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Vol. 4: Pine Plains and the Railroads

Bicentennial Publication


By: Lyndon A. Haight
1976

§7 The Poughkeepsie and Connecticut


The third railroad coming to Pine Plains was the Poughkeepsie and Connecticut, built to connect the railroad bridge at Poughkeepsie with New England. The builders of the bridge had planned to acquire the Poughkeepsie and Eastern for the connection, but the railroad refused to sell with the result that the bridge people leased the Hartford and Connecticut Western, running from Rhinecliff on the Hudson River to Hartford, and also built the Poughkeepsie and Connecticut to join their leased line at Silvernails. On the west side of the river they built the Hudson Connecting Railroad from the west shore of the Hudson to a junction with the Wallkill Valley Railroad and to a terminus at Campbell Hall where it had connections with the New York, Ontario and Western and the Pennsylvania, Poughkeepsie and Boston. The PP&B (which later acquired the Pennsylvania, Slatington & New England) later became the Lehigh and New England, which connected at Campbell Hall.

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Stanfordville Station. Originally the Poughkeepsie & Conn., later the CNE. (V04-24.GIF)
The PP&B was formed by a merger of some small railroads plus some additional construction, to connect with the Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad. The Hudson Connection Railroad and the Poughkeepsie and Connecticut were completed in 1889, opening a direct line from Hartford to the numerous connections in Orange County. In 1889 these were consolidated as the Central New England & Western Railroad. The Dutchess County Railroad, to connect Poughkeepsie with the New York and New England Railroad (formerly Boston, Hartford & Erie) at Hopewell, was built in 1892 and leased to CNE&W.

In January 1892, the Philadelphia & Reading Company purchased from the Delaware and New England Railroad Company (a holding company) the capital stock of the Poughkeepsie Bridge Company and a majority of the stock of the CNE&W, which then went into receivership. In August 1892, the Philadelphia people incorporated the Philadelphia, Reading and New England Railroad Company as a consolidation of the Central New England & Western

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A stretch of track, Poughkeepsie & Conn., along Stissing Lake, looking south. (V04-25.GIF)
and the Poughkeepsie Bridge Railroad Company, acquiring also the lease of the Dutchess County Railroad. In May 1893, when the PR&NE defaulted on its interest payments, foreclosure followed. In 1899 the railroad became the Central New England Railway Company. In 1907 the Newburgh, Dutchess and Connecticut, the Poughkeepsie and Eastern and the Poughkeepsie Bridge Railroad Company were also joined to the same Central New England Railway Company.
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Construction of the Poughkeepsie & Conn. R.R. near Stanfordville, NY, 1888-9. Courtesy Stanley Willig. (V04-26A.GIF)

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S.S. Mary Powell under Poughkeepsie R.R. Bridge from the Poughkeepsie Eagle &8212; 1889. (V04-26B.GIF)

The Poughkeepsie Bridge Railroad Company, mentioned above had nothing to do with the bridge itself but was a road connecting the east end of the bridge to the New York & Massachusetts Railroad Company, formerly the P&E. The Road began "at a point 700 feet west of Washington Street in the City of Poughkeepsie and ran easterly to a point beyond the line of the NY&M for a distance of about two miles with a branch therefrom about a half mile in length extending to a connection with the NY&M near Hamilton Street."

Reference has already been made to the Rhinebeck and Connecticut Railroad Company which was incorporated in June 1871, for the construction of a railroad from Rhinecliff on the Hudson River to the Connecticut state line where it would join the Connecticut Western. It would cross the New York and Harlem Railroad upon the crossing of the Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railway, using as much of the latter road as necessary for the purpose. The road, about 35.2 miles long, was opened to the

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Station at Mount Ross. Originally the Rhinebeck and Conn. RR. (V04-27.GIF)
public on April 14, 1875. In the same month additional trackage right was leased from the P&E for 6.41 miles between Boston Corners and State Line. Six years later the road was sold at public auction after going into receivership. A Connecticut act of 1882 authorized the Hartford & Connecticut Western Railroad Company, incorporated in 1881, to purchase, hold and operate the Rhinebeck & Connecticut Railroad Company. This new owner was actually the successor of the Connecticut Western Railroad which had been incorporated in 1868 and taken over by the state of Connecticut in 1880 for default on its interest. After operating the road for 21 years, this owner company leased it to the Central New England & Western.
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Jackson Corners Station, once the Rhinebeck and Conn. RR, later the CNE. (V04-28A.GIF)

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The Rhinebeck & Conn. Station at Copake with gas passenger car. This was near the end of the railroad days. (V04-28B.GIF)

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Silvernail Station. At left Rhinebeck & Conn. and right, Poughkeepsie & Conn. (V04-29.GIF)

These roads were family railroads, employing local people &8212; fathers, sons and daughters &8212; who made their homes and paid taxes in Pine Plains and the neighboring towns of Dutchess and Columbia Counties. I recall the names of two women railroaders also: Mary Hoyt, who was agent at Ancram, and Ruth Miller, who acted as agent at Ancram Lead Mines and as supply agent at other stations.

Clarence A. Perkins, in his article "Recalling Railroad Days," published in the December 13, 1851 issue of the Pine Plains Register-Herald, lists some of the railroad employees. For the ND&C he names P.R. Seeley, and William Seeley (who later became passenger agent of the CNE), Henry Hart, Chester Lasher, William Lasher and Arthur Mabbett. P&E station agents at one time were A.C McCurdy, Thorne Angil and Arthur Mabbett. For the CNE he lists Adelbert Haight and William Lasher. Further along in his article he gives the names of the following ND&C employees: Everett Barton, Will Crawford, William Conkrite, Henry Etts, C.H. Garrison, Walter Hoag, Fred Hicks, Isaac Harris, Clinton Harris, C. Holmes, Daniel Kelly, James Massey, William Owens, John Schwartz, Bertha Seeley, William Stocking, Edward Underwood and Harmon Williams. Section crews Perkins recalls were: for the P&E, James English, Ruben Clum, Irving Hart and John Owens; for the ND&C, John, Mike and Tom Barrett and John Long; for the CNE, Mr. O'Connor, Abram Post and Frank Post. I remember a few from the last days of the road: Patrick Clifford, Claude Burch, Andrew and Perry Lown, Harold Butterfield (who was supervisor for many years), Martin Wheeler, Oliver Bradley, Frank Smith, Henry Myers and Joe Crilley. There were others.

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Gas car 9100 at Stanfordville, NY. Conductor William Cole in baggage room door; Engineer F. Frank; Agent, Murphy; in cap, T.B. Wheeler. (V04-30.GIF)

Wage rates were not high but they improved over the years with the working day reduced eventually to eight hours. In 1900 a section foreman made $10.38 for a six-day workweek and probably a ten-hour day. Section hands made $1.25 a day. In 1906 conductors were paid $3.60 a day, train baggage masters $2.25 and brakemen $2.00. In 1922, for an eight-hour day, conductors were making $6.32, baggage men $4.56 and brakemen $4.40.


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