Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Robert A. Bang Publishes New Book on The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company

Author and historian Robert A. Bang has published a wonderful new book regarding the history of the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company that is full of photographs of the modern electric commuter line that once ran through Pelham. Numerous photographs show construction of the rail lines and stations in and near Pelham. A citation to the publication follows:

Bang, Robert A., The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company 1906 - 1946 (Privately Printed, 2004).

Mr. Bang has also created a wonderful Web site devoted to the NYW&B Ry Co. via which visitors can download a form for purchase of the book to be mailed with a check to him. The site is well worth the visit!

This is Mr. Bang's second book regarding the NYW&B Ry Co. A citation to his first book, published in 1987 and also available for purchase from his Web site, follows:

Bang, Robert A., Westchester County's Million-Dollar-A-Mil Railroad - New York Westchester & Boston Railway Company 1912 - 1937 (Privately Printed, 1987).

Nearly a century ago The New York, Westchester and Boston Railway passed through, and provided service, to Pelham. The line – known today as Westchester’s “forgotten railway” – was controlled by the New Haven Railroad. The Westchester opened for service in 1912.

The Westchester started at 132nd Street and Willis Avenue in the Bronx. Its trackage extended nearly a mile to the east where it joined the Harlem River division of the New Haven line near the approach to Hell Gate Bridge. The Westchester followed two tracks leased from the New Haven along this route until it reached East 174th Street and then passed onto its own four-track right-of-way until it reached West Farms Station at East 180th Street. The line continued through a tunnel beneath the Bronx and Pelham Parkway and proceeded northward into the City of Mount Vernon.

The line proceeded through an “open cut” in Mount Vernon and across a viaduct built over the New Haven’s Grand Central division (a continuation of the New Haven’s main line that turns to the west at New Rochelle). At the northern end of Mount Vernon, the four-track Westchester line split into two double-track divisions.

Of the two divisions, the one regarded as the “main line” of the Westchester turned east from Mount Vernon parallel to the New Haven Line and crossed the Hutchinson River on a large viaduct that began just north of Pelham Reservoir. The tracks passed through what was then the Village of North Pelham. There was a station at Fifth Avenue and 3rd Street. The tracks continued across Highbrook Avenue where a concrete overpass that still stands carried them over the roadway. There was another station in Pelhamwood located right at the boundary with New Rochelle. The division continued to North Avenue in New Rochelle.

The Westchester was state-of-the-art and reportedly cost more than $50,000,000 to build and maintain. It became known derisively as Westchester’s “Million-Dollar-A-Mile Railroad” before it was placed in receivership and ceased operations on December 31, 1937.  Remnants of the Westchester may still be found in Pelham, including the most visible relic: the concrete overpass above Highbrook Avenue that once held trackage and allowed trains to pass above. Today, the trackage has been removed and the arch bridge to nowhere stands as a silent sentinel above Highbrook Avenue, a reminder of the grand railroad once known as the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway.

Mr. Bang's excellent book is a "must have" for anyone building a library relating to the history of Pelham. I recommend it highly.

To learn more about The New York, Boston & Westchester Railway Co., see Bell, Blake A., The New York, Westchester And Boston Railway in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 50, Dec. 17, 2004, p. 10, col. 1.


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