Jonathan Lee

Worldly Images

Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMR) May 2011

Our visit to the Catskill Mountain Railroad was to ride with Bart Jennings on two of his “Rare Mileage” specials. Bart arranges these specials through the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum, details of which can be found here (as well as photos of all previously arranged trips):

As the Catskill Mountain Railroad is split in two we gathered at Kingston Westbrook for the first of the days two charter trains. A task that we almost couldn’t manage due to car hire issues, followed by some taxi related issues too. The result of which was me having to ring Bart to get the train to wait for us, which was very much appreciated indeed.

The charter ran from Kingston Westbrook to milepost 5, where further progression was hindered by a bridge, which needed some attention prior to trains being allowed to cross, it was then propelled back through Westbrook to the Depot at Kingston before returning to Westbrook. The loco for the trip was Alco RS1 #401, the only reason we were there of course. The weather certainly put a dampener on things in relation to photographs. It hammered it down the whole time we were there, which put even more of a dampener on the second charter of the day.

After driving to the Catskill Mountain Railroad’s second base in Phoenicia we were given a double whammy of bad news. Firstly that we couldn’t run as far as the railway usually operated to, due to the persistent heavy rain having caused a washout. Secondly and the worst news of all for us was that due to the poor condition of the tracks and potential for washout at any moment the railway’s Alco S1 #407 would not be used due to it being too heavy. Their Devonport #29 would be used instead. I almost flagged the whole thing and was going to sit waiting while the train went out and back without me, but i ended up doing it anyway. In the process we managed to coax the railway into using the S1 on an additional shorter run, once the main train returned to Phoenicia. It pushed the whole lot out to Camp Ground Crossing, just over a mile and a half out of Phoenicia and then dragged it all back it. We were even treated to a cab ride with the line’s General Manager to appease us, which was very good of them.

At least the rain had stopped for our drive to Albany to drop the hire car off, where we got a taxi into Schenectady to catch Amtrak’s “Lake Shore Limited” the short distance to Utica, where we arrived at 0330 the following morning, in a taxi! All courtesy of a swing bridge not aligning back up at Albany, trapping the “Lake Shore Limited” New York side of it. The fact that it took Amtrak 6 hours to offer us a taxi to take us the 80 miles or so it was to Utica was nothing less than shocking……… And the driving was something else! How we actually made it alive is nothing less than a miracle……..


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