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Reply to "A New York State of Mind"

Yes, it’s in Mellenville, NY, a tiny Hamlet in the town of Claverack. It’s where I grew up. In my first photo one can see the Mellenville Grange sign on the building. The line that ran through here connected Hudson and Ghent and then I assume the Village of Chatham just past Ghent. Just a little further east From Mellenville, another line came up from the south through the bordering Village of Philmont and ran on to Chatham. I not only remember that line, which made stops in Philmont, but rode it twice around 1969 or 70.

In their day these little New York villages were classic northeast textile industry mill towns. Practically cities in miniature, they featured hotels, department stores, theaters and of course large brick mills. Philmont had five mills and even an opera house standing next to the tracks along its upper Main Street. The vibrancy of the Empire State owed as much to these interconnected cities and textile towns as to metropolitan New York City  

Almost all of that is gone now. The decline was well underway, if not close to complete, when I lived there. It’s only accelerated since. To get some sense what these places were like at their 19th and early 20th century Industrial Age zenith now requires a little looking. But one can see the footings of old mills, the places where tracks once ran, and repurposed railroad buildings, like this Grange Hall, standing as reminders of a different time when little northeastern towns were economically and civically vibrant and railroads connected it all.


That line was the B&A's Hudson Branch.  It was part of the former Hudson & Berkshire Railroad built in 1838 from Hudson through Chatham to State Line and West Stockbridge.  That was the first railroad ever built eastward from a point on the Hudson River.  It was acquired by the B&A predecessor, Western Railroad, in 1854.  It had its own line between Chatham and State Line on an alignment now mostly covered by the thruway Extension.  In 1842, the Western's own line through the tunnel was completed and the original Chatham-State Line route was abandoned when the Western acquired it in 1854.

The branch between Ghent and Hudson is shown in B&A ETT's until 1957, but not in 1958.  In 1960, the Hudson Div TT shows the line between Hudson and Claverack, retained only because of the cement plant.  IT looks as if the Claverack-Ghent section was abandoned in 1957-58.

The parallel tracks between Chatham and Ghent were combined under Harlem division jurisdiction before 1940.

I'm writing and organizational and geographic history of the NYC beginning with the B&A.  The B&A part will appear on the NYC list sometime this fall.

Malcolm Laughlin

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653