This Can't Last Much Longer, Can It?

Posted by George Hamlin
on Tuesday, October 18, 2022

As of June 13, 1970, this was now Penn Central territory, as can be seen from the black E8 with the PC logo on Empire Service train 75 heading west along the Hudson River (which is just out of the photo to the left) at Manitou, New York.  For many of us that experienced happier times prior to both the institution of Empire Service in December 1967, and the formation of the Penn Central in February 1968, this location will live on in our hearts and minds as New York Central territory; the ex-NYC sign designating this location atop the modest shelter is a strong reminder of its heritage; I suspect our British friends would term this a “country halt”. 

For that matter, the equipment pictured here is all former NYC: E8 4057 and a pair of Pullman-Standard, stainless-clad 3000 series coaches, with the rear one, now lettered for the PC, converted to a snack-bar coach.  Ahead of the train and indicating “clear” for train 75 is a classic NYC “small targets” signal mast; under it, almost certainly, are jointed sections of 127 pounds per yard “Dudley” rail.  Looking at the margins of the ballast it appears that cinders are in place to keep foliage at bay; were these obtained locally, from passing Hudsons, Mohawks and Niagaras “back in the day”, or brought in from elsewhere?

Manitou is just north of the Bear Mountain Bridge, and is located on the railroad between Peekskill to the south, and Garrison to the north.  Empire Service trains (or their New York Central long-haul predecessors) didn’t deign to stop in Manitou, and the Hudson Line commuter service of the early 1970s provided a few rush-hour services (inbound in the morning, back out in the afternoon/early evening) to and from Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

A glance at a satellite image of the area reveals that the “community” of Manitou consists of less than twenty dwellings in a row on the east bank of the Hudson, adjacent to the station, with a few others at higher elevations in the “inland” direction.  Manhattan residences have often touted their “river view”, if available; Manitou wins this contest handily, since virtually all of them likely can see the river, unless foliage intervenes, and the properties near the station feature river frontage.  A weary commuter returning in the evening could walk home and be aboard their boat, if so inclined and equipped, in mere minutes after alighting from the train.

Currently, the weekday service pattern is down to a single round-trip.  However, weekend service has blossomed: there are multiple trips in the morning and early afternoon outbound from Manhattan, followed by an array of southbounds from the afternoon into the early evening. 

So what’s going on in Manitou to make this happen?  Nothing!  However, recreational use of the Hudson Highlands for pastimes including hiking and biking has increased in recent years, and urban dwellers can now avail themselves of Metro-North to get to the attractions of Bear Mountain State Park via Manitou; no automobile needed. (A similar situation exists at Breakneck Ridge, north of Cold Spring, and across the river from Storm King Mountain.)

Getting from the train to the park involves gaining about 175 feet of elevation getting up to New York state route 9D, which leads to the bridge.  An ambitious urban-outdoorsperson could go on to attain the summit of Bear Mountain, roughly 1300 feet.  The good news: the upward trek takes place relatively early in the day, while the return is essentially all downhill.  (I suspect that visiting railfans won’t get beyond the vicinity of the bridge, however.)

 (Photo by George W. Hamlin)

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