Draper's Switch

by Dan Myers

Photos from Dan Myers and Jeff Otto

Jeff Otto and I walked the right of way from Rock Rift to Apex in the spring of 2004.  One of the highlights of the hike was the discovery of Draper's Switch about a quarter mile south of Rock Rift.  Local quarrymen used to skid stone down the mountain side to Draper's Switch which is located on the east side of the main line.  We could easily see the quarrymen's approach road to the siding and we were amazed to find that the rails are still in place.  The attached photo shows member Jeff Otto standing on the Draper's Switch rails. It is not known when Draper's Switch was last used.  I can find no reference to Draper's Switch on my valuation maps or siding book but it is there and local residents remembered the name of the siding.  The rails are probably very safe there as the line is heavily washed out in Rock Rift and you practically need Mayor Bloomberg's personal permission to visit the site!

This shows the siding along the hillside on the left, and the mainline on the fill on the right. Taken by Elizabeth Summers. 

    The site of Draper’s Switch is easy to see but hard to get to!  If you follow the NYO&W Ry. North from Cadosia you pass Apex at MP 167.21.  The highway descends toward the West Branch of the Delaware River and NYC’s Cannonsville Reservoir just north of the village of Apex.  This highway meets NY Route 10 just after crossing the river on the bridge known locally as the “Apex Bridge”.  If you look east up the Delaware from the bridge you can see the O&W right-of-way as it exits the rock cut and travels southeast along the reservoir and toward a steep mountainside.   Close examination of the top of the mountain shows the remnants of several stone quarries.  Draper’s Switch was directly below this spot and in the crook of two mountains.  The site is several miles above Apex and about two miles below the site of the Rock Rift station.  All of this property belongs to NYC and is strictly off limits.

Photo 1 is taken from the rock quarries looking down at the reservoir and the “Apex Bridge”.  The O&W paralleled the river and “Draper’s Switch” is several hundred feet below the site of the photograph.

    O&W rails leave Apex heading almost due north for about a mile before they encounter a large curving rock cut where the line changes direction 90 degrees from Northeast to Southeast.  (See photo) As the tracks exit the cut it is possible to see the remnants of the first southbound semaphore (Signal 168.6).  Rumors abounded about signal 168.6 and many said that the signal had somehow been left standing—it is not.  Today you can still find the signal base, phone box, battery box, a broken Gould Coupler knuckle battery oil bottles, and other artifacts at the site.  The line continues almost straight for another mile toward Draper’s Switch.


    Milepost 169 would have been encountered just before the rails took a 6 percent left turn at the site of Draper’s Switch.  The site of Draper’s Switch can be found on Valuation map 117 (117 miles from Cornwall). The author’s map dated June 1916 shows no trace of Draper’s Switch itself.  The curve, on a substantial fill, allows the right of way to transition from the shoulder of one mountain to the shoulder of another mountain.  A 2 ½’ X 3 ½’ box culvert passes under the fill at the site, it drains the valley created by the joining of the two mountains The O&W mainline is now headed due east.  Draper’s switch loops in toward the crook of the mountain and does not share the fill that the main line occupies.


    Continuing on you pass the former site of milepost 171 (photo) and approach the lower crossing at Rock Rift.  Flooding has totally washed out the roadbed just below the crossing where the fill had been perhaps 30’ high.  The last quarter mile of the line to the center of Rock Rift has been badly fouled with trees from a huge atmospheric “down burst”  but we did find the remnants of the whistle post for Rock Rift still standing.