Archive Sleuth

The Eastview Trestle

This is the first in a series of articles about the New York Central Railroad’s Putnam Division, commonly known as the ‘Old Putnam Line’, and it’s various routes through Pocantico Hills, NY.¬†Originally planned as the New York and Boston Railroad in 1869, and after a series of bankruptcies and mergers, the line was opened as the ‘New York City and Northern Railroad’ in 1880 and passed through the village of Pocantico Hills on its way from NYC to Brewster, in Putnam County NY.

The initial route of the Old Putnam Line through Pocantico Hills was in use for only 1 year (from 1880-1881) and was notable for the large wooden Eastview Trestle, which crossed the valley in what is now the Tarrytown Reservoir, but was then only a low-lying marshy area.

Because the weight & speed of trains was limited by the trestle, the line was quickly re-routed in 1882 along a sweeping curve westward to Tarrytown Heights, before climbing back north-eastward to Pocantico Hills. The trestle was then torn down in early 1883.

The first two routes of the Old Putnam Line are visible in this map (the 1880-1881 route in orange, and the 1882-1930 route in red).

The Eastview Trestle was located where the orange line crosses the reservoir on the map above.

(Courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.)

As the trestle crossed the valley below it also crossed what is now Neperan Road between Tarrytown and Eastview on the north shore of the reservoir:

And here’s a view from the north side of the valley, looking southeast:

(These two stereographs are part of a series available through NYPL’s Digital Gallery.)

Although the northern abutment of the old trestle is now on private property (where the four gentlemen above are standing), the southern end of the trestle is now County-owned park land. As trains approached the trestle from the south they would pass through a rock cut on the hillside above the village of Eastview. The rock-cut (red) and trestle abutment (blue) are visible in this current aerial photo:

And here’s what the rock-cut looks like today (or rather, last winter):

Fallen rocks from the cliff on the right now cover the former track-bed. A train hasn’t passed through this rock-cut in 130 years.

Only 50 feet north of the rock-cut are the remains of the trestle’s southern abutment, as seen in this image from slightly downhill:

After crossing the Eastview Trestle the line continued north before curving west toward the village of Pocantico Hills, and passing through an even larger rock-cut. Let’s look at that map again:

The railroad line then leaves the rock-cut (red) behind the present site of the Union Church of Pocantico Hills (blue), and passes along what is now Willard Road.

And here’s a photo from inside the northern rock-cut (circa 1950s):

(Courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.)

Other interesting sites along the Old Putnam Line through Pocantico Hills will be explored in future posts. So stay tuned.

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7 comments on “The Eastview Trestle

  1. Robert Gideon-x Mowers
    September 21, 2011

    Well Done………Are these trails / tracks, Hikeable?
    Perhaps one I’ll get to the area and take a look……..

    • Lucas Buresch
      September 23, 2011

      Yeah, a portion of the old RR bed is now a bicycle trail paved in asphalt. But the initial route, which used the trestle, was abandoned long ago, and is now overgrown.

  2. rlbrn
    September 21, 2011

    The trestle makes me think of Stand by Me,remember when they have to cross the one in the movie to go see the dead body. It certainly does not look sturdy enough to hold a train. moving at speed.. Your stories always strike a cord in me of time passing and the works we do just fade away so easily. Nature rules!

  3. Scott E. Tyson
    June 7, 2012

    I grew up in Elmsford and am quite familiar with the landmarks mentioned here. In fact, I was recently inspired to make a video history of the Putnam line which ran behind my childhood home. That was the 1970’s, and there was still occasional freight movements on the line. Here’s the link to my movie on youtube:

  4. Scott C
    January 25, 2014

    Very interesting. I’d never seen pictures of the trestle. There is another “story” about the original route across the reservoir. Somewhat West of your orange line and crossing the reservoir S-N and closer to perpendicular there is a causeway with a break for the water to flow through and presumably once bridged. I saw it in the prolonged droughts of the early 1960s. It is visible as a submereged shadow in Bing Maps (oblique Pictometery) imagery. So it’s not a story, it’s there. This is East of the current roadway causeway between the two lakes. When the causeway became disused the height of the dam impounding the lakes was raised which is why it is now submerged. I think I saw this documented at the Historical Society of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow.

    My father lived in Pocantico from around 1920 to 1932 so he knew the 2nd, Tower Hill, route and the 3rd, Eastview, route. He told me the causeway had been the first route, but that is inconsistent with your photographs. It appears possible that the dam could have been raised after the third route was completed and the water level would not have interfered with the 2nd, Tower Hill loop. But it leaves the question of what the causeway was for.

  5. Mitchell Dakelman
    June 8, 2014

    Hi Scott, This is Mitch Dakelman of Highland Park, NJ — remember me, you used some of my slides for a program. I’d like to chat with you about a film you have on You Tube — THE VANISHING EL, the color version.

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2011 by in Historic sites, Pocantico Hills, Railraods.

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