CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Friday, October 18, 2019

Then and Now: Mechanicville Yard diamond

June 1984 - Train is heading Southeast on the D&H 
I posted last year some of my memories of railfanning in Mechanicville Yard, which is now completely different than what it used to be. Up through the 1970s there were two independent rail yards in the area, one for the Boston and Maine and the other for the Delaware and Hudson. The B&M yard was a hump yard, as was the D&H's. At the eastern end of the yards, the B&M came in from the northeast and the D&H from the southeast. Each railroad could reach its own yard, but a diamond track right next to the XO Tower allowed trains to cross into each other's yards.

June 1986 - Looking East down B&M
Per the Saratoga County website: "By the mid-1920's, the local yards were switching 4,000 cars a day, making Mechanicville the third largest reclassification yard in the US. At its peak, the B&M and D&H's combined employment reached 1,100 prior to WWII." Then, during the mid-1980s when both railroads were owned and controlled by Guilford Industries, they closed one of the yards and essentially combined the functions into the other yard. As part of the rationalizing process, the diamond that the B&M used to gain access into the D&H yard was taken out of service. What was once a large classification yard was downshifted and most of the services were transferred to East Deerfield. Unfortunately, this was easily accomplished because traffic levels by the mid-1980s were down considerably and the few through trains that run through Mechanicville were more easily blocked elsewhere. 

The diamond was still in place in March of 1985, but by 1986, the diamond had been removed and the the yard throat arrangement was reconfigured. The D&H then tried to close the yard in the late 1980s but Deerfield couldn't handle the overload of cars. So, Mechanicville Yard was once again pressed into service but it wouldn't last forever. I believe it was finally closed in the early 1990s. All of the land south of the tracks was sold, and right now there are some private companies in the old yard buildings. Also, the Town of Mechanicville itself has its DPW Office on some of the land.

April 2016 - Train leaving east on B&M tracks.
Of course, Mechanicville was given a new lease on life as part of Norfolk Southern's "Patriot Corridor" plan. They rebuilt the yard in 2012 into an intermodal facility with five paved tracks to allow for COFC cars to be loaded and unloaded, and another two shorter tracks for autorack loading or unloading. And it has been slowly getting busier. Governor Cuomo even announced in August 2019 that another $1.5 million dollars would be used to increase access into the yard for trucks. So, while it might not be the hotbed of activity that it once was it certainly is becoming a place to keep your eyes on.

Now, if only I could find a copy of CHR's XO Tower kit!

No comments:

Post a Comment