Coming Into Maybrook?

by Ed Weinstein


    Before we had a discussion forum  we had a Q&A forum for the website. I was recently reminded of this while trying to gather some information on the Maybrook Yard for one of our new members. While I have tried to keep every article on the site since the beginning, one or two have slipped through the cracks and this was one of them.  I am glad I was able to retrieve this from my archives as it was a noteworthy piece by Ed Weinstein.

    The O&W Discussion Group became the successor to the Q&A forum and if you have not become a member yet you are missing out on a great resource. If you are new to the group and are patient enough to scan through the myriad of postings one can come away with some great material. Every once in awhile you get a posting that stands out and deserves  extra recognition such as the following.

This Q&A piece originally appeared in Trains magazine in October of 1980 and Ed Weinstein wrote the response.  Our thanks to Ed Weinstein and Jerome Rosenfeld for this information. The map is from "The Final Years" by John Krause & Ed Crist. If you would like to e-mail Ed you can do so at: .


"Was there more than one line that came into Maybrook, NY on its own rails?"


    The only line that actually ran into the Maybrook yard on its own rails was the Lehigh & Hudson River RR. It had a junction with the New Haven at the west end of the maybrook yard at "BK" cabin. The NH trackage ended at the New York, Ontario & Western RR main line at Campbell Hall, which is where all of the rest of the connections theoretically took place. In NH timetable #175, Maybrook is 74.08 miles from Danbury, and Campbell Hall is 76.93 miles from Danbury.

    The Erie RR originally reached Campbell Hall on the Montgomery branch from Goshen, on the original Erie main line. When the Graham line was constructed, a junction was constructed at the crossing of the Graham line with the Montgomery branch ("MQ" Tower). The Erie Montgomery branch crossed the NYO&W main line immediately west of the NH junction and the NYO&W Campbell Hall station. The Erie's junction with the NH was less than a mile north of its NYO&W crossing. The Montgomery branch continued north to Montgomery, NY, where it connected with the Walkill Valley branch of the New York Central, from Kingston. The NYC had trackage rights on the Erie as far south as Campbell Hall, thus a connection with the NH.

    The Montgomery branch reached the Erie main line at Goshen. South of Goshen, the Erie had another branch to Pine Island, NY. Pine Island was the Erie's junction with the Lehigh & New England. The L&NE reached Campbell Hall through trackage rights over the southern portion of the Montgomery branch (16 miles). After the Erie Graham line was built, all Erie freight service to and from Maybrook was routed on this line from Port Jervis to "MQ" leaving the action on the Montgomery branch south of "MQ" to the L&NE.

    The NYO&W ran two scheduled freights in each direction in and out of Maybrook. These trains ran down the Scranton division of the NYO&W to Mayfield yard (near Carbondale, PA). One round trip continued on to the Croxton yard of the Lehigh Valley RR, and during the existence of the NYO&W, this gave the LV scheduled access to Maybrook. The NYO&W also participated in an alternate Delaware, Lackawana & Western RR through freight route to and from the Scranton gateway.

    The L&HR ran four round trips in and out of Maybrook. Two of these connected with the DL&W at Port Morris, NJ, via trackage rights of the DL&W from Andover Jet. to Port Morris. This gave the DL&W a connection to the NH, (In the l947 NH freight schedule, the Maybrook to Chicago time on the DL&W to Buffalo and the NKP to Chicago was faster than the Erie.

    From Boston, either the DL&W/NKP route or the Erie route to Chicago were faster than the routing over the Pennsylvania RR via Bay Ridge/Creenville float service.) The L&HR also ran two round trips to Allentown, PA, using trackage rights on the Belvidere-Delaware branch of the PRR and the Central of New Jersey RR. This was referred to as the "Alphabet Route" to and from the west.

    The L&HR interchanged with the PRR at Hudson yard, Phillipsburg, NJ. During most of the existence of the Maybrook line, this interchange was not used as part of any scheduled through freight route. However, after the PC merger, as part of the elimination of the New York float service, a symbol freight service from Maybrook via the L&HR and the Belvidere-Delaware branch from Hudson yard to the former PRR main line at Trenton was established- . Also, the abandonment of the NYO&W, and the later assumption of CNJ operations in Pennsylvania by the LV brought through service to and from the LV into Maybrook via the L&HR, (The NH freight timetable of 15 April 1968 shows both of these route changes).

    The Erie ran two round trips in and out of Maybrook in the late 1940's and 1950's, In 1942, the Erie was running four eastbounds and three westbounds to and from Maybrook. Of these, one eastbound and two westbounds were through freights from points west of Port Jervis, the others being connected with symbol freights at Port Jervis. The Erie routes were changed with the Erie-Lackawana merger, eliminating most of the EL service over the L&HR.

    The L&NE participated in no through freight routings. Its service into Maybrook was confined to one daily round trip from Pen Argyle, PA, handling coal and cement eastbound and empties westbound. The NYC (Walkill Valley) interchange with the NH was not a through route.

    With the exception of the NYC, all of the Maybrook connections, not just the L&NE, carried large amounts of coal. Even after the decline of anthracite shipments in the 1920's, a large amount of bituminous was shipped through Maybrook. Today the L&NE and the NYO&W routes no longer exist, having been abandoned and ripped up. A similar fate has befallen the Erie Montgomery branch between Goshen and Campbell Hall. The only service into Maybrook now is by Conrail over the ex-L&HR. Local service goes through Maybrook as far east as Highland, NY, close to the west side of the fire ravaged Poughkeepsie Bridge.

The following was an update from Ed in January of 1998:

    The history of the Campbell Hall - Maybrook connection is extremely complicated. I mentioned "BK" cabin in my New Haven article. This was a L&HR facility, and it's where the only line to enter Maybrook Yard proper on its own rails terminated. This marks another New Haven failure. The NH had a theory that it was going to control the L&HR, which when built was controlled by the Lehigh Coal & navigation Company. . A consortium: the Pennsylvania, the Reading, the Lehigh Valley, the Erie and the O&W jointly acquired the L&HR instead, to thwart the New Haven's attempt to get into the anthracite fields. This happened in 1905, and, as a result, the NH went out and, as usual, bit itself in the butt by acquiring control of the O&W.

    One has to be a real fanatic about railroad history to follow all of the schemes and plots to get from New England to Eastern Pennsylvania from the 1870s through about 1910, involving such ephemeral lines as the South Mountain & Boston and the Pennsylvania, Poughkeepsie & Boston, although I believe the latter actually did run trains for a while. Anyhow, the reason why it took from 1875 until 1888 to get trains running over the Poughkeepsie Bridge had nothing to do with construction problems; it was because of problems with the financing. Ultimately, the construction was finished, and operation began by an entity called the Central of New England Western, a subsidiary of guess what. This road established the connection at Campbell Hall.

    In 1907, the Central of New England, probably under instructions from the New Haven, which was about to absorb it started construction of Maybrook Yard. About 1910, there was an interesting episode. Samuel Rea, of the Pennsylvania, investigated the Maybrook line to see if it could be an alternative to the Greenville - Bay Ridge - Hell Gate Bridge route then under construction from PRR New England traffic. This would, of course, have been a routing from Trenton to the L&HR to Maybrook via the Belvedere & Delaware. Rea's appraisal was "No" because of the limited capacity of the line, in particular because of the low capacity of the Bridge. The New Haven, of course, rebuilt the whole line, gauntletting the Bridge so that 2-10-2s and 4 - 8-2s could haul trains on it (admittedly, at 12 mph), block signaled the line and generally made it a highly competitive route to the Hell Gate Bridge one.

    Now, we will get back to the O&W.... well almost. The Erie and the DL&W around 1910 decided that because of the great length of their carfloat haul up the East River to the Harlem River, later Oak Point, to reroute all of their freight via Maybrook. The Lehigh Valley didn"t go along with this until 1937 (this is my information, and I would welcome either confirmation or correction) when they the O&W run-through from Coxton via mine branches and Mayfield. In 1947, the LV connection was SNE-2 from Suspension Bridge, meaning cars on the Pere Marquette and the Wabash via Canada, and NE-2, cars from Buffalo connections. (The two sections probably combined at Manchester.) The O&W connection was NE4, which connected with NH OB-4, arriving in Boston at 3:30 AM Thursday. (This example schedule is based on cars originating in Chicago on Monday.) But, not all of LV SNE/NE-2 tonnage went to the O&W at Coxton. The train went on to Jersey City, where they were floated to Oak Point, and arrived in Boston one hour later than if they had gone via the O&W and Maybrook.

    The DL&W, in 1947, also connected with O&W NE4 and NHRR 0B-6. As a reality check, however, the DL&W had another train which left Buffalo about an hour earlier than the NE4 connection, running via Port Morris NJ and the L&HR, and arrived in Boston at 11:55 PM Wednesday. There was another DL&W connecting eastbound service, which was probably made up of local cars from Binghamton and Elmira, as well as Buffalo, which connected with O&W NE- 6. The CNJ is also shown as a Scranton connection for the O&W, but this was for SU-1 and US- 2, to and from Allentown.

    After rereading my 1980 article I noticed a couple of points which require a certain amount of amplification, or perhaps, correction. For one thing, and this is basic, my comments about freight schedules really were pertinent to the 1946-57 period. For one example, the L&NE would run at least one train daily, but during the times when cement traffic was heavy they would run additional trains as required. However, to repeat, they did not participate in any through routes via Maybrook or for that matter, to the best of my knowledge, anyplace else. Another example during the period mentioned above is that the O&W ran two Mayfield - Maybrook round trips. But in the locomotive assignment sheets published by our Society, the one for February 1945, all steam, show three symbol freight round trips Mayfield-Maybrook, and provision for a "Southbound" extra, all Y-2 hauled. (I wish that the O&W had used "eastbound" and "westbound", as did every other railroad entering the New York metropolitan area.)

    I have two steam period employees' timetables from 1929 and 1939 and one diesel timetable from 1951. Interesting to note is that both diesel and steam show the maximum speed limits for freights were 40 mph. The difference is that the 40 mph limit on steam powered freights applied only to the Maybrook - Mayfield symbol freights, and then only when hauled by 4-8-2s. The normal freight speed limit was 30 mph, and if the symbol freights were handled by P or W engines, 35 mph. Of course , when the diesels came into service, the number of trains run was much fewer, so the distinction between "normal" and "symbol" freights was not meaningful.

    In the 1939 timetable there is a provision for special tonnage ratings for the Mayfield-Maybrook symbol freights (at that time, OB-2 and LB-4- these are interesting symbols. OB-2 being NHRR for Maybrook-Boston and, one surmises, LB for lehigh Valley -Boston). These ratings were 2500 tons for a Y-2, with X or Y-2 pushers to Poyntelle, a Y or heavier from Livingston manor, and a V or heavier at Summitville. Note that the tonnage figures above are unadjusted; there would have to be the added car factor which compensated for the car friction and also for the cold weather. Thus for a Y, assuming 40 ton loaded cars with the temperature above 40 degrees, the maximum car factor was 17 pounds per car, so the train would be made up of about 59 cars plus the caboose (Trust me on this). This is as far as I am going to go with this, except to point out that on the O&W another factor which had to be considered was the air brake capacity of the locomotives for the numerous downgrades. Ed Weinstein

Another great Q&A piece that has evolved into an article is "The Life & Death Of The NYO&W" by Bob Karig.