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.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Construction of the New Haven Branch Line in 1873

In 1873, the railroad that came to be known as the New Haven Branch Line was constructed through the area that soon became the Village of Pelham Manor. At the time there was much excitement among property owners who thought that the arrival of the railroad would lead to the development of an idyllic suburb. Local landowners banded together to form the Pelham Manor & Huguenot Heights Association to develop the area.

On August 13, 1873, a brief item appeared in the New York Times describing efforts to construct the first two tracks that would form the new line. The text of that article is transcribed below, followed by a citation to its source.


Five hundred tons of steel rails have just been received from Europe for the completion of the Harlem River and Portchester Railroad. Two construction trains and a large force of laborers are now employed on the work, and an additional construction train will be placed on the road this week. Both tracks, it is expected, will be laid and in running order by the 1st of October, by which time some alterations and improvement to the draw-bridge at Pelham Bay will also be completed. It was at first contemplated to commence operations with a single track, and open the road by Sept. 1, but the recent determination to complete both tracks before opening the road will delay that event about one month. A contract has been made by which the New-York, New-Haven and Hartford Railroad Company is to lease the road, and operate it in connection with its own lines. This will enable the latter company to increase its freighting and other facilities, and will give it two entrances into the City of New-York. Loaded freight-cars can be transferred from it to other lines terminating at Jersey City, Hoboken or Long Island, thereby avoiding delay, expense, and breakage of bulk."

Source: A New Railroad, N.Y. Times, Aug. 13, 1873, p. 8, col. 2.

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