But Changes Came: (Pine Plains and the Railroads)
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Vol. 4: Pine Plains and the Railroads

Bicentennial Publication


By: Lyndon A. Haight
1976

§4 But Changes Came


Long before the steam engine was supplanted by the diesel in the 1940s,

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Station at Pine Plains in service until end of railroad. Near present Pine Plains firehouse. Originally the N.D.&C. Station. (V04-11.GIF)
the Central New England Railway had passed from the local scene, having dispatched its last four passenger trains on Saturday, September 9, 1933. These were No. 497, leaving Pine Plains for Beacon daily except Sundays at 5:30 A.M., No. 496, arriving from Beacon at 5:43 P.M.; No. 499, leaving Pine Plains for Poughkeepsie at 7:41 A.M. terminating at Copake), and No. 499 arriving from Poughkeepsie at 4:11 P.M. and terminating at Copake. Freight service continued until 1937.

One writer has stated that, at its peak, passenger service brought eighteen trains daily into and out of Pine Plaines on the three railroads which served it. In addition, many freight trains chugged their way through town, whistles blowing and bells ringing for the street crossings. Now all are gone. A few landmarks can be found if one knows where to look for them. As the railroad offered a fast and powerful means of travel and shipping, replacing the stagecoach and diminishing the demand for transportation by canal boat, so in turn it relinquished its role to a newer automobile and truck transport, with air travel a still further option today.

In retrospect, we can say that to most of us there was only one railroad in Pine Plains - the "Central New England," but this was the final combination of many small railroads. The iron horse came into Dutchess County in 1849, when the Harlem Railroad reached Dover Plains, and the Hudson River Railroad reached Poughkeepsie in 1851.

Dutchess County people were railroad-minded, and their interest led to the chartering of the Dutchess County Railroad Company on March 25. 1832, to build a railroad from Poughkeepsie to the Connecticut state line. The first step, a survey of the route to Amenia through Pine Plains and the township of Northeast, was accomplished in 1833, but the important next step, raising the necessary money, failed because most of the people favored a canal. This interest went back to 1832, as shown by a Poughkeepsie Journal item of June 12 concerning a "Sharon Canal" from Sharon to Dover to Mt. Pleasant, and to the Hudson River. A new effort followed when, on May 25. 1836, the railroad rechartered under the same name, this time to construct a line from Poughkeepsie to Pine Plains, thence through part of Columbia County to the Massachusetts line. Again, nothing came of this.

In 1855, nineteen years later, a third effort likewise made no progress. After ten more years the idea was promoted for the fourth time and a meeting was held in Washington Hollow. A controversy arose as to whether the terminus should be in Poughkeepsie or Fishkill. Advocates for Fishkill were in the majority and the Poughkeepsie people withdrew. Some time afterward a meeting at Salt Point was adjourned for a more general one at Bangall. Here an organization under the general railroad law was proposed for a railroad from the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie via Pine Plains to Ancram or Copake and thence to the Connecticut state line, with a branch at or near Salt Point, passing near Washington Hollow to connect with the New York and Harlem at Wassaic. This plan, commonly known as the Poughkeepsie and Copake Railroad, was never incorporated under that name. At a meeting in Washington Hollow in February 1866, the completed survey showed a contemplated cost of construction and equipment at $1,002,000, with estimated annual receipts of $293,000.


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