NYCS Research Resources

NYCS Research Resources


The purpose of this page is to provide information for research on the NYCS from the pages of the NYCSHS Central Headlight magazine and other sources of information to help historians and modelers have access to historically correct data.

This page will be updated periodically with additional materials.

A Complete Listing  of Locomotives

Assigned to

Trains 8 and 21

August 14, 1950 – August 16, 1951

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Click Here for Information

Books on the NYCS

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Click Here to See a Listing of the Many Books About the NYCS


All about NYCS cabooses.

Cabooseroofshot 1966.1

You will find the information here about most NYCS cabooses

Click here for Caboose information#1.

Click here for Caboose information #2

Click here for Caboose information #3

Click here for Caboose information #4


The Making of A Legend – The Niagara Story

Part 1

By Thomas R. Gerbracht, NYCSHS Director

In Central Headlight 3rd Qtr. 1988


In 1945, the Equipment Engineering Department of the New York Central Railroad developed and Alco executed a locomotive design which had a marked impact on the steam locomotives to follow, and on the traditional measurements by which motive power would be evaluated. This locomotive was so significant that its performance is still discussed by the men who design and run locomotives. The locomotive was the New York
Central class S1 4-8-4 Niagara.

Click here for the article.


The Making of A Legend – The Niagara Story

Part 2

By Thomas R. Gerbracht, NYCSHS Director

In Central Headlight 1st Qtr. 1989

Pages from 1989Q1

There are more variables in the measurement of steam locomotive horsepower than in diesel or electric horsepower. In the steam era, the railroads who supported the most comprehensive test programs to measure steam locomotive performance, including horsepower, were the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central.

Click here for the article.Line

Road Testing NYC Niagaras.

By Dick Dawson

In Central Headlight 3rd Qtr. 1975


For best reading click below to open the article file and then download it to your computer for better quality viewing.  It can be viewed in your browser, but the quality will not be as good. 

There were a few errors in the article when it was published almost 40 years ago. There is a short errata sheet at the end of the article with corrections.

Dick Dawson gave his blessing for us to put this up on the site and noted that he had significant help from Harold Crouch, Charlie Smith and Lans Vail.  It is a wonderful article and we appreciate Dick’s willingness to allow us to post it here.

Click here for Niagara information.


NYC Standard-Design, All-Steel

Heavyweight Coaches

By John S. Horvath & Richard L. Stoving

In Central Headlight 2nd Qtr. 1980

Pages from 1980Q2

Few people realize that the NYC had an all-steel heavyweight coach of a standard design all its own. It, too, was mass-produced, and, by any number of yardsticks, it was a success. For lack of a better name, these coaches were simply referred to as 70-foot steel coaches.

Click here for NYC Heavyweight Coach information.

NYCS Business Cars

From the NYCSHS Central Headlight, 4th Qtr 1978, 1st Qtr 1979,  & 3rd Qtr 1979

By W. D. Edson & H. L. Vail, Jr.


Business car #3 even had a working fireplace installed.

Click here for NYCS Business Car information.

New York Central’s Rebuilt Observation Cars.

From the NYCSHS Central Headlight,  2nd Qtr 1979

By Richard Stoving


An unusual shot of one of the observation cars being rebuilt.

Click here for NYC rebuilt observation car information.

Painting the NYC 20th Century Limited

By H. L. Vail, Jr.


Click Here for the article on Painting the 20th Century Limited.

Click here for the second article on Painting of the 20th Century Limited

“The NYC Oval

Its Evolution and Applications” Parts 1 & 2

From the NYCSHS Central Headlight, 2nd Qtr 1974 & 1st Qtr 1976

By H. L. Vail, Jr.

The NYC OvalThe New York Central Oval, reportedly suggested by an employee in about 1904, underwent. a series of minor changes during its use until the major design in 1958 when the colored one was designed for use on the “New” jade green cars. This article covers the period up to this change. The original herald had Roman capital letters
and was designed in five sizes for the “New York Central Lines”and used as follows on  revenue service cars. It was, of course, used on other equipment, bridges, and as the official company logo.

Click here for NYC Oval Part 1 information.

Click here for NYC Oval Part 2 information.

Some Additional Comments on the Oval

The “Oval” on NYC J-3 Hudsons below the headlight was “deep blue”, and ‘black” in later years. The oval on Dreyfuss Hudsons was “deep blue”. The ONLY Hudsons with red ovals were the two Empire State Express engines, J-3 5426 and 5429.

All first generation diesels, E’s, F’s, Alco and F-M cabs, etc had red painted ovals. I believe that the NYC GREY passenger F-3’s had cast red oval plates on the nose. (We have one of these at the lockers.)

On most NYC ovals, the lettering was white and the “background color” within the oval was the same color as the surface it was stenciled on. For example, on cabooses, the background color was the color of the caboose.

I am aware that some Pacemaker box cars had an oval with a black background……
There is no drawing, or if we have one we have not scanned it, for the oval for the Mercury Pacifics, 4915 and 4917. I am aware that former prez Lans Vail worked with Mort Mann of Sunset models and provided the tech info for the O scale Mercury Pacific and the cars. We have elevation drawings for the Mercury cars, and there is no red color used. Colors used include gray lacquer, aluminum lacquer, aluminum scratch brush lacquer, Paladium leaf edge black line, black paint, and gray roof paint.

I have seen an image of a Mercury streamlined Pacific in one of the NYC color books, perhaps one of Dave Sweetland’s?

As info, the passenger car drawings are grouped by type of car, i.e. head end cars, coaches, Pullmans, Observation cars, etc. This was done to be most beneficial to a modeler and also to avoid doing custom sorts, and to offer each file as complete as possible at a nominal cost. This has been the arrangement since the program’s inception.

We no longer have, or we have and have not digitized drawing SK-V-4539.

Hope this is helpful.
Tom Gerbracht

NYCSHS Director

Found a reference to the color used on the cast oval plates used on the Pacemaker rebuilt passenger cars. This was in a tack board correction made by Lanse Vail back in the early 90s and his research shows the background color to be “Aurora Red,” DuPont 88-363-R. It was called out in a drawing, SK-V-4539.

Dave Staplin

NYCSHS Modelers Committee Rail

By Dave Staplin


Click here for NYC Rail Information


NYCS Water Scoops and Track Pans

From the NYCSHS Central Headlight 2nd Qtr. 1982

“High Speed Water Scoop and Locomotive Tender Design for the NYCS”

By Carl F. Kantola

Pages from 1982Q2

Click here to read about NYC Water Scoops

“Some Notes on the History of Water Scoops and Track Pans”

By Edward May


Click here to read about NYC Track Pans


NYC Streamlined Steam Locomotives

From the NYCSHS Central Headlight, 3rd Qtr 1981

By Carl F. Kantola


The NYC constructed several streamlined steam locomotives beginning in 1934.  The country was coming out of the great depression and railroads felt that they needed something to inspire interest in railroads. The streamline locomotive and passenger cars seemed the answer.

Click here to read about what the NYC did about that.


NYC Diesel Rosters

By Willaim D. Edison


On May 3, 1957 the New York Central announced the complete dieselization of all train operations in the system. From that point on only diesels ran on the NYCS.  The two articles that were run in the NYCSHS Central Headlight in the May 1975 and November 1975 editions provide an excellent overview of all of the NYCS diesels.  They are presented here for your research and enjoyment.

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Roster #1

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Roster #2

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Roster #3

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Roster #4

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Roster #5

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Roster #6

Click here for NYCS FM Diesel Roster

Click here for NYCS Baldwin Diesels

Click here for the NYCS Diesel Classification Guide


NYC EMD E-Units – The Beauty Queens Part 1 & Part 2

By Tom Gerbracht


You will find two articles on the NYC EMD E-Units in this section. The NYC ordered the first four of these in 1945. The NYC eventually acquired a total of  28 F-7 A units, 22 F7 B units, and 60 F-8 A units. These two articles were published in the Central Headlight 2nd Qtr. and 3rd Qtr. 2007.

Click here for “The Beauty Queens Part 1”

Click here for “The Beauty Queens – Part 2”


The Central Lightning Stripe Article

Rails Northeast Magazine

November 1976

Issue 28, Vol. 4, No. 10

Magazine produced by Robert Reid, East McKeesport, PA.

Article copy donated to the NYCSHS by John Teichmoeller, editor B&O Modeler,

Baltimore and Ohio Historical Society. March 2019.

This article is provided with the disclaimer that the NYCSHS did not participate as a reference for the article and does not guarantee that all of the information is correct.

Click here to read the article


NYC Steam Locomotives

You will find several NYCSHS Central Headlight articles on steam locomotives added here and more to be added in the future.


NYC Class H7 Mikado Locomotives

By Ray S. Curl

From the NYCSHS Central Headlight
1st Qtr 1984


Among the most interesting steam locomotives operated by the New York Central System were the H7 Class Mikados. While all of these locomotives were built to a standard design, many of them acquired different tenders and a variety of appliances as they went through their careers. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the H7 fleet and to document the modifications made on specific locomotives.

Click here for the NYCS Class H-7 Mikado article.


NYC Class H10 2-8-2 Mikados


The H10 class locomotive was the first result of the efforts of William E. Woodard, Vice President and Chief Engineer of the Lima Locomotive Works, to develop a more powerful and more efficient steam locomotive than
those in service during the early 1920’s. Lima’s management approached the President of the New York Central, Alfred H. Smith, to agree to test and later, if successful, purchase a locomotive incorporating Woodard’s ideas and designs.

As a result, Lima constructed, at its own expense, one locomotive, Michigan Central 8000, in May, 1922, on order L-1027. The basic design evolved from the ten Michigan Central class H7e 2-8-2’s, built in 1920 along with 50
similar locomotives for the Big Four, that were considered to be very powerful and efficient locomotives.

Click here for the NYCS Class H-10 Mikado article.



The Kaye-Elevens (NYC K-11s)

By F. Ray McKnight


In the first decade of this century some of the most notable advances in American locomotive design and construction was taking place. Almost every major railroad in the
United States was in the process of ordering engines for a specific service over assigned divisions. Naturally, the New York Central was no exception. History proves the motive
power on the New York Central always kept pace with, and often was the leader, in the industry.

Buried in the 1920 locomotive roster of over 6,000 engines were 200 that made up the K-11 class that truly deserve a belated “Well done!” The reason why these engines were
built may never be confirmed but if we take the liberty of assuming we might have a logical answer.

Click here for the K-11 article.


Boston & Albany A1s (Early Super Power)

Pages from B&AAClassesHeader

The A1 Berkshire type on the Boston and Albany was a paradox. On the one hand it proved the theory, along with the Texas and Pacific 2-10-4, of “Super Power” on
America’s railroads. On the other, the New York Central did not embrace it as its next logical step in system wide freight power development.

Click here for the B&A A1  article.


The Late Mohawks

By T. R. Gerbracht


Tom describes and reviews the performance of the “late” Mohawks obtained by the New York Central, and acquaints readers of the Central Headlight with the characteristics and the performance of these fine locomotives, which were obtained by the New York Central starting in 1940. He also included a table of weights and dimensions of the L3’s and L4’s, which demonstrates the evolution of the Mohawk type on the Central from the late 1920’s to the final design, which was produced in 1943-44. It was significant that there were very few 4-8-2 type locomotives built after the NYC L4b class. By this time, many roads which required a locomotive with four driving axles had developed 4-8-4’s.

Click here for the article.


PT Tenders

From the records of W.D Edson – By: H. L. Vail, Jr.

Pages from PT-Tenders

The second PT-1 tender, as new. First applied to class J3a #5453. Note no expansion chamber or overflow pipes. NYC RR photo, 5-26-43.

The roster charts showing the locomotives to which these PT tenders were assigned during their service lives were compiled from the NYC tender historical record cards, which, fortunately, exist these many years later and provide the information for this article.

Click here for the PT Tender article.


NYC Electric Locomotives

We plan to add several articles on the electrics.

Extract from Railway and Locomotive Engineering.


The NYCS Motor Cars

NYCS Motor CarBuild new in 1906 by Barney & Smith Company, as a passenger and baggage combine, No. 107, NYC, Motor Car M-8 begins a new life after rebuilding at the West Albany, NY shops in 1928 as a motor car.  This is just one of the many motor cars owned and operated by the NYCS.

Click here to read about the NYCS motor cars.



The following section will be used to post Central Headlight Articles and other archive information about NYCS rolling stock.


Since the NYCSHS has offered a large number of hopper car models of late, we will start with an article on Hoppers.


USRA Design Hopper Cars

By C.M Smith

 HopperPhotoCropThese three cars from Lots 390-H (79262) and 390-H (79464, 79536) were rebuilt at the Beech Grove shops in 1933 using the Union Metal Products Company’s pressed steel paneled sides with integral stakes. The 1936 renumbering program is still in the future, and the cars proudly carry Big Four reporting marks.

During the period of federal control of the American railroads during and immediately following World War I, from January 1, 1918 to March 1, 1920, the United States Railroad
Administration acquired a total of 93,400 standardized freight cars. These were distributed to the various railroad properties as required to alleviate equipment shortages
brought about by the wartime traffic demands. This included about 3,000 hopper cars for the NYCS.

Click here for the article on the USRA hopper cars.


Merchant Despatch (MDT) Car Shops


MDT Reefer

“A Day in the Car Shops, 1951”

To view a movie made about building a MDT reefer in the “Car Shops” in East Rochester click here.


NYC Marine Operations

By Thomas Flagg


An important division within the New York Central system was the Marine Department at New York. In 1921, for example, it employed 1,500 men and boasted 308 pieces of “floating stock” (as opposed to rolling stock) to handle the enormous traffic to, from, and within the Metropolitan region. (All articles by Thomas Flagg)

Click here for NYCS Marine Department Part 1 & 2

Click here for Part 3

Click Here for Part 4

Click Here for Part 5

Click Here for Part 6

Click here for Tugboat #34

Click here for a complete roster of NYCS barges and some ferryboats


NYCRR Scheduled Merchandise Cars


Click here to read!!


NYCS Structures and Facilities


We received a list of NYCS structures and facilities from William Husband who is working on an extensive database of materials about US railroads that will include extensive material on all railroads including the NYCS.  He has provided this list of structures and facilities for us to provide to NYCSHS members and others.  It cannot be republished without his permission.

Click here for the list of NYCS structures and facilities!!!

If you know of additional structures or facilities contact use at to provide us with updates.

NYCS Places

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Health and Pleasure on “America’s Greatest Railroad”: Descriptive of Summer Resorts and Excursion Routes, Embracing More Than One Thousand Tours by the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad.

Available: New York Central System Historical Society Library Summer Resorts And Excursion Routes; New York Central & Hudson River R.R Season Of 1889.

It can be viewed and read at:

There are a few blank pages in the beginning, but keep scrolling down and you will get to the start of the book.

An important document that lists virtually every place or point of interest on the New York Central & Hudson River line.

Topics include: Steamboat lines, Stagecoach lines, maps, Hotels, station lists, connections, Wagner Car Company Diagrams (Floor plans) for Private Cars, & Charter cars: Grassmere, Riva, Wanderer, Hudson River Day LineHudson River Day Line photos and schedules, Advertisements, Travel

Pages 1-249 describes points of interest, industries
Page 250 list of Stations, Connections, steamboat lines and stage coach lines.
Pages 251-256 list of steamboat and statecoach schedules
Pages 258-260 Tourist tickets, stopovers
Pages 261-332 Excursions, listing cities and various railroad options to reach these cities.
Pages 334-336 Ticket prices to the Pacific Coast, Mexico Colorado, Hot Springs, AR Round the world tickets,
Pages 337-339 Ticket prices New York-Poughkeepsie-Putnam Junction
Pages 340-376 List of Hotels and Boarding Houses
Pages 378-380 Comparative Mileage and times between important NYC&HR points and cities, various hotels and resorts
Pages 381-381 Foreign Cities: Distance and Times
Pages 382- Wagner Car Company Diagrams (Floor plans) for Private Cars, & Charter cars: Grassmere, Riva, Wanderer
Pages 385-503 Hotel Advertisements and photos of hotels
Pages 504 Hudson River Day Line photos and schedules

7 Responses to NYCS Research Resources

  1. Jerry Sauer says:

    Nice Site. Your archives look impressive. I’m an ATSF modeler and follower and ex signal employee but an NYC question has come across my desk so I hope you can help me with this. I am looking for info on the disposition of ALCO S-3 switcher #894. From you archives I could view it appears it was renumbered as #9364 later in its career. Can you tell me what the disposition of this locomotive is? Where is it now or when and where was it scrapped? Any help appreciated. Jerry Sauer Thanks and any help appreciated.

  2. Robert says:

    How were the first class passenger trains between NYC and Chicago operated when they had multiple sections? Which sections stopped at stations; Did following sections pause outside of town when the first was at the stations, etc? THanks

    • There were many ways in which second sections were operated, but this question limits the discussion to first class trains, between New York and Chicago. The answer would apply to first class trains operated elsewhere. The discussion here will be about westbound trains, however the operations eastbound would be similar.

      In answering this, we need to define what is meant by first class. It had a meaning in the employee operating timetable of the day, which strictly governed train operations. It had and still has a more subjective meaning in terms of the type of passenger trains. On the main line, when trains were operated on timetable and train order authority, all passenger trains were considered first class. In later years, the NYC main line was mostly operated on signal authority.

      The more subjective meaning referred to a train that stopped only at stations in larger cities, had faster running times and featured amenities. Often, in the 20s, 30s and 40s, these trains were all-first class, which meant only Pullman sleepers and/or parlor cars. After the Depression, coaches were featured on some trains that had been all-first class in prior years. With the advent of reclining seats, many passengers were willing to travel overnight in coaches. There were even solid coach trains operating on fast schedules. One such train, operating between New York and Chicago was the Pacemaker.

      During the Depression and after World War Two, the operation of more than one or two extra sections became less common. Where in the 1920s, NYC operated its best known train, the Twentieth Century Limited, in many sections, with the arrival of streamlined equipment in 1938, only enough rolling stock for one extra section was purchased. After World War II, reduced travel demand also played a factor in reducing the need for multiple sections.

      From an infrastructure view point, NYC’s signals were set up so that second (third, fourth etc.) sections could follow closely behind the first section. The headways could be as little as two or three minutes. Probably the average was a little higher. The stations where these faster trains stopped had multiple tracks, so a following section could be platformed at the same time as its preceding section. Most of the stations in the larger cities also had through tracks, where trains like the Century could pass without stopping and without tying up any station tracks at all. At Albany, where stations tracks were limited in number and length, first sections could change crews in Rensselaer and use the Livingston Avenue Bridge, avoiding the station altogether.

      Usually when a train ran in more then one section, the first section would accommodate only passengers going through to the final destination if at all possible. This meant that station dwell times could be limited to only the bare necessities, including crew or engine changes and no handling of checked baggage. If the train had a connection such as off the B&A at Albany, the cars joining the train would be added to the last section. However, even if a train did not need to do any work at a station, it could not leave before its appointed time in the employee timetable

      The timetable restriction led to other solutions to speed multiple section trains up. The biggest problem child was the Century, where more than two sections was normal Around 1929, NYC introduced Train 37 called the “Advance Twentieth Century,” which operated one hour earlier than the regular Centuries (Train 25, 2nd 25 and so on). The first section of Train 25, was actually operated as a second section of Train 37, by train order, which meant that it could run ahead of 25’s schedule. As the first section of the Century, it would not need to make passenger station stops, and did not handle cars off the Boston section. It could bypass Albany Station, unless it had the RPO. If the Century ran in four sections, for example, the first three would be multiple sections of Train 37. The last section would handle the Boston cars and make what few station stops were required. As the sections stretched out over the railroad, which would take some time, the last section could pretty much stay on time. Before this solution was developed, the time keeping of the last section could result in a late arrival in Chicago. It did take some time for the sections to spread out, because even though the first Century ran as a second section of Train 37, it could not depart New York before the time stated in the public timetable. When reservations were made, the Pullman diagrams for the extra sections carried special numbers so the reservation agents understood not to reserve “shorts” in those cars.

      One might think that the first section of the Century, running as 2nd 37 would simply run away from the other sections and arrive in Chicago very early. It must be remembered, that back in the days of steam operations, power did not run through, nor did diners and club cars The enroute train operation requirements would place a limit on how far ahead of schedule trains could get. In those days, the Century stopped for passengers at Albany, Utica, Syracuse and Rochester. Albany, Utica and Rochester could be bypassed by the first section, but the club and dining cars normally came off at Syracuse, so it required a stop. So the multiple station tracks were still very useful.

      The through operation of power, dining and lounge cars which came at the end of the Depression, simplified the operations greatly. Ultimately, CTC and operating rules changes that permitted operation on signal indication by the authority of the train dispatcher allowed trains to run restricted only by the need to observe public timetable calling times at stations. That is one reason very fast trains, like the Century, had references in the public timetable like “stops only to discharge passengers” at places like Toledo and Englewood. Other comments might read “only carries passengers for destinations west of Buffalo.” This made running ahead of schedule for first sections possible.

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