Chester, New York

Chester, New York (HM150N)

Location: Chester, NY 10918 Orange County
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Country: United States of America
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N 41° 21.766', W 74° 16.186'

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When the first train entered Chester, New York on September 23, 1841, few realized exactly what kind of an impact the railroad would have on the town. Before the New York & Erie Railroad (later reorganized as the Erie Railroad) entered town, Chester was a small farming community best known for their dairy products such as butter and cheese. For many years, dairy farmers in Orange County had been shipping butter out of Newburgh to New York City. With the advent of the Railroad, farmers started shipping their butter by rail and at shorter intervals. Thaddeus Selleck, Chester's first Station Agent, proposed the shipment of milk directly to the city. By 1843, four million quarts of milk were being shipped by the Erie Railroad. Orange County milk was in high demand. Farming interests in Orange County were revolutionized, and a new and nationwide industry was introduced into the American landscape.

The railroad prospered for over 100 years. However, with the dawning of the age of "superhighways" and the rise of the automobile, the railroad began a steep decline from which it would never recover. As more people traveled by automobiles, less people traveled by train. Trucking soon became the preferred mode of shipping freight and the Erie Railroad felt the sting. By 1960, the Erie could no longer be profitable on its own and it merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad to form the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. Despite the merger, the railroad continued to lose money. Finally, in 1976, the United States Government was forced to intervene and the Erie-Lackawanna was merged with five other bankrupt Northeast railroads to form Conrail. By 1983, the rail line in Chester had fallen under the control of Metro-North Railroad. That year, they decided to abandon the former Erie Railroad main line from Harriman to Middletown in favor of the Graham Line to the north (which currently serves as Metro-North's Port Jervis Branch). In November of 1984, the rails were ripped up and the last page of the railroad's history was written.

For more information, visit the Chester Historical Society's website at

[photo captions]

On December 3, 1961, Erie-Lackawanna diesel locomotive #850 leads a train westbound through Chester.
From the John Stellwagen Collection Courtesy of Doug Barberio

On May 12, 1940, Erie Railroad steam locomotive #2744 leads a passenger train past Chester.
From the Robert F.Collins Collection Courtesy of John Locke

These four Erie-Lackawanna diesel locomotives look much like steam locomotives as they round the curve above the bridge at Meadow Avenue. Even though it has been two years since the merger, these locomotives have not been repainted in Erie-Lackawanna colors.
From the John Stellwagen Collection Courtesy of Doug Barberio

By 1975, the station agent in Chester had been relocated and the station began to deteriorate. After the railroad was abandoned, the station was left completely to the elements. In the early 90's, the station was in danger of being demolished, but due to the efforts of the Chester Historical Society, the building was restored. The renovated station now serves as the Chester Historical Society Museum.
From the John Stellwagen Collection Courtesy of Doug Barberio

At the turn of the century, the rail yard in Chester was a busy place. The Erie Railroad main line is to the right while the local freight tracks are in the foreground. Note that the 1915 station has not yet been built. The original station (seen here) would be moved and commissioned as the freight house. Below the telephone pole are the tool sheds, one of which has recently been restored by the Chester Historical Society and now stands in the same location as when this picture was taken. The Route 94 bridge is seen in the distance.
From the Ray Brown Collection Courtesy of Doug Barberio

Alan Arthur Held
Eagle Scout Service Project
Boy Scout Troop 45
Warwick, New York

Dedicated 2012
Marker made possible by the generosity of the Chester Historical Society
HM NumberHM150N
Year Placed2012
Placed ByAlan Arthur Held
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 20th, 2014 at 6:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 561075 N 4579286
Decimal Degrees41.36276667, -74.26976667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 41° 21.766', W 74° 16.186'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds41° 21' 45.96" N, 74° 16' 11.16" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)845
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 500-598 Orange Heritage Trail, Chester NY 10918, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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