New York and Putnam Railroad

New York and Putnam Railroad
New York and Putnam Railroad
Locale north from New York, NY
Dates of operation 1881–1980
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Putnam Division map2.png
Head stop
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Harlem Line
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Tilly Foster
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Mahopac Mines
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Mahopac Falls
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Lake Mahopac
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Mahopac Mines Branch diverges
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Baldwin Place
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Granite Springs
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Yorktown Heights
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Croton Heights
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Croton Lake
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Briarcliff Manor
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East View
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Beaver Hill
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Mount Hope
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Nepera Park
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Gray Oaks
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Bryn Mawr Park
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Getty Square
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Park Hill
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Getty Square Branch diverges
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Van Cortlandt
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Kings Bridge
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Hudson Line
Stop on track
University Heights
Stop on track
Morris Heights
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Sedgwick Avenue
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Diverging from Hudson line
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155th St

The New York and Putnam Railroad (nicknamed Old Put) was the final name for a railroad line heading north from New York City, between the Hudson River Railroad and the New York and Harlem Railroad. It became part of the New York Central system in 1894, was abandoned beginning in 1958, and has since been converted into a series of rail trails.



Early history: a route to Montreal

The planned New York, Boston and Montreal Railway route between the New York and Putnam Railroad and the Harlem Extension Railroad

The New York and Boston Railroad was chartered May 21, 1869 to build a line from High Bridge on the Harlem River in New York north and northeast to Brewster. At Brewster connections were to be provided to the New York and Harlem Railroad for travel north to Albany, and to the Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad (completed 1881) east and northeast to Boston.

The New York, Boston and Northern Railway was formed on November 18, 1872 as a consolidation of the New York and Boston with two companies to the north — the Putnam and Dutchess Railroad and Dutchess and Columbia Railroad. The former was a plan for a line to split from the New York and Boston at Carmel and run north to a point about midway along the latter. The latter had opened in 1871, running from the Hudson River northeast, north and east to the Connecticut state line. The Clove Branch Railroad, chartered 1868 and opened 1869, was to serve as a short connection between the two parts of the planned line.

The New York, Boston and Montreal Railway was organized January 21, 1873 as a renaming of the New York, Boston and Northern. It was to continue north to Chatham and then use the Harlem Extension Railroad into Vermont. However, the Panic of 1873 hit and the leases and mergers were cancelled on December 1, 1873. Construction on the Putnam and Dutchess stopped, and the finished grading was never used; the Dutchess and Columbia Railroad later became part of the Central New England Railway, the Harlem Extension Railroad became a part of the Rutland Railroad, and the Clove Branch Railroad was abandoned in 1898.

Reorganization and completion

The New York, Westchester and Putnam Railway was formed on July 3, 1877 as a reorganization, and was leased to the New York City and Northern Railroad, formed February 18, 1878, on March 1, 1878. The line finally opened under the original plan, ending at Brewster, in April 1881. That same year, the New York and New England Railroad opened to the north, using some of the grade originally built for the Putnam and Dutchess Railroad.

The West Side and Yonkers Railway was chartered July 21, 1879 and leased to the NYC&N on May 1, 1880, extending the line south across the Harlem River to the northern terminal of the Ninth Avenue Elevated at 155th Street. It was merged into the NYC&N on July 16, 1887. Later, in the 1910s, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company would buy that section to extend the Elevated north into the Bronx, cutting the Putnam back to Sedgwick Avenue.

The Yonkers Rapid Transit Railway was organized in 1879 and opened in 1888 as a branch from the Putnam at Van Cortlandt northwest to Yonkers. It was merged into the main company on November 11, 1887.

In 1881 the trestle at East View was bypassed by a longer loop without the weight restrictions of the trestle, which was removed in May 1883.

The Mahopac Falls Railroad was chartered and opened in 1884, a short branch of the Putnam from Baldwin Place to Mahopac Mines. The line north of Mahopac Falls was abandoned in 1902. The MFRR was merged into the main company on March 7, 1913.

The company was foreclosed on July 22, 1887 and sold on August 17, being reorganized on October 11 as the New York and Northern Railway.

New York Central control

The New York & Northern also failed, and on January 12, 1894 the New York and Putnam Railroad was organized by J. P. Morgan to buy the line. The purchase was made on January 15, and the NY&P was leased to the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad on February 1. On March 7, 1913 the NY&P was merged into the NY&HR, becoming its Putnam Division. Passengers could transfer at High Bridge to the Hudson Division (the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad) to reach Grand Central Terminal or continue to the 155th Street terminal.

The southern part of the line, from Sedgwick Avenue (the terminal since the sale of the West Side & Yonkers trackage) to Van Cortlandt and the Yonkers Branch from Van Cortlandt to Getty Square, was electrified in 1926. This part of the line was sometimes treated as part of the NYC Electric Division.

The Mohansic Branch that came off at Yorktown Heights was abandoned before 1918. It was to serve a mental institution that was cancelled by Albany.

The first diesel locomotive passenger train in the U.S. ran on the Putnam on March 18, 1929.

In 1929, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. paid to have the railroad relocated out of his Pocantico Hills property, eliminating four stations and creating one. The nearby village of East View was obliterated in order to build the new right-of-way. The railroad ran through Pocantico Hills until March 15, 1931, when the new route was opened.

Besides the regular Sedgwick Avenue–Brewster service, service also operated from Golden's Bridge on the Harlem Division via a connecting branch to Lake Mahopac, and then over the Putnam Division to Brewster, where it returned to the Harlem Division. Trains taking this route were said to go "around the horn".

The stub of the Mahopac Mines branch was abandoned in 1931.

Declining ridership resulted in the abandonment of the Getty Square branch on June 30, 1943.[1] Despite a fierce legal battle by Yonkers residents which reached the United States Supreme Court to save it, the line was scrapped in December 1944.[2][3]

Lack of commuter parking along the main Putnam Division, and the necessity of transferring to reach Grand Central Terminal, doomed passenger service on the line. The last passenger train ran on the division on May 29, 1958.[4] Service "around the horn" via the Harlem Division's Lake Mahopac Branch continued until April 2, 1959. Until 1962, when the old West Shore Railroad was upgraded, the Putnam served oversize freight trains, due to the lack of tunnels on its line. Tracks between East View and Lake Mahopac were removed in 1962.

Penn Central, then Conrail

The NYC and the PRR merged to form Penn Central in 1968. The last freight movement over the northern part of the Putnam Division occurred in 1970. The southern end of the line remained strong until the closing of the A&P warehouse in Elmsford in 1975. The decrease in traffic from Stauffer Chemical cut back the line to Chauncey by 1977. Conrail took over Penn Central operations in 1976, but had no plans for increasing business on what it called the "Putnam Industrial Track." Aside from occasional movements to Chauncey, the only revenue movements were to Stella D'Oro Bakery in the Bronx through the 1980s.

Marble Hill stub

Metro-North uses the remaining stub at Marble Hill ("BN") for storage of maintenance of way and contractor's trains.

Since then, much of the right of way has been converted into the South County Trailway, North County Trailway, and Putnam County Trailway bike paths, respectively.

About ½ mile of the section abandoned in the 1931 Rockefeller rerouting is accessible from a trailhead alongside the Tarrytown Reservoir. It is trackless, unimproved grade; it can be traversed on foot to an empty stone trestle abutment.

As of 2007, a replica of the former Bryn Mawr Park station at the former Palmer Road grade crossing is in use as a grocery.

The abandoned station in Millwood is still standing although in June 2011, the Millwood Task Force formally requested that the New Castle town building inspector look at the station house at Station Place in Millwood to determine whether that structure is in violation of town law and should be demolished. The property’s owner, Leo Rota, in an interview said "if the town wants me to tear it down, I’ll tear it down. I’m not going to fight with them. I get a lot of requests about the station building. People seem to like it, but if people want me to tear it down, I don’t have any problem with that.”[5]

The station in Briarcliff Manor was purchased by the village and converted into a public library. The station in Elmsford was converted into a restaurant. The Yorktown Heights station had its exterior restored and is the centerpiece of the town park. The freight house in Baldwin Place and the station in Tilly Foster are on private property.

Station Listing

Milepost 6 on the Old Put, located in Van Cortland Park.
The former Old Put at the border of Westchester (foreground) and Van Cortlandt Park
Structure built on the site of former Bryn Mawr Park Station mimics the design of the depot once located here (2007)
Former Stauffer Chemical plant at Chauncey station
Yorktown Heights station, listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Main Line

  • Sedgwick Avenue
  • Highbridge (shared with Hudson Division)
  • University Heights (shared with Hudson Division)
  • Morris Heights (shared with Hudson Division)
  • Kings Bridge
  • Van Cortlandt - 4.82 (junction with electrified Getty Square Branch)
  • Lincoln - 6.52
  • Dunwoodie - 8.09
  • Bryn Mawr Park - 9.44
  • Nepperhan - 10.50
  • Gray Oaks - 11.92
  • Nepera Park - 12.01
  • Mount Hope - 13.02
  • Chauncey - 13.86
  • Ardsley - 14.72
  • Woodlands
  • Worthington - 16.60
  • Elmsford - 18.14
  • Beaver Hill
  • Eastview - 20.41
  • Graham - 23.92 (created by 1931 relocation)
  • Briarcliff Manor - 27.04
  • Millwood - 30.44
  • Kitchawan - 32.52
  • Croton Lake - 33.57
  • Croton Heights - 35.04
  • Yorktown Heights - 36.76 (coach yard and engine service, connection to Mohansic Branch)
  • Amawalk - 37.94
  • Granite Springs - 39.96
  • Baldwin Place - 42.25 (connection to Mahopac Mines branch)
  • Lake Mahopac - 44.38
  • Mahopac - 45.13
  • Crafts - 47.20
  • Carmel - 49.58
  • Tilly Foster - 51.84
  • Putnam Junction - 53.82 (no station, connection with Harlem Division and yard)
  • Brewster (connection to Harlem Division trains)


Getty Square Branch

abandoned 1943

  • Mosholu (abandoned 1926)
  • Caryl
  • Lowerre
  • Park Hill
  • Getty Square

Mohansic Branch

abandoned 1917

Mahopac Mines Branch

abandoned 1931

  • Mahopac Falls
  • Mahopac Mines

Former stations

closed 1929 as part of realignment

  • Tarrytown Heights
  • Tower Hill
  • Pocantico Hills
  • Whiteons


  • "The Old Put" Suburban New York's Lost Railroad By Ed Kelley (dead link)
  • Gallo, Daniel R.; Kramer, Frederick A. (1981). The Putnam Division: New York Central's Bygone Route through Westchester County. New York: Quadrant Press. ISBN 0915276291. 
  • Klein, Daniel A. (2004). "The Phantom Spur Retracing the Vanished Getty Square Branch of the Putnam Railroad". National Railway Bulletin 69 (2): 28–37. 

External links

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