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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

08-01-16 PHOTOS: Selkirk Branch East

I have been slowly documenting the entire alphabet soup of the Selkirk Branch in New York's Capitol District. If you'll remember a few years ago I covered CP-RJ and CP-VO and on this trip I hit CP-SK and CP-SM, leaving only CP-SH and CP-FB for future excursions.

For those of you who don't know the layout in the area, CP-SK is located on the Conrail Selkirk Branch at the east end of Selkirk Yard at the junction of the non-excited River Line and the Albany Secondary track. East of CP-SK is the Alfred H. Smith Empire State Bridge over the Hudson River and then CP-SM where the Selkirk Branch ends and the Boston Line and Schodack Branch begin. CP-SK was re-signaled in the waning days of Conrail, so the original NYC era searchlight signals are gone, but at least it's better than CP-SM, which got the once over by CSX resulting in Darth Vader signals and lame signage.

Anyway, not too much to talk about here, might as well cut to the photos. You can find the whole set at:

Now a brief photo tour:

Here's CP-SK looking east. River Line is off to the right, Albany Secondary off to the left and the east leg of the River Line wye all the way in the distance.

 Here's CP-SK looking west. From left to right, Main Track 2, Yard Lead, Main Track 1 and Inbound Track.

View under the bridge showing the River Line ladder tracks.

View back showing the Rt 9 bridge and relay hut.

After CP-SK I made a short pass by Selkirk Yard where a yard slug was making a hump move.

A short trip across the Castleton Bridge shows us the parallel Alfred H Smith Bridge. Built in the 1920's as part of the Castleton Cuttoff, which allowed freight to by-pass Albany and the related West Albany Hill. The Cuttoff included this bridge, the entire Selkirk Branch, Selkirk Yard and the Schodak Branch.

Here's a video of the bridge from the Castleton Bridge.

Standing at the base of the Smith bridge is even more impressive. Here's the steel viaduct pillars as they cross the Hudson flats.

...and toward the east bank of the Hudson.

The concrete footings were massive!

When I got to the top I was just in time to catch the tail end of a freight train.

CP-SM is interesting as it still has the remains of the old SM interlocking tower. Odious NY State property taxes caused Conrail to demolish everything it possibly could in its physical plant, but the lower floor of SM tower was being used as the CP-SM relay room. You can still see the SM namestones.

CP-SM has been re-signaled with Darth Vaders. The dispatcher had fleeted the westbound signal, but no other trains came while I was there. You can see how the Boston Line makes a straight move into the #2 Selkirk track with #1 track being a diverging move. Schodack Branch comes in from the left.

The Schodack branch is a low-grade connection to the Hudson Line, some 75-100 feet below. The line takes about 10 miles to finally descend to the level of the Hudson Line at CP-125. This is how all CSX freight trains access the Hudson Line for the trip south to New York City.

Here is the old CP-SM next to the new CP-SM.

The old stump of SM tower was left open and I ventured inside despite my lack of flashlight. Here are the stripped relay racks and backup batteries.  I believe this also may have served as a radio base.

Jumper panel with most of the valuable components stripped out.

The door on the other side of CP-SM was also unlocked and if you turn your head and look closely you'll see its made from an old Penn Central sign.

I'll leave you with a parting shot of CP-SM's 2 to 1 crossover and west mast signals out on the Alfred Smith Bridge.

I hope you enjoyed my photos of the Selkirk area.


  1. These are some awesome shots of what I, as a 32 yr. employee of the Penn Central, Conrail, and finally CSX, used to consider part of my 'area of work'.