Beacon Citizen Network (BCN): a place for neighbors to get the word out, be heard and stay informed in all matters concerning Beacon, NY.



You Can't Get There From Here part 2 - chap. 1


part 1 - why you can't ...

part 2 - how you might be able to...

chapter 1 - iron roads and iron horses 


  The answer,my friends,is not blowing in the wind - it may be at your feet.Ever notice that track with the rusty rails going in front of the Roundhouse and past Beacon Falls on upper Main Street in Beacon? That single track might appear to be a siding that once served the industrial buildings in the area that are now being developed and re-purposed,and latter,the Texaco facility.No,this is indeed the 41 mile branch line from Beacon to Danbury CT that is refered to as the "Beacon Line".The owner of this branch line,Metro North,has taken resonably good care of this line.The sectional rail had been welded and the roadbed has been kept in good shape with ample balast and very little,if any,vegitation growing in the middle of the track.As per the New York state 2008 rail vehicle weight limit map,the Beacon line has the same rating as the Harlem Line.IE:whatever can be run on the Harlem line can also be run on the Beacon line as well.

a tale of two rail lines ...

There are some naysayers,and the MTA, who might argue that there is not enough of a population base,or places of employment-industries from which there would be enough riders to justify the resumption of revenue pasenger service on this line. hmmmm... Obviously they have'nt been to south-west Dutchess in a long time.


the population data is from the US 2010 census

Beacon line

Harlem line

city of Beacon:
15,541 (also served by the Hudson line)

population totals excluding Beacon - combined towns of Fishkill,village of Fishkill and town of East Fishkill:

metro City of Beacon with above (excluding the towns of Beekman and Pawling):
68,805 > vs. Mt. Vernon (Westchester county) 67,292

town of Beekman:

town of Pawling:
8,463 (also served by the Harlem line)

grand total southern Dutchess/Beacon metro including the towns of Beekman and Pawling:

town of Pawling:

town of Dover:

town of Amenia:

21,598 total









Beacon line

Harlem line

city of Beacon


major employers:

health care:


NYS Dept. of Corrections
Hudson Baylor Recycling
(2011 not in operation yet)

Hudson River Health Care(post 1995)

The Roundhouse hotel-spa (to be fully open in 2012), numerous restaurants and cafes

major employers:

health care:
service /retail:

Pawling Corp. - Engineered Products (in village - Charles Coleman Blvd.)

Heinchon Dairy Farm




major employers:

The Gap distribution center (post 1995) - New York State Dept. of Corrections

major employers:
health care:

Hudson River Health Care


Westage business center (post 1995) - Advanced Reconnaisance
Corp. (DOD contractor - post 1995)

health care:

Wingate Health Care (post 1995)



East Fishkill


major employers:

health care:

[ Hudson Valley Research Park ]
IBM - east campus
Linuo - west campus (2011 - not in operation yet)

A&P,restaurants etc. (primarily in the plazas of Hopewell Jct.)

major employers:


health care:

New York State Taconic Developmental center Wassaic campus (in town of Amenia - to be closed in 2013 - served by the 10 Mile River station)

Pawling Corp.-Architectural Products Presay/Door Dam


Beacon line - Hopewell Jct. looking east towad Stormville -near the exact point of the junction with the old Maybrook line

  The Maybrook line track was removed up to Hopewell Jct. in 1982 by the RR of the time,Conrail. The track east of Hopwell Jct. to Danbury was left along with the branch line track from the Hudson line in Beacon that junctioned with the main line. The now contiguous Beacon-Danbury line single track would simply be known as 'the Beacon line' In 1983,the abandoned, trackless, ROW was sold to Dutchess county. This was also the year that the Metro North Commuter RailRoad was established.

  I remember reading about the acquisition of the Beacon line in 1995,by Metro North, in the local paper. In addition to the actual purchase, there was mention of a trail along the line.This latter was a bit confusing to myself at the time. I was not yet familiar with the concept of a rail with trail. I was only familiar with the more traditional rail-trail,a trail on an abandoned railroad right of way (ROW), with no rail,like (what is now known as) the Dutchess Rail Trail. It would be 3 more years before the county would receive funding for this multi use trail.Much more recently I received a link,from Ben Royce,to a NY Times article (By Kate Stone Lombardi Published: February 05, 1995) about Metro North's purchase of the Beacon line. In that article, it was reported that Donald Nelson,then president of Metro North,had said "it was not certain how soon the railroad could develop the new passenger service, though it might be within 10 years" It now has been almost 17 years and still no passenger service on this line. One may wonder what hapened? Well.. simply put,the Harlem line - the extension of to be exact. Also the economic situation of south-west Dutchess,at the time,was a major influencing factor to be sure.

  In 1995 things were quite diferent for south-west Dutchess than they are today. IBM had laid of a large number of workers. Downtown Beacon,like many other economicaly depresed downtowns across America at the time,was a ghost of a more prosperous time long ago.There were boarded up busineses along Main Street and old,crumbling closed factory buildings.The old Nabisco box factory, now the Dia, was among them.



Wassaic early 1990's - the (upper) upper Harlem line - note grass in middle of track

  It was 1848 when the first New York & Harlem RR passenger trains arrived in Pawling. Two years latter Dover Plains, and by 1852 the RR would have extended the line all the way up to Chatham in Columbia county, the northern most point the rail line would reach. The NY&H RR would become part of the NY Central RR empire and this rail line through the Harlem Valley would be known as the 'Harlem division' and later the 'Harlem line',which is what we know it as today. The Pennsylvania RR and the NY Central RR joined,in an ill fated mega merger,in 1968 to form the Penn Central RR. Because of decreased ridership due to the (in hindsight - unfortunate) increased use of automobiles as transportation,service was cut on the Harlem line and Dover Plains became the northern terminus. In 1972 the MTA assumed commuter rail operations.Metro North would assume all rail operations,except for Long Island,under the MTA when they were established in 1983. Metro North is the exclusive owner of, and operator of trains on, the Harlem line.

  In 1991 I had moved from Mt. Kisco on the double tracked,electrified Harlem line,to the "Petticoat Junction"-esqe village of Pawling on the non-electrified single track upper Harlem line. The northern most terminus for the Harlem line then was the village of Dover Plains.On a number of ocasions,I would take the train north to the end of the line,Dover Plains,for bicycle rides in the upper Harlem valley.I remember seeing the out of state license plates on more than a few of the cars in the station parking lot.The Connecticut plates were to be expected. After all this section of Dutchess county was once part of Connecticut and was ceded to New York in the early 18th century.However,I also saw licsense plates from Massachusets.

  There were people driving 2 hours from western Massachusets to Dover Plains NY to take the train to New York city, a 4 hour 15 minute commute (one way) all total. With the extension of the Harlem line to Wassaic,this commute would be 'only' 3 hours 45 minutes total.

  On several of those bike rides in the upper Harlem valley,I rode through the hamlet of Wassaic.I remember seeing the old concrete sidewalk-like low platform for the old station. It had been a bit more than 20 years since a passenger train would have stoped here. On one ride I had atempted to ride the old ROW from here to Amenia. The first section of the Harlem Valley RT,in Dutchess county,had not been open yet. As I recall,the track ended just a tad north of the hamlet.When Metro North began the Harlem line expansion project a few years latter,they had to replace the track from Dover Plains to the new station in Wassaic. The actual hamlet of Wassaic would have been too small for the new station,parking lot and small rail yard. The new station would be north of the hamlet on SR 22. As part of the new station, would be the 2.5 mile section of the Harlem Valley RT to Amenia. The southern terminus of the rail trail would be incorporated into the overall design of the new station.

  When I had left Pawling in late 1995,work on the new station in Pawling had just started. The supports for the new HLP (high level platform) were in place. Work on the first section of the Harlem Valley RT had begun. This first section of Dutchess county's first rail trail would open in 1996.I remember just before leaving Pawling,there was a failed attempt to save the old freight RR station.This was the only remaining 19th century railroad structure in Pawling.It would be demolished to make way for the new station parking lot.The original passenger station had been destroyed in one of numerous fires in the village that had ocured over the years.

The Vision - Southern Dutchess Interurban Rail Transit

  • Enhance the Beacon line for clean burning,fuel efficient,DMU (self propelled light diesel) coaches
  • link the communities along the corridor between Beacon and Holmes (town of Pawling)
  • rail corridor trail development
  • Beacon's new TOD - Matteawan Station transit village

the new Trans Dutchess rail line (the former Beacon - Danbury branch line) to act as a feeder system to support the 2 existing main lines - the Hudson line and the Harlem line

the new rail line to be multipurpose:

  • commuter
  • interurban
  • recreational
  • scenic-tourist

  When I had first read that 1995 archived NY Times article previously refered to, I had read only the first page thinking there was only 1 page. I guess I did not scroll far enough down to see that there are actualy 3 pages - my bad as they say.Upon reading the article in full,I saw on page 2 the intended use of the Beacon line would be interurban/inter-county and would provide a link between the Hudson line and the Harlem line. Once again I find myself re-iterating what has already been said. In this case,almost 17 years ago.

here are several quotes from page 2 of that article dated 02-05-1995:

And commuting patterns are also changing. "It is no longer just everyone piling into the city," said Daniel Brucker, a spokesman for Metro-North. "It is reverse commuting, intrastate commuting and inter-county commuting."


With the new line, a commuter who lives in Poughkeepsie and works in White Plains could commute by train by way of the Hudson Line south to Beacon, east on the Maybrook Line to Brewster North and then south on the Harlem Line to White Plains. Such a trip now entails a 74-mile trip south to Grand Central Terminal on the Hudson Line, a change of trains to the Harlem Line, then a backtrack of 22 miles to White Plains.

  This above is most interesting. In the Beacon Mayoral candidate debate between Steve Gold and Randy Casale, I heard Steve Gold mention the expansion of the Mechtronics facility in Beacon. Mechtronics has their sales and design offices in White plains and will closing the offices there and relocating to the newley expanded facility. This would be the above scenario in reverse. With trains on the Trans Dutchess/Beacon line this would be posssible.One could take a Harlem line train from White Plains to the Southeast station (in 1995 it was called Bewster North) then transfer to the TD/Beacon line train (a fuel efficient low emission DMU of course) and take the trans Dutchess express DMU to the Fishkill station.From there they would take the LOOP route F to where they work (at the front door practicaly on SR 52/Fishkill Ave.)

DMUs 101

  The above picture is of 4 CSX diesel (electric) locomotives in a multiple unit configuration. Therefore,these are technicaly 'DMUs' - Diesel Multiple Units. To the uninitiated (IE: non RR 'geek'), these are just 4 locomotives coupled together like the coaches on a Metro North train,and so what is 'special' about this? Well,what is special is the fact that all four locomotives,via a special multiple unit electrical connection between the locomotives,can be operated from the lead locomotive as a single unit with the combined power of all 4.However,here in the US,and Europe as well,passenger train coaches also have this special M.U. connection between the cars. Amtrak has this M.U. connection between (and through) the coaches allowing for a locomotive at both ends with cab control from either end.


  Metro North,and other rail transit agencies,use Bombardier coaches with M.U. connections.One of the coaches has a cab,with horn and headlights,at one end. This allows for bi-directional travel.North bound the Metro North trains have the locomotive in the lead,and southbound the cab unit coach is in the lead IE; the train seems to be going 'backwards' with the locomotive at the end.

  The modern term 'DMU',as it applies to a self propeled diesel coach,is what such rail vehicles are called in Europe,and this is what the self propeled diesel coaches manufactured by US Railcar,the only American company in this country currently making such rail vehicles,are called. When the Budd corporation manufactured self propelled diesel coaches way back the post WWII era,they called them like they saw them - Rail Diesel Coaches.

  Typicaly,most DMUs have a mechanical drive system,they have a transmision.And so the full term for these would be DmMU - Diesel mechanical Multi Unit.There is another variant,DMUs with electric traction motors.The full term for these would be DeMU - Diesel electric Multi Unit. There is even a high speed 200 KM/H (125 MPH) version of these DeMUs manufactured by Bombardier.

DMUs currently in use in the United States


Budd RDC1

These post war RDCs were literaly built like a tank.They originaly had a WWII Army tank diesel engine.Amazingly some are still in use by various rail roads across the country.TriMet of Portland OR, just bought several of these from Alaska RR for use on their WES (Westside Express Service) line as back up-additional equipment to compliment the 2008 Colorado Railcar (now US Railcar) built DMUs they have had in service since 2009


US Railcar (formerly Colorado Railcar) VIDEOS

And speaking of TriMet,here is a single DMU power unit crossing Broadway in Beaverton OR.Note how the rear cab end resembles the Metro North Bombardier coach cab end above.These DMUs are also used by RTD of Denver CO.

  • American company
  • mechanical drive DMU
  • full complience with FRA 49 CFR part 238 structural requirements
  • can be used on freight shared track with no temporal restrictions
  • single unit powered coaches
  • future upgrade to diesel-electric M.U. (DeMU) 125 MPH high speed version
  • with 2 power units can achieve 110 MPH curently
  • manufactures bi-level power units and un-powered bi-level trailer coaches
  • observation coaches – powered and un-powered
  • deployable threshold
  • operationally similar to current rolling stock used by MNCRR (and LIRR) – push-pull coaches coupled to a power unit (locomotive) – could use existing Bombardier coaches



Siemens "Desiro" VIDEO

These are European built DMUs used on the NCTD (North County Transit District) SPRINTER rail line.

  • mechanical drive DMU
  • the FRA classifies these as "light rail vehicles"
  • temporal restriction for use on freight shared track (can only be operated when there are no freight trains on adjoining track)
  • European based company – Germany (Siemens has a railcar plant in the US - California)
  • manufactures DMU's as double articulated train set ('maried' pair), 2 power units/coaches per set
  • deployable threshold


Stadler Rail GTW 2/6

  • electric traction motor drive DMU
  • the FRA classifies these as "light rail vehicles"
  • temporal restriction for use on freight shared track (can only be operated when there are no freight trains on adjoining track)
  • European based company – Switzerland
  • manufactures DMU's as triple articulated train set ('maried' triple), 1 power unit and 2 coach units per set



chapter 2


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Comment by Kevin Newman on January 13, 2012 at 9:07am

I think you or someone else made a simil;ar coment and I am a bit confused - the bridge for the BEACON LINE is a steel girder bridge not a wood trestle bridge - this bridge you refer to must be a tad south of the BL crossing and is the remnants of a spur that went from Dutchess Jct./Wicopee (not to be confused with the East Fishkill Wicopee - different Wicopee) and then crossed over near the Tioronda Falls and connected or junctioned with the Beacon Branch line - this line then junctioned with the main Maybrook line in Hopewell - the line from there east is still refered to as the Maybrook line - for much more please visit Bernie Rudberg's Kingly Heirs CNE site




the Beacon line where it goes over the Hudson Line - photo taken from the B.I.R.E. access road crossing - can just make out the steel girder bridge - track looks good here


the Beacon line steel girder bridge over the Hudson line


detail close up of the bridge - note concrete supports on top of the old stone supports - this was no doubt done to increase clearence to 19 ft. on the Hudson line to allow for bi-level passenger coaches or high freight cars - other than needing a paint job bridge looks OK

and no that old (old) abandoned Wicopee spur WOOD trestle you wrote about woud not 'pass test' - even for foot traffic



Comment by Steve Knowles on January 12, 2012 at 6:31pm

Have you walked over the testle that cross the main Metro North tracks near Denning's Point?  The timbers are severely rotted (almost hollow on some).  I question whether that trestle would pass a test for use as a railroad bridge in its current state.  A lot of vegetation was growing on the tracks on that stretch this past year.  Does anyone know the last time a train ran on this section of track?  (I'm not trying to shoot down any ideas on the potential for re-opening this track for use, just wondering if you were aware of that potential problem)

Comment by Kevin Newman on January 12, 2012 at 2:06pm

thanks - that was a quick response/comment I was working on the post for chapters 2 and 3 of 6 when I saw that there was a comment to approve

Comment by Ben Royce on January 12, 2012 at 12:29pm

Kevin, you leave me in awe.

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