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Those of us that are old enough to remember "The Put," New York Central's long defunct Putnam Division, may have some interesting memories.

I grew up near the Cross County Shopping Center section of Yonkers, NY and was maybe a mile or two away from the Put in its waning years. 

While in grammar school my school bus would get held up every now and then by short freights at the Mile Square Road grade crossing. 

More common than that, I would play little league baseball at Cook Field, now called Redmond Field. Usually, I would be out in right field and in-between moments of boredom, I would notice RS-3's pulling short freights upgrade in the woods just north of Dunwoodie.

 

Funny to still find pieces of rail around all these years later, not to mention the occasional spike and pieces of coal.

 

Tom

 

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When my late wife and I started dating in 1983, she lived in the Bronx right next to the Stella D'oro bakery which, by that time, was Conrail's last customer along what was then known as the Putnam Industrial Track. One afternoon, we went for a walk in Van Cortlandt Park and I started telling her the story of the Putnam Division. She was very interested in my hobby and when I asked her if she would like to walk along the right of way through the park she eagerly agreed. It had not been long since trains stopped running beyond Stella D'oro so the track was still there and in pretty good shape. Walking along the railroad hand in hand with a gorgeous woman...for guy who loves trains it doesn't get much better than that. In the time since she passed on, I've come to realize it's memories like that which help keep me going.

 

Here's a funny story about the Put which a lot of folks aren't aware of. After Conrail got its new B23-7s, they became a familiar sight around the old NYC third rail territory. One night, they tried a B23-7 on the Put when trains were still running through the park to Yonkers. All was well until they came to the old Van Cortlandt station....not so good as the unit's radiator wing struck the old canopy. SW1500s became standard Put power after that.

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

 

Bob       

Bob,

  Sorry to hear your wife passed away. Glad you have some nice memories. 

  I started dating my wife in 1980 and I've dragged her along the right-of-way, too. Before they tore up the tracks on the perimeter of Cook Field, I remember walking with her and our Collie. 

  Last that I knew, the Van Cortland Station canopy was still standing.

  Tom

Still live in Yonkers...grew up on Kingston av.walked the tracks from Tibbets to Tuckahoe rd.still remember the crossing at Mile Square rd always red...The owner of the deli at Palmer rd was trying to start a museum in the station..had it ready to go,but Yonkers politics being what they are he could not get the city council to sign off on it.They sited traffic and noise as an excuse to stop a good cause...Maybe in the future....joe

All my experiences with the Put were in the High Bridge area of the Bronx. It was a short bus ride for my father and I from our neighborhood just east of the Concourse.

 

I missed really appreciating the steam era since I was only 5 when diesels took over in 1951. But every once in a while, a steam engine would pass through running light or doing some switching for a few years after that.

 

I remember the water tower and the long enginehouse which looked to be sagging in quite a few places by then.

 

A few years later, we'd travel over there to watch construction on the Major Deegan expressway. At the time, I didn't realize how much of the Put's facilities were being lost to the construction project.

 

But, during construction, unlike the way it would be today, the whole area down by the tracks was open for us to wander around. I still remember walking along one stretch of the tracks and being amazed by the fact that there wasn't any outside third rail to worry about. Every other track I had ever seen down there outside of the Put was electrified.

 

We never got to see anything of the upstate operation since we didn't have a car. In fact, for us, upstate was Yonkers in the 1950s.

 

Jim

 

Wow! Yes, the bridge is Yonkers Ave, to the immediate left past the light pole, on the opposite (far side of) the bridge and the tracks was Dunwoodie Station and there was a coaling business on this 

this side of the tracks out of the frame to the left. The area where the station was is now a motel.

For many years you could see the old New York Central writing and logo on the bridge before Yonkers had it repainted. If you zoom in a little, you could see some of the faint letters on the bridge in this picture. Just maybe 1/2 mile north or so was Cook Field where I played little league baseball.

The other picture looks like the uphill grade to the Mile Square Road (I grew up on Mile Square Rd) grade crossing. Although it looks like the Amazon, it is not! 

Thanks for finding those.

 

Tom

Conrail received approval to abandon the line between Kingsbridge and Chauncey in 1982 although the the track remained in place to East View. Interestingly, the city of Yonkers expressed an interest in purchasing the line in an effort to restore freight service to customers located within the city in 1983. It was determined, however, that shippers and receivers had subsequently converted their traffic to motor carriage with little or no interest in returning to rail. The lack of customer commitment combined with the failure of CR and the city to reach agreement on a purchase price caused the proposal to fail.

 

Bob     

Yes, 

  Knew of the 2 coal dealers and the grade crossing elimination project. You can go to the Yonkers Ave. Bridge to this day and still see the date imprinted in the concrete, if my memory is correct, I think it shows 1938.

  Peter mentioned the cookie factory. Somewhere I saved a cookie wrapper when they were still made in the Bronx.

  I mentioned before about track that is still around...there is quite a few pieces in the area of the Alexander Smith Carpet Factory. My mother-in-law and her sister worked there after WWII and it was serviced by The Put's Saw Mill River Branch. The carpet factory was one of the biggest in the nation at the time and as a result was also one of The Put's biggest customers. Labor problems (I think in the 1950's) caused the plant to relocate down south. The Alexander Smith family burial plot is across from the factory in Oakland Cemetery.

 

Tom

 

 

 

I recently found this copy of a letter to the editor which I wrote back in 1997. Thought some of you might like it. It had to do with a rumor that Westchester was considering having a Put museum along the rail-trail that was being constructed. My source was Fred Arone who back then ran the Depot Attic railroad memorabilia store in Dobbs Ferry. Fred made it sound like there were already pieces of the Put that were in storage for such a museum to display. Sadly, when Fred died so did the dream of the museum.

   Tom

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I've managed to collect a number of Putnam Division employee and public timetables over the years. At a certain point, New York Central combined the Harlem and Putnam ETTs into one book. Following the 1968 merger, Penn Central issued much thicker employee timetables based upon the regions it set up. I also have some of these PC ETTs books which include the Put.

 

Putnam Division memorabilia can still be found with some diligent searching. There is a gentleman by the name of Mr. Glenn Rowe who periodically lists Putnam Division timetables on the big auction site under the seller name "nhrrlives". He also offers a CD of Putnam Division photos, most of which were taken by Mr. Frank Schlegel who covered the line quite well. I bought the CD and found it well worth the price, particularly when you consider what you have to pay these days for black and white prints and slides. THis is the link to the CD for sale:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/104-EX...;hash=item20f0a21c15

 

I'd recommend the CD to any Putnam Division fan without hesitation.

 

Bob 

Joe,

  Joe Schiavone actually came out with 3 books, I think I mentioned it on another thread. I believe book number 2 was, More of "The Old Put" and the last one was Last of "The Old Put." Always look for any DVD's that accompanied at least the first book which was entitled, Walk the Put. My friend, Brian Vangor did a great job doing the video work on that DVD.

   

 Hope anyone in the Put's area is ready for the coming Sno-pocalypse. My wife and I came back from a good day at the Toy & Train Show at the Westchester County Center to hear snow forecasts of maybe 2-3 feet for Tuesday.

 

Tom

I've got Volumes 2 and 3 of the Schiavone books but missed the first one. I'm on the lookout and figure I'll come across it sooner or later. "New York Central System: Gone But Not Forgotten" published by NJ International in 1983 has some nice color shots of a Putnam Division freight with an EMD switcher which they chased north from BN Yard. It's a good book anyway but the shots along the Put are worth the price alone. It's a fairly easy book to find at a good price.

 

Bob  

Bob, 

  I mentioned this on The Old New York thread:

I know I mentioned this elsewhere, probably not on this thread, but the first Schiavone book, The Old Put, came with a DVD entitled, Walk the Put. On the DVD, Joe did a great job explaining/visiting the station stops and giving some history of them from Van Cortland north to Put Junction. Brian Vangor did the great video work involved. Our friend Skip Natoli appears, too. If you don't already have it, I think you would enjoy it-- if you can find it. I appear in a few of the Yonkers station areas talking about their history...in spite of my appearing, you might still enjoy it!

 

  As far as where to possibly buy it, The Yorktown Museum used to carry it and the store Bruised Apple Books in Peekskill used to carry it. If all else fails, shoot me an email and I'll try to find Joe's phone number (I definately have it, just would need to find it).

  Tom

Hi Bob,

  Joe mentioned a few posts earlier (above) about the museum. I think he was referring to the Bryn Mawr Station. The building that sits there today (brick, I believe) was built in the late 1990's or early 2000's on the footprint area of the stone station shown above. The stone station differed from most of the smaller wooden stations (like Yorktown Heights, Millwood, etc.). Instead, it was made from heavy stone blocks (like Garrison and Croton North). The  new building lasted as a deli for a short time. I mention in the Walk the Put DVD that from what I remember from talking to the deli workers- they hoped the rail-trail would materialize to help their business. However, Westchester County claimed the completion of the lower part (Yonkers) of the South County Trail (the Put rail-trail) had multiple businesses who had encroached onto the trail which needed to be resolved first and seemed to drag on.

 

Tom

Great Thread Tom!  I think I mentioned before that back in the late 1960's my friends and I would walk from Caryl Ave out McLean Ave to the Put tracks and wait for the freight coming up from the Bronx and headed up to the A&P warehouse in Elmsford. It was restricted to 5 MPH through Tibbetts Park and on a couple of occasions we climbed on the back platform of the caboose and rode up to the bath house. Most times we walked the path alongside the train.

 

BTW, My bedroom window overlooked the spot where the Caryl Ave station once stood, and we used to play on the old ROW of the Getty Square Branch.

 

Peter, I went to Manhattan Prep and there were times during classes when we could smell the aroma of the Stella Doro Bakery up in DeLaSalle Hall!!!

 

 

I mentioned Fred Arone above who ran the Depot Attic in Dobbs Ferry. In the Dan Gallo Put book (highly recommended too if you can find it), there is a picture of Fred's father who was the station agent at Ardsley on the Put. Fred became an investigator for the New York Central Police until he retired, I believe right before the New York Central/Pennsylvania Railroad merger into the ill-fated Penn Central. Fred was always full of good stories and big on the rights of gun owners...all you had to do was get him started about some bad gun law and off he would go. Very often in the mid to late 1990's my typical weekend would involve going to Fred's store on Ashford Ave (in the basement of the house his family owned) every Saturday that I could to look through all of his stuff. He had Trains magazine all the way back to issue #1 (I think from 1940 if I remember correctly) so I have a full collection of them thanks to Fred. He also had a large stock of pictures, rule books, timetables, annual reports, an occasional stove and railroad. lanterns. Speaking of lanterns...you would walk down his deeply sloped driveway to enter the basement door and 90% of the time Fred would be hunched over, scrubbing one of his lanterns in his sink with a cigarette sticking out of one side of his mouth.

Anyway, one of his Put stories was that on the eve of service ending on the Put (not sure if he specified passenger service or the later end of freight service) he and his father went down to the station to rescue the station sign for their family and lo and behold...someone had beaten them to it! He never found out who it was as far as I know.

 

Tom

Last edited by PRR8976

Tom:

 

Thanks for sharing your recollections of Fred Arone and the Depot Attic. I started buying from him when I was still in high school and got a lot of stuff from him over the years. I think the last purchase I made from him was the first volume of Tom Flagg's New York Harbor Railroads at the West Springfield show not long before he passed on. He had also opened a store in Strasburg, PA.

 

Bob 

Fred certainly had some unique stuff. I'll always be glad that I bought New York Central track diagrams for the Electric Zone, circa 1945. I bought a dwarf signal that he said came out of Selkirk Yard for about $90. I regret that I passed on similar track diagrams from the West Shore. He had some unusual customers. One colorful guy was an ex-MTA Transit police officer who wore a cowboy hat. He used to go into the subway yards with his badge and would then remove subway straps/handles from cars that were being scrapped. He would then turn around and sell them for $100-200. His Yonkers house looked like another Depot Attic!

 

Tom

Peter,

  That is a nice picture that I don't remember seeing before, shot from the west side of the bridge looking east. You have just the tip of the roof of Dunwoodie Station showing to the extreme right of the picture. 

  On the left side of the picture, there is a car stopped in the vicinity where people used to get spring water that bubbled up from the ground...so before there was Evian and Poland Spring, did you know about the "Spring Water of Yonkers!?" There was that spot there and another one on the Saw Mill right after the entry ramp from Yonkers Ave maybe a half mile further west from where we are here (behind the photographer). The quality of the water was questioned by Westchester County (or Yonkers, or both) or maybe it was an issue of safety on the roads, either way, those sites were sealed up maybe in the 1980's or 1990's with signs not to stop there anymore. People really believed in the water, you would see them pull over and pull all these jugs out of their trunks. To this day, the water still bubbles up where this guy is pulled over on Yonkers Ave. and the water is noticeable on the sidewalk and street.

  The other landmark around here was the Tropical Frost stand that was maybe a quarter mile or tenth of a mile or less from where the car is pulled over (further west and behind the photographer). My wife grew up on Nodine Hill (further west down Yonkers Ave) and loved to go there with her family for hot dogs and ice cream. I don't think I went there, but they sponsored little league baseball teams that I would play against at nearby Cook Field (now Redmond Field). It was a little road stand/restaurant and you could still see the little nook it occupied on Yonkers Ave (same side as where the car is stopped on the left) and wonder how did they ever fit in a place like that and have parking too, but they did. I believe it disappeared around the late 1970's or in the 1980's.

 

Tom

 

Last edited by PRR8976

One of my friends, an engineer for Penn Central and Conrail back then ran one of the last trains on the Put. My friend's train store Tom's Trains is located in the building where Ardsley Hardware is located on 9A, the Put ran right behind the building. By the way the Ashford Av. bridge over the former Put, The Saw Mill Parkway, and I-87 needs to be replaced very soon. It is rated as the worst bridge as to it's condition in Westchester County. It has been given a rating of 2.87 on a scale of 1 to 10. There is netting under the bridge to catch any falling concrete and a state DOT truck and driver are stationed there to remove any falling concrete.

In an earlier post, I made reference to Yonkers at one time having had an interest in purchasing the Putnam Industrial Track from Conrail and getting a shortline operator to run it. For a variety of reasons, nothing came of the plan. I was doing some further research and, surprisingly, I found an article on the New York Times' website which was originally published on June 19, 1983. Although the proposal failed, the article makes for interesting reading from an historical perspective.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/06...utnam-rail-line.html

 

Bob    

Bob,

  Good History Detective skills there. I think I remember similar stories in the Gannett papers then.

  Just to give everyone a little persepective...in the early 1980's Yonkers was busy with federal court-related issues due to housing desegregation, so unfortunately, saving the Put may have been low on the "To Do List."

   Tom

Hi, Tom.

 

I love the researching aspect of the hobby and I manage to come up with gems like this every so often.

 

In his post above mine, I noticed Peter had asked about the line on the bridge in the picture. Peter, I apologize I missed your question earlier but that bridge was built by the New York City & Northern after it had purchased the charter of the West Side & Yonkers which had planned a route from the 155th Street terminal of the Ninth Avenue elevated line to Getty Square in Yonkers. Having become part of the growing New York Central empire in the interim, that line across the river was acquired by the IRT during the teens and Sedgwick Avenue became the new ending point for Putnam Division passenger service. That bridge and line, therefore, were originally operated in the service of trains off the "Put."

 

Bob          

Bob,

   Here is another "blast from the past" Put article. Briarcliff Manor always interested me because of the ties to W&J Sloane behind it. After WWII, my father worked for the New Haven Railroad as a fireman, but unfortunately for me (!), the railroading life wasn't for him. Instead, he began a career working for W&J Sloane, a well known furniture/home furnishings company. He was a manager in Manhattan and also ran the White Plains, NY store until the company went out of business.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/1981/09...the-putnam-line.html

 

   Tom



PS- found this in The New York Times too from 1917, see the notation on the Put (typos from the article, not mine):

 

NEW YOitK Central & Hudson River R. R. 
(continued):— 
Food Situation—Pres. Smith announces 
that agents will arrange to supply 
labor and seed to farmers and to man- 
age loans from Patriotic Farmers' 
Fund. Apr. 22, I., 17:6. 
Harlem Division—Public Service Com- 
mission, in reply to petition by Tax- 
payers' Alliance of Bronx, says It has 
no power to increase local service or 
reduce rate of fare within N. Y. C. 
limits. Apr. 8, I., 16:4. 
Putnam Division will use joint terminal 
at Sedgwick Av. with Interborough 
Rapid Transit Co., Apr. 7, 16:1. 
Sheep—Has found where best breeds may 
be had and will bring them to N. Y. 
S.; Committee on Food Supply, N. Y. 
C., announces, May 8, 3:4. 

Last edited by PRR8976

Peter,

Regarding you photo let me explain it. To the left is th Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants. To the right of the Polo Grounds is the 155th St. station of the 6th and 9th Ave. elevated. Along the Polo Grounds is the lead tracks to the huge 159th St. 2 level yard. The tracks vering off to the right to the Putmam Bridge crossed the Harlem River and went into Sedgwick Av. Sta. Then through a tunnel under 162nd St. Then on to the Jerome Line (4 line today) then uptown to Woodlawn with joint operation wi the el and subway division of the IRT. Putnam bridge was an important structure and its image was featured on NY&N RR timetables and tickets and was the focal point of the railroad. When it crossed the bridge from the Bronx to Manhattan it terminated at the 155th St St. There you could catch elevated trains to take you down to South Ferry. Both railroads were steam operated until the Manhattan converted to electrification in 1902. The 155th St. Sta and north became the Polo Ground Shuttle in 1940 when the 9th Ave el service was discontinued. The 6th Ave. el quit in 1938 when rockerfeller Center opened.

 

Nate wrote earlier this month:

 

Peter,

Regarding you photo let me explain it. To the left is th Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants. To the right of the Polo Grounds is the 155th St. station of the 6th and 9th Ave. elevated. Along the Polo Grounds is the lead tracks to the huge 159th St. 2 level yard. The tracks vering off to the right to the Putmam Bridge crossed the Harlem River and went into Sedgwick Av. Sta. Then through a tunnel under 162nd St. Then on to the Jerome Line (4 line today) then uptown to Woodlawn with joint operation wi the el and subway division of the IRT. Putnam bridge was an important structure and its image was featured on NY&N RR timetables and tickets and was the focal point of the railroad. When it crossed the bridge from the Bronx to Manhattan it terminated at the 155th St St. There you could catch elevated trains to take you down to South Ferry. Both railroads were steam operated until the Manhattan converted to electrification in 1902. The 155th St. Sta and north became the Polo Ground Shuttle in 1940 when the 9th Ave el service was discontinued. The 6th Ave. el quit in 1938 when rockerfeller Center opened.

 

Nate.....your information is fantastic.....can you tell me when the Put bridge was removed?

 

Peter

CNJ 3676,

   Great old picture of the PUT station, simply fantastic!  Bob our memories are similar and the girls would want us to drive on with our lives, and they would also like us to remember with a smile, of that I am most sure.  When the Whistle blows there is a reason I always turn in that direction, the memories are that strong.

PCRR/Dave

Last edited by Pine Creek Railroad
Originally Posted by Pine Creek Railroad:

CNJ 3676,

   Great old picture of the PUT station, simply fantastic!  Bob our memories are similar and the girls would want us to drive on with our lives, and they would also like us to remember with a smile, of that I am most sure.  When the Whistle blows there is a reason I always turn in that direction, the memories are that strong.

PCRR/Dave

Hi, Dave.

 

Thanks for your great post and wonderful sentiments. She was very proud of my passion for railroading and I can still sense her close to me whenever I'm doing something train related. It's a great feeling and I wish the same for you.

 

By the way, I've always liked your screen name. In New Jersey, there is a narrow gauge railroad in Allaire State Park called the Pine Creek Railroad. It's operated as a demonstration railway by the New Jersey Museum of Transportation.

 

Bob 

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