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The Ulster and Delaware
Golden West Books

The Ulster and Delaware

Regular price £18.00 £0.00 Unit price per

The Catskill Mountains, located on the west side of the Hudson River in New York State, had long been a barrier to trade between the rich farmlands west of the mountains and the river ports east of them. Thomas Cornell, a crafty Hudson River towboat entrepreneur, envisioned a railroad cutting through the heart of the Catskills to tap this traffic, forming a major connection with a north-south trunk line railroad. The story of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad began in 1866 when Cornell's Rondout & Oswego Railroad was chartered. Construction west from the port of Rondout was difficult and before long the fighting among backers resulted in Cornell's withdrawal from the project. After the railroad had gone through two receiverships, he resumed control of the line which reached Stamford in 1872. Cornell formed the Ulster & Delaware Railroad and rebuilt the line into a first class route to the valleys west of the Catskills, with Oneonta, 108 miles from Rondout, as its final goal. Cornell did not live to see his railroad completed, but his son-in-law, Samuel Decker Coykendall, completed his dream. The railroad was owned and operated by the Coykendall family during most of its life, until it was sold to the New York Central Railroad in 1932. The effect of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad on the undeveloped region of the Catskills was incalculable. Its completion initiated a great era of hotel building. Many of them started as modest boarding houses to which New Yorkers fled seeking the cool mountains to escape the city's fiery summers. By the turn of the century, the Catskills were dotted with hotels, large and small, creating passenger business for the railroad, to offset the poor freight traffic during the winter. The legendary haunt of Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle was again famous, and the Ulster & Delaware chose Rip's picture as its official emblem. The completion of narrow gauge branches to Hunter and Kaaterskill and the simultaneous opening of the West Shore Railroad made it possible to reach any point in the Catskills by train.

The Ulster & Delaware Railroad was not without competition for 40 years. Charles L. Beach, owner of the world famous Catskill Mountain House desired easier transportation to his hotel and built the narrow gauge Catskill Mountain Railroad to shorten the stage ride to his hotel atop the mountain. Later the Otis Elevating Railway and the Catskill & Tannersville Railroad were added to the Beach-controlled lines, and formed a continuous rail route to the hotels on the eastern slope of the Catskills. The short and hectic life of the Delaware & Northern Railway, which connected with the Ulster & Delaware, is described. The Ulster d.7 Delaware . . . Railroad Through the Catskills presents the complete story of all the railroads of the Catskill region and describes the great hotels the railroads served. In pictures and text it tells about the railroads' construction, early operation, the famous passenger trains, and the steam locomotives. Included are descriptions of the Catskills, the sights along the line, special trains, the rolling stock, freight service, and the workings of the unique Otis Elevating Railway. The author relates many unusual personal experiences and happenings about the Cornells, the Coykendalls, the railroads and the hotels. This is an intensely human story of struggle and triumph in the New York tradition.

Hardback with dust jacket, 22x29cm, 210 pages, black & white photographs

Condition: Good Ex Public Lending Library

ISBN: 9780870950414

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Updated: 29 December 2022