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New York, Westchester and Boston Railway: J. P. Morgan's Magnificent Mistake

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When the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway opened in 1912, it was one of the engineering wonders of the American railroad world. Built to the highest level of engineering standards and operated with strict punctuality, the "Westchester" was a high-speed, high-capacity electric line designed to develop and serve upper-income communities in one of New York City's most rapidly growing suburban areas. Unbeknownst to most, reigning financial power J. Pierpont Morgan was ...

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Overview

When the New York, Westchester & Boston Railway opened in 1912, it was one of the engineering wonders of the American railroad world. Built to the highest level of engineering standards and operated with strict punctuality, the "Westchester" was a high-speed, high-capacity electric line designed to develop and serve upper-income communities in one of New York City's most rapidly growing suburban areas. Unbeknownst to most, reigning financial power J. Pierpont Morgan was behind the funding of the line.

Unrecorded millions, paid out for unknown reasons, raised the Westchester's construction total to a breathtaking $2 million a mile, almost $40 million a mile in 2005 dollars. Yet this railroad, designed to carry more than 100,000 people a day efficiently and comfortably, ran through virtually undeveloped territory and duplicated the line of the parent company that built it. Due to woeful financial performances and failure to show a profit, the Westchester trains stopped running within 25 years of their christening.

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Editorial Reviews

Classic Trains
It's hard to imagine a more interesting subject for a book, and it's harder still to think of a better treatment of it than author Herb Harwood's."—Robert S. Mcgonigal, Classic Trains, Winter 2008

— Robert S. Mcgonigal

From the Publisher
"This book is an absolute gem. A wonderful, not to say definitive, account of a strange and unusual chapter in the overall story of electric railways in America." —Brian J. Cudahy, author of A Century of Subways—Brian J. Cudahy, author of A Century of Subways
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253351432
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Series: Railroads Past and Present Series
  • Pages: 155
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Herbert H. Harwood, Jr., spent 30 years in various management positions at the Chesapeake & Ohio and the Baltimore & Ohio as well as their successor, CSX Transportation. He has written 12 books on railroad and electric railway history. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: A Railroad Like No Other

1. Before the Beginning, 1832-1904
2. A Deep Fog Descends, 1901-1908
3. Building the Perfect Railroad, 1909-1912

An NYW&B Architecture Gallery

4. Running the Railroad
5. But Why?
6. The Phantom Westchester Northern
7. Making the Best of Life, 1913-1929
8. Down and Out (I): Down, 1930-1936
9. Down and Out (II): Out, 1937-1942

Appendix 1: Roster of Equipment Appendix 2: NYW&B Station List Notes Bibliography Index

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