Wallkill Valley Railroad is an historic railroad
that operated in New
The WV eventually became part of the
New York Central
, and served the
lower (northern) Wallkill Valley
until its abandonment in 1982 by successor Conrail
Wallkill Valley Railroad
It was founded in 1866, and was constructed to match the Erie Railroad's six-foot gauge
so that it could be easier to
transport goods from one railroad to the other. It was operated by
the Erie for the next ten years after its construction.
It came to
Paltz in 1870, and bridged Rondout Creek and the Delaware and Hudson Canal in
That year, steamboat Captain Thomas Cornell
became president of the
railroad, though people thought that he bought the railroad just
for his own sake. He completed it to Kingston, but left his post
soon thereafter. Plenty of newspaper articles suggested that it was
a financial scandal, and the Wallkill Valley went bankrupt.
However, Cornell purchased it again in 1877. Later, he learned,
with the help of his step-son Samuel Coykendall, that the West Shore Railroad was chartering a
route to New York
City and that it would pass through Kingston on the way.
Cornell responded by chartering
an extension for the Wallkill Valley right into West
Shore-chartered land. But what this meant to the West Shore was
that it could have a new branch. The West Shore purchased the line
at a price of almost $1,000,000 in 1881.
The northern end of the remaining WVRR
tracks, in Walden.
New York Central
It soon became the rural Wallkill Valley Branch of the West Shore
Railroad, although the locals whose profits were wiped out during
the previous bankruptcy didn't agree with this. And an occasional
scheme was hatched to extend it to the Pennsylvania coal mines to bring more money to the railroad,
though it was never successful.
The New York Central
then bought the West Shore
Railroad in 1884 when passenger service was slowly declining, as
with most rural branches. Passenger service was completely
abandoned in 1937.
After that, some of the previous Ulster and Delaware
sent to operate on the Wallkill Valley Branch, since they were
light enough to cross the Wallkill Valley's Rosendale Bridge. But
those were all gone by 1949, and the branch was soon entirely
Conrail almost entirely abandoned the branch, though it was
considered briefly as a new route to Allentown, PA, via Kingston,
Campbell Hall and the L&HR. It was discovered in 1977 that the
piers supporting the Rosendale Viaduct had shifted, and that
repairs were not worth the money to keep the line open. The
physical plant was formally abandoned in 1982, and the
infrastructure was torn out and sold for scrap, except for the
Rosendale trestle; a little spur from Walden to Campbell Hall and a
in Kingston. The process of
dismantling the railroad took from 1983 to 1984.
Norfolk Southern Railway and remaining facilities
remaining spur from DeGroodt's Paving in downtown Walden to the
Campbell Hall Metro-North
station is used for freight service by Norfolk
The station in New Paltz remains along the trail,
though the station in Gardiner burned down in 2002. Walden station
was moved to a village park, and remains intact.
Portions of the line in both Ulster and Orange Counties have been
converted into a rail trail
Wallkill Valley Rail
, described here from north to south. Note that north of
River Road, Rosendale, the Wallkill Valley Railroad actually runs
in the Rondout Valley.
Rosendale Railroad Viaduct (known locally as the Rosendale trestle)
was built in 1895 by the King Bridge
Company of Cleveland,
In 1986, John E. Rahl of New Paltz acquired
the entire right-of-way from the Town of New Paltz northern border
to the City of Kingston, including the historic Rosendale Viaduct,
from Conrail for one dollar. In 1991, Mr. Rahl built a pedestrian
walkway on about 60% of the trestle, from the southern end, for a
prospective bungee-jumping venture which was prevented from opening
by the Town of Rosendale. Douglas Hase tried again unsuccessfully
in 2003-4 to get town approval for such a venture. The Town's
rationale was to prevent "recreational use" of the trestle.
However, it had long been used recreationally as a linear park, and
actually crosses a town park below it. The Rosendale Trestle has
been adopted as the town's official logo. WVRR's lands are
industrial property, but Rosendale claimed the trestle was a
On April 17, 2009, Ulster County took title to all of Mr. Rahl's
ROW, including the historic Rosendale Viaduct, for nonpayment of
$13,716 in taxes by Mr. Rahl. Five days later, on April 22, 2009,
the Open Space Conservancy
the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (of New Paltz) was the joint
high-bidder when the properties were set aside from public auction.
These two organizations took title to the ROW on July 8, 2009.
Their reported intent is to convey the properties to the Towns of
Rosendale and Ulster, which will then attempt to extend the
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail northward from the Town of New Paltz
line to the City of Kingston line, at a point about one mile south
of the former line's junction with the CSX River Division (former
NYC West Shore) main line. The rail bed from the Rosendale Viaduct
has hitherto been open to the public southward, as the Rosendale Rail Trail
, from dawn to
The longer Wallkill Valley
, continuing south through New Paltz and Gardiner, is
more formally maintained.
Shawangunk Rail Trail runs
from NY 208 in Wallkill south to Walden, NY, in Orange County.
section has been paved and is in use as the Jesse McHugh Rail Trail
with public access points on Rte. 208, Lake Osiris Rd., and the
corner of Woodruff St. and Wileman Ave in Walden. Parking
availability is limited to street parking. The section of the rail
bed north of Rte 208 to Birch Road is owned by the Town of
Shawangunk but is unimproved. The 1.4 mile section from Birch Road
north to Denniston road (southern terminus of the Wallkill Valley
Rail Trail) is owned by the New York State Department of
Corrections where the Shawangunk and Wallkill Correctional
Facilities are located (and is closed to the public).
- 1. Ulster and Delaware Railroad Historical Society
- 2. The Old "Up and Down" Catskill Mountain Branch of the New