As part of our documentary “Rails to the Catskills,” we are exploring both the vintage and contemporary history of trains in the Catskills. When the Ulster & Delaware ran through the Catskill Mountains, it traveled from Rondout through Kingston, then on to Phoenicia. From there the mainline went up the hill to Highmount. Then it ran further west until the end of the U&D line in Oneonta.
One famous U&D section was the horseshoe curve near Pine Hill. The horseshoe curve was celebrated as an engineering marvel of its time. Much of the track from Phoenicia past Pine Hill to Highmount is still in place, although it needs major work to once again accomodate train traffic.
The Catskill Mountain Railroad holds a lease on the rail corridor from Kingston to Highmount until 2016. The continued existence of the tracks west of Phoenicia is, however, in jeopardy. The Ulster County Legislature recently passed its 2013 budget which includes a provision to remove the rails and sell them as scrap. The county estimates that the sale of these tracks will bring $642,000 in revenue. Trail advocates want to replace the historic west of Phoenicia rail corridor with a “Rail Trail.” The CMRR favors a multi-use "Rails with Trails" proposal.
Here are some historic views from the U&D west of Phoenicia, taken in the early 1900's, as well as some certificates for interest-due on U&D bonds. The photos include the Pine Hill section when the U&D had a bustling train service.
We continue to welcome any Catskill Mountain railroad related items and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.