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.

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Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Middletown Town of Wallkill


“So, boss, where do we fit the Metro-North logo?” “I don’t know, just slap it wherever there’s some room!”

I’m sure this is the post you’ve absolutely been dying for… the moment we officially crown Metro-North’s station with the longest name. Middletown Town of Wallkill is certainly a mouthful… And it certainly fills up those station signs. Though most folks probably call the station just Middletown, the station is considered part of Wallkill. The real Middletown station, which is now a library that I featured a few weeks ago, was on the portion of the Erie main line that was abandoned when Metro-North took over in the 80’s. A new station was built, and to include everybody it inherited the name Middletown, and was also given the name Wallkill. Unfortunately, there is another Wallkill in New York – the hamlet of Wallkill, which is in Ulster county. Therefore, to differentiate the two, “town of” was tacked on in front of Wallkill. This is apparently how you create a massive station name. Only on the Port Jervis line.


A circus train arrives at the former Middletown station in 1906. The old station is about three and half miles west of the current station. [images source]

As you’ve likely surmised, Middletown Town of Wallkill station is hardly an interesting place. It does have relatively new facilities though, with a nice green canopy covering the platform, and two ticket vending machines. There is a mini low-level platform for any riders in wheelchairs, but Harriman is considered the closest station with full ADA accessibility. The station is approximately 72 miles from Hoboken, a ride that ranges from around one hour and 45 minutes to two hours. A ride to Penn Station takes around two hours as well. Beyond that, there isn’t anything super interesting about this place… though if you’re a fan of shopping, there is a mall not far from the station.

 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
   
 

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Tuesday Tour of the Port Jervis Line: Campbell Hall

 

Early 1900’s views of the Erie’s Campbell Hall station, which was on the Montgomery Branch. The current Campbell Hall station is now located on what was the Graham Line.

As we continue our tour of the Port Jervis line, the next stop we arrive at is Campbell Hall. While the Metro-North facilities here are rather dull, there is a little bit of interesting stuff that does go on at this station. What you’ll immediately notice are the multiple tracks – since the majority of the Port Jervis line is single-tracked. Stowed on a few of the tracks are various train cars, and maybe if you’re lucky you’ll see a locomotive. Though a few of them might belong to Metro-North or New Jersey Transit, the majority probably belongs to the Middletown and New Jersey Railroad, which operates through Campbell Hall.


Postcard view of freight on the Graham Line in Campbell Hall, 1971

Though the Erie did have a station at Campbell Hall, it was not located along this line. When Metro-North took over operations in the 80’s, a small facility was established here, as there were no stations on the Graham Line previously. Like many of the other Port Jervis line facilities we’ve seen, there is not too much here. The low-level platform is partially covered by a canopy, and there is a small shelter to protect riders from the elements. Located inside the shelter are two New Jersey Transit ticket vending machines. The station has a small high-level platform section to accommodate riders in wheelchairs, but is not considered a fully ADA accessible station. Dispersed along the platform are a few planter boxes containing trees… which would probably be a nice touch anywhere else, but we are pretty much located in the wilderness already.


Wilderness case-in-point. You can photograph both trains and wildlife at Campbell Hall. I’ve named this little fellow Paulo coelho.

 

Photos of the Metro-North station at Campbell Hall in the late 80’s. The station has been renovated since, and there is a far nicer shelter for riders. [photo credit]

Campbell Hall was certainly a lot more interesting in the past, with several railroads passing through the small hamlet – but today it is just serviced by Metro-North’s commuter trains, and some occasional freight. On the commuter side of things, a ride from Campbell Hall to Penn Station in the city will take you slightly less than two hours, and to Hoboken about an hour and a half.

Though my stormy-day photographs of Campbell Hall are hardly spectacular, thankfully they are not the worst photos ever taken here – I bestow that honor upon Metro-North itself. One of these days they are totally going to update their site, so it doesn’t say that Campbell Hall is “65.6 miles to Grand Central Terminal” – but that day probably isn’t today.

 
  
   
 
 
  
 
  
 
  
 

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