O Scale Trains Magazine Product Reviews

Book Review: Forgotten Railroads Through Westchester County

The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway was a heavy electric suburban railway built by the New Haven to connect lower Westchester County and the Bronx. Opened in 1912, it became a victim of the Great Depression and the New Haven’s own bankruptcy in 1935, closing its doors for good on the last day of 1937. George Votava captured this scene at White Plains, N.Y., towards the end of service in 1937. Today, this property is the site of a high-end shopping mall called, appropriately, “The Westchester.” —George Votava photo

Book Review: Forgotten Railroads Through Westchester County

Forgotten Railroads Through Westchester CountyReview by Roger Jenkins

About two years ago, I ran across a wonderful book by Robert A. Bang, The New York, Westchester & Boston Railway Company: 1906-1946, which I liked so much I made it the subject of my first Traction Action column. Now, the same team that created the original volume has come back with another book, Forgotten Railroads Through Westchester County, which expands their expertise to new topics, both large and small.

Like the original, Forgotten Railroads is a quality, 8.5 by 11-inch, well-produced book with hundreds of quality photographs. This time, Robert A. Bang was joined by John E. Frank, George W. Kowanski, and Otto M. Vondrak, who not only wrote one of the chapters, but art directed the whole volume.

You don’t have to love New York City to love its railroads, and this volume shows why. Topics include detailed coverage of large-scale topics like the New Haven Railroad’s main line electrification from New York City to Cedar Hill freight yard in New Haven, Conn., as well as short mileage (and short-lived) operations like the New York Central’s Getty Square branch to Yonkers, N.Y.

Although I was brought up along the New Haven Railroad, the chapter on its electrification covered new ground for me, with dozens of interesting construction photographs. I hadn’t realized the scale of the four-track (and sometimes larger) structures that often dwarfed the scale of the men working on them, as well as the trains passing beneath.

The chapters on the New York Central’s Putnam Division, as well as the New Haven’s subsidiary New York, Westchester, & Boston, likewise, break new ground. The “Put,” as it was known, was essentially a branch line in the largest metropolitan area of the country, and there are numerous rural views that have not been published before.

Adding to my pleasure were new architectural drawings by Otto Vondrak showing the details of the monumental station station construction of several NYW&B stations. These drawings of large high-volume stations, often placed over the NYW&B’s four-track right of way, will undoubtedly encourage modelers to explore alternative station placement on their traction layouts.

Best of all, the finely-printed, hard-cover, book was printed in the United States—a testament to the author’s “from the heart” coverage of the subject. Great book, highly recommended—especially for traction modelers. I don’t know what type of quantities were printed, but this is one book I wouldn’t want to miss out on.

Order from your favorite hobby shop, or online from from the authors at www.nywbry.com.

O Scale Trains Magazine

This article was posted on: April 4, 2010