Loading

Railfan locations in New York

A self-guiding railfan tour

Railfan, railfan--where do you see trains in New York? Well, here's a bunch of places for your enjoyment.

Mapwork: If you're going to be looking for railfan locations, you'll need an industrial strength map resource. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.

Cities And Sites

(4) Bob Simmons has provided this information.

(5) With thanks to Rich Bartela for this good info.

(7) This info is from upstate New Yorker Ian Murray. He's really into the action up there, and has provided excellent, detailed information for us.

(8) Dave Coleman, who hails from the Buffalo area, has provided these goodies for us.

(9) A guy who really knows the Syracuse railfan scene, Jim Devlin, has been kind enough to provide us with this good data.

Back to the top

AMSTERDAM (October 2013)

Amsterdam is your basic CSX (ex-CR, exx-NYC) Albany - Buffalo racetrack, with 3-4 trains per hour. Unfortunately, the railroad is cleverly designed to be away from streets and railfans, and is therefore somewhat difficult to fan through town. The Amtrak station is a good place to view the parade, however, and is a popular hangout for railfans, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evenings.

Defect detectors and radio base relays (a total of 5, count 'em) in the general area help with figuring out what you're seeing or about to see. It's best to hook up with a knowledgeable local to wade through the radio chatter, so you can figure out what's what.

To get to the station, take exit 27 from I-90, the New York Thruway, and take NY-30 across the Mohawk River into Amsterdam. Take the first right onto NY-5, and the station is right there on Front St. just southwest of NY-5.

Amsterdam has a riverfront park that is good for railfanning in the summer. It's only open June through August. From the NYS Thruway, take 30 north. Cross the tracks and pass a parking garage on the right. Turn into the Riverfront Center and go up the ramp to the top level of the parking garage. Morning photos are good from the parking garage all year, but for afternoon photos, take the pedestrian walkway across the tracks to the park. Good overhead views are available from the end of the walkway, or you can take the stairs or elevator to track level. Trains go through here very fast, so a good camera or bright sun are important. The station is still a popular location too.

Adapted from a Michael Christie entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission. Updated October, 2013, with info from Geoff Dunn, who added the info about the parking garage and park.

Back to the top

BEAR MOUNTAIN BRIDGE -- WEST SIDE (August 2000)

CSX has two main lines along the Hudson River. The one on the east is almost exclusively Amtrak passenger traffic, with only very minor freight traffic. The main on the west bank, on the other hand, is exclusively freight. Here are some places in the vicinity of the Bear Mountain Bridge for train watching on the west bank. This line started out as the "West Shore" line, later became part of the New York Central, then Penn Central, then Conrail (which kept it alive and allowed it to prosper), and is now CSX's artery between North Jersey/New York City, and Selkirk Yard near Albany.

This is a line which is largely single tracked, and can be hot and heavy in action, or downright dead. What you can do during the lulls is scope the area out for photo opportunities, because there are lots of them.

The Bear Mountain Bridge is just east of the intersection of US-9W and US-6, about 40 miles north of Manhattan. It is located in a very scenic area, with high bluffs, the beautiful river, and the hills and forests on both sides of the river. Photo access to the line is probably easier that the east side, but you need to be careful to be alert at all times, as there are a lot of things happening here (highways, boats, planes, etc,, etc.), and a train can sneak up on you in a hurry. You also need to be aware of property lines, and do not want to trespass on railroad property.

Start at the US-6/US-9W traffic circle just west of the bridge. About 1/4 mile south on US-9W, a left turn takes you to a parking area for the boat dock. The tracks are just down the path. From here you can easily see a block signal which will give you advance warning of movements. A short hike to the north takes you to a trestle and tunnel combination just after you pass under the highway bridge. If you go south instead, a long, curving trestle awaits which provides great photos of northbounds in the morning and southbounds most of the day. A rock cut just south of the trestle will give you some elevation and a nice view of the big bridge.

Drive another 1/2 mile south on 9W to the entrance to Iona Island. Follow the road to the tracks where you'll find a place to park.

There are other good photo spots within five miles in either direction. Route 9W is never very far from the tracks, and the railroad remains easily accessible.

Adapted from an Alan Babbit entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

BINGHAMTON -- BD TOWER

As the Delaware & Hudson came out of the northeast to cross the New York Central east-west main line, BD tower governed all movements. As Conrail took over the interlocking and reduced it to an electronic tower, the parlance referred to it as a "Controlled Point." Us old guys still prefer to call such places interlockings, because all the switches are still interlocked and interdependent upon all others in the plant. BD is no exception.

There is good traffic through here, and there is also lots of variety. This is, however, a lousy place to get close to the action. The place is reached by taking US-11 east (south) from the intersection of US-11 and NY-7 in downtown Binghamton. US-11 hugs the NS (ex-CR, exx-NYC) mainline, which in turn hugs the Susquehanna River. Between the tracks and the street is a wall of about 2-3 feet, because the tracks are a little higher up than the street. There is absolutely no way to watch trains from the south side of the street. So what do you do? Option 1: Gritch and moan and cry. Option 2: Park on the north side of US-11, and set up in the back of a pickup or on top of a van. You'll get good pix, as long as a semi doesn't go in front of you just as that big blue engine or red engine comes honkin' along. This is a very worthwhile place, if you'll just suck it up and make the best of it.

Bill Merrell helped me update this site. Many thanks, Bill.

Back to the top

BINGHAMTON -- D&H/CP EAST BINGHAMTON YARD (October 12, 2000)

From the center of Binghamton, where US-11 and NY-7 meet, go south across the Susquehanna River on NY-7, and stay on it as it does a 90° to the east a block south of Hall Street. Continue east and you'll jog over the yard throat via a 90° left and then a 90° right turn. After the first turn, there is a private road leading down to the yard level. You are not allowed at yard level, and the railroad police are very vigilant in their efforts to make sure you are not on railroad property. However, railroad police tolerate railfans on the north side of the private road above the yard level, and you can get good pix there. As for the NY-7 bridge over the yard, there is a large fence on both sides, and pix are schlecht.

Bill Merrell helped me update this site. Many thanks, Bill.

Back to the top

BREWSTER (July 2006)

The station in Brewster is reached by taking US-6 through town, and is located at a 90° turn downtown. Immediately north of the station (and I mean like 10 feet north) there is an asphalt road across the tracks. You can take pix from here and be off railroad property, but you'll have to worry about fences, sun angles and shade dappling. You might want to scout out a better place if you're going to be in the area for more than an hour or so.

Bob's Diner located across the street is a good place to stop for eats. There are a few places to eat and shop in the village if you need to stock up on supplies.

For more info on this Metro North commuter center, visit the Metro North website for schedules. Also, you'll want to see the August, 1998, issue of TRAINS magazine. What? You don't subscribe to TRAINS? What kind of railfan are you? You can contact TRAINS here.

Otto Vondrak has graciously updated this information as of July 2006. Thanks, Otto.

Back to the top

BREWSTER -- "SOUTHEAST" (July 2006)

Southeast (formerly known as Brewster North) is a park and ride facility for Metro-North's Harlem Line to Grand Central Station in New York City. This is the northern limit of third-rail electric service, but diesel powered trains continue to the northern terminal at Wassaic. This location was formerly known as "Brewster -- North".

Traffic peaks on weekday mornings and evenings, but remains frequent on the weekends as well. Put Junction Yard is located just to the south, but is off limits. The yard is a shop for the electric MU trains as well as a running repair shop for the diesel fleet. Southeast station can be reached from I-84, and you can follow the signs to the station from the Interstate.

From mid-morning to early evening, the yard and engine facility are virtually empty, but they both fill up as the trains arrive from Gotham in the afternoon and evening. One photo location, for the non-faint-of-heart is reached by taking North Main Street out of town, and turning left on Prospect Hill Road. There is a very narrow, 5-ton limit bridge over the tracks, with the workers' entrance to the facility just past the bridge to the left. DO NOT venture into the facility. Park wherever you can near the bridge, and hangout wherever you think the light is best. Get off the road, because motorists don't have enough room as it is. This area is really tight, but you should be able to get some good early AM and later PM shots here. Don't blame me if you get chigger bites.

Back to the top

CHILI (NORTH CHILI)

From I-490 southwest of Rochester, take exit 4 and go north on Union Street. The first road to the left (west) past I-490 is Davis Road (it's Paul Road to the east). Turn left on Davis and drive until it intersects with Attridge Road. Turn right to go northeast. Park before you cross the tracks.

The double track main line from Rochester and the by-pass single track from Fairport join at this location, which is actually North Chili (pronounced CHI-lie). This is a traditional, very popular railfan location. Stay well back, act like an adult, and help keep it available to fans.

Dale Fravel, who has a homepage with lots of goodies about Rochester, provided some data for this entry.

Back to the top

CROTON - ON - HUDSON

The site of the very busy Croton-Harmon Metro North station on the east bank of the Hudson River, this is one of the few places where you can see some good action, be safe, and take some pix. You will, however, have to do it on the station's platforms.

Amtrak, Metro North and a rare CSX freight all run through here, and NOTE WELL: Amtrak's speed can be blazingly fast -- 95 miles per hour. Stay well back, stay very, very alert, and be prepared. Tracks are signaled in both directions, so make no assumptions about from which direction any train might come. This is not a place to bring your small children and grandchildren. There is a large Metro North yard and facility for the third rail mud fleet here, but the public is not welcome.

The station is on US-9 in town. However, if you're going to explore this region, a detailed, local map is a necessity. There are so many roads, cities, etc, that you can't see any detail at all from most highway maps.

Back to the top

FAIRPORT (December 31, 2000)

From I-490 going southeast from Rochester, take the NY-31F exit (Exit 25), and go east on NY-31F towards Fairport. The road will become West Church Street. In Fairport, take a left and go north on Main Street, which will take you over the Erie Canal to the tracks. About 100 yards or so to the west of Main Street, the double track main line into Rochester, and the single track to Chili (which is really a by-pass now) come together. This is a pretty town and the canal is interesting.

Dale Fravel, who has a homepage with lots of goodies about Rochester, provided some data for this entry. His site is worth a visit, and is here.

Back to the top

FONDA (October 2013)

Fonda is a real small town with a real big railroad running right through it. From I-90, the New York State Thruway, take exit 28, then turn left on Riverside Dr. at the bottom of the exit. Follow Riverside Dr. until it runs into NY-30A, Bridge St. Go north on NY-30A across the Mohawk River into Fonda. After you cross the river, turn left on Park Street, and continue to turn right on Center Street or Broadway. Just before the tracks, turn onto Railroad Street. The crossing of Center and the tracks is a good railfan location. There are benches in front of the County building, close to the tracks. The signals of CP-184 are visible in the distance, and there is ample open area here for good pix. There are other crossings in Fonda which might give you good results, so do some scouting ahead of time. Expect 2-4 trains per hour through here, and expect them to be fast, so be on your toes, and be prepared.

Adapted from a Dave Coleman entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission. Updated October, 2013, with info from Geoff Dunn, who reports that a new bridge across the Mohawk river moved Route 30A's entrance into Fonda, changing some street directions.

Back to the top

GENEVA(January 25, 2002)

West of Syracuse on I-90/New York State Thruway, go south at exit 42 on NY-14 for 7 miles to Geneva. Geneva is today an important tourist location, as it is right on the northern tip of Seneca Lake, and provides excellent access to a large area of the parks, scenery and countryside of the Finger Lakes Region. At one time, it was a very important railroad junction, with several lines going every which way. Today, the trackage is that of the Finger Lakes Railway, and tracks still go every which way.

As you come in to Geneva, and you'll see existing tracks which are in use, tracks that used to be in use, and archeological evidence of even older trackwork. Travel all the way downtown and follow the NY-14 signs as it turns a couple of times, and then take a left onto US-20/Lake Road to head east. You'll very shortly make a big curve to the northeast. The lake will be to your right and southbound tracks will be fairly close on the left, although they are probably inaccessible. Continue on Lake, and you'll see Seneca Lake State Park on your right. Continue to the road changes from north east to an almost dead east in the vicinity of the Ontario/Seneca County line and the area of "Border City". These 2 geographic features are about 200 yards apart. Between them and just to the north of Lake Road is a crossing of a east/west and northeast/southwest lines. The yard area should be just southwest of the county line. Note that the stated yard capacity is only 90 cars, so don't look for a DeWitt-like industrial facility.The engine facility is northeast of the crossing, in the Border City Road area, and you'll need a detailed local map to get to the latter.

Because of vandalism and liability issues, the Geneva Police and railroad management are very much concerned about trespassers -- indeed, they might be considered aggressive about the property rights of the railroad. Brendan suggests taking pix from the south side of Lake Road. Both of us suggest you be very, very careful not to trespass. If I were going to visit Geneva, and wanted to take a few pix, I would write ahead of time for permission to be there at a specified date and time, and state that I would be willing to sign a waiver of liability.

Brendan Kelly in New York State provided much of this information. Many thanks to Brendan.

Back to the top

HAMBURG -- BUFFALO SOUTHERN (September 26, 1999)

The town of Hamburg proper lies about 10 miles or so south of Buffalo, and east (south) of the New York Thruway (I-90). The Buffalo Southern operates an engine facility in town. To get to Hamburg, get off I-90 at exit 57, and follow Camp Road towards downtown Hamburg. You'll reach the tracks after a mile or so. Bear to your right immediately past the tracks and you'll follow the railroad for a while. There are hotels/motels in the Hamburg area.

Dave Coleman, who hails from the Buffalo area, has provided these goodies for us.

Back to the top

HAMBURG -- CSX/NS LAKEVIEW ROAD (September 26, 1999)

Hamburg is about 10 miles southwest of Buffalo, and is reached from the New York State Thruway at Exit 57. Here, take Camp Road away from Hamburg, north towards the lake. At US-20, go west (left), and the first right will be Rogers Road (see below). Keep going on US-20 for 4-5 miles (you'll pass Rogers Road, Amsdell Road, and Pleasant Avenue). Turn right (north) onto Lakeview, and both the NS and CSX tracks will be reached in about 1 mile. There is a "safe" area between the tracks which is good for photos. Expect 2-4 trains per hour, so scout the area out well, get your film ready, and enjoy yourself.

There are fast food and other restaurants to the west, in Derby, New York. To get there, continue north on Lakeview Road to NY-5, and head west. [NY-5, in this webauthor's humble opinion, is one of the really interesting and enjoyable local highways in America, but I don't recommend it in January!]

Dave Coleman, who hails from the Buffalo area, has provided these goodies for us.

Back to the top

HAMBURG -- CSX/NS ROGERS ROAD (September 26, 1999)

Hamburg is about 10 miles southwest of Buffalo, and is reached from the New York State Thruway at Exit 57. Here, take Camp Road away from Hamburg, north towards the lake. At US-20, go west (left), and Rogers Road will be your first right. You'll reach the tracks in about a mile. If you're going to Rogers Road from the Buffalo Southern in Hamburg (see above), Rogers Road runs straight from the BSOR tracks, so you don't have to double back to Camp Road.

Dave Coleman, who hails from the Buffalo area, has provided these goodies for us.

Back to the top

HICKSVILLE (December 13, 2001)

Outside of Long Island and the New York metro area, few people have ever heard of Hicksville. Thru this little-remarked place pass a mind-numbing 140 trains a day!! Hicksville is on the Long Island Railroad portion of New York's Metropolitan Authority, and is the point where two eastern lines (Ronkonkoma and Port Jefferson branches) meet to go west to Jamaica and Penn Station. You'll see fleets of MU's, push/pull bi-levels, and even a couple of freights a day, but you'll have to be a night owl, probably, to catch the latter.

MTA's top quality web site (search for "New York MTA") gives information about the station, to include a complete list of arrivals and departures for weekday and weekend operations. It also gives info on bus connections. You might want to park at the Broadway Mall and take a bus down to the station. You'll not have to worry about the parking hassle around the station. Thousands of commuters every day use the station, so parking is in great demand. Even better, take an MTA train to the station, and just stay put and enjoy the show, but you'd better have a bunch of film.

From either the Long Island Expressway (exit 41), or the Northern Parkway (exit 35), go south on North Broadway to the vicinity of the Broadway Mall. At the south end of the mall area, bear right onto Newbridge Road. The station is at the intersection of Newbridge and West Barclay Street, several blocks south of the mall.

Part of the information for this location was provided by Paul Floroff. Thanks, Paul

Back to the top

HOFFMANS(August 2000)

A very small town on the north bank of the Mohawk River, Hoffmans is just east of the Montgomery/Schenectady County line. Here, the CSX main line from Buffalo splits, with the Selkirk Branch breaking off from the main and going north of, and then back over, the main line south over the river, and on to Selkirk Yard. Hardy what we think of as a "branch", the Selkirk Branch is double tracked, and carries the lion's share of the traffic to and from Buffalo. The main line on to Schenectady, Albany and the east, becomes single track east of Hoffmans.

To get trackside, go west on NY-5 from Schenectady. NY-5 parallels the Mohawk River, with the tracks squeezed in between. When you get to Hoffmans, Local Road 59 will go to the north. Park at this area, and the junction is just to your south and east.

Adapted from a Dave Coleman entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

HUDSON (9410)

AMTRAK Because Hudson is on the east bank of the Hudson River, most of the trains through here are Amtrak, with only an occasional freight. However, there are lots of Amtrak trains, both long distance and New York Service, so you'll find Hudson a good railfan location.

The station is right by the river, in the southwest part of town. About 200 yards south of the station is a large grassy area which is good for train watching. Because the river is so close, however, you need to get your shots in the mornings.

Back to the top

KIRKVILLE (August 2000)

A mote just west of Syracuse (Minoa, actually) and the east end of the big DeWitt Yard, Kirkville is a quiet place to see good mainline action on CSX's busy Selkirk-Buffalo main line. Probably the easiest way to get here is via NY-5, about 5 miles to the east of Minoa, and then go north on local road 290, which wiggles and wobbles, and then go north on Kirkville Road, cross the old Erie Canal, and go to the crossing. There is a small parking area that is very convenient for railfans.

There are defect detectors right here ("Kirkville") and trains departing DeWitt can be heard via the road channel. There is camping nearby at the Green Lakes State Park, and the old canal is an attraction. This is a nice place and area to visit the greater Syracuse metro area, and the trainwatching is superb.

Adapted from a Matt Donnelly entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

LACKAWANNA (September 27, 2001)

From Buffalo, head south on NY-5, which is an expressway, to the Ridge Road exit, and go east on Ridge. You'll go about 8 blocks, and then head over a huge iron truss bridge over a sea of tracks. In order, you'll go over the CSX (ex-CR, exx-PC, exxx-NYC) yard and main tracks, Norfolk Southern (ex-NKP), and tucked between these two big roads is the Buffalo Southern (ex-Erie) shortline's track. Cross the tracks, park at the public library, and walk back to the bridge. Be advised that Ridge Road is very busy, and you need to be mindful of the fact that you're in a dangerous place.

For those with small children and/or bored wives: Besides the library, South Park is on the northeast corner of Ridge and the tracks. According to my trusty Rand-McNally, this is the site of a botanical garden. One supposes that the kids could run off some boredom in the area.

Thanks to Glen Larimer for the information concerning this site.

Back to the top

LYONS(February 23, 2002)

From exit 42 on I-90/New York State Thruway, go north on NY-14 into the south side of Lyons. This town is on the CSX (ex-CR, exx-NYC) Water Level Route, and the trains roar through here -- 60 or so per day. In addition, the Finger Lakes Railway comes up from Geneva to interchange with CSX here. All the action takes place in the south side of town. As you might imagine, CSX is east-west and FGLK comes up from the south. As you sail over all of this on the NY-14 overpass, the connection and its wye are to the east. Look for an old, 3-4 story brick hotel and try to get over to it. There is parking available off railroad property. Even though you're north of the tracks, you might have to be content, because vandals have done a lot of damage to CSX equipment, and the Lyons police will wrap you up in a heartbeat if you're trespassing.

Interchange cars from FGLK can block the view to the west.

Brendan Kelly in New York State provided much of this information. Many thanks to Brendan.

Back to the top

MANITOU (August 2000)

If you like passenger and commuter action, here's a good spot just north of the Bear Mountain Bridge, and just north of the Putnam County line. From NY-9D at the Bear Mountain Bridge, go north and take a left onto Manitou Road. The tracks are at the end of this public road, but private past the tracks. Plenty of action here, especially in the morning and afternoon rush hours.

Adapted from a Steven Kohart entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

PALMYRA (August 29, 1999)

From the New York State Thruway east of Rochester, take exit 43, and go north on NY-21. Go through the town of Palmyra, and then continue another two miles or so to the tracks. NY-21 crosses the tracks just west of CP (Controlled Point, or electronic tower) - 349. Here, there's a super-elevated curve -- a good place to get some nice photos. Expect 1-4 trains per hour, depending on the day of the week, etc.

The East Palmyra hot box and dragging equipment detectors (HBD/DED) are about 5 miles east of the NY-21/tracks crossing, but you need a really good scanner to pick up its transmissions, as this is a rather hilly area. West of the crossing, there are 5 road/rail crossings, and you'll probably hear the horn for at least a few of these, depending on wind and atmospheric conditions.

This info is from upstate New Yorker Ian Murray. He's really into the action up there, and has provided excellent, detailed information for us.

Back to the top

RENSSELAER -- AMTRAK STATION (August 2000)

Albany and Rensselaer are separated by the Hudson River, and are really sister cities. Most freights go north from the New York City metro area on the west bank of the Hudson, through Selkirk Yard, and then through Albany and the west. Passenger trains come up the east bank, and many of them terminate/originate in "Albany", which is really Rensselaer. There is a lot of passenger train related stuff in Rensselaer, including a coach yard, engine facility and other Amtrak support. This Railfan Guide entry just covers the actual station area.

From the US-9/US-20 bridge over the Hudson River, go east into Rensselaer, and take your first exit onto Broadway Avenue. Continue north on Broadway until you get to Herrick Street, and take a right (east). After crossing all tracks, you'll come to East Street, and want to take a left (north). The station is at 555 East Street. Since you're east of the tracks, the area around the station should give you some good morning shots. However, the station itself is supposedly the 10th busiest in the nation, so you may have to be outside the station itself to get your pix.

Besides Amtrak, you might occasionally see CSX (a road local goes up and down the east bank) freight action, but the passenger parade is the draw here -- 15-20 a day during the week.

Adapted from a Mike Cole entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

ROCHESTER-- EAST END OF YARD (December 31, 2000)

From NY-590 (an expressway), take Blossom Road and go west. Just past the tracks, Blossom will end at University Avenue. There is a parking lot north of University which gives the best viewing of action at the extreme east end of the yard.

Dale Fravel, who has a homepage with lots of goodies about Rochester, provided some data for this entry. His site is worth a visit, and is here.

Back to the top

ROCHESTER-- WEST END OF YARD (December 31, 2000)

In the center of Rochester, I-490 makes a complete loop (it is probably called something other than I-490, at least for part of the loop). Take the Main Street exit and go north east on Main. Goodman Street will join Main just before the tracks are crossed. Park by the tower and stay on that side of the tracks (preferably in your car). The two southern-most tracks are the main line.

Dale Fravel, who has a homepage with lots of goodies about Rochester, provided some data for this entry. His site is worth a visit, and is here.

Back to the top

SCHENECTADY -- AMTRAK STATION (October 2005)

The Amtrak station sees both about a dozen Amtrak trains per day, and maybe 1-2 CP Rail (ex-D&H) trains in about a 3 hour period. The platform areas are a good point of departure for pix, and you might want to explore in the vicinity. This information is adapted from TRAINS Magazine* of February, 1996. If you have more up-to-date info on railfanning this area, please let me know.

*[Note: This material was adapted from info provided by TRAINS Magazine in August of 1995. If you don't subscribe to TRAINS, well, you should. It's an excellent publication. Get on its web site here. ] Louis Walker, in October 2005, reports that traffic through the station has increased markedly, with as many as 3-5 trains more that what might have been seen 10 years ago. Good news, indeed.

Back to the top

SCHENECTADY -- SOUTH SCHENECTADY (February 1996)

West of downtown Schenectady and the Amtrak station area is South Schenectady, and the crossing of CP Rail (ex-D&H) and CSX (ex-CR, exx-PC, exxx-NYC). CP goes under CSX. Park off NY-337 and walk (not on railroad property) to the area of the crossing, and check out the photo angles, sun, signals, etc.

*[Note: This material was adapted from info provided by TRAINS Magazine in August of 1995. If you don't subscribe to TRAINS, well, you should. It's an excellent publication. Get on its web site here. ]

Back to the top

SCOTIA (August 2000)

From downtown Schenectady, take NY-5 across the Mohawk River into Scotia. The first major right is for NY-50, and you want to take that north to Washington Avenue. Take a right on Washington, and you'll parallel the tracks which have just come out of Schenectady and over the river. This is primarily a passenger route linking Albany/ Rensselaer and Schenectady with the main line at Hoffmans. That said, there are still up to a dozen passenger trains per day, as well as local CSX work in and around the area.

Adapted from a Mike Cole entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

SILVER CREEK (February 11, 1999)

Heading west from Buffalo on the New York State Thruway, take Exit 58, and go west on US-20/ NY-5. The latter will split -- take NY-5 through Silver Creek. After passing the Quality Market, you go under the tracks. Between the two underpasses, there's a dirt road on the left, which leads to the tracks. This is a nice, peaceful place to watch trains.

And what do you see here? CR/NS/CSX totaling some 2-4 trains per hour. As the merger takes hold, the frequency of train ops will probably not change much, but the mix of CSX/NS/CR trains will probably change quite a bit. Expect pretty fast trains, so be prepared! This is a site worth visiting, and PLEASE -- stay away from the tracks.

We all should thank Rich Bartela for this excellent railfan site info.

Back to the top

STATE LINE TUNNEL (October 2013)

This tunnel is close to the Massachusetts/New York state boundary on the CSX (ex-CR, exx-B&A) line between Boston and Selkirk, where the border runs along the top of a nearby mountain. The early railroad engineers and builders were pretty much forced to build a tunnel at this location. In recent years, the tunnel was greatly increased in height so that auto racks and double stacks can go over the line.

To get to the western portal, get off I-90 at exit B3, the eastern-most exit in the state. Go north on NY-22 until you cross the CSX tracks. Once you cross the bridge, take the next left, which is Tunnel Hill Road. It starts out paved, but will turn to a hard-packed dirt surface. As soon as you start going downhill, find a safe place to park. The portal is a short distance in the woods off the right side of the road. Look for well-traveled paths. The eastern portal can be located, but you should have orienteering skills, good topo maps, and be in decent physical shape to undertake a cross-country hike.

This entry is adapted from a Bob LaMay entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission. It was updated in October, 2013, based on info from Geoff Dunn, who pointed out that the tunnel is wholey in New York. He mentioned that the right of way is clearly posted as private but he doesn't know how strongly enforced that is.

Back to the top

STUYVESANT (August, 2000)

This is a more-or-less crossroads along the east bank of the Hudson River, on NY-9J about 8 miles south of I-90. Because it's so small, trains tend to zoom through here very fast. AMT runs at 85MPH and CSX and CP aren't too far behind at 50MPH. The latter each have a pair of freights per day, so you'll see 4 freights per 24 hours, but can see anywhere from a relative few to up to 20 passenger movements, depending on the day of the week. Amtrak's schedule is severely reduced during the weekends.

As you enter town from the north, take a right on Riverview Street, and drive down to Riverside Park, which offers good, unobstructed views of the action, but stay alert, because those trains are here and gone by the time you get your camera ready.

This entry is adapted from a Michael Christie entry in the Greater Capital District Railfan Association pages, which are here. Used with permission.

Back to the top

SUFFERN(June 13, 2000)

Where the heck is Suffern? Yes, Suffern is hard to find. If you're heading north on the Garden State Parkway, you'll zoom far past it before you realize that the dorks in New Jersey did not see fit to include Suffern on any exit signs. Just a little before going over the New York border, take the US 202 exit north -- that will run you right in to Suffern. One assumes there is an exit to Suffern at exit 15 from the New York Thruway, but I did not see the signs. Trust me, whether the sign says "Suffern" or not, get off the NYT (I-87) at exit 15. Once into Suffern, just follow your instincts down to the center of town, where the railroad is hard to the west, and there are lots of nice looking taverns and restaurants. After trying to figure out how to get in to Suffern, you may need one of these taverns or restaurants! Rest assured, the difficulty in getting to the town is well worth it for us pix-happy railfans.

Correction to the above: James Dent has sent the following correction to the scribbling in the preceding paragraph. I hope this helps you navigators and navigatrix, but it doesn't help me figure out the bizarre methodology necessary to get trackside in Suffern!:

"Suffern is not near the Garden State Parkway. Following the Parkway North, you would then take Exit 163 to Rt. 17 north and follow Rt. 17 for 7-8 miles to the exit for Rt 202 north. If you pass exit 163 and continue up the Parkway you will end up near Spring Valley, NY, a dozen or so miles east of Suffern. You could then jump on the NYS Thruway to exit 15, the exit for Rt.17 south and Rt 287 south. Again follow Rt. 17 south to the Rt 202 exit. With the recent exit additions in the area you can now also stay on the Thruway to exit 15a and follow Rt. 59 south into Suffern."

Looking west in the center of town, where NY 59 comes down to the tracks, the commuter station is to the left, and Conrail's small yard is to the right. You will probably see 1-3 GP 38-somethings in the yard area. Immediately north of the station, there is a lighted sidewalk which curves down to a commuter parking lot. Just to the north of that curve, you can get back far enough to get good pix, but the light here definitely requires PM shots. At about the point where NY 59 meets the tracks, there are good opportunities for morning off-railroad property shots. A little further to the north, and from the shoulder of the road, you can get good AM shots of CR power, using a medium telephoto lens.

For more info on this NJT/MN commuter center, visit the New Jersey Transit and Metro North websites for schedules. Also, you'll want to see the August, 1998, issue of TRAINS magazine. What? You don't subscribe to TRAINS? What kind of railfan are you? You can contact TRAINS here.

Back to the top

SYRACUSE -- CP-286 (January 30, 2002)

From the old Amtrak station (see Syracuse -- DeWitt Yard), go back west towards I-690 and turn right onto Bridge Street opposite the entrance to Staples. Immediately, turn left before crossing the overpass, and then take an immediate right, and go straight ahead to the tracks. Apparently, this is a public street, though you are close to railroad facilities, so you should be extra careful about not trespassing. Good views of trains heading westbound through or out of the yard can be had, and you don't need to be close to the tracks to get those good views. Continue on and pass the old Pandrol Jackson facility to CP-286, which offers good views of eastbounds heading into or through the yard, as well as the westbound signals controlling the west exit from the yard.

This information provided by David K. Wheeler. Many thanks, David.

Back to the top

SYRACUSE -- DeWITT YARD (March 26, 2000)

From I-90/New York Thruway, take exit 34A to I-481 south, and then follow I-481 to I-690 west to exit 17, Bridge Street. Turn left onto Bridge at the end of the ramp, and follow Bridge for one mile (it becomes Manlius Center Road). The parking entrance for the old Amtrak station is on the left.

Like most modern, big city yards, DeWitt welcomes visitors like you'd welcome a nice bout of liver cancer. Therefore, you have to stay well out of them, and pick your photographic targets of opportunity craftily. And there are lots of trains to target: Located on the CSX (ex-Conrail, exx-Penn Central, exxx-New York Central) "Water Level Route" between New York and Chicago, CSX runs 50-60 scheduled intermodal, automotive and merchandise trains daily, plus a few locals and the occasional coal or grain extra. Amtrak operates 8 daily passenger trains each day, plus an additional westbound on Fridays and an eastbound on Sundays. At the west end of the 3 mile long yard is the former Amtrak station, which was closed in 1998. This station is, at least for now, the best train watching site in the DeWitt Yard area.

Until the area becomes a development property, railfans are tolerated for the time being. The two main tracks of the Chicago Line pass next to the old platform, and a third track -- the controlled siding -- just to the north of the main line tracks is the yard lead. While many trains are entering or departing DeWitt, other trains sail through at track speed, so stay on the platform at all times.

From the platform, photo ops are good for eastbounds in the morning, and westbounds in the afternoon.

Life support: There are several fast-food and full-service restaurants in the general area, including an Italian restaurant just west of the old station that features seating with a window view of the railroad tracks. A Wal-Mart is across the street as well, if you need to stock up on film, batteries, etc. There are also motels in the New York Thruway area.

A guy who really knows the Syracuse railfan scene, Jim Devlin, has been kind enough to provide us with this good data.

Back to the top

SYRACUSE -- KIRKVILLE (January 30, 2002)

From Syracuse -- Minoa, continue east on North Central Avenue, which will bend to the southeast and dead end into Costello Parkway. Most older maps identify this road as Minoa Bridgeport Road, which actually begins at Schepps Corners, 2 miles from here. Take a right, and go south over the tracks to a very sharp, 135° curve to the northeast onto North Manlius Road. This will take you back to the tracks. At Snyder Crossing (the name of a place, not a railroad crossing), just south of the tracks, the road bears right and goes east as Saintsville Road. This latter road parallels the tracks for a couple of miles, but is a very narrow 2-lane road, and is a zip for railfanning. At its end, it T's with Kirksville Road, where there is some room to park. Eastbounds out of DeWitt are good in the AM and westbounds in the afternoons should be good shots.

This information provided by David K. Wheeler. Many thanks, David.

Back to the top

SYRACUSE -- MINOA (January 30, 2002)

Minoa is an eastern suburb of Syracuse. It's pretty much the east end of DeWitt Yard, and the continuation of the race track to Selkirk and beyond. From the old Amtrak station in Syracuse (see Syracuse -- DeWitt Yard), continue east on Manlius Center Road for a mile or so to Fremont Road, and turn left. Just after crossing the tracks, turn right onto what is probably North Central Avenue (no matter, it will definitely become North Central Avenue). This road, on the north side of the tracks and below track level, doesn't allow for railfanning or photography, but almost at the end (before a swing to the northeast) is a pedestrian walkway bridge over the tracks, and it has parking at its base. The view is good to the west, but photography is schlecht because of the chain link fencing. A bridge to the east spoils viewing in that direction. This is, however, a good place to just watch trains, so leave the camera locked in the car.

This information provided by David K. Wheeler. Many thanks, David.

Back to the top

SYRACUSE -- REGIONAL TRANSPO CENTER (March 26, 2000)

Years ago, this was simply the "train station," but today, it's much more.

From I-90/New York Thruway, take exit 35 to I-81, and go south to exit 23, Hiawatha Boulevard. Turn left onto Hiawatha and go a short distance to Park Street, which is the next traffic light. Turn left on Park, and go to the second traffic light, and turn right onto P&C Parkway. The transportation center is on the left The transpo center is located a short distance from P&C Stadium, Syracuse's minor-league baseball park.

Located on the CSX (ex-Conrail, exx-Penn Central, exxx-New York Central) "Water Level Route" between New York and Chicago, CSX runs 50-60 scheduled intermodal, automotive and merchandise trains daily, plus a few locals and the occasional coal or grain extra. Amtrak operates 8 daily passenger trains each day, plus an additional westbound on Fridays and an eastbound on Sundays. The RTC has been the Syracuse stop for Amtrak trains, intercity buses of Greyhound and other carriers, and local operators since 1998. It is located at mile post 291 on the CSX Chicago Line, just east of the CP-291 junction with the Montreal Secondary line.

Interestingly, the station features a single high-level platform on the south side of the tracks. A siding branches off the Chicago line to serve the station, and rejoins the mainline east of the station. This allows Amtrak to make a stop at Syracuse while the CSX dispatcher can have his fast freights barreling by on the high iron! However, if two Amtrak trains call on Syracuse at the same time, one train will have to wait out on the main line for its turn at the station. Happily, because of the limited number of Amtrak trains, this is seldom a concern.

[Webmaster's Note: Do NOT venture off the platform onto the tracks for any reason. Trains pass the Regional Transportation Center at high speed.]

A guy who really knows the Syracuse railfan scene, Jim Devlin, has been kind enough to provide us with this good data.

Back to the top

SYRACUSE -- WILLIS AVENUE (January 30, 2002)

From either east or west on I-690, take exit 7, Solvay-Fairgrounds, and go east on State Fair Boulevard. Continue past Crucible Steel to the first right, which is Willis Avenue. Cross over the main line and turn right into a parking area which overlooks the main line and looks up the Fairgrounds/Baldwinsville subdivisions. To the west on the street is the Solvay Paperboard plant, which is switched by the Finger Lakes Railroad every weekday afternoon.

This information provided by David K. Wheeler. Many thanks, David. Note that interstate numbers in New York will be changed to coincide with mileages, and when that happens, "exit 7" will be some other number, so try to do some mapwork ahead of time, just in case.

Back to the top

UTICA(September 2, 1998)

AMTRAK STATION AREA From Route 8/12, follow the signs to the Amtrak station, which is just off Oriskany Blvd. There are nice parking lots right next to the tracks, on both the east and west sides of the station. The east side even has nice, relaxing benches. Here, you'll see CR, Amtrak, and the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern MA&N) yard, which is across the tracks from the station. Also, on days the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (ASRR) runs, you may see the engines pull over to the MA&N yard across from the Amtrak station. (Check with the ASRR for their seasonal schedule.)

CHRISTMAS CROSSING AREA From Genesee Street, go north over the CR tracks, and take the first right turn. This takes you to a loop down under Genesee Street. Take a left at the "T," and you're on a road that goes back to the tracks at a place called Christmas Crossing. The crossing takes you over the MA&N, and is where the Adirondack Scenic currently boards its passengers. Here, you are right by the CR mainline. On the other side of the CR tracks are the engine shops for the New York, Susquehanna and Western, with various pieces of rolling stock on the storage tracks, and sometimes an engine or two. If you're in luck, you can catch an occasional local coming/going from here.

AREA AMENITIES Going north on Genesee (past the CR tracks), there are some restaurants, including Jack Appleseed's and Pizza Hut. There is also a Red Roof Inn in this area. South of the CR tracks on Genesee Street is a Radisson, for more expensive accommodations. A few miles farther to the south is New Hartford, with a load of restaurants and a mall.

Information courtesy of Bob Simmons up in New York State.

Back to the top

WEEDSPORT (January 25, 2002)

On the CSX (ex-CR, exx-NYC) busy Water Level Route between Selkirk and Buffalo, this crossing sees up to 60 trains a day. Going west from Syracuse on I-90, the New York State Thruway, take exit 40 and go south on NY-34 into the northeast edge of the small town of Weedsport. After crossing the tracks, take your second left, which is probably Clinton Road/NY-31B or NY-31 (it doesn't matter, as both will take you east via what is definitely NY-31). Cross Bonta Bridge Road after 3 miles or so, and continue east on NY-31. The first crossroads you come to will be Pump Road. Take a left to go north, cross the Old Erie Canal, and you'll shortly be at the crossing. This is MP 308.

Parking can probably be had off railroad property on Pump Road, but if not, try Hall Road just to the north of the crossing. Note that there are security concerns all along here. The trains are fast and surprisingly quiet. Also, both New York State and local police are on the alert for folks "hanging around" strategic transportation assets, and this railroad certainly is strategic. Be cool, be wise, and be off railroad property.

This information has been provided by Brendan Kelly. Our thanks go to him.

Back to the top

WESTFIELD (July, 2013)

From I-90 west of Buffalo, take exit 60, and travel southeast on NY-394, N. Portatge Rd., until you cross over the tracks in Westfield. From this overpass you can see three tracks of the CSX (ex-CR, ex-NYC) mainline and a lovely ex-NYC station. Continue on N. Portage to the next overpass, which crosses the NS (ex-NKP) mainline. The first left after the first overpass will be English Street. Take it and explore the area. The station has been restored and is now the location of The Station Art Gallery (http://thestationartgallery.com/). Beyond the station is a large, long grassy area which looks good for photos.

There is an informal railroad park between the NS and CSX tracks about half a mile west of the station, where W. Gale St. crosses the tracks. It can be reached by continuing on N. Portage Rd. to E. Main St., turning right on E. Main St., then traveling a little over a half-mile to W. Gale St. Turn right on W. Gale, then travel a half-mile to the crossings. A local guy called RJ Augur and some friends have cleared an area and planted grass, put in some tables and even have facilities for cooking! The local city of Westfield tolerates it; the police even help keep it safe for visitors, but of course there's little need for such help. Highly recommended, and often visited by local railfans.

Also, about once a month during the warmer months the local railfans who use and maintain this park put on a get-together for some food. On alternate months it's a breakfast, followed the next month by a supper. For example, on August 20, 2013, (tentative date) they have a large fresh corn cookout scheduled; the corn will be given away free, but guests are encouraged to bring some other foods, such as bread, beans, or dessert.

(Park info added July, 2013, report by I. E. Quastler)

Back to the top