Welcome to Photo Line! This month's feature documents the changing face of Metro-North's Hudson Line. Skirting the shores of New York's Hudson River, this former New York Central mainline is host to commuter trains, Amtrak through trains, CSX (and even Canadian Pacific) freight. From gritty urban confines to wide mountainous vistas, the Hudson Line is a study in contrasts. Join photographer Otto M. Vondrak as we take a brief tour from The Bronx to the Hudson Highlands.
Amtrak detour passing Old Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Due to a planned track replacement work window, Amtrak trains from upstate temporarily detoured into Metro-North's Grand Central Terminal. Amtrak trains were led through Metro-North territory with pilot locomotives and crews to help expedite the detour moves. This scene was captured on October 18, 2008, during the old stadium's final season. The Yankees opened a brand new stadium across the street in time for the 2009 season, and the old House that Ruth Built was torn down in 2010.
CP/D&H rounding the bend at Marble Hill
Marble Hill is a great source of trivia for local history buffs. In 1894, the route of the Harlem River was diverted to make a shorter path to the Hudson River, cutting off the neighborhood from the tip of Manhattan island, technically making it part of the Bronx mainland. Politically, the neighborhood remains part of Manhattan, remaining an enigma for generations. Speaking of enigmas, what is Canadian Pacific doing in the Bronx? Trackage rights negotiated as a result of the 1999 Conrail breakup created this thrice-weekly Saratoga-Bronx route that quickly became a favorite of photographers, as the northbound freight would be released to run wild with the evening rush hour, captured on April 16, 2004.
Amtrak detour at Marble Hill station
Since 1991, all of Amtrak's upstate New York services (including the Lake Shore Limited) have terminated at Penn Station, leaving the Hudson Line below Spuyten Duyvil the domain of Metro-North commuter trains. Like a blast from the past, an Amtrak detour extra rolls through Marble Hill station en route to Grand Central on October 26, 2008.
CP/D&H Train 417 and Metro-North meet at Dobbs Ferry, New York
Photographing the tri-weekly D&H train always seems to be a race against time. There's precious few days in the spring and summer to capture the train in daylight, and sometimes the run can be delayed for any number of reasons. What almost was a missed opportunity became a prized memory as D&H 417 passes a set of southbound Metro-North electric MU's at Dobbs Ferry, New York. The George Washington Bridge and the New York City skyline can be seen through haze, some twenty miles to the south on July 20, 2007.
Metro-North at Breakneck Ridge, New York
Long a favorite location for New York Central company photographer Ed Nowak, Breakneck Ridge continues to provide breathtaking panoramas and dramatic views. You have to be part mountain goat to attempt this shot. Even though the mainline has been reduced from four tracks to two, the scenery has not changed much over the years. Witness the Metro-North FL9AC shoving its train south towards New York on June 16, 2001.
Metro-North 2008 northbound at Breakneck Ridge, New York
From the vantage point near the aqueduct pumping station, I captured FL9 2008 leading two coaches on a late afternoon run to Poughkeepsie. The aqueduct brings fresh water from reservoirs in the Catskills all the way down to New York City. This area is now heavily patrolled by the National Guard, but on February 15, 1994, this scene was as tranquil as the fresh fallen snow.
Hickory Creek passes Bannerman's Island
New York Central fans rejoiced when the United Railway Historical Society of New Jersey funded a complete restoration of the Hickory Creek, one of two observation lounges that once brought up the markers on the Twentieth Century Limited. After running a series of charters around the region, the Hickory Creek made its triumphant return to the scenic Hudson on June 26, 2005. The ruins of Bannerman's Island loom in the distance, having stood guard over the Hudson in its decayed state for more than sixty years.
D&H at last light at Manitou, New York
Taking a chance on the longest day of the year, we headed north as far as we dared to attempt to catch the D&H freight rolling under the historic Bear Mountain Bridge at Manitou, New York. We passed the time as best we could, nervously glancing at our watches and straining to listen for the faintest indication that our train was coming. Finally, at about a minute after sunset, we saw the headlight of D&H 417 emerge from the trees. Better late than never on June 23, 2003.