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
Trains 8 and 21
August 14, 1950 – August 16, 1951
NYCS Locomotive Roster, 1940
The May through August 1940 issues of Railroad Magazine contained installments of the New York Central System locomotive roster, listing all locomotives alphabetically by class. (Early diesel locomotives, called “oil electric” in the roster, were classed DE or DEs.) The roster was checked by Paul Kiefer, the NYC’s Chief Engineer of Motive Power. He was unable to check the third installment before publication, but corrections to it are listed at the end of the fourth installment and have been applied to the digital version presented here. This roster was published before construction of the L3 and L4 Mohawks (4-8-2), the S1 and S2 Niagaras (4-8-4) and the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie U3L 0-8-0 switchers and A2 Berkshires (2-8-4). In the interest of completeness, these classes are presented below as they would have appeared in such a roster.
Books on the NYCS
All about NYCS cabooses.
You will find the information here about most NYCS cabooses
The Making of A Legend – The Niagara Story
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.
The Making of A Legend – The Niagara Story
By Thomas R. Gerbracht, NYCSHS Director
In Central Headlight 1st Qtr. 1989
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.
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.
NYC Standard-Design, All-Steel
By John S. Horvath & Richard L. Stoving
In Central Headlight 2nd Qtr. 1980
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.
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.
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.
Painting the NYC 20th Century Limited
By H. L. Vail, Jr.
“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 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.
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.
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.
NYCSHS Modelers Committee
By Dave Staplin
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
“Some Notes on the History of Water Scoops and Track Pans”
By Edward May
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.
NYC Triumph and Tragedy
A Streamliner’s Debut on the Day of Infamy
By John C. Dahl
From the NYCSHS Central Headlight Qtr 4 2016
Still gloriously attired after the trying years of World War II, J-3a 5426 lays down a magnificent trail of winter exhaust as she leads Train 50, the eastbound Empire State Express at Hudson, New York on March 3, 1947.
Collection of Harold K. Vollrath/ NYCSHS Collection
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.
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.
The Central Lightning Stripe Article
Rails Northeast Magazine
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boston & Albany A1s (Early Super Power)
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.
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.
From the records of W.D Edson – By: H. L. Vail, Jr.
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.
NYC Electric Locomotives
We plan to add several articles on the electrics.
The NYCS Motor Cars
Build 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.
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
These 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.
Merchant Despatch (MDT) Car Shops
“A Day in the Car Shops, 1951”
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)
NYCRR Scheduled Merchandise Cars
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.
If you know of additional structures or facilities contact use at NYCSHS@verizon.net to provide us with updates.
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
Telegraph Calls of the New York Central Lines
“Telegraph Calls of the New York Central Lines,” Gordon M. Meints, compilor (Kalamazoo, Mich: Michigan Classic Railroad Reprints, 1980). Meint’s work is a 36 page, two-column, single spaced softback. In the introduction, Meints mentions that his work is “arranged by operating divisions of the NYC and its leased lines as they existed around 1940.” But his only reference to his sources is the statement that the work was “compiled from New York Central publications and employee timetables.” His center-fold map is taken from the 1924 “NYC Director of Stations.” Bill Dunbar has marked several mistakes and a number of ommissions in the Meints work.
From the Morse telegraph Club