Tuesday, November 26, 2013

When did passenger service stop? UPDATED!

People often ask me about passenger service on the railroads in town. 

By 1900, Bethlehem had five railroad stations.  Elsmere, Delmar and Slingerlands (with a flag station at Font Grove) were along the D&H. South Bethlehem and Selkirk were on the West Shore (aka the New York Central). There were stops at Wemple and Glenmont, altho I don't know if they had an actual station or were flag stops.

By 1935, all of the passenger stations on the D&H in Bethlehem were closed. *** SEE BELOW
By 1959, South Bethlehem and Selkirk closed.

Here are some interesting figures - when the D&H approached the Public Service Commission in 1934 to close the Delmar Station (Elsmere and Slingerlands had closed the year before - partly because Delmar Station was just a mile and a half away) they presented these total passenger figures for Delmar:

1930  8,515
1931  1959
1932  493
1933  392

Talk about a dramatic drop in ridership.

So what happened? 

Automobiles and bus service were taking off and much more convenient.   Personal cars provided door to door service, and bus service with its many stops came close.

Nationally, Henry Ford introduced his Model T in 1908 - it was soon the most popular and affordable car.  Locally, Frank Hungerford introduced his Tri-Village Bus Service in 1915.  In 1943, Hungerford sold his business to the United Traction Company, a forerunner of today's CDTA.

Mr. & Mrs. Davidson of South Bethlehem pose with their auto.
Any old car buffs out there who can tell me what kind it is?
***I Stand Corrected***

After posting this blog, a friend of mine pointed out that in the 1960s he boarded the D&H in Cobleskill and got off at Adams and Hudson.  He also remembers his sisters riding the train to the Altamont Fair in the 1950s. 

A follow up article in the Altamont Enterprise (September 21, 1934) has the following headline.

So, I believe the D&H made it a Flag Station - meaning - I think! - that it was not staffed. 

So, now I am thinking passenger service continued but the actual physical stations were closed. 
What say you my friend?


  1. D&H ran last passenger train on this line in 1963. I rode from Voorheesville to Albany with grandmother and sister about 1956

  2. a Flag Stop means that the train will stop when a potential passenger flags it fown