The Original O&W Virtual Bus Tour

by Pete Putman

     Welcome to the Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society's Virtual Motor Bus Tour, an on‑line version of our popular guides to the NYO&W's right‑of‑way from Cornwall to Norwich. The inspiration for this tour came from a trip taken by member Pete Putman and his son Ross in July of 1997, when they drove from Cornwall to Fallsburgh.

      Pete photographed as many of the grade crossings and old station sites that he could find and had his 35mm Kodachromes digitized to Photo CD. For those who remember the Old Woman as she was, some of these photos may bring back pleasant memories, while others will show the advancements of nature as it reclaims much of the right of way.

     For members and friends who haven't been able to visit the O&W, we've harnessed the power of the Internet to let you explore the line and see some of the surviving structures, bridges, tunnels. and the only piece of O&W trackage still in operation. As a bonus, we wandered off the beaten track to photograph remnants of other lines, and have included some shots of Middletown from the late 1970s.

 To make these photos more useful to you, we recommend having a copy on hand of any of these books:

* O&W: The Final Years (Crist/Krause) 

* O&W: The Story of the New York, Ontario & Western RR (Helmer) 

* The NYO&W In Color (Lubliner) 

* NYO&W In The Diesel Era (Mohowski) 

* Milk Cars & Mixed Trains (Mohowski) 

* Minisink Valley Express (Best) 

Or, any of the Society's publications. The before‑and‑after comparisons become more dramatic and meaningful.

(1) A view of the old erecting shop as it appeared in Jul,  1997. (Kodachrome by Pete Putman) 

(2) A view of the front of the erecting shop as it appeared in July, 1997. (Kodachrome by Pete Putman) 

(3) The old car body shop as it appeared in July, 1997. (Kodachrome by Pete Putman) 

(4) Sands Road crossing, near  Highlights . This location is just north of the old yards, heading towards Crawford Junction and Fair Oaks. The Middletown and New Jersey uses this track - the only surviving piece of O&W trackage and right-of-way - to get to its connection with Conrail on the Erie Graham Line. (Kodachrome by Pete Putman) 

(5) An overhead view of the Erie Graham line, taken from just north of Middletown. The M&NJ connection can be seen on the right. The O&W crossed the Graham line on a girder bridge in the distance. (Kodachrome by Pete Putman) 

(6) Ross Putman inspects the foundation of the old O&W girder bridge over the Erie Graham line, currently used by NJ Transit/Metro North commuter trains to Port Jervis. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(7) The old main line crosses county route 302 near here, just west of Crawford Junction. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(8) The right-of-way is in surprisingly good shape here, looking eastbound from the site of Winterton station. Only two stations survive between Cornwall and High View. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(9) Looking westbound at the Winterton grade crossing towards the steep climb up the Shawangunk Mountains. The house on the left has quite a collection of railroadiana in the front yard! (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(10) Get your canoe out! This is the eastbound portal of Shawangunk (High View) Tunnel, long plagued by water and falling rock. We found about 6" to 2' of water at the entrance. Walking through this tunnel is not recommended as it is not lined and filled with debris. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(11) High View station in July, 1997. It's in remarkably good shape and an excellent example of the A Sullivan County stucco design used by the O&W. This property is privately owned, and once served as a chicken coop. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(12) Mamakating station is a VFW post (As of this posting in March 2003, it is no longer a VFW post), located off the old Newburgh-Cohecton Turnpike (17M). Many off-road bikers use this as a start for their excursions on the old right-of-way down to Summitville. (Photo by Pete Putman)

(13) A side view (actually the front) of Mamakating station on the old main line. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(14) Wurtsboro station on the old Kingston branch as it appeared in July, 1997. This station is a private residence and maintained in excellent condition. An old coal storage tower still stands behind the station. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(15) That's all, folks! This photo (looking westbound)  shows all that's left of the old Summitville station yards. The depot was to the right. Sharp eyes will spot the old railroad ties in the foreground, comprising what's left of the old main line. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(16) This concrete overpass was built in 1904 and is at the beginning of the famous Red Hill grade, running from Summitville to Mountaindale. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(17) This view was taken from the top of the 1904 overpass, looking westbound towards Mountaindale. The ROW is used by bikers and hikers at this location. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(18) The old Mountaindale station location was just to the right of this photo. A new Post Office was built on the old grade in the early 1960s at the grade crossing. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(19) This stretch of county road is actually the old ROW into Woodridge. It's one of many sections of the old grade that have been converted into streets and highways. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(20) A close-up view of one of the Neversink River trestle bridge supports, taken from the east side of the river looking upstream. This location is about 2 miles west of Woodridge. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(21) At this spot in Firthcliffe, the O&W was climbing a steep grade out of Cornwall and turning west to cross Moodna Creek on the Orrs Mill trestle bridge. The ROW is walkable from here back into Cornwall. This section of the line survived into the 1960s as the New York Central used it to service the nearby rug factory. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(22) The old ROW here is being used as a power line right-of-way, just west of Vails Gate near Route 207. The old highway overpass was filled in and graded in the 1970s. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(23) The old main line crosses several front yards at this location, just east of Little Britain station off Route 207. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(24) Burnside Station - once a busy junction point with the Lehigh and Hudson River RR - is nothing more than a power line right-of-way. This view looks eastbound at the grade crossing. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(25) Once a 70-track freight yard, Maybrook is now a Yellow Truck facility. This track was once the New Haven RR's mainline to the Poughkeepsie Bridge, but now serves as an industrial access track. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(26) This view is of the old Erie mainline into Maybrook, looking south towards Campbell Hall and the O&W connection. It was taken from the Route 207 bridge. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(27) We're standing on the Erie Graham line overpass, under which is the old right-of-way of the Lehigh and Hudson River RR. The ballast is in remarkably good condition, considering tracks haven't occupied this ROW for over ten years. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(28) Believe it or not, this is all that's left of Campbell Hall junction. This view - looking north along the Erie=s Montgomery Branch - is from the spot where the O&W tracks crossed at grade. The station was amidst the trees in the background. Eastbound is to the right. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(29) Just beyond this point the Erie's Graham Line crossed the O&W on an O&W Bridge, a term still in use today. We are approaching Middletown, looking westbound. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(30) This single-track steel girder bridge is one of the few surviving bridges along the line and can be found east of Crystal Run, not far from where I-84 and NY 17 meet. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(31) The grade crossing at Mechanicstown, just east of Middletown. The building at the right is the old station, now in use as a restaurant and nightclub (after extensive remodeling!). (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(32) Middletown station, taken from Wickham Street looking north (westbound). The M&NJ uses this track to get to the Erie main line. This is the only surviving section of O&W rails left.

(33) Middletown station, from the same location in August of 1977. It was a nightclub back then. Notice how much the area has become overgrown in twenty years. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(34) The Adams Freight building, behind O&W station, circa  June 1997. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(35) Adams Freight building, taken in August 1977. Again, notice how overgrown everything has become. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(36) A side view of Middletown Station, looking south (eastbound) in July, 1997. (Photo by Pete Putman)

(37) The yardmaster's office in July 1997, located at the south end of the huge Middletown yards. (Photo by Pete Putman)

(38) The yardmaster's office in August of 1977, when it was being used as a Baptist Church. The yards actually look cleaner twenty years later! (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(39) This July 1997 view looks south across Wickham Avenue (eastbound) along the old ROW, currently used by the Middletown and New Jersey.  (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(40) The east entrance to Fallsburgh Tunnel, taken in July, 1997. This tunnel is easily accessible from South Fallsburgh. It was partially lined at both ends and is safe to walk through with waterproof boots and a flashlight (hardhat recommended). Some of the tunnel liner, made of brickwork, has collapsed near the east portal. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(41) South Fallsburgh station, taken in July, 1997. It is now being used as a municipal office and police station. The view looks north (westbound). (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(42) A view towards the south (eastbound) on what used to be the old right-of-way, but is now a parking lot. The post office shown lies squarely where the tracks ran. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(43) The Middletown and New Jersey in August 1977, with their GE 44-ton locomotive and Warrenton RR caboose. This view shows the locomotive adjacent to the M&NJ station/office, with the old O&W ROW on the far side and the Erie Main Line (now abandoned) to the right. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(44 and 45) A Conrail freight train rumbles westbound through the heart of Middletown in August, 1977. The M&NJ interchange track lies in the foreground. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

Photo 45

(46) Looking north (westbound) along the old Erie main line, towards the Erie's Middletown station. This section of track was removed in the 1980s and is now a parking lot. The O&W RHS archives (Star Hacksaw Building) are ahead, just to the left of this photograph. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(47) Here's another view of Campbell hall, looking south along the old Erie Montgomery branch towards MQ tower. The O&W tracks crossed just ahead with the station on the left. A house now sits on the old right-of-way just west of this location. The tracks (once shared by the Lehigh and New England) are still used today by Conrail. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(48) The rear of Middletown station in July, 1997. Several of its rooms are used as apartments and offices. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

(49) A side view of Middletown station, taken in August 1977.  Contrast this with photo #36.(Photo by Pete Putman)

(50) Monticello station on the old Port Jervis and Monticello RR is occupied by a fuel oil dealer, and is in excellent condition. It;s one of only two stations that survive on this line; the other being St. Joseph's station near Route 42. (Photo by Pete Putman) 

Pete Putman's Virtual Bus Tour Part II