History of the
Delaware and Hudson Railroad

Articles Reprinted from the BLHS Bulletin




Presidents
of the
Delaware and Hudson

1. Philip Hone 1825-1826
2. John Bolton 1826-1831
3. John Wurtz 1831-1858
4. George Talbot Olyphant 1858-1869
5. Thomas Dickson 1869-1884
6. Robert M. Olyphant 1884-1903
7. David Wilcox 1903-1907
8. Leonor F. Loree 1907-1938
9. Joseph H. Nuelle 1938-1954
10. William White 1954-1967
11. John P. Hiltz, Jr. 1967
12. Frederic C. Dumaine, Jr. 1967-1968
13. Frank Wells McCabe 1968
14. John P. Fishwick 1968-1970
15 Gregory W. Maxwell 1970-1972
16 Carl B.Sterzing 1972-1977
17 Selig Altschul 1977
18 Charles E. Bertrand 1977-1978
19 Kent Shoemaker 1978-1982
20 Charles Mc 1982-1984
21 Carl Belke


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Delaware and Hudson
Time Line (Under Construction)
 

March 13, 1823 Pennsylvania State Legislature authorizes the Wurtz Brothers to canalize the Lackawaxen River
April 23, 1823 New York State passes act incorporating the "The President, Mangers and Company of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co."
March 8, 1824 Philip Hone elected as first President of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co.
April 5, 1826 Pennsylvania State Legislature authorizes construction of a railroad from Carbondale to Honesdale
August8, 1827 Stourbridge Lion makes history as the locomotive to run on rails in the United States  
September 9, 1827 Second run of the Stourbridge Lion confirms fears that the locomotive is too heavy for the track as built.
January 8, 1831 New York State Assembly authorizes the Incorporation of the Saratoga and Schenectady Railroad.
April 14, 1832 Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Company incorporated by special act of the New York State Legislature.
January 6, 1847 Delaware and Hudson selects John Roebling to build three suspension aqueducts to widen and improve the navigability of the canal.
1851 Albany & Susquehanna Railroad Incorporated to build from Albany to Binghamton, NY.
May, 1867 Delaware and Hudson petitions State of New York to amend it's charter to include all rights and privileges accorded to railroads.
September 2, 1868 D&H enters into contract to build a railroad (Jefferson Railroad Co.) North out of Carbondale to connect with the Erie at Lanesboro, PA
February 24, 1870 Albany & Susquehanna Railroad enters perpetual lease with the Delaware and Hudson
May 1, 1871 Rensselaer and Saratoga leased by the Delaware and Hudson
Sept. 23, 1883 Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen formed in Caboose #10 in Oneonta Yard.  This organization blossomed into the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen on October 23, 1889.
June 13, 1899 Abandonment of the Canal
November 5, 1902 Adirondack Railway Co. officially merged with the D&H
April 9, 1907 Napierville Junction Railway Purchased by the D&H
   
   
1940 First Purchase of Challengers
1943 Purchase of 15 Northerns
1944 Purchase of the first 2 diesels on the D&H (Alco S2's #3000-3001)
1946 Last Purchase of Challengers
1953 Last Steam retired on the D&H
   
   
   
1968 Arrival of the 4 remaining Alco PA's
1968 D&H Placed under the control of N&W via Dereco
1972 Damages caused by  Hurricane Agnes put the Erie-Lackawanna into receivership dissolving Dereco 
August, 1974 Arrival of the two RF16 Sharks
April 1, 1976 Creation of Conrail, conveyance of locomotives, rolling stock & trackage rights to the D&H 
1978 Departure of the C628's, U30C's, SD45's & PA's to Mexico
April, 1978 Sale of Sharks to Private Owner
Jan.5, 1984 Completion of Purchase of the D&H by Guilford Industries
June 20, 1988 Placement of the D&H into receivership by Guilford
1990 Purchase of the D&H by Canadian Pacific
   

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Predecessor Railroad
of the
Delaware and Hudson
(Under Construction)
 

Railroad Incorporated Acquired Notes
Albany & Susquehanna Railroad   Leased in perpetuity by the D&H February 24, 1870  
Schenectady & Duanesburgh Railroad 1873 Merged with the D&H August 1903  
Schenectady & Mechanicville Railroad      
Cherry Valley, Sharon & Albany Railroad      
Schoharie Valley Railroad   All stock purchased by the D&H 1906  
Adirondack Railroad October 24, 1863 Acquired by the D&H June 11, 1889, Merged November 5, 1902  
Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad April 14, 1832 Leased in perpetuity by the D&H May 1, 1871  
Saratoga & Schenectady Railroad Feb. 16, 1831 Acquired by the R&S, 1851
Perpetual Lease April 13, 1860
 
Glens Falls Railroad 1867 Acquired and perpetual lease by the R&S June 24/1869, merged into the R&S 1906  
Saratoga & Whitehall Railroad   Acquired by the R&S 12/1864 perpetual lease 4/1865  
Rutland & Whitehall Railroad Nov. 13, 1848 Acquired by the R&S 12/1864 perpetual lease 4/1865  
Albany Northern,
Albany, Vermont & Canadian,
Albany & Vermont Railroad
Feb 20, 1851 Leased by the R&S  June 12, 1860  
Troy, Salem, & Rutland Railroad June 3, 1865 Acquired by the R&S June 15, 1865  
Rutland & Washington Railroad Nov. 13, 1847 Combined to make the  Troy, Salem & Rutland 5/1865  
Troy & Rutland Railroad July 2, 1849 Combined to make the  Troy, Salem & Rutland 5/1865  
Saratoga & Ft. Edward Railroad,
Saratoga & Washington Railroad
April 17, 1832
May 2
1834
Acquired by the R&S March 14, 1865  
Champlain Transportation Company 1826 Acquired by the R&S June 1868  
Rutland & Burlington Railroad   Acquired by the R&S June 1868  
Lake George Transportation Company   Acquired by the R&S June 1868  
Whitehall & Plattsburg RR February, 1866 Merged into New York & Canada, Feb. 25, 1873  
Plattsburg & Montreal RR,
Montreal & Plattsburg RR
1850 Merged into New York & Canada, Feb. 25, 1873  
New York and Canada RR 1872    
Plattsburg & Dannemora RR,  1878 Leased by the Chateaugay RR May 20, 1879  
Chateaugay Railroad May 15, 1879 Merged into the Chateaugay & Lake Placid RR 1903  
Chateaugay Ore & Iron Co. May 2, 1881 Merged into the Chateaugay & Lake Placid RR 1903  
Chateaugay Railway  July 13, 1887 Leased by the Chateaugay Railroad July 1, 1888  
Saranac & Lake Placid RR June 1890 Leased by the Chateaugay Railroad December, 1896
Merged into the Chateaugay & Lake Placid RR 1903
 
Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley RR   D&H Purchased Controlling Stock, June 1903  
United Traction Co. 1899    
Troy & New England Railway   Entire Stock purchased by the D&H October, 1905  
Greenwich & Johnsonville 1866 Majority of Stock purchased by the D&H 1906  
Quebec, Montreal & Southern Railway Co.   Purchased by the D&H 1906  
Battenkill Railroad   Absorbed into Greenwich & Johnsonville 1903  
Napierville Junction Railway   Purchased by the D&H in April 9, 1907  
       
       
       

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REMEMBERING THE D&H

Packet and Freight Service on the D&H Canal

"Canals still carried the most freight in 1850, but the steam railroad lines rapidly expanding in the eastern United States would soon cause the transfer of freight from canals to railroads particularly in the winter season", wrote Samuel Eliot Morison, American Historian.

The new immigrants moving into Northeastern Pennsylvania would continue form New York City via stagecoach, or canal boats on the D&H canal, and finally by the Erie Railroad after 1847, when it reached the Delaware Valley.

Pennsylvania had almost 1,000 miles of canal by 1840. The canals hauled coal and other freight; few provided packet service for passengers.

In 1850, following enlargement of the D&H canal to accommodate large canal boats, an attempt began to establish a packet service between Honesdale and Lackawaxen. The packet would depart Honesdale and meet the morning Erie train going west at Lackawaxen.

On June 12, 1850, The Fashion, a packet boat built in Rochester, NY, was similar to those in use on the Erie canal. It included ample dining and lunch facilities permitting lodging of 60 persons on board. Regular scheduled trips ran daily except Sunday.

About this time, a freight service was established by the firm of Patmor-Wilbur. John Patmor was in charge at Honesdale, when in 1850, the D&H canal Line ran an advertisement announcing the use of 36 deck canal boats for transportation of merchandize from New York City - Honesdale without transhipment. There was a fleet of steam boats in the Hudson near the foot of Jay Street in New York City to move the deck canal boats up the Hudson River.

On April 25, 1851, both theFashion and the freighter Daniel Webster were moored in a slip, or lateral basin, at Honesdale, when a great fire took place. The fire spread to nearby stores and dwellings.

Both boats burned to their keels. The losses amounted to $6,500, of which $1,200 was covered by insurance. Mr. Patmor left Honesdale soon after the fire. Later, it was reported he became an officer in the Confederate Army

Passenger service was not resumed after the fire. Instead, new arrivals took the railroad to Narrowsburg and came by stage to Honesdale.

At the time of the disastrous fire, Captain Edward Murray, a trader who plied the D&H Canal, had a store. It was destroyed. He had gained a reputation as a "fair and able trader". In fact, one of the 36 deck canal boats was name the E. Murray.

Captain Murray rebuilt his store, which traded in basic supplies. Customers brought their containers to the store and purchased or traded portions of barrels of butter, pork, sugar, spices, etc.

When Ed Murray died in 1868, his son, Philip Reilly Murray, took over the business. By 1917, when Philip Murray passed on, his son continued the firm. The company was a major business selling farm supplies throughout an eight-state area of the Northeast U.S.

On April 11, 1996, Murray's had been in business for 169 year, but unfortunately the business is to close soon, following the opening of a Walmart store in Honesdale, and so the once busy terminal of the D&H canal has lost an important connection to its early history.

Visitors to Honesdale, county seat of Wayne, can find the one-time offices of the D&H Canal now housing the Wayne County Historical Society

Here, in addition to a replica of the Strourbridge Lion, the first locomotive to turn by steam in North America, are displays and exhibits from the canal and railroad eras.


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Investors in the D&H Canal CO.

Deposits of anthracite or "Stone Coal" were known to exist in northeastern Pennsylvania in the Susquehanna and Lackawanna River valleys for many years. In 1973, there was mention of coal in a charter granted early settlers in the Wyoming Valley at present day Wilkes-Barre. The charter was granted by the ruling authorities in Connecticut, who held claim to the land first granted by Charles II of England to them earlier, and later to William Penn and his heirs, who settled Pennsylvania.

The early natives, who inhabited the region, had shown outcroppings of the stone coal to the first traders, hunters and settlers who came into the valleys.

By 1776, Matthias Hollenback, Wilkes-Barre, began shipping coal on a raft down the Susquehanna River, where it was hauled to Carlisle, PA, for use in furnaces.

In 1778, the Wyoming Massacre by the British Tories and the natives under their control, forced the early settlers to return to Connecticut, until after General Sullivan's March destroyed native villages of the Six Nations.

After the American Revolution ended, the new states of Pennsylvania and Connecticut reviewed land claims in the region. Commissioners from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia and two from New Jersey held court at Trenton, on November 12, 1782.

On December 30, 1782, the Decree of Trenton was issued, reading, "We are unanimously of opinion that Connecticut has no right to the land in controversy." This appeared in "Anthracite Trust," a recent book by Aileen S. Freeman.

The Connecticut officials left the scene in the Wyoming Valley and the settlers who remained yielded to the laws of Pennsylvania. The earlier land claims were settled and the new counties of Wayne and Luzerne were formed in 1794.

The Wurts Brothers

After the War of 1812, two Philadelphia Quakers, Maurice and William Wurts were in the region around Carbondale, searching for coal deposits and buying land parcels, especially in the Upper Lackawanna Valley. They were assisted by a local hunter, David Noble.

Maurice Wurts soon determined that a water route was the only solution to getting his coal to tidewater. He began to target the New York City market, since coal was reaching Philadelphia from the Lehigh Valley.

Wurts approached Benjamin Wright, Chief Engineer of the Erie Canal, who assigned his associates John B. Mills and Edward Sullivan to survey lands between Kingston, on the Hudson River, and Saw Mill Rift, opposite Pike County on the Delaware River.

Philip Hone, Mayor of New York City

Philip Hone was one of the leading New York City political and financial figures in his day. He and his associates became very interested in the survey map made by Mills and Sullivan, which was circulated by Maurice Wurts in New York City and Philadelphia circles.

Wurts arranged for a shipment of stone coal to be shipped from Philadelphia to New York City on a sloop, after it came down the Delaware River on a raft from the Carbondale area. The coal was ignited on a grate at Tontine Coffee House on January 7, 1825, as investors gathered to purchase shares in the new Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. By 2 o'clock, all shares were sold. At the same time, shares were sold at Middle District Branch Bank in Kingston, NY., and the Orange County Bank at Goshen, NY., county seat of Orange County.

On March 17, 1825, the Commissioners reported a net receipt of $74,207.59 form the stock subscription.

The third Wurts brother, John, obtained permission from the State of Pennsylvania for his brother Maurice to authorize improvement of navigation on the Lackawaxen River. It was approved by the General Assembly, March,13, 1823. On April 23 the state of New York authorized the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company to construct the canal from Roundout (Kingston) to Saw Mill Riff on the Delaware RIver. In June 1824, the D&H CC obtained the rights and privileges granted to Maurice Wurts.

At the beginning , some doubts were expressed by doubters over building a canal in such mountainous country. The Gazetteer, a New York City newspaper, commented, "People generally doubt the practicability of the proposed route from the vague ideas of the mountain character of the intermediate country."

Philip Hone was elected first President of the D&H CC, but in 1826, he resigned this position. He was succeeded by John Bolton until 1831, when John Wurts was elected President.

In 1833, there was a massive speculation in the Canal Company stock, which sent it soaring to $125 a share. It dropped back to $75 by the year's end. Hone would write in his diary, "General Andrew Jackson, now President, didn't seem to care."

New York City in the 1830's was alive with the activity of shipping, completion of the Erie Canal, rumors of the steam railroad's arrival from England, and other activities of the young democratic society expanding westwards over the Allegheny Mountains into the mid-west. The enlargement of the canal, increasing the amount of coal each canal boat could haul, led to more activity in the company stock with a view towards potential profit.

Of historians who have written about the D&H Canal, including the late Edwin LeRoy, Jim Shaughnessy, Manville Wakefiels, and the late Dr. Vernon Leslie, only Leslie has looked deeply into financial matters. That was until 'Reminiscences" by John Willard Johnston, was published by Town of Highland Resources Commission in 1987.

John Willard Johnston's Revelations

The author of this article (Graham Lobb) now realizes how useful this opinionated Journal was, and in fact the late Dr. Leslie wished he had know of the manuscript when he wrote his Canal Town, published by the Wayne County Historical Society in 1983.

Mr. Johnston lived at Berryville, New York, along the D&H Canal. He was employed by the canal in various duties in his long lifetime, starting as a boy when the waterway was first opened. He wrote that between 1931 and 1947, the canal was busy and became "a synonym for corporate power trust and confidence. It was one of the most influential financial institutions of the country."

The enlargement when completed by 1850 increased coal loads to markets. A gravity railroad built in this period by the Pennsylvania Coal Company from Hawley to Pitston tapped the PCC's mines, and for period added to the canal revenues until the Erie Railroad Hawley Branch was built in 1863.

Johnston noted the canal operations entrusted the superintendent of several divisions with the care and distribution of company money. The Chief Manager furnished the money. Pay days occurred at three monthly intervals. Unfortunately, this allowed schemes to take place in the form of secret arrangements with merchants, who, for a percentage, received the trade of the labor force. The wages were paid by the superintendents and what remained form the store bill was "graciously paid to the laborer."

While the superintendent was agent of the company, he often usurped his power. The laborer then wrote his name on a receipted payment, according to Mr. Johnston. Johnston made it known that he questioned the system but few listened to him. He knew of coffee charged at 19c a pound to laborers and 14c a pound to other customers at the same store. Since superintendents earned but $700 a year, stealing from the company became common.

In his long service for the company, John W. Johnston was a civil engineer, lawyer and a keen observer and judge of mankind along a towpath. He completed his manuscript in 1901. He seems to have been a self-educated man whose advice and common sense approach was respected by many that he came in contact with over the years.

Peter Osborne III, a leading historian with the Minisink Valley Historical Society, who wrote the foreword to "Reminiscences", said of the era, "From top to bottom, employees were economically wedded to the company."

John W. Johnston reveals the serious character flaws of the senior canal officials, in particular the rise of Coe Young, who later appears as an esteemed citizen of Honesdale. He is buried there in Glen Dyberry Cemetery.

By 1865, the D&H Canal had changed from personal attachment to increased profits, much like many big corporations today. The Civil War and inflation also contributed. The canal would last until 1898, when the canal was abandoned and it changed to a steam railroad which continued to dominate the scene in northwestern Pennsylvania until it came under the control of CP Rail, a Canadian Railroad.


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CP Rail's Richmondville Hill

Since its purchase of the Delaware & Hudson Railway, Canadian Pacific has altered the face of the "Bridge Line to New England". The physical plant is in the best shape in years, overall freight traffic has increased, and the line is an important link in an international transcontinental rail system.

The changes wrought by CP on the D&H begin first with the name. Until recently officially CP Rail's Bridge Line Division, what many still refer to as "the D&H" now is part of the new St. Lawrence & Hudson business unit of the "Canadian Pacific Railway".

D&H physical plant changes are particularly noticeable on Richmondville Hill, a picturesque grade and former pusher locomotive district in central New York countryside, 40 miles west of Albany. The route over Richmondville was opened in 1869 by the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad, which linked Albany and Binghamton, NY; the A&S was leased by the D&H the following year.

Richmondville is the steepest of the three grades CP trains must overcome in the westward climb out of Mohawk and Hudson River valleys toward Binghamton, the junction of CP routes to Buffalo and Canada, or Philadelphia and Potomac Yard Va. The other grades are South Schenectady to the east and Belden Hill to the west. While the eastbound climb over Richmondville is mild, and the maximum gradient of 0.7 percent (and only for a short distance at that) in gaining about 400 feet vertical elevation, it is the westbound assault where men and machines prove their mettle.

Almost 1000 feet of elevation must be gained in the 19 miles between Schoharie Junction and the summit in West Richmondville, which is at almost 1500 feet elevation. Over this distance the grade averages 1.0% and is as much as 1.7% in the heart of the climb, near the village of Richmondville.

One look at Richmondville Hill today brings home the extent of CP's rehabilitation of the D&H. Eleven of 13 miles of the double track on the east side of Richmondville have been removed, leaving only a TCS controlled siding near the summit. Gone too is the controlled siding at Schenevus (skuh-NEE-vus) on the milder west approach.

A single passing siding in the 51 miles between Esperance and Oneonta makes for one lean railroad. It doesn't end there, though. Signal blocks (sections) have been lengthened, with the result that many signals and related electrical equipment have been retired (including the oft photographed twin signal bridges at West Richmondville). The rail is mostly welded now, with much evidence of recent tie and ballast work.

Changes are evident in train movements and motive power as well. As of April 1996, CP schedules only four freights a day over this portion of the D&H: Potomac Yard - Montreal 555/556 for the north/south traffic and Toronto - Saratoga NY 270/271 for east/west traffic (these used to be Chicago Saratoga runs). In February, CP discontinued Chicago intermodals 261/262 in conceding the domestic U.S. intermodal to Conrail, and in April, Binghamton.Montreal 553/554, often combined with 555/556, bit the dust. Occasionally unit grain. coal, and potash trains add to the mix over Richmonville, though.

The kaliedoscope of motive power which marked the D&H since the mid 1970s continues into the current era, but with different twists. Only four GP38-2s still bear the D&H "lightning stripe" blue and grey scheme (as of April 1996), and though they're primarily used in local work, they do occasionally make a trek over Richmondville. More common are the locomotives from the CP family, which includes SD40-2s and kin in the old CP Rail "Action Red" and the newer CPRS fire engine red with dual flags, Soo Line units in white and red as well as the newer candy apple red, and secondhand units from UP and NS relettered CP but not yet repainted. Further, CP always has locomotives in various hues leased from GATX, National Railway and Helm ("rent-a-wrecks" some wags label them).

If you are thinking of visiting Richmondville Hill, this is frankly not its peak traffic era, and you'll have to be choosy on locations and time, although the proximity of Interstate 88 helps a chase. With only four trains (excluding unit trains) scheduled every 24 hours, it is no Trains 'Hot Spot", but if operations are normal, three of them are likely to be over Richmondville summit during daylight. Typical times from spring 1996 were every morning for west bound 556 and eastbound 270, afternoon for eastbound 555, and late evening darkness for westbound 271. Even with only the occasional C424 representing Alco now, the probable rainbow of paint schemes you'll encounter on the EMD SD40s and kin can help add to an enjoyable area for rail photography.

(Reprinted by permission from the July 1996 issue of Trains magazine. From the collection of Doug Barron. Copyright© Kalmbach Publishing Co., 1996).


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PA Postlude

by James Shaughnessy

As the creator of a long line of steam locomotives, including the Big Boy, it wasn't surprising that in 1946 the American Locomotive Company Alco) should unveil a new 2000hp. passenger unit of classic proportions - the PA. These great machines singly, but mostly in pairs of cab units (in the case of Santa Fe, long impressive strings of PA and PB units in a silver line punctuated by massive red noses), handled the best of the name trains in the carriage trade markets. Their names were legend: Merchants Limited, 20th Century Limited, Broadway Limited, Super Chief, Sunset Limited, and even that train renowned in song, the Wabash Cannonball.

For eight years, the Schenectady plant turned out these machines, but only a meager 294 units were built, 247 cabs and 47 boosters. The initial model, the PA/PB1, with a 16 cylinder, 2000hp version of Alco's 244 series diesel engine was offered until 1950, when the horsepower rating was boosted to 2250hp by installing a water cooled turbocharger, and the model designation changed to PA/PB2. The PA/PB3 had some side grille changes when it was offered in 1952, but the horsepower remained the same; the bulk of the these went to Southern Pacific. The SP PA/PB fleet, with its subsidiary Cotton Belt, comprised the largest, while the GM&O had only three. The first to obtain the now-fabled units was the Santa Fe (which had 44 in all); apparently the last to have them is the Delaware & Hudson, which brings us to the point of this journal.

All great institutions down through the annals of history - square rigged Clipper ships, the Mississippi River steamers, the nickel beer and the all-men's bars in which it was served, and indeed the steam locomotive itself - seem for some unknown reason to pass into the Great Beyond. Being in the minority among the nation's passenger diesels no doubt marked their breed to be short lived, for as the numbers of trains dwindled, the PAs were in many cases set aside to simplify maintenance programs. Another strike against the Alcos was their single engine per unit. If a failure should occur, the whole unit was disabled, where the competitive EMD units had two prime movers per unit and could carry on with less overall effect on the total power output. The PAs had the characteristic of smoking to varying degrees upon accelerating, due mainly to their exhaust actuated turbochargers, as compared to the mechanically operated Roots blowers on the two-cycle EMD engine. Until the Alco engine revved up sufficiently to provide enough exhaust gas to bring the turbo up to speed, a temporary lack of oxygen caused improper combustion and black smoke. This smoke production varied depending on the state of maintenance of the give unit, but the characteristic, along with the classic proportions and design, earned the name of "Honorary Steam Engine" for the PA.

The real quirk of fate occurred in the summer of 1967 when Frederick C. Dumaine, Jr. became president of the D&H. He has held a block of stock for a number of years and succeeded in getting enough votes to become president on August 1, when previous president Hilts stepped down to become Chairman of the National Railway Labor Conference. The "Expo 1967" World's Fair was in progress at the time in Montreal, and Dumaine decided to try garnering some of the travel dollars people would spend to see it.

Being a passenger oriented railroader of the old school, having served as a president of the New Haven during some of the stormy years of World War II and after, "Buckie" - as he is affectionately called - decided that if the D&H were to be in the passenger business at all, then it should be in it all the way. He immediately leased two New Haven buffet cars and shortly replaced those with leased C&O dines, one still lettered Per Marquette. This was a complete reversal of the previous management's efforts to discontinue the Laurentian, which resulted on the removal of the dining service for the previous several years. In October he had obtained 12 stainless steel Pullman-Standard built cars from the Rio Grande, made available when the D&RGW discontinued its Royal Gorge route passenger trains. Obtained in the group of cars were two diners, one cafe lounge, four baggage cars and five coaches, so the leased diners were returned to C&O. He hired three attractive waitresses to staff one of the cars, which certainly didn't hurt the looks of things, while some older and most capable dining car personnel were still available for the other.

Buckie now had a fairly decent looking train, painted up in bright blue, yellow and grey - the same combination that had been used o the motive power since 1960. The train looked good, but the motive power was, and had been since dieselation in 1950, one or more of the 1600hp Alco road switchers. Theses were reliable enough despite their age, but Buckie wanted a better-looking train, perhaps one like he had seen arriving at South Station, Boston, in the good years before Eastern Airlines shuttle service was initiated. Two of the eight units in passenger service were wrecked near Saratoga Springs in August, so this left the passenger power roster fairly low, as well as old. He therefore sent his motive power people out after some truly "passenger" diesels for the new train.

That is where the quirk of fate that will go down in railfan history occurred. At the time, the fall of 1967, the Alco PA was about as plentiful as the whooping crane and those roads that still had any in service were phasing them out at a rapid rate. Only the SP, EL and Santa Fe had any operational units at all. On the other hand, ther were undoubtedly plenty of used EMD units available; even a new dual service unit, such as the EMD SDP45 and GE U28CG that were being promoted at the time, was a possibility.

New GE units were considered, with dynamic braking and steam generators, especially considering that, should passengers service be dropped in future, these locomotives could easily move into the growing fleet of second generation hood units on the D&H. At least four would be needed, and at more than a quarter of a million a copy, even "Buckie" couldn't justify that for his new passenger trains.

What about all those two engine EMD units which seemed to work out better than the big Alcos on most railroads? Any that were in decent shape were still in use or the price was considered too high for used unit. The Santa Fe had dropped and consolidated several of its trains after the summer schedule changed, and a number of its great fleet of PAs were congregated at Barstow, CA for storage. word got around that ,they would part with some if anyone wanted them, so Master Mechanic Tom Bradley flew out to look them over. They looked good and had been fairly well maintained. After reporting back on his findings, the word went out - get three! It was pointed out the D&H should have a spare unit for various reasons, so a fourth was chosen and arraignments were made to ship them back to the D&H Colonie shops just north of Albany.

There were some sound reasons for choosing the Santa Fe Alcos. First, they were available and - at $30,000 each - they were a great buy. Another important factor was their 244 series engine, a piece of hardware the D&H shop men were thoroughly familiar with, having had the 12 cylinder version in service for over 20 years. Spare parts were largely interchangeable as well. Finally, they were indisputably a great looking machine! What more could you ask?

By December 16, they had arrived at Colonie where Santa Fe 59, 60, 62 and 66 would become D&H 16 - 19, the logic of which remains a mystery. Perhaps one reason for the choice was to take advantage of the square space provided in the illuminated side number panels - unique to the Santa Fe units only - where just two digits would fit to best advantage. Then, too, with the numeral one involved, space was used to even better advantage - but then why not 10 - 14? These factors are apparently the only thing that can be recalled by those involved in the choice of numbers.

Very little work was required to get them running. The engine lube oil was changed and the batteries charged, and the first of the quartet, #62, was cranked up. That great traditional plume of smoke rose above the silver roof to mark the occasion.

Some thought was, of course, given to a color scheme; naturally it would be blue and yellow, but in just what portions it would emerge was a matter of question for a time (the other D&H units had blue on the top with grey on the lower areas separated by a yellow line). One major consideration was to take advantage of the large areas of expensive stainless steel - also unique to the Santa Fe units - for good looks and ease of upkeep. It was soon apparent that the only way to do this was to reproduce the "war bonnet" design of the Santa Fe, but in blue and yellow. The V-shaped line in the front replaced the oval "Santa Fe" emblem to carry through a d&H family line that appeared on the other power. With the small "D&H" shield emblem added below the headlights in the center of the "V", it didn't come out too badly at all, aside from being basically a blue "war bonnet". To have come up with anything different would have cut down on the possibility of featuring the stainless steel to advantage.

Each of the units in their turn went through first the wash rack where insides and outsides were cleaned, then to the paint booth for the application of silicone based paint, and finally to the inspection ramp where all systems were checked out and tuned up.

On Christmas Eve 1967, the 18 was rolled out into light of day for the first time.  What a present to put under the Christmas tree of a rail enthusiast! After initial load tests in the yard at Colonie, it was decided that she would take the Laurentian to Montreal on the 26th. All was complete except for the D&H shield on her flank, and item which was not added to all the units until early summer (#17 emerged as the last of the four with these colorful adornments included).

All was in readiness on the appointed morning as the bustle of preparatory activity increased in bay 2 of the great shop at Colonie - the dispatch area. Last-minute adjustments were made on the train heat boiler, windshields were washed, drinking water for the crew put on, and much other primping took place. The cab was more than filled for the debut run, including master mechanic Tom Bradley and Shop Superintendent Wm. F. Shepard, when veteran engineer Hank Webber notched the great steed out for her first official trip at 10.00am sharp. She eased out of the shop and ran over to the coach yard where the baggage car, diner and extra coaches were picked up for the trip in reverse down to NYC's now-abandoned (it is now a bank) Union Station in Albany where the connecting through coaches from New York City were added. It was a great day - after 20 years of dieseldon, the D&H finally had an honest-to-goodness streamlined diesel on the point. It was certainly a quirk of fate when, at a time other roads were discarding this cab unit - indeed the PA itself - and going to a half breed of hood and cab unit, aesthetically the D&H had finally achieved near perfection in power. It couldn't have been accomplished in a better way!

All went well on the initial run - well fairly well. The 18 took over just like she had made that trip up along wintry Lake Champlain all her life rather than the long, flat, dry miles between Chicago and the Pacific shores. Steam production had always been a weakness in passenger diesels, and it was no different with these units. External hose connections were not correct at Whitehall and Rouses Point on their first run, so excessive time was consumed in filling the tanks at these points. Long use of Southwestern alkali-rich water left its mark on the boilers, with deposits of scale in the coils. Total water capacity was only 1220 gallons per unit, not enough should a delay occur under severe winter conditions. This problem was overcome in subsequent winters by having a chance to rebuild and replace the old coils in the boilers and doubling the units. The two-units combinations were a delight to see winding along the twisting route beside the lake. During the first winter, the 4000 class RS3 boiler equipped units that held reign for years filled in as replacement on runs not able to be covered by only two doubled-up PA power sets. After the purchase of the D&H by N&W Holding Co. Dereco, half brother Erie Lackawanna provided two sets of EMD E8 passenger units in the most recent two winters, and the D&H RS3s were held in reserve. This was an interesting variation (but no comparison to the PA lash-ups) that operated both night and day trains as their turn came up.

The PA's were an instant success with the crews. After bouncing up and down at the rear end of a 4-axle RS3 (D&H RS3s ran long hood forward) for years, the up-front ride on long 6-wheel trucks was a definite treat. They rode so smoothly that the crew has to be careful not to allow the line on the ever present telltale recording tape to climb over the 65 mph (sure to earn a not from the office). It must have been hard for the PA itself, after those spirited three digit runs out West.

By mid-January 1968 all four units were in service where they would remain as their sisters on the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific fell beneath the cutting torch. If a machine has a spirit, theirs must have been sorrowful, yet proud to still carry on the grand tradition of what is generally regarded as the greatest diesel ever to ride the rails.

An old New Haven unit that had been traded in to GE, the 0783, was till in the scrap line at Erie, PA, and arrangements were made in February 1968 to purchase it for the major components it would provide for the now almost-orphaned mini fleet of PA's. The old unit gave up a prime mover and generator, a set of trucks, radiator assemblies, air compressor, a spare steam generator and other miscellaneous parts such as window glass and cab doors unique to this type of unit. The 0783 was obtained for scrap price, about $8000, and it provided the basis for the rebuilding program that would otherwise have been impossible to accomplish and stills keep the four units on the road for the majority of the time. To date, trucks have been changed many times, always allowing two extras to be in the shop for rebuilding. The New Haven diesel engine was rebuilt and was installed in the 16, while 16's prime mover was rebuilt and installed in the 18.

Everything considered, the D&H obtained excellent service from 20 year old, second-hand equipment. Obviously, the almost miraculous continuance of daily PA operation proved to be the main topic of conversation wherever fans and modelers met. Entire vacations were devoted to watching them perform, especially as the Amtrak takeover neared.

For almost three and a half years, the four prima donnas relentlessly and faithfully rolled off the winding miles between Albany and the Canadian Metropolis. This route in itself provides some of the best scenery in the Northeast, pass as it does the full length of Lake Champlain, practically going under historic Ft Ticonderoga, traveling along man-made rock ledges 100 feet above Wilsboro Bay, and finally crossing the Lachine rapids of the St. Lawrence River on its way to the shadow of Mt Royal - that geographic feature named "Mt Real" by Jaques Cartier which gave the city its name.

With the formation of the federally sponsored corporation to operate passenger trains all across the country - first Railpax then Amtrak - the overall route structure was cut down and the Albany - Montreal segment was not proposed for inclusion in the final plan. Various efforts were made to include the D&H route, but nothing had developed by late May. The trains did lose money, although the night train, the Montreal Limited, seemed to have a better financial record than the Laurentian.

As the Amtrak takeover date of May 1 neared, enthusiasm for riding and seeing the trains with their now famous motive power rose to a fever pitch. On some weekends, more than 100 photographers could be counted between Albany and Montreal.

As quickly as the PA's were introduced to D&H passenger services, they were just as quickly withdrawn on the startup of Amtrak, and by May 2, the PA's were all together again at Colonie shops, for the first time since their arrival in December 1967.

16 and 18 had been named after two of the D&H's senior men, 16 after Marvin A. Davis (Mr. D&H) (Senior Road Foreman) and 18 after George W. Hockaday (Chief Mechanical Engineer). These two locomotives were almost immediately sent to the paint shop for repainting, while 17 and 19 were traded in to GE, who as luck would have it, didn't scrap them immediately. The 16 and 18 were leased to Steam Tours Inc. and ended up being stored at Hagerstown, MD. Through the efforts of the new D&H president, Carl B. "Bruce" Sterzing, all 4 PA's were returned to the D&H by May 1972, and were used hauling business trains and excursions.

In 1974, Amtrak restored Albany - Montreal service with the 403b Adirondack, but with D&H equipment. The PA's went to Morrison Knudsen in Boise, Idaho for rebuilding. This was done between July and October 1974, and the four emerged as PA4s, with 12 cylinder Alco 251F engines rated at 2400hp. The PA glory years would last only until March 1 1977, when Amtrak equipped the Adirondack with Turboliners. D&H tried the PA4s in freight work with mixed success (they were geared for 120mph working), then lease to the MBTA to operate out of Boston's South Station on commuter trains. The last revenue run occurred on October 13, 1978

By now, the D&H was having a money crisis, and was selling off 20 percent of its freight diesel fleet to a dealer, for long term lease to Mexico, and the PA's were included in this "job" lot. Suddenly no PA's were left in the USA, although they were still geographically in North America. The final four led a checkered career on Mexico's Pacific Railway. Although given tender loving care by the Alco-wise shop forces at Empalme, Sonora, they gradually succumbed to age and wrecks. Despite several attempts by various parties over almost two decades to return one or more to the U.S. as display items or operating units, none have moved north, although currently there is a move by the Smithsonian Institute to get two of the ex D&H PA's and rebuild them, one as original Santa Fe and the other as D&H. - time will tell if this venture eventuates. Two have survived as museum pieces - 17 even retaining its number - while the other two are hulks at best. (Reprinted by permission from the August 1971 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. From the collection of Doug Barron. Copyright© Carsten's Publishing Co. © 1971. Paraphrased by Neil C. Hunter).


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Updated:  February 1, 2004


Information supplied by John A. Shaw, Neil C. Hunter and the Bridge Line Historical Society
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