The Graham Line (also known as the Guymard Cutoff) is the portion of the former Erie Railroad in New York State from Highland Mills (at about 41°20′35″N 74°07′12″W / 41.343°N 74.120°W / 41.343; -74.120) to Guymard (at about 41°25′44″N 74°35′42″W / 41.429°N 74.595°W / 41.429; -74.595), constructed from 1906 to 1909 as a high-speed freight line. The Graham Line bypasses the original Erie Main Line through Monroe, Chester, Goshen and Middletown.

Graham Line
The Otisville Tunnel carries the Graham Line under Otisville, New York
The Otisville Tunnel carries the Graham Line under Otisville
Overview
StatusOperational
OwnerNorfolk Southern Railway
LocaleOrange County
Termini
Stations4
Service
SystemNorfolk Southern Railway
Metro-North Railroad
ServicesPort Jervis Line
Operator(s)Metro-North Railroad
History
Commenced1904 (1904)
OpenedJanuary 1909 (1909-01)
Technical
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Route map

73.8 mi
118.8 km
Otisville
71.6 mi
115.2 km
Middletown–Town of Wallkill
65.6 mi
105.6 km
Campbell Hall
55.5 mi
89.3 km
Salisbury Mills–Cornwall
Moodna Viaduct over Erie Newburgh Branch
Newburgh Junction
44.9 mi
72.3 km
Harriman

Description

edit

Grade on the Graham Line was not to exceed 0.2 percent eastward or 0.6 percent westward, while the original Main Line built in the 1840s had grades up to 1.25 percent. There were three places where freight trains needed a helper on the old line and none on the new, but just west of the cutoff the grade up from Port Jervis to Guymard could not be improved, and remained unchanged as the only place in the area needing a helper. The sharpest curve on the old line was 7 degrees and on the new was 1 degree 30 minutes. The Graham Line has no grade crossings, which was a rarity on the Erie. The downside of the improved grade and curvature is that the Graham Line is seven miles longer than the original mainline. Maintaining the desired grade required two notable engineering features: the Moodna Viaduct and the Otisville Tunnel.

History

edit
 
Map of the Graham Line

The line was originally called the Guymard Cutoff. The Erie's chief engineer, James Graham, died in February 1909, a month after the line was fully opened to traffic. By 1911, the Guymard station was renamed Graham and the cutoff became the Graham Line. In both cases, the cutoff was named for the little-known station at its west end, where it joins the original Main Line on the grade down to Port Jervis. In a lawsuit of this same period, the owners of the Guymard Lead and Zinc Mine, inactive since 1876, sued the Erie for building a "spur" line that blocked their access, which may have influenced the Erie to change the name.

The short section from Newburgh Junction (on the Main Line at Harriman) to Highland Mills was part of the Erie's original Newburgh Branch, opened in 1869, but it was considered part of the Graham Line after that branch closed to passenger service in 1935.[1][2] The old Main Line was abandoned in 1954 west of Howells, where the two lines came side by side, and after that date the Graham Line was considered to end at Howells Junction.

Passenger rail service

edit

Effective April 18, 1983, Metro-North Railroad shifted its Port Jervis Line service to run on the Graham Line, marking the first time it had hosted scheduled passenger service. The line also got its first passenger stations, at Salisbury Mills-Cornwall, Campbell Hall, and Middletown (which is not actually in Middletown but nearby).[3] Following the Metro-North change and discontinuance of its own local freight service, Conrail, owner of the railroad, was able to abandon the original Main Line the following year. Using the Graham Line avoided the many grade crossings in the old town centers, improving safety and train speed. But the Graham Line, designed entirely for freight trains, has the disadvantage for passenger services of running through much less-populated areas. Commuters arrive at the Graham Line stations almost entirely by automobile.

References

edit
  1. ^ Official Guide of the Railways. 1921. Erie RR section, Table 4.
  2. ^ Official Guide. August 1936. Erie RR section, table 33.
  3. ^ "New Port Jervis Service - April 18, 1983". New York, New York: Metro-North Railroad. April 18, 1983. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  • "The Guymard Cut-off". Railroad Age Gazette. XLV: 1292–1295. November 6, 1908.
  • "Erie Lackawanna Graham Line". Road and Rail Pictures.
  • Erie Railroad Company, Eastern District, employee timetable. September 26, 1954.
  • Schunemunk, N.Y. (U. S. Geological Survey quadrangle). 1935.
  • McCue, Robert (2014). Erie Railroad's Newburgh Branch. Charleston, S. C.: Arcadia. ISBN 978-1-4671-2096-8.