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RyPN Briefs December 15, 2006
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On October 21st, 2006, a "golden spike" ceremony was held at Milepost 15.1 of the Catskill Mountain Railroad, celebrating the removal of the final tree blocking the main line of the CMRR. This 25.1-mile segment of the CMRR is now open from Phoenicia to Kingston, New York. Work still remains to fully reopen several crossings on the line and to move stored equipment, but the line is now passable for track cars.

At MP 15.1, we commemorated the cutting of the "final tree" on the mainline of the Catskill Mountain RR. With the cutting of this tree, the line is now open from Kingston to Phoenicia, though we still have some crossings to open and some equipment to move off the tracks. In the photo above Steve Kijak is holding the "golden spike" (actually yellow). Also pictured are most of our joint crew from today, (l-r) Thom Johnson, George Cook, John Voelcker, Steve Kijak, Chris Bigham, Joe Marsh, Bill Brosnan, Dick Wilhelm, and Tom Healy. Photos by Ernest Hunt except as noted.

Our brush crews cleared nearly 17 miles of track on the CMRR main line in 2006, and another 2.5 miles between Giggle Hollow, MP 38.9, and the connection with the Delaware & Ulster at Highmount, MP 41.4.

More than 30 people from every organization affiliated with the former Ulster & Delaware joined the effort this year, including the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society, the Empire State Railway Museum, the Trolley Museum of New York , and of course the Catskill Mountain Railroad.

Now that the CMRR main line has been cleared, two separate all-volunteer crews, one out of Phoenicia, and the other out of Kingston, are now working to restore the tracks for full-sized train service.

As you may recall from the update in May, there was concern at the CMRR because of a study by Ulster County, New York, the owner of the tracks, to convert the line into a rail trail (Ulster County Trail Planning). However, due to heavy pro-rail sentiment in several public meetings, the rail trail proposal has been modified to include rail use. The final report can be obtained here.

Of the four priorities I listed in April, the first, clearing the CMRR main line from Ashokan, MP16 to Cold Brook, MP 22, was completed last April 30th. The next priority, clearing the line in Kingston, MP 3 to 6, was completed May 29th, and a maintenance run to cut new growth was done on August 5th. The third priority, reopening the tracks from western Kingston, MP 6 to Ashokan, MP 16, was completed on October 21st, clearing the last stretch of the CMRR main.

View west on 5/7/2006 at MP 4.26 at Signal Base 4-4, beginning of day.
View west on 5/7/2006 at MP 4.26 at Signal Base 4-4, end of day.
View of maintenance crew cutting new growth west of Kingston at MP 5.2 on 8/5/06.
View of the brush crew attacking the thick brush and saplings in the deep cut at MP 9.8 on 9/4/06.
Steve Kijak, Dave Baker, Freddie Rasmussen and George Cook pushing George's track car over the reopened private crossing at MP 6.29 on 9/30/06

The fourth priority, opening the line from Phoenicia to Highmount, was started in 2006, with 2.5 miles from Giggle Hollow, MP 38.9, to the Delaware & Ulster connection at Highmount, MP 41.4, completed in the summer of 2006. The NARCOA/NERCA annual track car meet on the D&U was extended onto the trackage to Pine Hill, and was the first rail use for this section of the line in nearly 30 years. Eleven miles remain to be cut between Phoenicia and Giggle Hollow, which crews plan to significantly reduce in 2007.

View west from Station Road in Pine Hill, MP 39.8 on 7/1/06 before cutting.
View west from Station Road in Pine Hill, MP 39.8 on 7/8/06 after cutting. NERCA/NARCOA track meet on the Delaware & Ulster on 7/8/06 was extended 1.6 miles onto this newly reopened track segment. I have posted many photos of our work on NERAIL, at this link.
Joe Marsh, Phil Goldstein, and Dave Baker at fill on tracks east of Pine Hill. View looking east at MP 39.4 on 7/16/2006.
Dave Baker, Steve Gollow, Travis Rapp and friend at MP 39.4 after tracks had been cleared of fill and trees on 9/23/2006.

After accomplishing so much in 2006, there remains much work to do on the CMRR.

On MP 5.5 of the CMRR main line, four passenger cars and two freight cars stored there are being prepared to be moved west 5 miles to a siding at West Hurley. It has been 20 years since any full-sized equipment has traversed this segment of the line, so track work is now commencing to allow this move in 2007.

Additionally at Ashokan, MP 16.2, a siding will be built to move the crane now stored there off the line. This switch will be the east end of a future run-around at the site, as part of a future terminal there for the CMRR.

Once these two projects are complete, the line will be completely open between Kingston and Phoenicia so that light equipment movements can be made.

Trackwork to extend the tourist service east from the current end of track, MP 22.7, has commenced, with a goal of extending full-sized train service to MP 22.1, Cold Brook. In Kingston, upgrading the track for full sized trains is also starting with a plan to have a mile of track open in 2007 to the Kingston Plaza shopping center. The CMRR plans to start limited tourist and freight service in Kingston in 2007 or 2008.

In Ashokan, MP 16.2, work has already started on clearing the site as a future terminal for the CMRR, and the section house at the site will be renovated in 2007 to allow volunteer crews a place to meet and store equipment.

Longer term plans to begin in 2007 will include an engineering assessment for repairs to the washout at Butternut Cove, MP 18.6, and a separate assessment of repairs to the Boiceville Bridge, MP 21.3.

On Saturday, September 9th, the CMRR and ESRM invited all volunteers to a barbeque at the Phoenicia station and twilight train ride as a thank you for their efforts in 2006.

On Saturday, October 7th, the Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society, in conjunction with the Delaware & Ulster Railroad, sponsored its first annual Railfair open to members of all organizations affiliated with the Ulster & Delaware (Delaware & Ulster Railroad). The event featured track car rides east of Arkville to Highmount and Pine Hill, and a ride on the Delaware & Ulster's Rip Van Winkle Flyer streamliner west 11 miles to the Roxbury Depot and back. The event was an unparalleled success, and is planned to be open to the public in 2007.

On October 8, 2006, a 5 man crew headed by Tom Healy and Chris Bigham cut west from the end of the Glenford Dike, MP 11.3. Here is the crew as they started cutting on this beautiful day. Behind them is the Ashokan reservoir. Pictured in the photo above are (l-r) Matt Giardino, Chris Bigham, Al Johnson, John LaBarre, who stopped by to visit, and Ed Palmatier. Photo by Tom Healy.

New volunteers have helped energize the CMRR this year - ten new volunteers have become members in 2006 (to become a member you must volunteer for 40 hours) and another ten are on their way. Almost every weekend we have a new volunteer joining up.

I will post on Railway Preservation News notices of each of our future volunteer work days, and encourage anyone to join us on our weekend sessions.