Silvernails & Rhinecliff Branch

Central New England Railroad

I often travel on the Taconic Parkway and was intrigued by this apparent railroad cut visible just south of the Roeliff Jansen Kill crossing near Jackson Corners, NY. (I will be returning at some point to take better photos...)Rail Cut

Historic topo map research and some input from the forum at railroad.net indicated it was the Silvernails & Rhinecliff Branch of the Central New England Railroad.

CNE map
Full map

Historic Topo map
1894/1904

History of the Line

The Rhinebeck and Connecticut Railroad Company was incorporated in June 1871, for the construction of a railroad from Rhinecliff on the Hudson River to the Connecticut state line where it would join the Connecticut Western. The rail line, about 35.2 miles long, was opened to the public on April 14, 1875. Six years later the rail line was sold at public auction after going into receivership. On July 1, 1882 the Hartford & Connecticut Western bought the Rhinebeck & Connecticut Railroad, giving it a line from Hartford to the Hudson River. In 1899,the Central New England Railway Company (CNE) came into existence and took over this line along with the others in the Dutchess County area in hopes that a consolidation could lead to profitability.

Coal was the primary freight eastbound on the line with westbound trains picking up fruit, milk, meat and hay for transport to New York City via trains and barges at Rhinecliff. Both passenger and freight cars were included on most trains.

The Huckleberry Line

From its early days, the railroad between Rhinecliff and Silvernails became known as the “Huckleberry” or the “Hucklebush” line, or the “Old Huckleberry Train,” because at certain uphill grades the train went slow enough for passengers to hop off, gather berries growing along the track and hop back on the train. Huckleberries, similar to blueberries, still grow on 18 inch high bushes in woodland clearings in the area.

The Silvernails/Rhinecliff branch survived on milk and farm shipments and a dwindling number of passengers. The branch line was officially abandoned on July 15, 1938, the same year that all local railroads not previously abandoned in Northern Dutchess County met their end. The rails and ties were removed soon thereafter. (Source)


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Google, Bing and Photos "in the field"gsvBing

Both Google and Bing have a few interesting views and provided the info I needed to simply scoot off the Taconic and get quickly to the spots indicated on the map below. (Photos taken in 2015)

-Silvernails & Rhinecliff Branch-

  • Road (formerly ROW)
  • Trestle Foundations (Street View) - looks like railroad tiesPhotos 1 (click to show/hide)
  •  Small Culvert/Bridge Photos 2 (click to show/hide)
  • Off thru the woods (north) | South (driveway?)
  • The basic map even shows the old ROW!
  • Mt Ross Street View - West | East
  • Bridge Abutment - Roeliff Jansen Kill (Bing)Photos 3 (click to show/hide)
  • This looks like a great mountain bike ride. Scroll to the right and follow the ROW continue all the way to the Taconic Parkway (remember this is upside down, so you are going westward... )
Rinecliff Branch Photos

-On the Poughkeepsie, Silvernails, Springfield Mainline-

Further Info


Rhinecliff Branch (CNE) | P&E between Pleasant Valley and Upton Lake | Timeline and Map Animation
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