O&W   Virtual   Bus   Tour   Part   II

O&W Virtual Bus Tour Part II

by Peter H. Putman

     Hello, and welcome to Part 2 of the Virtual Bus Tour - an Internet trip over the remains of the New York, Ontario, and Western Railway. Last year's tour started in Cornwall and ended in South Fallsburgh. This year, we traveled from Kingston, NY to Summitville, and from Cadosia to Ferndale over a July weekend, missing only the Hurleyville (Luzon) station in the process.

As we traveled alongside the right-of-way and stopped to look for old grades, stations, etc. I was struck with two thoughts: First, how beautiful was much of the countryside traveled by the O&W - perhaps too bucolic and not industrial enough to sustain the road in the end. And second, how stubborn the Old Woman is in giving up what evidence remains of her once-important transportation corridor through Orange, Sullivan, Delaware, and Ulster counties.

     Searching for the O&W is not unlike an archeological dig. You must have an active imagination to look through the underbrush, superhighways, parking lots, and buildings...look past the dry rot, rusty steel, cinder paths and fences and imagine what things looked like 50 and even 100 years ago.

     It's a trip for dreamers, who can dip their toes in the East Branch of the Delaware River or Roundout Creek and still see a Y-Class Mountain chugging along with a mix of coaches, baggage cars and milk cars, or a solitary NW-2 drifting along through the woods, dragging a few boxcars north to Kingston from Summitville.

     As Ross and I wandered south from Cadosia, we couldn't help but notice how many of the towns along the O&W are themselves in a slow decline. The rows of empty storefronts and lack of industry are testimony to that hard fact. Chasing the remains of the O&W conjures up stories and photos of a better time when New York state was full of vibrant, energetic small towns; self-sustaining economic engines at the heart of which lay a railroad, bringing goods from the outside world, transporting people and conveying a sense of status to the communities it served.

     Somehow a four-lane interstate or state toll road and a bunch of gas stations and fast-food restaurants just don't evoke the same feeling. The O&W and her employees are long gone, and although it was the only economic option left I somehow feel we are all the worse off for having lost this railroad and what it represented.

     Put the 1990s and the "next millenium" on hold for a little while and come along with us as we take a ramble through the countryside....Pete and Ross Putman


To make these photos more useful to you, we recommend having a copy on hand of any of these books:

"To The Mountains By Rail" (Wakefield)

"O&W: The Final Years" (Crist/Krause)

"The Long Life and Slow Death of the NYO&W" (Helmer)

"The NYO&W In Color" (Lubliner)

"NYO&W In The Diesel Age" (Mohowski)

"Milk Cars & Mixed Trains & Motor Cars" (Mohowski)

"Minisink Valley Express" (Best)

     Or any of the Society's publications including the Bus Tour Guides. The before and after comparisons become more dramatic and meaningful!    


Click any image to start the gallery/slideshow, or right-click and open any image in a new tab or window for a full-size view. These particular images are fairly small in size. Captions are included in the gallery. NOTE:  These images were adjusted for brightness by Frank Florianz (assisting Ron Vassallo) on January 31, 2012 using the images originally in the old website article.

Please note that the Rosendale Trestle (photos vt005 and vt012) was not an O&W structure, but rather on the Wallkill Valley railroad. 

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