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Historic Pelham: How Did Pelhamites Travel To and From Nearby …


Mass transit was just beginning to reach the Town of Pelham in the mid-19th century. Indeed, one of the principal catalysts in the development of the Town of Pelham was the opening of the New York and New Haven Railroad line in 1848 through the area that came to be known as Pelhamville. I have written before about the opening of the railroad line through Pelhamville. See Thu., Sep. 11, 2014: Cattle Were Frightened; Animals Careened Round the Fields – The First Run of the New Haven Line Through Pelham in 1848[1].

The New Haven Line was important in the development of the Town of Pelham, but it was not the only means of mass transit to and from Pelham in the mid-19th century. A travel guide for the New York City region published in 1857 sheds important light on the various means of mass transit to and from Pelham at the time including stage coach, steam engine trains, and steamships. Interestingly, the guide also provides information on the fares to and from Pelham and, in some instances, travel times. Finally, the guide provides information about the Priory in Pelham Manor as an interesting site to visit in the Pelham and New Rochelle region. The travel guide is available online. See Towndrow, T., ed., Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around New York By Railroad, Stage, Steamboat, Express and Telegraph; or, How to Get In and Out of the Metropolis[2] (NY, NY: Dinsmore & Co., 1857).

Cover of Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around New York

Published in 1857. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.


Travel by Train

The population of the entire Town of Pelham in 1857 was about 1,000 people. (There is no known count for the year 1857, but the population in 1850 was 577 and the population in 1860 was 1,025.) It is likely that only a few hundred of those who lived in the Town in 1857 lived in Pelhamville where the New Haven Line trains stopped.

In 1857, New York and New Haven Railroad trains ran from the Canal Street Depot in New York City to Bridgeport making the following stops: Canal Street Depot, 26th Street Depot, Williams’ Bridge, Mount Vernon, Pelhamville, New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, Rye, Port Chester, Greenwich, Cos Cob Bridge, Stamford, Darien, Norwalk, Westport, Southport, Fairfield, and Bridgeport. This was the only railroad line that passed through any part of the Town of Pelham at the time. (The Branch Line parallel to Long Island Sound did not open until 1872.)

The tiny little wooden Pelham train station sat approximately where the Pelham National Bank Building stands today at One Wolfs Lane in the Village of Pelham. The railroad crossed the roadway at grade level at that time with crossing gates to protect and prevent travelers along the dirt road known today as Wolfs Lane and Fifth Avenue from attempting to cross when a train was scheduled to approach. A station master in the station had to raise and lower the crossing gates by hand.

The Pelhamville train station was a so-called “flag stop” which meant that travelers wishing to board a train at Pelhamville had to alert the station master who then raised a flag to signal the locomotive engineer to stop the train. Absent such a flag, trains sped through the station without stopping.

Detail from the Front Cover of Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around

New York Published in 1857. Detail Shows Steam Locomotive

Passenger Train as Such Trains Looked on the New Haven

Line in 1857. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.


Detail from the Front Cover of Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around

New York Published in 1857. Detail Shows Steam Locomotive

Express Train for Carrying Freight and Mail as Such Trains

Looked on the New Haven Line in 1857. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.


Surprisingly few New Haven Line trains stopped in Pelham each day in 1857. According to a schedule published in Dinmore’s, only two trains from Bridgeport to the Canal Street Depot in New York City stopped in Pelham each day, both in the morning: 5:53 a.m. and 7:10 a.m. Likewise, only two trains from New York to Bridgeport stopped in Pelhamville each day, both in the evening: 6:10 p.m. and 7:26 p.m. The trip took 45 minutes to Pelhamville from the Canal Street Depot. See Dinsmore’s, supra, p. 8[3].

Of course, the New Haven Line in 1857 was most convenient for those who lived in Pelhamville which encompassed much of today’s Village of Pelham). The fare to Pelhamville was forty cents, although frugal travelers got off the train in Mount Vernon for thirty-five cents and walked the final 1 1/4 miles to Pelham or hired a horse-drawn carriage for the final leg of the trip. For Pelhamites who lived on City Island, on Pelham Neck or the mainland along Shore Road or in the area of Prospect Hill, it was often more convenient either to take the New York and Harlem Railroad to Williams’ Bridge and a stage coach from Williams’ Bridge to Pelham for a train fare of thirty cents and additional stage coach fare of fifty cents, or to take the New Haven Line to New Rochelle and a stage coach from there for a railroad fare of forty-five cents and a stage coach fare of 12 1/2 cents (see below).

Getting To and From Various Parts of Pelham in 1857

Dinsmore’s travel guide includes information about how travelers were able to get to and from various parts of Pelham and the fares they paid using mass transit in 1857. First, the guide describes how to visit City Island:

CITY ISLAND (Long Island Sound), town of Pelham, Westchester Co., N.Y.

By Harlem Railroad (p. 6) to Williams’ Bridge, 14 miles; thence by stage to Pelham Point, 5 miles; thence by ferry, 1/2 mile. Railroad fare, 30 cents; stage, 50 cents; ferry, — cents.

Also by steamer John Hart, from Catharine Slip, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 12 M. Fare, 50 cents.

Nearest postoffice, Pelham, 2 1/2 miles. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle, 4 miles (p. 5).”

Source: Dinsmore’s, supra, p. 42[4].

Detail from the Front Cover of Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around

New York Published in 1857. Detail Shows Steamer Such as

Those that Carried Travelers Who Traveled Between New York

City and Pelham Via the Steamer John Hart.

NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.


Detail from the Front Cover of Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around

New York Published in 1857. Detail Shows Stage Coach Such as

Those that Carried Travelers Who Traveled Between New York

City and Pelham Via the New York and Harlem Railroad and Stage

Coach. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.


Next, Dinsmore’s travel guide explains how to visit Hart Island in the Town of Pelham:

HART ISLAND (Long Island Sound), town of Pelham, Westchester Co., N.Y.

By Harlem Railroad (as per Time Table, p. 6) to William’s Bridge, 14 miles; thence by stage and ‘extra’ to Pelham Point, 5 miles; thence by boat, 1/2 mile. Railroad fare, 30 cents; stage, extra and boat, 75 cents.

Nearest postoffice, Pelham 2 1/2 miles. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle, 2 1/2 miles.”

Source: Dinsmore’s, supra, p. 57[5].

The travel guide also provided travel information for Pelham, Pelham Bridge, Pelham Point (i.e., the tip of today’s Rodman’s Neck), and historical information for Pelham Priory as a place of special interest for people to visit:

PELHAM (township), Westchester Co., N.Y. Population, [sic; text ends here].

PELHAM BRIDGE, Westchester Co., N.Y. Much frequented by gentlemen fond of piscatorial sport.

By Harlem Railroad (p. 6) to Williams’ Bridge, 14 miles; thence by stage and ‘extra,’ 4 miles. Railroad fare, 30 cents; stage 37 1/2 cents.

PELHAM POINT, town of Pelham, Westchester Co., N.Y.

By Harlem Railroad (p. 6), at 7 and 8:10 A.M., and 3:30 P.M., to Williams’ Bridge, 14 miles; thence by stage, 5 miles. Railroad fare, 30 cents; stage, 50 cents.

Nearest postoffice, Pelham, 2 miles. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle, 4 miles (p. 5).

PELHAM PRIORY, town of Pelham, Westchester Co., N.Y.

By New Haven Railroad (p. 8) to New Rochelle, 19 1/2 miles; thence by stage, 1 1/2 miles. Railroad fare 45 cents; stage, 12 1/2 cents.

Postoffice address, Pelham. J. E. JONES, postmaster. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle (p. 5).

Amongst the numerous objects worthy of notice in the neighborhood of New York, the stranger will, perhaps, find none more interesting or more deserving attention than Pelham Priory, long known as a popular seminary for young ladies. The house, which is of stone, embowered with ivy and other creepers, affords a fine specimen of the old English style, and accords well with its truly romantic situation. The building stands upon an eminence, surrounded by noble trees, and has two towers commanding splendid views, in which wood and water are beautifully blended. The interior arrangements, wainscoated [sic] apartments, etc., correspond with the style of the house, and carry the mind back to days of old. It is well stored with curiosities in art, literature and nature, including some family pictures by Etty, of the Royal Academy of England; an original portrait of Bunyan, formerly in the possession of the Rev. George Whitfield; the original Italian edition of ‘Piranesi’ (in 42 vols. royal quarto), collected for Napoleon, bearing his initial, and surmounted by the imperial crown; a copy of Macklin’s Bible, the largest ever printed, in 6 volumes royal quarto; a copy of Elliott’s Indian Testament, said to be the first work ‘written and published in the present United States,’ printed at Cambridge, Mass., A.D. 1661, by Samuel Green, the first printer in America; an original of Addison’s Spectator; a letter on Pope’s [sic] to Lord Bethurst; a good collection of autographs, the oldest of which is that of Henry VII of England. The signatures of Elizabeth, with her Council, and of her successor, Queen Mary, are particularly worthy of notice; also those of Oliver Cromwell and Richard Cromwell. There is likewise a valuable cabinet of coins, collected by the Rev. Bryan Hill, rector of Hodnet, Shropshire, England. Amongst these, the most interesting are those of Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, and various others, Roman and Ancient English. Amongst the medals of the Popes, is the celebrated one of Adrian the Sixth.

“PELHAM PRIORY, WESTCHESTER CO., N.Y. See p. 78.”

[This Engraving Published in Dinsmore’s Seems to be Based

on a Watercolor on Paper Painting of The Priory by William

Rickarby Miller Painted the Year Before in 1856. Source: Dinsmore’s,

supra, p. 79[6]. NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.]
PELHAM P.O., Westchester Co., N.Y.

By New Haven Railroad (p. 8) to New Rochelle, 19 1/2 miles; thence by stage, 1 1/2 miles. Railroad fare, 45 cents; stage, 12 1/2 cents.

JOHN E. JONES, postmaster. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle.

PELHAMVILLE, town of Pelham, Westchester County, N.Y.

By New Haven Railroad (p. 8), at 5:15 and 6:15 P.M., 18 m. Fare 40 cts. or by same road (as per Time Table, p. 18 [sic]) to Mount Vernon 16 3/4 miles; thence on foot or by special conveyance 1 1/4 miles. Railroad fare, 35 cents. Special conveyance, 50 cents.

Nearest post office, Mount Vernon. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle, 1 1/2 miles, p. 5.”

Source: Dinsmore’s, supra, pp. 7880.

The final portion of the guide that deals with the Town of Pelham includes instructions for traveling to the tiny Prospect Hill settlement that, in 1857, was in its infancy and only about six years old:

PROSPECT HILL, town of Pelham, Westchester Co., N.Y.

By New Haven Railroad (p. 8), at 5:15 and 6:15 P.M., to Pelhamville, 18 miles; thence 10 to 15 minutes’ walk; or by same railroad to New Rochelle, 19 3/4 miles; thence by extra, 2 miles. Railroad fare, 45 cents; extra, 50 cents.

Nearest postoffice, East Chester, 1 mile. Nearest telegraph station, New Rochelle.”

Source: Dinsmore’s, supra, p. 83[7].


Order a Copy of “Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak.”[8]

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References

  1. ^ Cattle Were Frightened; Animals Careened Round the Fields – The First Run of the New Haven Line Through Pelham in 1848 (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  2. ^ Dinsmore’s Thirty Miles Around New York By Railroad, Stage, Steamboat, Express and Telegraph; or, How to Get In and Out of the Metropolis (babel.hathitrust.org)
  3. ^ p. 8 (babel.hathitrust.org)
  4. ^ p. 42 (babel.hathitrust.org)
  5. ^ p. 57 (babel.hathitrust.org)
  6. ^ p. 79 (babel.hathitrust.org)
  7. ^ p. 83 (babel.hathitrust.org)
  8. ^ Order a Copy of “Thomas Pell and the Legend of the Pell Treaty Oak.” (www.amazon.com)
  9. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  10. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  11. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  12. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  13. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  14. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  15. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  16. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  17. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  18. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  19. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  20. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)
  21. ^ (historicpelham.blogspot.com)