For Sunday, the second and final day of AppleFest 2003, we took our excursion to Port Jervis and back. The 9:20 AM departure gets its passengers to Port Jervis in time for lunch, and a comfortable 50-minute layover before the same equipment returns to Hoboken over a different routing in New Jersey.
We were to convene at Hoboken Terminal around 9 AM. Lou, Michael, and I checked out of the Doubletree around 7:45 AM, and were lucky enough to find a light rail vehicle waiting for us when we got to the Harsimus Cove station platform. Although we had tickets with us, we still were supposed to validate them before boarding the train. Unable to find a validator near the doors of the train, and with the operator nice enough to wait for us, we just climbed aboard. Luckily nobody was inspecting tickets.
It was a quick two-stop, five-minute ride to Hoboken Terminal. When we got there, I realized we still had about an hour before we were supposed to meet. I decided that Michael and I had time to get breakfast, since there was nothing much available back at the hotel. Lou chose not to go, so we left him in the station's waiting room. Michael and I walked about five blocks to get to a McDonald's restaurant at Washington Avenue & Third Street. We got back to the station around 9:00, and were soon joined by Mike Hammond, who had made his way from Newark by PATH train, and Alan Burden, who came from New York City by PATH from the other direction.
That was it, five of us for this excursion. I had gotten a call earlier in the morning from Owen Sindler, saying that he and Isak had decided to go back to Philadelphia.
We were originally set to meet in the station concourse near the Railhead bar and the entrance to the food court, but I changed that to the waiting room at the last minute because of the cold weather.
Once we were all accounted for, we decided to go board our train, which was displayed on the departure board and monitors for Track 7. We found a group of seats together and settled in for our ride. About 9:15, five minutes before departure, an on-board announcement told us that our train would now be departing from Track 2. Everyone got up and off this train, and then we all made our way from Track 7 to Track 2. Nothing like unexplained, last-minute changes to inconvenience passengers. I wondered if those chenanigans entitled me to a voucher from George Warrington?
Part 10: Metro North Train #81, Hoboken to Port Jervis
Once settled into our seats on the second train, we saw people still headed for Track 7, which some monitors still indicated was the correct track for this Port Jervis train. We wondered how many arriving close to departure time were left behind by this mixup.
Metro North Train 81, which was made up entirely of NJ TRANSIT equipment (no Metro North cars), departed close to the 9:20 advertised. When the an announcement came from the crew, I thought that perhaps they would be telling us to move to a third train.
Our Sunday portion of AppleFest 2003 began as we were soon on our way west. We passed through the Bergen Tunnels, and then hung the right onto the ex-Erie RR towards Bergen County.
We stayed right on schedule. Running express was very nice, as it kept our train lightly patronized. The train makes only one intermediate stop in New Jersey, at Ridgewood. After that, it stops at all stations in New York State, beginning with Suffern, the end of NJ TRANSIT territory.
Once past the rail yards just beyond the Suffern station, we were now on Norfolk Southern-owned track. It was quite obvious when we went from welded rail to stick rail; the ride got noticeably rougher. At the same time, as we proceeded into more mountainous terrain, the level of the snow on the ground got deeper and deeper. Since the last snowstorm a few days prior to our trip had been primarily south of New York City, this was older snow that had collected over the course of the winter.
Our ride up through Sloatsburg, Tuxedo, and Harriman had us running mostly with Route 17 on our left and the New York State Thruway on our right. In Tuxedo I remarked that it was so cold and snow-covered that we might see penguins there.
At the Harriman station we saw one of those fake "trolleys" that is really an odd-shaped bus on rubber tires. It shuttles passengers between this station and the Woodbury Commons outlet mall. Just beyond Harriman, we entered what is known as the Graham Line. The former Erie RR mainline went off to the left from here; its trackless former right-of-way was covered in snow. The 26-mile Graham alignment is slightly longer, but more scenic. The Erie built it to connect its mainline with other railroads. We were back on welded rail for this portion of the trip.
Just before arriving at our next station, Salisbury Mills-Cornwall, we encountered one of the highlights of the trip, the ride over the Moodna Viaduct, and the river of the same name. The Salisbury Mills-Cornwall station is only a few miles from the town of Newburgh.
Past that station we felt ourselves gradually curving to the west, seemingly headed in the right direction. But if you look at an accurate route map, the line twists and turns, following the mountains and valleys.
We stopped at Campbell Hall, and then Middletown. The latter station is near the intersection of two major highways, Route 17 (being converted into I-86) and I-84. There are also a lot of shopping areas visible from the station area. After the Middletown station, the Graham route comes to an end, and the line once again follows the old Erie mainline. For the rest of our journey we once again had stick rail.
Two more stops to go, and a few more highlights. After the quick stop at Otisville, we entered the mile-long Otisville Tunnel. After the western portal, the route curves to the southwest for the final 10-minute jog into Port Jervis.
Port Jervis is near the junction of three states: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, although the actual junction is in the Delaware River. While in town, you can see Matamoras, PA across the river, but there is no evidence of New Jersey nearby.
We came into town past the former Erie depot, which once hosted passenger trains from several different flags. The current passenger station is located a few blocks west of there, close to a street intersection and a shopping center. We came to a stop briefly before the siding where the station platform is; no doubt a switch had to be hand-thrown.
Immediately to the left of the shopping center is the famous Erie turntable, which has been operable for a few years, but has not seen any use since a 1998 steam excursion.
Our on-time arrival at 11:27 AM put us near our lunch stop, a Burger King across the parking lot. What I had not counted on was a large snow bank halfway across the lot, which we had to negotiate to get to the restaurant.
Our excursion was half over; now it was time to rest up and eat during our 50-minute layover.
I had thought some of us might wish to take a quick walk over to the turntable, but access to it appeared to be blocked by snow banks that had been plowed from the parking lot. We opted to stay in the Burger King, and then make our way back to the train platform.
Part 11: Metro North Train #82, Port Jervis to Hoboken
We had the same equipment and crew that we had on the outbound trip. There were some trains sitting in the yard just west of the station, with coaches in either NJ TRANSIT or Metro North livery.
Departure of the eleventh and final conveyance of AppleFest 2003 was promptly at 12:17 PM from Port Jervis. We retraced our route back to New Jersey. This trip was different from our outbound one in two ways: We were running as a local in New Jersey, making all stops, and also we would be taking the Main Line instead of the Bergen County Line. So we made a lot of stops in places like Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic.
A highlight of this trip that we had not experienced on Train 81 was running right through the lower level of Secaucus Transfer. We saw the new cutoff tracks that are being built to realign NJ TRANSIT's Pascack Valley and Bergen County Lines through the Transfer station as well; they will split from the Main Line west of the new station instead of east of it.
Because we were a local, this train was more patronized than our morning trip. By the time we made our on-time arrival in Hoboken at 2:48 PM, most of the seats in our coach were filled.
Arrival back in Hoboken signaled the official end of our AppleFest. From here, Lou left us and went to the PATH station to head back to New York City and eventually Connecticut by Metro North.
AppleFest 2003 "After-Fest"
Alan, Mike, Michael, and I went to NJ TRANSIT's Hudson-Bergen light rail (HBLRT) station, where we proceeded to do a mini JerseyFest 2002 re-enactment. Mike had not been able to make our JerseyFest in October of 2002, so with him we rode the entire HBLRT system, including both the West Side Avenue and Bayonne/East 34th Street branches.
We had entertained notions of also re-creating the Newark City Subway portion of JerseyFest this evening, but with the cold temperature, impending darkness, and the need to eventually get home, we decided to just ride the HBLRT and then call it quits. We had arranged to have dinner together, so we had to leave time for that.
After going out to both branches of the HBLRT, we came back on a Hoboken-bound trolley, but got off at Harsimus Cove. My car was parked here since Friday night, and we would use it to go to dinner.
The restaurant I chose for us was the popular Malibu Diner, which has an excellent section of items that would suit our varying tastes. This diner is on the northern end of Hoboken, just 5 blocks from where I work in Weehawken.
After the four of us had a very filling dinner to end our busy weekend, we went back to the other end of Hoboken, where I dropped Alan off at the Hoboken PATH station. Since it was on our way home, I then took Mike directly back to his Marriott hotel at Newark Liberty International Airport. Getting to the hotel from the airport entrance took as much time as it took to drive from Hoboken to Newark, thanks to the need to make a complete circle around the airport to get to the hotel's driveway.
After depositing Mike at his hotel, I got Michael and myself home in about 45 minutes, and then I could finally relax, knowing I that another big rail fest event was behind us.
Another successful event was held, with no glitches once we got started. It was nice to see the hard work pay off in the name of smiling faces and almost constant talk about trains. Whether they came from the area or as far away as Ohio or Massachusetts, everyone had a good time despite the extremely cold and windy weather. I am truly grateful for their attendance.
We did briefly discuss our next outings. This summer, our big event will be a fest in Chicago, during the third week of July. The preliminary planning for that is already underway. There may also be another PhillyFest event this fall or winter, taking in at least the new NJ TRANSIT diesel light rail Trenton-Camden route and more SEPTA lines we did not ride in 2001. And with the multitude of transit and commuter lines in the New York City area, there is always the possibility we may someday meet there again!