Rail remnants visible today include an old station, railroad trestles and bridges, and changes in the grade. The most curious are the 13 stones that lie along the trail's west side near a connector path to the Parade Ground. Sometime prior to 1903, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt placed the slabs here. Quarries sent exact stone samples in an experiment to determine which rock formation weathered the best. The best building material would be used to erect Grand Central Terminal. In the end, the second southernmost stone, Indiana limestone, was chosen not for its durability but for its cheaper transportation cost across Vanderbilt's railways.
Riders on the Putnam Division heading out of The Bronx had their first opportunity to stop in Westchester County at the Lincoln Station. The station was located just 1000 feet north of The Bronx / Westchester County line at McLean Avenue, where the rail tracks intersected with the western branch of Tibbetts Brook at the base of the Tibbetts Brook Valley. This location also represented the lower end of a three-mile section of the railroad track that climbed to a peak at the Bryn Mawr Park station.
In the 1920’s the Tibbetts Brook Valley, with its well-wooded rocky slopes was identified as the location of a County Park to be developed by the newly formed Westchester County Park Commission. Tibbetts Brook Park, completed in 1927, was developed on both sides of the Putnam Division Right-of-Way and features two lakes, a swimming facility, bathhouse, trails and athletic fields all connected by a series of pedestrian paths and vehicular drives. The park's driveway that was built adjacent to the rail tracks, and stretched from the northern end of Van Cortlandt Park in The Bronx to Yonkers Avenue, was incorporated into the Saw Mill River Parkway on its completion.
Named for the adjacent residential area of Dunwoodie Heights, this stop had one of the larger stations on the line. Yonkers Avenue, immediately north of the station, was a major east/west route in the City of Yonkers when the Old Put line was developed. Both people and goods that ended their rail trip at the Dunwoodie Station could travel east towards the City of Mount Vernon and west towards Yonkers' downtown along the Hudson River.
The railroad access provided by the Dunwoodie Station also spurred the relocation of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York's Saint Joseph's Seminary to forty acres atop nearby Valentine Hill. Its buildings are gray mile-square granite, most of which was quarried on the seminary site.
By the late 1920's, City of Yonkers, New York State and New York Central Railroad officials had proposed elimination of the rail line's at-grade crossing of Yonkers Avenue. In 1938, the Yonkers Avenue grade crossing was eliminated by the completion of a bridge carrying the railroad track over the roadway. A second bridge of similar style and detail was completed at the same time to route the newly created Cross County Parkway under the railroad tracks immediately south of the Dunwoodie Station.
Although somewhat removed from its banks, the stop at this location derived its name from the Nepperhan River, which is also known as the Saw Mill River, that flows through central Yonkers and into the Hudson River. The name Nepperhan is Dutch in origin and was derived from an Algonquian-speaking Lenape Native American word which meant "rapidly running water."
Starting in the 1910's and 1920's, the area north of Tuckahoe Road surrounding the station also became known as Runyon Heights. Named after one of the area's principal property owners, Charles Runyon, the neighborhood was primarily populated by African American homeowners and became one of the first middle class black suburban developments in the New York Metropolitan area.
In recognition of the area’s new residents, streets were renamed after prominent persons of African descent. Second Street became Dunbar Street, named after the first nationally eminent African American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Another street in Runyon Heights is named Touissant Avenue, in honor of the formerly enslaved Haitian who lead his country to independence.
Since many of these new residents were from New York City, The Old Put provided a convenient way for them to get to jobs or visit family.
This station was located south of the intersection of Saw Mill River Road (New York State Route 9A) and Odell Avenue. The stop’s only traveler amenities consisted of a covered platform. Gray Oaks was also partially used as a "flag" stop. At certain times of the day, waiting passengers at the station would signal or flag down the train motorman so the locomotive could be slowed down in order to stop at the station.
South of the station was the junction of the Old Put’s main branch and a freight line branch that served industries surrounding the Nepperhan, or Saw Mill, River along Nepperhan Avenue. Known as either the Saw Mill River Branch or the Carpet Mill Spur, this line carried freight to a number of factories including Precision Valve, Phelps-Dodge, and the Alexander Smith Carpet Mill.
Once the largest carpet mills in the world, the Alexander Smith Carpet Mills moved to South Carolina in the 1950’s. However, many of the buildings in the huge mill complex still stand, providing space for a variety of uses. The entire complex, including the Moquette Row workers housing is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area around the Nepera Park Station was mostly swampland in the late 1800’s when residential development began. An 1899 real estate advertisement for Nepera Park touted “97 choice lots... and a direct train” to the development from 155th Street in New York City. Free lunches were also offered by some real estate agents to prospective buyers who made the trip from the city.
The stop also served the Nepera Chemical Company which was located directly across from the station near Barney Street. The company was founded in 1893 by Yonkers resident Leo Hendrik Baekeland who, in 1907, invented ‘Bakelite,’ the first in the long line of man-made plastics.
In the 1920’s, the construction of the Saw Mill River Parkway altered the Nepera Park area. While several local streets and homes were eliminated by the parkway’s development, the community benefited by the enhancement of water quality and flood control along the Saw Mill River. The parkway also provided access for Nepera Park residents to recreational pathways and County Parks.
Located thirteen miles from the Putnam Division terminal at 155th Street, the Mount Hope station served nearby residential areas as well as the Mount Hope Cemetery. Metal columns remain at the station location.
In addition to ticketing functions, a telegraph office, the express agent, and a post office were all located in the station. People living in the east section of Hastings-on-Hudson received their mail addressed to Mount Hope.
The Mount Hope Cemetery was opened in 1886 on 200 acres of land purchased from the Odell family. The cemetery's original plots were purchased by New York City churches, labor unions, and fraternal organizations. Funeral parties from the city arrived at the Mount Hope station on special trains.
The cemetery's many-treed site incorporates an impressive memorial to Confederate veterans. Dedicated in 1897, the burial plot is marked by a seventy-foot-high granite monument.
After the Saw Mill River Parkway was built, a pedestrian bridge over the parkway provided access for local passengers.
Originally known as Odell's, Chauncey was at one time among Westchester's most promising suburban communities. Named for Henry Chauncey whose estate was nearby, the village had its own hotel, post office and fire house.
Industries served by the "Put" at this stop included the Brussels Tapestry Company and Stauffer Chemical. Passengers traveling to and from Children's Village, founded as the New York Juvenile Asylum, also used the Chauncey Station.
The community of Chauncey began to disappear when the central business district was obliterated for construction of the Saw Mill River Parkway.
As with other sections of Greenburgh, the roads through what is now Ardsley were used by troops of both armies during the Revolution. Generals Washington and Rochambeau and Alexander Hamilton were present in the area during the summer of 1781 prior to the decisive victory at Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of that year.
During the early nineteenth century, the hamlet, then called Saw Mill Corners, had an agricultural economy based primarily on the cultivation of cucumbers and the production of pickles. Known as Ashford by 1850, the community surrounding this stop on the Putnam line was renamed in 1888 in order to obtain a post office.
The application to the federal government was complicated because an Ashford post office already existed in upstate New York. However Cyrus W. Field lived nearby on an estate named "Ardsley", after his ancestral home in England. Associated with Peter Cooper, Samuel F.B. Morse and others in the successful installation of the trans-Atlantic cable, Field was well-connected in Washington. He offered to facilitate the post office application if his neighbors would change the community name to Ardsley.
Duly renamed, Ardsley became an incorporated village on January 14, 1896.
The area around what is now Woodlands Lake was part of Philipsburg Manor in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and belonged to the Odell family after the Revolution. For several decades in the nineteenth century, grain and lumber mills powered by water from the Saw Mill River were operated near this site.
The lake created by damming the river was used for boating and swimming in the summer, for ice skating and an annual winter carnival in the colder months, and later as the major recreational feature of a popular resort complex, the Woodlands Lake Hotel, whose New York City visitors arrived via the "Put."
By the late nineteenth century, John Brown's dairy farm occupied what was to become Macy Park. A cow pasture, known as John Brown's meadow, was located where the baseball fields and pavilion are now. Briefly part of the Cyrus Field estate, the property was acquired by the financier J.P. Morgan at the turn of the century.
In the early twentieth century, under a lease arrangement between Morgan and the Ardsley Ice Company, ice was harvested from the lake and stored between layers of sawdust in a nearby ice house. From a siding off the main "Put" line, the ice was then shipped by rail to locations in Westchester and to New York City for distribution to restaurants and hotels.
In 1923, Westchester purchased the lake and the area around it as park land for an estimated $157,000. The new park was named after V. Everit Macy, who served as a member of the first County Park Commission and as Westchester's first Commissioner of Public Welfare.
Originally called Aqueduct, the station was renamed for Henry Rossiter Worthington, a prominent local resident. Born in 1817, Worthington effectively applied his creative powers and engineering knowledge to the requirements of American industry.
Following the invention of a specialized steam pump, in 1840 Worthington built a steamboat. The vessel was the first of its type specifically designed to operate on the canal systems that were so critical to the transportation of goods and products in the eastern United States. Later, naval vessels of the Civil War era were equipped with Worthington pumps.
The Worthington estate of several hundred acres, with its mansion approached via Saw Mill River Road, was located near the railroad stop. After Henry's death in 1880. his widow Sara had a private family chapel and mausoleum constructed on the family property. Sara Worthington died in 1899 and the beautiful stone building was deeded to the Episcopal Church. In 1931 the chapel was incorporated into the Diocese of New York as the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea.
Originally known as Storm's Bridge. by the early nineteenth century the area was called Greenburgh and had a post office by that name from 1834-1838. In the 1840's, the community was known as Hall's Corners and for approximately 20 years, from 1860-1880, had two names - Hall's Corners and Elmsford. The second post office for Elmsford existed from 1866 until 1871. The third post office, also called Elmsford, opened in 1881 as the direct result of train-related community growth. It was located, appropriately, in the railroad depot.
In the 1920's, the trolley tracks crossed the train tracks at Tarrytown Road and passengers could easily transfer from one to the other. The Elmsford "Put" station, now La Stazione Restaurant, is one of only four Putnam Line stations still standing. The others are the Briarcliff Manor station, now a library, and the stations at Millwood and Yorktown Heights.
Also surviving in the village, across Saw Mill River Road from La Stazione, is the former Presbyterian Church of the Town of Greenburgh. Built in 1793, the building housed a congregation that reorganized in 1849 as the Greenburgh Dutch Reformed Church. A monument in the adjacent graveyard is dedicated to Isaac Van Wart, one of the local residents who captured Major John Andre, a Revolutionary War British spy. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Maps predating the construction of the "Old Put" line identified the hill west of the Saw Mill River Parkway and east of the hamlet of Glenville (located at the intersection of Tarrytown Road and Benedict Avenue) as Beaver Hill, because of its view of a beaver dam located in the Saw Mill River. Some maps produced after the railroad line went into service identify a railroad station near Beaver Hill and a development called "Fernwood Park." Neither Fernwood Park nor any station building were ever constructed.
However, Beaver Hill was the site of a "flag" stop located adjacent to the Fairview Golf Club near what is now the Elmsford Distribution Center. This stop is referred to as a flag stop because waiting passengers at the station would signal or flag down the train motorman so the locomotive could be slowed down in order to stop at the station. The stop's only traveler amenities consisted of a shelter enclosed on three sides.
The station for the County Alms House in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Eastview also marked the point at which the line veered westward (on today's Tarrytown Lakes Trailway), stopping at Tarrytown Heights, Tower Hill, and Pocantico Hills. The Old "Put" line was relocated in the early 1930's by John D. Rockefeller, at his expense. He felt the train traffic invaded the privacy of his Pocantico Hills estate.
The station also served the nearby Butler and Cochran estates, where race horses were raised by James Butler, a wealthy grocery store entrepreneur, and William F. Cochran, owner of the Alexander Smith Carpet Mills in Yonkers.
The Cochran estate, called Grasslands, was purchased by Westchester in 1911 and became the County's medical reservation. Several buildings related to the Cochran ownership, including residences and barns, still stand on the County site.
When the Old "Put" line first went into service, its original path between the Eastview Station to the south and the Briarcliff Manor Station to the north was ľ of a mile west of the Graham Station area. This section of the railroad line also contained a number of wooden railroad trestles, including one (Trestle Number 6) that precariously reached some 80 feet in height as it crossed the valley near what is now the Tarrytown Reservoir. Within the first year of its operation, the Old "Put" line was rerouted to bypass Trestle Number 6 and place the railroad tracks at grade along a new loop stretching west through Pocantico Hills. This project also featured the relocation of the Tarrytown Heights Station and the addition of stations at Tower Hill and Pocantico Hills.
It was the Put's disturbance of one powerful man that led to the second and final rerouting of this segment of the railroad line and the creation of the Graham Station. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. wanted to expand his Pocantico Hills estate and make it quieter and more pleasant for himself and his family. Unfortunately, the Putnam Line cut through his lands. To curtail this problem, Rockefeller sought and received permission to reroute the railroad to the easternmost section of his lands at his expense. He then both purchased the entire hamlet of Eastview to make way for the new right-of-way and expanded his land holdings in Pocantico Hills and Tarrytown Heights. The relocation began in April 1930 and was completed by March 1931, eliminating the stations of Tarrytown Heights, Tower Hill, and Pocantico Hills from the Putnam Line.
This new section of the "Put" was served by the new Graham Station, located just south of Bedford Road (Route 117). The station was supposed to have a large waiting room with lavatories along with an express and telegraph office. What was actually constructed on the site was a simple open-air shelter. While the new route cut the distance between Eastview and Briarcliff Manor by three miles, it was used by fewer people and generated no freight traffic.
The Briarcliff Manor Station, located alongside the Trailway just north of Pleasantville Road, is now used as a public library. Built with funds donated by prominent local resident Walter Law, this station illustrates the Tudor Revival style. When used as a station, it had paneling on the walls and oriental rugs on the floor. The original Briarcliff Station was moved up the line to serve as the Millwood Station and now is in use as an office.
The hamlet of Millwood was originally called Sarles Corners, and in 1863, Merritt's Corners. The name "Millwood" comes from a grain mill that stood next to Echo Lake at the turn of the century. Echo Lake, the source of the Pocantico River, is east of the trail between NY 100 and the Taconic State Parkway south of the intersection of these two roads. The earlier names were derived from the families who owned the Granite House at the intersection of Routes 100 and 120 west of the Trailway. Constructed of locally quarried stone in the early 1800's, the Greek Revival style Granite House served initially as a stage stop and 1ater as a tavern. The Granite House is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Trailway goes through the historic hamlet of Millwood in the Town of New Castle and parallels Route 100, the old stagecoach route north from White Plains. General Washington traveled up and down this route many times. Following the battle of White Plains in October, 1776, some of Washington's wounded were cared for in the Quaker Meeting House on Quaker Street in Chappaqua. The French General Rochambeau marched his forces along the same roads on his way from Newport, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
The Millwood area or "West End", as it is often referred to, is an important part of the Town of New Castle. Horace Greeley. Chappaqua resident, publisher of the New York Tribune and 1872 presidential candidate, came to the "West End" to vote. An impressive statue of Greeley stands near the intersection of Mill River Road and the Saw Mill River Parkway. A group of Chappaqua buildings associated with Greeley and his family is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The coming of the railroads shaped the development of both Chappaqua and Millwood. Originally, two railroads served New Castle. In 1846, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt developed the New York and Harlem Line which is still in service as the Harlem branch of the Metro North Railroad with a station at Chappaqua. Thirty five years later, the Putnam Line was established with a station at Millwood. Although the line was used primarily for passenger service, local farmers also used the 56 mile "old Put" to ship milk, cider, apples and other produce to New York markets.
The Millwood Station was constructed c. 1880 in Briarcliff Manor and was moved to its present location by flat car in 1910. A small Victorian "Stick Style" building determined eligible for National Register listing, the station's character attests to the charm of the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad.
Like the Trailway built on the former railroad right-of-way, the "Old Put" provided not only a means of travel but a way to spend a pleasant day in the country.
The Kitchawan Station was located immediately west of the southern tip of the Croton Reservoir. Although the station no longer exists, the foundation of the structure can still be seen along with the footings for the adjoining water tower.
Much of the area once served by the station is now incorporated in the 208-acre Westchester County-owned Kitchawan Preserve. Purchased by the County from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (which still retains a research facility on Kitchawan Road), the acreage was originally part of Van Cortlandt Manor and later belonged to Fernando Wood and to Jeremiah Van Brunt.
Fernando Wood, a well-known mid-nineteenth century politician, was a three-term mayor of New York City. Wood and his family spent summers at Kitchawan, where their 12-acre property bordering the Reservoir included a c. 1865 residence, two large barns, a stone pumphouse, and additional outbuildings. The barn foundations and the chimneys of the house were constructed of bricks manufactured on the site; the remains of the kiln used in the manufacturing process can still be seen in the northernmost part of the Preserve.
Nearly 32 miles north of the line's southern terminus in the Bronx, Croton Lake was one of the Put's smallest stations. A tiny clapboard building with a gable roof, the station had only one door.
The distinction of being the smallest station belonged to Croton Heights, situated approximately 1˝ miles north of Croton Lake. The original station consisted only of a shingled roof supported on four posts. The spaces in between the posts were eventually filled with corrugated metal providing some protection from the elements.
Used primarily for hikers and picnickers seeking an easi1y accessible rural environment, both stations were "flag stops." The engineer applied the brakes to stop the train at either Croton Lake or Croton Heights only if he saw a would-be passenger waving a white flag at the end of a long pole.
For "Put" passengers catching the train at either station after dark, the station "platforms" were illuminated by post-mounted kerosene lanterns.
In the Town of Somers (birthplace of the American Circus), the railroad traversed the town's western section with stations at Amawalk, Granite Springs, and Baldwin Place, just over the Putnam County line.
The Granite Springs Old "Put" depot brought new life to a hamlet, originally known as West Somers, that had been in existence since the Revolutionary War. A hotel and two stores were built near the depot. The post office was moved from its original location a mile to the east to take advantage of the improved mail service the railroad ushered in. The hamlet had its own district school (the schoolhouse is now a private residence) for the education of its elementary school students. The older students commuted to Yorktown on the Old "Put." In 1904, an Episcopal Church was erected on land opposite the depot. The Church of the Good Shepherd is still an active congregation worshiping in its second building on Granite Springs Road, about a quarter mile south of the former church.
In 1909, the Granite Springs Water Company made an unsuccessful attempt to bottle the water from some "large, never-failing springs of the purest cold water" a short distance north of the depot. In 1912, probably at the behest of the water company, the name of West Somers was changed to Granite Springs. Construction of a large 32,000 square foot granite and steel building with tower was started by the water company but remained unfinished until the mid 1940's, when the property was acquired by the Koegel family. The building was leased to the Chase Manhattan Bank which used it as a record center until the mid 1980's.
Today, the hamlet of Granite Springs retains much of its historic character, with the surrounding area one of the most pastoral in the Town of Somers. The old railroad bed goes through Stuart's Fruit Farm, which has been in the same family for six generations.
As the Old "Put" wended its way north through the farms of Somers, it eventually reached the border between Westchester and Putnam Counties. Reuben Baldwin donated land in Putnam County to the railroad on which to build a depot. Small businesses began to locate on both sides of the county line, much as they do today. The Baldwin Place Post Office, served by the railroad, changed locations between the two counties several times. Today it is located in the Baldwin Place Shopping Center, the first shopping center in Somers.
The North County Trailway between Granite Springs and Baldwin Place goes through the 68-acre Koegel Town Park and crosses over the Muscoot River and land of the New York City watershed. Adding to the bucolic landscape through which the trailway passes are the large pastures of Stonewall Farm on both sides of Mahopac Avenue.
Not too far distant on Route 118 is Tomahawk Chapel, a town-owned historic site, erected in 1837. Hachaliah Bailey, the father of the American Circus and the builder of the Elephant Hotel in the Somers hamlet area of the Town of Somers, is reputed to have said that the chapel was "no bigger than a tiger's cage." The chapel is surrounded by the burial grounds where many of the early residents of the area are interred.
Compiled primarily from signs along Westchester's South and North County Trails, Summer, 2005 and Spring, 2007