OLDNYC.COM--> B&O West 26th Street Railroad Yards --> Gallery #1

The former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad float bridge stands derelict at the former West 26th Street railroad yard.

According to the book New York Harbor Railroads in Color, Volume 1, "By November 1973 this was one of the two Manhattan float bridges still in service; it served B&O's West 26th Street yard, an "offline terminal" reached only by carfloat, consisting mainly of team tracks and freight forwarders."

Why a take Virtual Tour of the West 26th Street railroad yards?

Manhattan Island was once took the honor as being home to one of the greatest ports in the world.  Boat and railroad freight train activity graced the island's docks.  Businesses and industry relied on these modes of transportation for their shipments.  In time, New York City relied less on railroad and boat shipping methods.  Trucks would soon overtake these modes of freight transportation in the mid 1960's.  Once this occurred, there was no turning back to a multi-mode freight transportation system.  Today, railroad freight traffic has all but disappeared in New York City, and it has totally disappeared in Manhattan.  The only things that tell future generations that railroad freight operations was a key transportation mode in New York City are some of the vestiges of old and decaying railroad artifacts.  OldNYC.com explores many of these aging relics of the past through various tours such as the New York Central High Line Virtual Tour and The Long Island Rockaway Beach Branch Virtual Tour.  We now continue with this theme by exploring the former B&O West 26th Street railroad yards.

After taking the Virtual Tour of the New York Central High Line, several OldNYC.com readers wrote to me to ask me what the old Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad's West 26th Street yards presently look like.  During the time that some of the emails came in, I received my order of the wonderful book New York Harbor Railroads in Color, Volume 1 by Thomas R. Flagg [ISBN 1-58248-048-6].  The book pictorially documents the Port of New York's various forms of freight operations before the decline of the port.  Pictures and commentary of the various forms of freight transportation, including railroads, ferries, tugboats and barges are found throughout the book.  The book makes an excellent reference for those that want to peer in to the transportation system of the once great Port of New York.  I highly recommend the book for any rail and boat fan.  For highway fans, some classic photos of the former elevated West Side Highway are shown in the background of some of the pictures.

The book contains a section on the B&O West 26th Street Offline Terminal.  There are several pictures of some locomotives, box cars, the float bridge, and a yard map; covered in about two pages of the book.  The book as well as OldNYC.com readers correspondences only heightened my interest in seeing what has become of the yard.  As we will see during OldNYC.com's Virtual Tour of B&O's West 26th Street Yards, there really isn't much left of the yards, so the tour is rather short.

Let's continue with the tour...

A map of where the B&O West 26th Street Yards was located.  The little red marking located towards the left of the map indicates the yard location.

Map provided by Harry Hassler; original map creator unknown.

A closer view of the float bridge.

OldNYC.com frequent contributor James Guthrie adds this information, "I see there's a picture of the B&O Howe Truss.  This was probably the last Howe Truss built in the United States -- in the 1950's, possibly 1954.  It is probably one of the most historic pieces on the entire West Side of Manhattan Island."

Mr. Guthrie is correct.  According to the book New York Harbor Railroads in Color, Volume 1, "This wooden Howe truss structure (a mid-19th century bridge design) was built in 1954 to replace a steel float bridge; B&O may have been the only company ever to do that!"  In the book, there is a picture of the truss in pristine condition.  I respect the author's right to copyright (he does allow people to use brief quotations from the book), so I will not scan the image of the picture and place it on this web page.  One would have to buy the book in order to see a picture of the float bridge as it originally appeared when it was in service.

A pier once stood to the right of the float barge.  The only remnants of the old pier are the many pylons that remain standing in the Hudson River.

Directly to the east of the former float bridge resides a new Greenway.  The West Side Greenway will run from Battery Park up to Washington Heights once the path is completed.  The Greenway passes by several of the old piers, boat slips, and float bridges along its route.

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