Along the Old West Shore

Along The Old West Shore

By John M. Ham

The Old West Shore was a fully equipped, signaled, double track railroad across almost the entire state of New York, i.e.: NOT a branch line.  Have you ever heard about how the Nickel Plate and the Erie advertised themselves as the express routes from Chicago to Buffalo and New Jersey?  Both of their premier freight trains regularly outperformed the NYC.  If you watch their steam era videos, you’ll see LOTS of high value perishable and manufactured goods traffic — all siphoned off the NYC.  They always beat the NYC’s freight schedules because nothing much got in their way.  Meanwhile the NYC struggled daily to get traffic through the likes of Toledo, Cleveland and Erie.

Well, speed-wise, the NYC fought back east of Buffalo with the West Shore’s unimpeded, direct route.  NYC’s freight trains that were “hot”, and full of New York City & Boston traffic, ran at high speed across upstate New York on the West Shore.  So, it was an IMPORTANT line, but missed out on all the publicity because the named passenger trains took the four track route through all the cities (Rochester, Syracuse, Utica).  Hence, with little publicity (out-of-sight, out-of-mind); some westerners ignored the West Shore, but the railroad oriented folks in New York State have not forgotten, and John is tapping their latent interest with quality photos depicting every station and wide spot that nobody has yet covered.

The West Shore’s creation is also an interesting tale.  In the late 1800’s rail competition between big cities got very ugly.  They would cut their rates to the point that margins to meet fixed costs were thin to nonexistent.  Weaker roads (hello Erie & Lehigh Valley) went bankrupt.  That’s one reason railroads got into so much trouble with the people and the government.  They would make up for their death spiral “big city to big city” rates by over-charging for shipments to/from small towns where they were the only railroad around.

So, in this environment, imagine the country’s two premier railroads building competing lines, each within sight of the other’s ‘bread and butter’ four track main line.  That’s exactly what was happening in 1883 & 84.  The Pennsylvania Railroad was clandestinely financing construction of the New York, West Shore & Chicago.  After detecting ‘a rat’, William H. Vanderbilt acquired a right-of-way and latent charter across Pennsylvania.  He started the expensive tunneling and grade work required for his own double track railroad, the South Pennsylvania.  JP Morgan saw that completion of these two lines would lead not only to ruination of the nation’s two strongest carriers, but the whole US economy could go into depression as a result.  So, he got Vanderbilt and the Pennsy to each send emissaries to negotiate a peace. 

Chauncey Depew for the NYC met George Roberts and Frank Thomson (President and Vice President of the PRR) aboard Morgan’s 165 foot yacht Corsair on July 10, 1885.  Why meet on a yacht?  No interruptions, and no places for people to storm out and pout.  Supposedly, Morgan told them, “Nobody’s leaving this vessel until you have an agreement, … and when the food runs out, the food runs out!”   Five hours later, the PRR had agreed to purchase Vanderbilt’s South Pennsylvania Railroad, and the NYC bought the West Shore.  NYC used the West Shore to great advantage while Pennsylvania’s anti-trust laws hampered the Pennsy from doing much with the South Penn.  The South Penn’s right-of-way lay dormant until the late 1930’s, when the state bought it and built what became the Pennsylvania Turnpike on it.

This is the only book ever published about the entirety of the New York Central’s West Shore Railroad, a 450 mile line that ran along the western banks of the Hudson River and west along the Erie Canal to Buffalo on Lake Erie.  The book covers over 100 stations and the West Shore’s branch line to Earlville with hundreds of steam locomotive action shots and dozens of color diesel era images.

Readers will discover that the West Shore was NOT a branch line.  It was a well engineered, double track, signaled main line railroad!  NYC used the route to move freight unimpeded from Buffalo to the Albany area, and then down the Hudson’s ‘West Shore’ to Jersey’s ports and the New York region’s manufacturers.  While the four track main line hosted premier passenger trains, this route labored unpretentiously in the shadows.  Now, John Ham shines deserved light upon a route dripping with history, and still a vital CSX link.

We cannot understate the quality or value of this 312 page book.   Six hundred photos; a color section; heavy duty hard covers; high grade glossy paper; Smythe sewn and bound. 

Reserve yours today.  Don’t miss out!!!

Expected shipping date October 2017

MSRP $59.95  NYCSHS Members Price $47.96


Shipping is extra and Ohio residents add 8.0% sales tax.

Click Here to Order

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Exciting NYCS Logo and Loco Art

Exciting NYCS Logo and Loco Art

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Click Here to Order

Be sure to sign into the store to receive the

NYCSHS discounts.


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Click Here to Order


Be sure to sign into the store to receive the

NYCSHS discounts.



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Save The Date – July 8, 2017

              Save The Date

                 July 8, 2017

    nyclines          NYCSHS1956



Plan to be part of an exciting event, as the New York Central System Historical Society and the Valley Railroad of Essex, CT unveil a restored piece of New York Central Lines history. 

Join Society President Dave Mackay, and Director Nick Ariemma, along with the leadership of the Valley RR as they celebrate the joint effort to preserve this car.

A rare survivor of Lot # 594-B,  built by Merchants Despatch Transportation of Rochester, NY in 1930, it saw revenue service from its delivery until 1948 when it was moved into storage and eventfully steam generation service in Poughkeepsie, NY.


Ceremonies will follow the return to Essex Station of the last tourist train of the day. A post unveiling reception for NYCSHS Members follows in the Oliver Jensen Gallery.

Missing the sights, sounds and smells of steam? Come early and ride the steam train. NYCHS Members in good standing will receive a discount on their excursion tickets. Or, stay late and enjoy the Essex Clipper Dinner Train (reservations required. Info:
Make it a NYC Day, wear your NYC hats and shirts. Collinwood Shop has plenty!

July 8, 2017

Unveiling at 4:45 PM

NYCSHS Reception immediately following.


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2017 NYCSHS Convention Was Great Success

NYCSHS LogoSmall copy

Another Wonderful NYCSHS Convention


NYCSHS Convention Attendees at Boston South Station in the Rain (All photos by Nick Ariemma)


Incoming NYCSHS President addressing attendees at the annual meeting.


Worcester Union Station where the private train ride on B&A trackage began.


Convention attendees lining up to board the NYCSHS Exclusive Rail Excursion on the former B & A line to Historic Boston South Station.


Past NYCSHS President, Rich Stoving, presenting “My Final Layout”, one of the several presentations given at the convention on Friday and Sunday.


NYCSHS Treasurer and NYCentral Modeler Editor, Noel Widdifield presenting “Using NYCSHS Resources to Model the NYCS”.


2017 Convention Chair, Joe Burgess (center) talking to Karen Vescelus, wife of Director, Mike Vescelus, while Director Ralph Schiring examines the models for sale in the Collinwood Shop during the set up for the Sunday Train Show.




A few of the large selection of NYCS items for sale in the Collinwood Shop at the Convention.

Some of the many other items offered by vendors at the train show.


NYC models running on the Hub Modular Railroad at the train show on Sunday.


President, Dave Mackay, accepting model kits developed by Manuel Duran-Duran. They are in the Collinwood Shop set up in the hotel coat closet during the first two days at the convention. The coat closet was a tight fit for us, but we sold a huge amount of NYCS offerings from that tiny closet.  During the convention, Mike and Karen Vescelus, Noel and Ann Widdifield, Dave and Annette, and Ralph Schiring staffed the Shop. (All of them are full NYCSHS members.)

The convention was a huge success with just over 125 members attending.  Joe Burgess and his team are congratulated for a wonderful convention.

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Now is the time to start looking forward to the 2018 NYCSHS Convention in Cleveland. It is never too early to make your reservations.  Watch for more information shortly on this upcoming event.

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All photos by Nick Ariemma

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NYC Mohawk 2933 Unveiling

The Museum of Transportation  in St. Louis, MO, unveiled and dedicated two restored steam engines over the weekend. Both restorations have been in progress for several years and now both are ready for public display.  Wabash 573 and New York Central Mohawk 2933.

(Ronald Godfeder Photo)

Several groups who participated in these restorations were available to answer questions and make presentations. The National Railway Historical Society, New York Central System Historical Society, Wabash Railroad Historical Society, Railway & Locomotive Historical Society.

Directors Jim Suhs, Darwin Simonaitis, former Director, Chuck Beargie and NYCSHS members Dennis Regan, and Bob Keeler represented the Society at the event.  Chuck spoke at the dedication.

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The NYCSHS contingent at the dedication.


Chuck Beargie speaking for the NYCSHS.  (Dennis Regan Photo)

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Bob Keeler and Chuck Beargie manning the NYCSHS booth.

NYC L-2d Class 4-8-2 #2933 will be on outdoor unobstructed display, along with
Wabash 2-6-0 #573, for the next month, great for viewing and photography.
After this display period, it will be moved under-cover, packed in with other
equipment, essentially inaccessible for decent viewing or photography.

If any NYCSHS members  plan a visit during the coming month, it is suggested
calling the museum to verify display situation.

Museum of Transportation
3015 Barrett Station Road
St. Louis, MO 63122

Some links to additional photos of the event.

Photos by David Huelsing

Photos by Steve Binning

St. Louis Museum of Transportation

Special thanks to all the donors and volunteers who supported both of these projects and made their preservation possible.

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New Collinwood Shop Shipping Agent

New Collinwood Shop Shipping Agent

For many years all of our shipping except models have been shipped by Jim Suhs from his Lockport, IL home’s basement.  Recently, we had the good fortune to add a NYCSHS long-time member volunteer to help us set up the shipping activities into our new NYCSHS Headquarters.

Our new Senior Shipping Agent, Bob Wasko has been working with directors Jim Suhs, Joe Epperson, Mike Vescelus, Dave Mackay and Noel Widdifield to activate the shipping activity in the Headquarters.

After Jim Suhs delivered all of the Collinwood Shop inventory to the Headquarters and Jim and Bob Wasko unloaded it, Bob completed inventorying and storing all of it in the newly created shipping department office.

Bob and Dave Mackay worked out all of the necessary details for shipping materials and software for mailing.  Mike Vescelus worked with Bob and directors’ wives, Patty Epperson, Karen Vescelus and Ann Widdifield to bar code label all of the material. Mike had spent that last three months working to set up a computer based capability for inventory and selling.  He transferred that capability to Bob for inventory tracking.

All of the activity to make the transfer came together and at about 10:00 am on May 16 Bob shipped out the first batch of store items to members who had purchased them through the Collinwood Shop.

Bob Wasko about to head out to the Berea Post Office to send out the first batch of shipments from the Collinwood Shop.

So we are in business with the new Shipping Department and Senior Shipping Agent for shipping of all Collinwood Shop purchase except models and calendars.  Jim Suhs will continue to ship current and past year calendars and Dave Mackay will continue to ship models.  Model shipments will be transferred to Bob later this year.We believe that this new location and agent will greatly improve our ability to get the goodies to our members more efficiently and quicker.

Bob Wasko is one of the latest NYCSHS members to volunteer to help us continue to improve our service to members.  We have recently added another three member volunteers to our growing number of NYCSHS volunteers.

Please take a look at the volunteer positions we need to fill and consider getting more involved with the exciting work that we are doing.

Work From Home and be Part of the NYCSHS Crew!!

Graphic Artist

We need a person who can provide computer graphic support to several activities within the Society.  Currently, we have one person who is very well qualified, but has a very full work schedule and is only able to provide periodic support.

The ideal person would have the ability to provide graphic support to the Archive activities, the Central Headlight, NYCentral Modeler, NYCSHS website, “Collinwood Shop”, and other activities as required.

All of this work could be done from home, with direction from the business manager.  The requirement is for someone with knowledge and experience with any of the commercial graphic software, such as Adobe Illustrator, Coral Draw, Photoshop, etc and the ability to create original drawings and graphics.

Duties would include but not be limited to:

  • Advise advertising chair on graphic strategies to reach a particular audience
  • Design graphics to deliver the desired message
  • Create images that support all NYCSHS activities
  • Develop graphics for product illustrations, logos, and websites
  • Select colors, images, text style, and layout
  • Work closely with the Business Manager, Membership Chair, editors of Central Headlight and NYCentral Modeler to develop needed graphics for production

If you are interested, please contact us at

Assistant Shipping Clerk in the Middleburg Heights, Ohio area.

If you live in the Cleveland area, the NYCSHS needs some help as we continue to move critical functions into our new Headquarters building in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.We need a  volunteer willing to spend a few hours each week to back up the NYCSHS Shipping Clerk in shipping items we sell in the Collinwood Shop. We plan to complete the move of shipping activity to the Headquarters in mid-May.  We already have a volunteer for the senior shipping clerk position and he is heavily engaged in setting up this activity in the Headquarters, but he needs a back up.

Being a back up means being available when the chief clerk is not available and consists of purchasing packaging supplies and mailing material, preparing the books, DVDs, calendars and Central Headlights purchased online in the Collingwood Shop, before mailing the material out to the members who have ordered them. This position is for back up only and training will be provided by the chief clerk on how to do all of these things.

We estimate that these tasks will require about four to six hours a week spread over a couple of days when the chief clerk cannot preform the duties. We would like to sign up a volunteer to have backup coverage for the tasks.

This volunteer position of “NYCSHS Assistant Shipping Agent” would allow you to give support to our organization in a very critical mission area for us.

You would be working in the area of our archive and would be able to interact with our Archive Volunteer Crew in the facility. Most of them are in the facility several days each week, so you would not be there alone.

The NYCSHS Needs You in the Archive Crew!!

We  need long-term help with continuing to organize and preserve the archive material that we have collected over the past 46 years.  No prior experience is necessary, and we can use your help now. We will provide the training you will need and you will have fun while you learn.

You will be joining an experienced team who have been working with the archives for some time and are a great bunch of people to work with.

If you are willing to volunteer for any of these very important position, please send an email to or call Noel Widdifield at 703-407-3059 who will explain all of the details of what is involved.

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Unveiling of Restored NYCS #2933

Join us Saturday, May 20th when The Museum of

Transportation will host a restoration unveiling for the

New York Central #2933 and the Wabash #573 at

10:00 a.m. under the Roberts’ Pavilion.

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Coby Ellison, Museum Curator, puts the final touches on the NYC #2933 (using data provided by NYCSHS).

New York Central L-2d Mohawk 2933 was built by the American Locomotive Company (Alco) at Schenectady, New York in November, 1929, for the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & St. Louis (Big Four) RR as #6233. She was renumbered to NYC 2933 in 1936. She and the other 299 members of the L-2 Mohawk family were gutsy, no-frills freight engines. They served nearly all the lines of the New York Central System through the lean years of the Great Depression, through the war years, and right up to the end of steam. She was officially retired in August 1957, being the last of the Big Four L-2d Mohawks to be retired. She may have been used at Selkirk, New York, to supply steam heat after retirement. She was donated, along with a New York electric locomotive, S-2 113, to the Museum of Transportation by NYC President Alfred Perlman on June 13, 1963.

The restoration of the New York Central L-2d Mohawk 2933 took over 10 years.

Wabash 573 is a 2-6-0 Mogul type freight locomotive built by the Rhode Island Locomotive Works in 1899. Number 573 weighs 215,825 lbs. It has 64” drive wheels and 19” by 28” cylinders. Five of these Moguls were built for the Wabash Railroad. Even though Wabash claimed to be completely dieselized in 1953, it maintained two of the steam powered Moguls on a small branch line in Keokuk Illinois; due to a small bridge that could not support the weight of a diesel. The engine maintained a slight celebrity status among steam fans, and appeared several times in Trains Magazine in 1954-1955. Number 573 was donated to the St. Louis Museum of Transportation in 1955 by the Wabash Railroad.

If you are attending, please park in Parking Lot 2. The service gate by the ‘Function Junction Pavilion’ will be open for closer access to the rail yard. The Function Junction Pavilion is the blue canopy immediately to the south side of the Parking Lot 2 parking area. The gates open at 9:00 and the ceremony begins at 10 am.

Make a day of your visit! You can also:

– visit the 9th Annual Pumpers & Pistons Show, from 9 am – 3 pm, at the Museum of Transportation. Hosted by The Gateway Fire Historical Society and The American Truck Historical Society.

– Ride the miniature train and handcars and the historic Museum trolleys.

– Enjoy lunch…   The St. Louis Cardinals’ Food Truck will be on-site from 11 am – 1:30 pm.
314-965-6212 or 314-965-6885

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