Background: The Ulster & Delaware Rail Road

 

In 1868, the Rondout & Oswego Railroad was built running from Kingston Point on the Hudson River up into the Catskill Mountains into the Shandaken Valley and on to Bloomsville in Delaware County. The railroad included a branch north from Phoenicia through Stony Clove to Hunter, Tannersville, and Haines Falls. By the early 1900’s, operating as the Ulster and Delaware (U&D) Railroad, the line was completed to connect with the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in Oneonta. Trains of the U&D carried bluestone quarried from sites along the line for the sidewalks of New York and cities around the world. Dairy products were delivered to Kingston by rail. Summer tourism brought city dwellers to the region’s boarding houses and grand hotels. In 1913, more than 676,000 passengers rode the U&D to the Catskills. During the railroad’s heyday, through coaches and Pullman sleepers, some from as far away as Washington, coupled onto U&D trains. Coaches would stand ready at Kingston Point for the steamships of the Hudson River Day Line, add additional passengers at Kingston Union Station connecting out of Weehawken, and then travel the steep grades up to the Catskill Mountain resorts.

In subsequent years, the New York Central railroad operated on the U&D tracks, and was succeeded by the Penn Central Railroad. Suffering losses of freight and passenger business in the early 1930’s, the railroad was taken into receivership February 1932 and sold to the New York Central. The post World War II growth in automobile use and the construction of the New York State Thruway (I-87) led to a further reduction in railroad travel. The New York Central’s successor, Conrail, abandoned the U&D railroad track in 1976.

The section of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad bed from Kingston Point to the vicinity of Jansen Street at Kingston Hospital in Midtown along with the section along the Strand from the Trolley Museum to the foot of Broadway is owned by the City of Kingston and currently leased to the Trolley Museum of New York. The original rail route that once connected through to the U&D tracks at Cornell Street just north of the active West Shore railroad line goes through the current hospital site and just behind City Hall. The railroad tracks were removed and the right-of-way was eliminated including a below grade cut that was filled in, at grade crossing of the West Shore line that was removed, and a trolley tunnel under the west shore line that was filled in, making it highly unlikely that this alignment can be reconnected for active rail use. However, tracks and ties are still in place over much of the length from behind Rondout Savings near East Chester Street, one and a half miles down to the Trolley Museum where it connects with the track currently in use by the Trolley Museum of New York along Kingston’s waterfront.