Phimont to Chatham

philmont-chathamLENGTH: 11.3 miles

PRESENT STATUS: Undeveloped. CLOSED to the public.

STATUS DETAILS:  HVRTA has done major planning work on this section of trail. An effort is underway to use federal and local matching dollars to begin construction. We hope that with the success of the trail between Wassaic and Copake Falls, the construction of this long segment of trail will  be achieved.

To be developed as trail is constructed.

Philmont: This town was named for George Phillips who developed an industrial town there including textile mills. “Swiss Farms” received carloads of Canadian peat moss until the end of rail service in 1976.

Ghent: The site of the junction between the New York City Harlem Division and Boston & Albany Railroads, Hudson-Chatham Branch.

Chatham: A major railroad junction for the Boston & Albany Railroad’s main line and a terminal for the Harlem Division, the Boston & Albany Railroad’s Hudson-Chatham Branch, and the Rutland Railroad’s Bennington Branch. The town had a large railroad yard and engine service facilities. Chatham is still a railroad town in spite of the new weekenders and touristy redevelopment taking place. Until the early 1950’s, milk produced in Vermont and shipped on the Rutland Railroad was transferred to the Harlem Division for New York City destinations.

This former Boston & Albany Railroad main line is a heavy-duty freight main line for the Conrail system which was just acquired by the mega-giant CSX Railroad Corporation. Amtrak also uses this railroad for its Boston-Albany passenger trains. As many as twenty long, heavy freight trains a day rumble through the village.

Chatham has a yearly Railroad Heritage Festival at the firehouse located on a vestige of the Harlem Division track. Chatham has converted about one mile of former Harlem Line track running south from the village along Route 66 to a rail trail. The trail goes through a residential part of the village. Residents use it to walk to the Price Chopper shopping center.

A large Blue Seal Feeds distribution center is located in the former Harlem Division property at Chatham. Feed and grain from the midwest is unloaded from rail cars and delivered to farms in the tri-state region by truck. This replaced direct rail shipment to the small towns that lost rail services during the massive downsizing of the regional rail system in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Parking and access yet to be determined once trails have been developed.

*Note: Many thanks to local railroad historians Heyward Cohen, Jack Shufelt, and Lou Grogan (The Coming of the New York and Harlem Railroad, Pawling, NY: Louis V. Grogan, 1989) for much of the railroad history that appears above.