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Great Railroad Stations - Ft. Edward, NY

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Great Railroad Stations 

by John C. Dahl


Fort Edward, New York

As 1900 ended the 19th Century, and began the 20th, the Delaware & Hudson RR opened a new depot in Fort Edward, NY. The D&H is a very historic railroad property. It was one of the earliest railroads in the east to exploit coal as the industrial age dawned. The railroad traces it roots to the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company, chartered in 1823. In those days, the canal was thought to be the ultimate in transportation, and the D&H sought to tap the coalfields near Carbondale, Pa. linking them to the Hudson River near Kingston, NY. By the late autumn of 1828, the canal project was completed with some 108 locks in as many miles. A unique feature was the use of a railroad incline plane to handle the most difficult portion of the hilly terrain. Out of this, the D&H as a railroad was born, although the Canal itself would survive until 1898. Of course by then, the railroad had long since eclipsed the canal for surface transportation. 

By 1875 the D&H railroad would expand all the way to Canada with the completion of its own line north from Saratoga. The geographic gap was filled by existing railroads from Binghamton to Albany and Saratoga: the Albany & Susquehanna RR, and the Rensselaer & Saratoga RR, which the D&H leased in 1870 and 1871 respectively. 

The Delaware & Hudson was for many years a unique player in a crowded eastern rail scene. Its mountainous grades south of Albany to the Pennsylvania coal fields contrasted with its magnificently scenic route along the rock wall cliffs above the west side of Lake Champlain. D&H connected with many of the classic era railroads of the east: Lehigh Valley, New York, Ontario & Western, Erie, New York Central, Boston & Maine, Canadian Pacific, Rutland, and others.  It had branch line routes reaching into the Adirondack Mountains, to places like North Creek and Lyon Mountain and Ticonderoga. South of its Albany headquarters city it reached Oneonta in the bucolic Catskills.  Binghamton and Owego were on one line, and Scranton / Wilkes-Barre on another from a junction in Nineveh as the railroad left the Catskills for the Poconos. At Lanesboro, Pa. its tracks ducked under the famed Starrucca viaduct of the Erie Railroad. Ararat Summit consisted of a 17.7 mile climb up a maximum grade of 1.39 percent. This was eastern mountain railroading of a special kind. The D&H had a fleet of Northern and Challenger type steam locomotives to match the rugged conditions and the demands of fast merchandise freight traffic. 

Located on D&Hís Lake Champlain route to Montreal, the Fort Edward station was an important point for the railroad. Paper mill and lumber products, as well as locally manufactured goods and the bridge traffic to Montreal all flowed through Fort Edward.

The Fort Edward station bears an architectural resemblance to other D&H depots at Altamont and Westport. The station features brick construction to the window sill level and then wood framing above. In typical late Victorian fashion, it has elegant wood roof brackets and ornate roof dormers. A unique polygonal south end formed the main waiting room area. A pyramid-capped cupola on a slate roof completes this masterpiece of the railroad carpenter craftsmen of the era. 

A brief but beloved era in passenger service on the D&H was the re-equipping of the Montreal trains in 1967 with four big Alco PA diesels, arguably the most beautiful diesels ever constructed. Rolling stock was upgraded as well with classic stainless steel coaches and two dining cars, all painted in the D&Hís blue and yellow paint scheme. Train numbers 34 and 35, The Laurentians, became a favorite for railfan photographers up and down the scenic Lake Champlain route. 

Today the station has undergone a restoration, and currently serves passengers on Amtrakís popular Adirondack. The D&H line under CP Rail, itís new owner, remains one of the most scenic routes in the east and is still one of the best train rides in Amtrakís timetable.





Fort Edward, New York. Delaware & Hudson RR 

 July 14, 2000 by Jon Rothenmeyer


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This page was last updated Thursday, December 06, 2001

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