The Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad: (Pine Plains and the Railroads)
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Vol. 4: Pine Plains and the Railroads

Bicentennial Publication

By: Lyndon A. Haight

§5 The Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad

On April 13, 1866, thirty-four years after the first organization meeting, the Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad was chartered. The road, when completed, did not run through Ancram and Copake at all, but through Ancram Lead Mines (Ancramdale) to Boston Corners and then south another 6.41 miles to State Line, just east of Millerton. to connect with the Connecticut Western Railroad. The line was completed October 1, 1872 at a cost of $1,499,200 for forty-three miles. Between Stissing Junction, a few miles south of Pine Plains, and Pine Plains, the Poughkeepsie and Eastern leased trackage from the Dutchess and Columbia Railroad, which was also under construction, at an annual rental of $10,000 until 1878 when it was reduced to $8,000.

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Original Poughkeepsie & Eastern Station near Academy St., Pine Plains. Agway now on site. (V04-13.GIF)

In June, 1874, the P&E went into the hands of a receiver and was sold in April, 1875, to George Pelton of Poughkeepsie, who reorganized it as the Poughkeepsie, Hartford and Boston Railroad Company. Operation continued as under the P&E management. Late in 1886 the PH&B was sold under foreclosure and in January was reorganized as the New York and Massachusetts Railway Company. Financial troubles continued until March, 1893, when the road was again sold under foreclosure. In the following month it was chartered as the Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railway Company, almost its original name. In June, 1898, the road once again went into receivership; nine years later, in 1907, it was merged into the Central New England System.

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P.&E. Station, Ancramdale, NY, 1938. (V04-14A.GIF)

At the time of the building of the Poughkeepsie and Eastern, there existed about four and one-half miles of trackage belonging to the Columbia County Iron Mine Company, extending from their mines near Halsted to the Harlem Railroad at Boston Corners. This trackage was acquired by the P&E for $95,000.

The following description taken from the Report and Survey and Estimates of the Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad from Poughkeepsie to Boston Corners" may have a special or local personal interest for some of you:

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Station and yard, Poughkeepsie, Hartford and Boston R.R. (Poughkeepsie and Eastern) at Poughkeepsie. (V04-14B.GIF)

"From the point mentioned near Van Vliet's mill at Salt Point, the line bears to the right, crossing Little Wappingers Creek and the road to Clinton Corners just west of the residence of S.T. Angell, Esq. and bearing north … re-crosses the Clinton Corners road near the residence of Isaac Doty; thence curving to the right. crosses a stream and road near the residence of Mr. Wing; passing thence through the lands of said Wing and lands of Sands Doty, Esq., the line descends… into the valley of Wappingers Creek one half mile north of the village of Hibernia; from which point… the line is carried along the west bank keeping generally the more elevated portion of the valley … near the mills owned by the City Bank of Poughkeepsie, to the village of Stanfordville.

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Train coming from station in Pine Plains on ND&C tracks, headed for Poughkeepsie or Beacon. Train on left is on track to P.&E. Junction. (V04-15.GIF)

"From the point near Roger's axle factory the line is carried on the west bank of Wappingers Creek, curving to the right a distance of four thousand feet: thence bearing to the left nine hundred feet, with a radius of nine hundred and fifty-five feet and running north … it crosses a branch of the Wappingers near it confluence with the main stream, and a road near a house upon the estate of Mr. McIntyre: thence continuing and crossing the main creek on lands of Mrs. Mosher, the line is continued on the east bank of the Wappingers. thence crossing the creek and road near the residence of W.D. Butts at Slab City, from which point it passes along the eastern base of Stissing Mountain over very favorable ground, crossing Church Street in the village of Pine Plains, at the foot of Mill Hill, in the eastern extremity of the village, near the Academy…

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Passenger train near Briarcliff (now Stockbriar) Farms. (V04-16.GIF)

"From the point in Church Street, Pine Plains, the line is carried … east … crossing the Chicomico Creek, one quarter of a mile west of Hammertown, and upon the lands of Giles Duxbury, Esq.: thence curving to the left and … crossing the Hammertown road, and the line between Dutchess and Columbia Counties near the residence of A. A. Strever, Esq.: thence curving to the right and … crossing intersection of roads … near the residence of H. Hoisradt, Esq. … thence to the right, running upon the lands of John Keefer, Esq., to the waters of Punch Creek … southeast of Hot Ground Village: ascending thence the valley of Punch Creek, crossing the road near Mr. C. McArthur's residence … and near the house of Mr. E. Miller, again crossing the road near the schoolhouse … east of the village of Hot Ground: thence crossing lands of Messrs. Jacob and Henry Miller, with ascending grades passing near the residence of the latter, and west of the house of James Bloss, Esq., thence northerly to the Methodist Church, crossing the road … east of the residence of Joseph Halstead, Esq. and intersecting the Rail Road of the Columbia County Iron Mining Company, at their ore bed in Ancram; the distance from Pine Plains being seven and one quarter miles, with light grades, and from the point of starting, thirty-four and four-tenths miles; and from the Hudson River to the connection of Columbia County Iron Mining Company's Rail Road with the Harlem Rail Road at Boston Corners, thirty-eight and sixty-five one-hundredths of a mile. An examination of the maps and profiles, accompanying the Report, shows the line to be very direct and easy of construction… The grades are favorable excepting for a short distance in getting down to the river at Poughkeepsie…"

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Map showing early rail lines in Columbia, Dutchess, Putnam (NY) and Litchfield, Fairfield (CT).

The Survey also includes the estimated receipts during the first year of business. The hauling of iron ore was to provide the largest source of income, estimated at $87,000, most of the ore to come from the beds of the Columbia County Iron Mining Co. with some from the Weed Mines north of Boston Corners. The next largest source of income was to be the hauling of milk, estimated at $58,000. Passenger service revenue was estimated at about $42,000 annually.

Receipts did not come up to expectations. The railroad's report for 1873 to the New York Railroad Commissioners shows total receipts of $86,000, or less than 35 percent of the estimate. Passenger revenue was $41,000, about as forecast; freight revenue was $45,000, with receipts from carrying ore being $840 instead of the expected revenue 1 $87,000. Income in 1877, when the road was operated as the Poughkeepsie, Hartford and Boston, was $66,000, of which $27,000 was earned from carrying passengers. In 1905 receipts were $72,000, of which $42,000 came from passenger service. It can readily be seen why the railroad went through so many financial reorganizations; the anticipated business just wasn't there.

A history of the Poughkeepsie and Eastern Railroad Company, which includes that of its successor companies, is this description of the New York and Massachusetts Railroad at Boston Corners:

"The seven miles of its original line between Boston Corners and the state line of Connecticut has been sold and conveyed as hereinbefore stated, to the Hartford and Connecticut Western Railroad for $50,000, which sum has been sunk in current expenses and debts therefore, so that said New York and Massachusetts Railroad trains run now no further than said Boston Corners, where at some inconvenient distance, and in an open space, it leaves its passengers and freight to be carried by wheelbarrow to the Harlem Railroad, or the Hartford and Connecticut Western Railroad, there being no village there, no Station or Freight House of or for the New York and Massachusetts Railroad aforesaid, to protect passengers, freight or baggage."

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Squeezed between two hills at Boston Corners, NY, were three railroad lines and a brook. To the left was the Poughkeepsie and Eastern, center, the CNE with the Harlem Division of the NYC on the right. The one station served all three lines. (V04-20.GIF)

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