I took a visit and snapped a few photos.
As none of those photos were incredibly brilliant, I felt I would be cheating if I didn’t at least give you all a bonus to look at. And so, here is one of the former Harlem Line stations: Copake Falls. This former station is located in the town of Copake, in Columbia County, and approximately 22 miles north of the current end of track in Wassaic. To one side of the former station is the Taconic State Park, and to the other side is a portion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. For the past twenty-eight years it has housed the Depot Deli. Interestingly, the owner told me that when he purchased the land the deed included a clause specifying that if passenger service was ever restored on the line he would provide a space for waiting travelers. Considering that the last passenger train ran through in 1972, and the tracks were removed in the 80’s, it is doubtful that would ever happen.
Hi. I have more of a question than a comment, even though the Copake Falls station holds a great deal of memories for me. I was blessed to have watched the last train that ever came through that crossing at Copake Falls, in the summer of 76 or 77, not sure when all traffic stopped. I do know I never saw a train or an engine ever come through there again. My questions are: do you know where I can find a photo of the station before Bob Mathews bought it and converted it to a store? And was New York Central System the last trains to run those tracks, or was it the Penn Central merger that killed off this historic railroad. I hope you can help me learn as much as I can about my childhood memory. Thank you, John “Gabby” Russell, Skowhegan, Maine.
I grew up in Hillsdale,the next stop north.While in the Hillsdale Vol Fire dept in the early 1970’s we were called to assist Copake FD at a fire at an old freight house,almost right adjacent to the still existing station building.It was pretty well burning and we ran hoses from the nearby ore pit at Taconic State Park.The cellar was full of grain from the active shipping days when all of a sudden somebody shouted”look out!” and we all saw dozens of small rattlesnakes coming up out of the cellar and gathering around our feet.The fire had burned down and the heat and our water was driving them up and out.We all said the babies were not too bad but we didnot want wait around to see their momma’s!!