TAILS FROM THE TRAIL: New Historical Signage on the former Erie Railroad Path
Tails from the Trail will feature photos, maps, and stories to highlight the impact of the railway on the villages of Nyack, South Nyack and Piermont. The exhibit is at the Historical Society’s museum in the DePew House, lower level, 50 Piermont Avenue, Nyack, New York 10960. The exhibition is open every Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. and will be on view from October 13 to November 24, 2018.
In 1870, the Northern Railroad extended its line to Nyack, and Nyack’s commercial center began to move from the river towards the railroad. Businesses sprang up in the vicinity of the tracks to take advantage of the new transportation links. The railway carried both passengers and freight, and a number of companies benefited from dedicated spur tracks that allowed goods to be delivered directly to their yards.
The area occupied by today’s Nyack Community Garden was the end of the line, with a freight depot, locomotive turntable, and roundhouse. The passenger station was located at today’s Franklin Street Park tennis court. Near the station lay large factories that, through the years and changes of ownership, manufactured shoes, sewing machines, wartime munitions, and chemical dyes. The dye factory was granted permission to also have a spur line into its yard to transport chemicals, but the offshoot was never laid. Come to the exhibit to find out why!
Half a mile down the track was the South Nyack station, its location perhaps influenced by the prominent Mansfield family that owned a nearby finishing school (and in Summertime a hotel) that catered to wealthy folks from the city. South Nyack Station became the focus of the South Nyack business district, but that all changed in the early 1950s when the state devastated a large swath of the village to make way for the I-287 New York Thruway and Exit 10 interchange.
South Nyack was the lead applicant in a Hudson River Valley Greenway Conservancy grant program that successfully secured monies to pay for the creation of historical signage that will highlight our lost railway heritage. Trustee Andrew Goodwillie and Historical Society volunteers worked to create content for the signs, which were designed by Michael Lockett. Eleven informative signs with text, images and maps are expected to be installed soon along the Erie Rail trail, beginning at Nyack’s Community Garden and continuing south to Piermont’s Railroad depot building.