One of America’s most charming railway journeys can be found in New York. The Hudson Line of the Metro North Railroad, speeds through the Hudson River Valley, passing through quaint small villages such as Cold Spring, Tarrytown and Beacon, the rail line hugging the riverbank, often just several feet outside your window. As far as commuter lines go, its one of the most beautiful.
On a recent trip northwards, we spotted an old, abandoned railway station just past Croton-Harmon, and what looked like two rusting Pullman cars hiding in the undergrowth. Braving the summer heat and temperatures nearing 100’, we went to go explore what appeared to be a forgotten corner of one of the New York’s busiest railways.
Croton-Harmon is located about 30 miles north of Manhattan. It is also one of the least attractive stations on the Hudson Line. A charmless, modern, concrete structure, surrounded by parking spaces for nearly 2,000 cars on one side, and the massed industrial workshops of Metro North on the other.
But walking several miles north, off a small, little used slip road nestled between the busy train tracks and roaring traffic of Route 9 Croton Expressway we found the small, disused station of Croton North.
Compared to the hulking, ugly commuter main line station down the road, Croton North was a charming, eave roofed brick station, complete with chimneys and a porte-cochère, built in 1890. This small station harks back to the days before the Metro North, when the elegant, giant Art Deco trains of the New York Central Railroad carried passengers in style from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, through the Hudson River Valley all the way through to Buffalo, and beyond to Chicago and the Great Lakes. This was the era of futuristic looking, evocative trains such as the 20th Century Limited and the Empire State Express.
Croton North was last used in the 1960s, superseded by the sprawling Croton-Harmon to the South. The rail lines stopped being used, and today are covered in weeds and rusted tracks. At one point the waiting room was renovated into a modern looking office, but signs of life are few and far between. A solitary white bench remains on the platform, covered in dust, a poignant reminder of the passengers that used to pass through here.
Just past the station, on a disused siding are two further reminders of the past; mostly hidden in dense foliage, are two fantastic Pullman cars, that look to date to mid twentieth century.
Painted green, covered in rust, they are marked with lettering for the Erie Lackawanna Railway. Known as the ‘Friendly Service Route’, the Erie Lackawanna served passengers in Hoboken, New Jersey, through western New York, Pennsylvania, and onto Cleveland and Chicago.
When the railway went bankrupt in 1976 it took the history of trains such as the Phoebe Snow, the Atlantic Express and the Evening Steel King with it.
Today Croton North Station is almost entirely forgotten, a passing blur on the way to and from New York City. If you know where to look, you’ll catch a glimpse of two, rusting Pullman cars of a long vanished company from the golden age of train travel.