Sunday, September 25, 2011
Today's Train of Thought- Encounter At Eagle Bridge, September 25, 2011
Today's serendipitous Train of Thought takes us to a rural corner of Upstate New York that seems frozen in time on this particular date.
Sharing a name with the nearby Batten Kill creek, the quixotic Batten Kill Railroad was formed in the early 1980s to take over operations from the shuttered Greenwich & Johnsonville and the Southernmost 20 miles of the former Delaware & Hudson 'Slatepicker' line between Eagle Bridge, NY north to Castleton, VT. Besides operating some seasonal excursion trains, the Batten Kill might be best known for being the first railroad owned and operated by an African-American.
The rural line trundles its way through Washington County, NY, paralleling the Vermont state line for much of the way. From day one, motive power for the Batten Kill was a pair of Schenectady-built ALCo RS3s, the newest of which was built in 1952. For the last 30 years, traffic has mainly consisted of feed and grain to an elevator at Greenwich Jct. NY, although in recent years, the BKRR has also made some money storing idle flatcars around Salem, Greenwich Jct and the company headquarters in Greenwich.
The Batten Kill's link to the rest of the North American rail network is at the village of Eagle Bridge. Although the D&H had abandoned the Slatepicker line north of Salem in the 1970s and sold off the southern portion to the Batten Kill, they retained trackage rights over Boston & Maine (now Pan-Am's) Fitchburg Division between Mechanicville, NY and Eagle Bridge to interchange with the Batten Kill. Although both the B&M and D&H were supposedly indistinguishable under the Guilford umbrella, that changed in the late 1980s when the financially struggling Guilford divested themselves of the D&H. After a few years in which the New York, Susquehanna & Western was named the designated operator of the D&H, the Canadian Pacific purchased the D&H in 1991, and this whole time the D&H still retained their trackage rights over the Guilford/Pan-Am line to reach the diminutive Batten Kill.
And with that in mind, we get a glimpse of the Batten Kill's RS3 #4116 (ex D&H, same number) Still in G&J paint as it trundles by parked Delaware & Hudson GP38-2 #7312 with a cut of 5 cars at the Eagle Bridge, NY interchange. From all appearances, Railpictures.net user Gary R. Schermerhorn could've captured this scene shortly after Ron Crowd purchased the ex-D&H line in 1982. However, this fortuitous find actually took place in May 2009, some 27 years after the founding. It's not commom practice for Canadian Pacific the leave their power overnight on another line, but according to the photographer, a fallen tree blocked the #7312 from reaching the Pan-Am line and returning back to Saratoga Springs, NY. With the tree removed, the EMD sporting the blue and grey lightning stripe scheme is awaiting a new crew for its nocturnal return to Saratoga Springs NY with local freight D44. Meanwhile, the #4116 will trundle north to the grain elevator at Greenwich Jct.
The Boston & Maine/Guilford/Pan-Am line is out of view and to the left of the trees on the left hand side of the photo.