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.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Company Begins Construction of its Railroad

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Nearly a century ago the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway passed through, and provided service, to Pelham. The line – now known as Westchester’s “forgotten railway” – was controlled by the New Haven Railroad. The Westchester opened for service in 1912. With the onset of the Great Depression, the Westchester simply could not survive. Indeed, it never showed a profit in any year that it operated. The last passenger train on the Westchester line ended its run a little after midnight on December 31, 1937. The last train to pass through Pelham on the line was a New Haven work train being used to scrap the line in 1941.

While the demise of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railway was a sad event, there was a time early in the history of the line that optimists believed it would be a resounding success. Today's Blog posting will provide background on the day that contstruction first began on the line.

The concept of such a railroad had been around for many years. By the time serious efforts to construct the line began, the prospects of success seemed so likely that battles began among competing interests began, questioning the validity of the company's franchise to build the line. In 1905, however, such questions were resolved by the Attorney General of the State of New York. The New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Company immediately began construction of the line without pomp and circumstance. The New York Times described commencement of the work in an article that has been transcribed below.

Ceremonies Cut Out to Insure a Quick Beginning.
Through Traffic from the Battery to Sound Points Insured When the Road Is Opened.

Following the decision of Attorney General Mayer that its franchise is valid, the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad Company began yesterday the construction of its road. There were no opening ceremonies. The company's engineers found that they could get to work yesterday and did so.

Gangs of men began work at three different points on Division 1, which takes in the entire section of the Westchester Road up to the city limits. One gang began on the heavy cut between East Chester Hill and Saw Mill Lane; another at a point between Bronxdale Avenue and White Plains Road, and a third between Saw Mill Lane and Pelham Parkway. This section of the work is under the direct supervision of E. V. Maitland, Resident Engineer for the Westchester Company in the Bronx.

Chief Engineer William A. Pratt says he expects to have 5,000 men at work by the end of this month. It will then be pushed with all possible energy and speed. The road is to have four tracks, heavy enough for the highest speed traffic. The third-rail system will be used.

The road will run from the Harlem River, or some junction point with subway or elevated lines further north, to Mount Vernon. There a branch will run along the Sound, through or near Pelham, New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Harrison, and Rye to Port Chester. The northern branch reaches Bronxville, Tuckahoe, and Scarsdale, terminating at White Plains. The Westchester and Interborough Companies are so closely allied that a joint terminal will be erected to take care of traffic from one to the other, and ultimately there will be through traffic from the Bronx and Westchester Stations, by way of Subway and elevated, to the Battery.

The Westchester Company underwriters paid into Knickerbocker Trust Company yesterday the first payment due on the amount subscribed for the building of the road."

Source: Westchester Railroad Starts Construction, N.Y. Times, Jun. 4, 1905, p. 7.

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