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Walter Williams, a local resident who has lived in the Wallkill Valley since 1928, entertains with tales of living history in a ten-minute video illustrated with historic photos of the Rosendale Trestle in its heyday.   

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In the words of Walter Williams:

Another fascinating story is this railroad which at one time was very busy. It was called the Wallkill Valley Railroad and it was destined to become the main line between Canada, Albany, and New York, with the terminus at Hoboken. There was a railroad-building race going on with the Vanderbilts putting together the New York Central Railroad on the east side of the Hudson River and the Wallkill Valley Railroad building on the west side, starting from the south. They came to the gorge of the Rondout Creek, here in Rosendale, and had to build a huge bridge, and that's where the construction stalled. And the Vanderbilt's won the race to Albany and the New York Central became the main line.

But when I came here with my father, mother, and sister, in 1928, this was a very busy railroad. Commuter traffic from the Wallkill Valley, south of here, found employment in Kingston which was a center of the needle trades: dresses, shirts, and pajamas. Manhattan Shirts were made in Kingston as well as Jonathan Logan fashions and Barclay knitwear, and a silk mill. There was also cigar-making, a small manufacturer of automobiles, and two or three metal foundries. Everyone gravitated to Kingston for employment. The kids even went to high school by train. This railroad carried Railway Express, a mail car, and a milk car. A freight train would come down every morning (at about 10:00 at Binnewater), stopping at every station and unloading lumber, cement and various materials that people would have ordered. The farmers also shipped their eggs to market via Railway Express. But the big money maker for the railroad was anthracite coal from the Pennsylvania coal fields on the way to northern New York, New England, and Canada. Every single day a huge, long trainload of coal cars would come lumbering past.

The trestle over the Rondout gorge in Rosendale has a curve in it and, coming across in this direction, the trains had to go very slowly. They were pulled by two coal-fired locomotives, double-headers, small compared to today's diesel locomotives. That trestle is also at the bottom of a railroad hill and we're at the top. It doesn't look like much of a hill but, in fact, there's quite an increase in elevation. When those locomotives came to this side of the bridge they had to get up a head of steam, get some speed up, so they could make the hill. Invariably they would stall; the freight train would be so heavy and so long that it would stall. Right opposite the main entrance to the Hotel they'd come to a grinding halt!


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