S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Rail-Marine Page keywords = rail marine terminal road way switch pocket tug boat harbor float bridge barge history Greenville BEDT LIRR Long Island City Brooklyn Eastern District Atlantic New York Dock Bush Penn PRR New Haven Bay Ridge Fulton Baltic Jay Street Cross Connecting 4th Street Kent Avenue Hudson Harlem Transfer Army Military Base basin East River Staten Island "

Updated:   25 May 2015; 14:45  ET
[Page converted 24 Apr 2010;

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/railmarn.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/railmarn.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have had to scramble to transfer everything by then.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's



A cover page to tie in rail-marine interests covered on my

BEDT (Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal RR) page,
Early oil-electric ("diesel") Boxcabs loco page, et seq., and
LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) page, et seq.,
et cetera.

Unindexed; please scroll away, but be sure to see a fabulous ca, 1940 NY Port Authority harbor map, below, and
Rail-Marine HELP!, also below.


It is NOT my intention to be (or pose as being) an expert on rail-marine matters;
it is an ancillary interest and this page is really intended to catch and focus interest in rail-marine matters and link to more informative sites.

Ohmygosh! - 04 Mar 2002 - I don't know how long this will stay posted but you absolutely HAVE to check this out!!!  Click on http://www.netcopspsi.com/temp/towboat.htm to see the almost-inconceivable misadventures of a Tombigbee River towboat (nothing to do with rail but I can absolutely assure you it will be well worth your while)!
    {Thanks to my brother-in-law - for the URL, not for what transpired!}

The primary significance of rail-marine operations is the confluence of railroading with water transportation in the use of "car floats" (barges with tracks on deck) and tugs to move railroad cars from one side of a body of water (a river or harbor) to the other, utilizing floating or crane-hoisted "float bridges" to adjust track and barge levels for changing weights and tides.

In New York harbor alone, there were a dozen or more separate rail-marine operations, many of which were "pocket" terminals with no land link to any other railroads.  Notable among these was the longest-lived (and one of the last railroads actively using steam), the BEDT (Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal RR).  Others included the the Jay Street Connecting RR (one of the earliest RR users of internal combustion), Harlem Transfer (with its unique circular freight house and trackage), Hoboken Manufacturers RR, and CNJ's (Central RR of New Jersey's) and Erie's Bronx terminals on the Harlem River.  The New Haven used the Hell Gate Bridge and the NY Connecting RR to reach a float terminal still in use at Bay Ridge on Brooklyn's waterfront and the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) had its own float terminals in Long Island City.  SIRT (Staten Island Rapid Transit), a B&O (Baltimore & Ohio) subsidiary, had a yard, and the B&O had a yard on the west side of Manhattan.  Most major rail lines coming into the NY metropolitan area from the south and west, the PRR (Pennsy, Pennsylvania RR), Erie, LV (Lehigh Valley), Lackawanna, and the Jersey Central, itself, had rail-marine terminals on the Jersey side of the river.  All of these either ran their own car floats and tugs (usually built on Long Island by Jakobson* in Oyster Bay - see Jakobson's Rail-Marine Tugboats), or contracted from one of the rail-marine outfits and most were among the first users, along with the Hoboken Manufacturers RR, of those ubiquitous little early ALCo-GE-IR boxcab oil-electric (diesel) switchers that spelled the coming doom for steam ca. 1924-25.  Some of the Long Island terminals clustered around mini-harbors called basins, with famous names like Atlantic, Baltic, Erie, and Fulton, all still in use and some possibly renewing float service.

Here's a fabulous old (ca. 1940?) map of the harbor facilities of most of New York City, originally from the Port of New York Authority and now all over the Net:

(PANY NY Harbor Map ca. 1940)
[Click on thumbnailed image for larger, sharper (1.15Mb) image;
for a HUGE (3.75Mb) copy, click HERE.]

There is also a marine turntable preserved at Jake's.

Here, courtesy of Dave Keller, is a George Votava photo of the BEDT tug Petro Flame taken in Apr 1973 at the Kent Avenue Yard dock against the NYC skyline:

Petro Flame 4/73 Kent
(G. E. Votava photo courtesy of D. Keller - all rights reserved)

With the New York Connecting RR continuing the century-long tradition of car floating from Greenville (in Jersey City, New Jersey, NOT on Staten Island as previously mis-stated) to the Brooklyn waterfront in direct succession from the BEDT, and the New York & Atlantic reopening float bridges and building new ones with the City, the harbor is becoming even more of a mecca for the rail-marine user and enthusiast, alike.  C'mon down (or up or over)!   rev (20 May 2015)

However, see the Trunnel page for a planned Cross-Harbor Tunnel from the Greenville Yards in Jersey City, New Jersey, to the Bay Ridge Yard in Sunset Park, Brooklyn (Long Island), New York, which may well doom much, if not all, car floating in New York harbor.

On my Electric Boxcabs page, I mention the early electric box motor #4 that puttered around the Brooklyn waterfront from 1907 to at least 1957 or later on the SBK (South Brooklyn Railway (now an MTA subsidiary); she appears on page 6 in Bendersky and was built in 1907 by the Brooklyn Heights Railroad Company.  SBK also had a passel of odd electrics.  Even earlier, the New York Dock Railway had bought a small steeplecab electric from Baldwin in 1903 but sold it in 1908.  The progressive little Jay Street had bought one of the first gas-electric locos ever made from GE, their #3, a 45-ton center-cab 175-hp unit, back in 1915, considered the prototype for the boxcabs which followed.  Jay Street also bought an early boxcab, ALCo 1931 demonstrator #300, and one of the very first hood units, 1935 ALCo 300-hp CC-HH (ex-U.S. Navy) #5.  The Bush Terminal RR had seven small, early GE-IR 55-ton hood units (#1-#7) and a really odd GE 80-ton center-cab diesel #88, which still runs at a NE rail museum (I lost track of where) under that number.  Speaking of odd, the SBK had three big ex-U. S. Army Whitcomb center-cab diesels ca. 1946, but only two of them at a time [#8 and #9 (2)].

note-rt.gif  The Oct 2000 issue of MODEL RAILROADER has, on pp. 82-85, an illustrated article on the Nov 1862 construction, under the direction of Brig. Gen. Herman Haupt, of a car float operation for the Union army at Alexandria, Virginia.  Haupt had been the Chief Engineer of the Pennsylvania RR and was building the Hoosac Tunnel when he was "conscripted" to run the U. S. Military RR.  Two steam-tug-drawn floats were constructed, each holding 8 cars transversely, and they were served by triple-track aprons at the transfer landings, running from Alexandria down the Potomac 60 miles to Aquia Landing, about 10 miles northeast of Fredricksburg, Maryland.

Another interest for rail-marine aficionados is rail ferries, once common along the Eastern Seaboard, the Great Lakes, and San Francisco harbor.

The major reference for anyone interested in rail-marine operations has to be:

The Rail-Marine Information Group
(now hosted by TrainWeb). (New URL - 29 Apr 05)

and the top site to visit has to be Bill Russell's Penny Bridge page, et seq.,
especially his NYC Car Floats page (that's New York City, not Central).

However, see Horst Felbmayr GmbH's fantastic heavy-lift and -transport site at


This site is in German; for English, go to


Either site is well worth "navigating", with their plethora of photos of European heavy rail, road, and marine operations.

For their huge Danube road/rail/marine harbor terminal, go directly to the upper right-hand corner of any page, open the box marked "Search for:", scroll down to "Heavy load port / Warehousing", and click on that.  For a moving panorama of that harbor terminal, go directly to the upper right-hand corner of their German home page, open the box marked "Suche nach:" (Search for), scroll down to "Schwerlasthafen/Lagerei" (Heavy load port / Warehousing), and click on that, then find " 360°-Panorama" in the upper left and click on that (you can zoom in by pressing the "a" key and out with the "z" key and scroll with your pointer).

Bernie Ente sent me two links to David Pirmann's NYCSubway site with lots on the BEDT/NYCH, The Brooklyn Waterfront andphotos of same.

Kevin Walsh has great photos on his NY waterfont section.

While not, to my knowledge, a rail-marine operation (in the sense of using car floats), the United States Army's Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey, was a major rail and marine operation in New York harbor and (per the N. Y. Times of 01 Oct 99, courtesy of Bernie Ente) "they turned out the lights for good yesterday".  Thus, she joins the illustrious ranks of the gone-but-not-forgotten, along with the Brooklyn Navy Base and the Brooklyn Army Terminal.  What are we going to do when we need (God forbid) these facilities some day?

As one can see on my LIRR bibliography on the LIRR and LIRR Historical Society pages, the definitive LIRR books are those in a 7-volume series, The Long Island Rail Road - A Comprehensive History, by Vincent F. Seyfried.  ALL BUT THE LAST, Part 7, are out-of-print and very few libraries have them any more (they seem to vanish quickly):

Some of the work covers LIRR marine operations (but not just floating):

    Part 6: The Golden Age: 1881-1900.

        Chapter 11  The Oyster Bay Sound Ferry and the Boston Service.

        Chapter 16  Ferry Services

    Part 7: The Age of Electrification: 1901-1916.

        XVI  Marine Operations 1900-1916

    Published by Vincent F. Seyfried, 163 Pine Street
    Garden City, New York  11530, LoC 61-17477.

[If you run across earlier volumes, snap them up;
full sets, when found, are going for around $1,000 a set (as of Aug 2008)!]

I finally completed my set on 13 Oct 00 for a fair price!  What a treat!]

That cross-Sound car ferry operation from Oyster Bay to Wilson Point in Connecticut (Norwalk area), for passengers and freight (noted on my LIRR page 1, only ran from 12 Sep 1891 to 13 Jul 1892; it is well covered, with old photographs, on Art Huneke's aRRt's aRRchives in his Oyster Bay Part 3. (21 Nov 2013)

Art's site once showed a rough map (redrawn excerpt immediately below - that's New Haven at the far right, with Hartford above it), where it appears to be a southward extension of the Danbury Branch, but just try and find Wilson Point in any atlas or gazeteer!   rev (25 May 2015)

Wilson Pt 1
(08 Oct 2002/25 May 2015 map by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[It erroneously showed New London!]

I finally located it on a Hagstrom's map for Norwalk, Connecticut (redrawn excerpt based on that, below).  The exacting street detail I showed on my drawing was lost in the translation but you can see the dotted red lines for the NYNH&HRR from NY City to Boston with the Danbury Branch splitting off in downtown "old Norwalk" and, sure enough, there is even a spur heading directly down towards Wilson('s) Point (between Roton Brook and Village Creek):

Wilson Pt 3
(08 Oct 02 map by and © 2002 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
{Thumbnail image - click on picture for a larger image]

I wondered just where the RoW ran and where the dock was; it's all been updated on LIRR page 1. (21 Nov 2013)

[More to follow on this odd venture]

Rail and marine enthusiasts might also find material of interest on my

Railroads page, et seq., and

Naval and Marine page.

Here is a 1929 Fairchild Aerial Surveys photo of Hoboken Terminal@; look at all those car floats of every description clustered about:

1929 Hoboken aerial
[thumbnail image; click on picture for a much larger image].

{Who can explain to me why that float in the lower left seems to be swinging around, unattended?
Bet they're "hipping" it with the current.}

@ - Hoboken; we have a problem!  That's almost certainly not Hoboken and equally is almost certainly the CRRNJ terminal in Jersey City that is now Liberty State Park, with the Morris Canal Basin on its north side.  Thanks for this tip to R. O. Aichele (Trains and Ships).

Mike Duffy confirmed on 29 Nov 2008 that, while it is a great shot, however, its not Hoboken; it is indeed the Central RR of NJ Terminal in Jersey City, NJ.  He is a boat captain in NY harbor and his father was a captain with the Pennsylvania RR's Marine Division.  The car float that you see hanging on in the bottom left corner is put there temporarily until the tug pulling out the float to the right is ready to move it.  It's easier to maneuver around the float bridges with one float and then pick up the other to continue on your route.  The tugs to the right of the terminal are from the LVRR in Morris Canal.  Today, the only thing left of the terminal is the brick building in the center of the terminal.  The rest is now Liberty State Park.  -   Thanks, Mike!   new.gif (13 Aug 08)

Great good news for NY harbor rail-mariners; the construction of the two NY State float bridges at the LIRR/New York & Atlantic's 65th Street yard at Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Long Island, New York, proceeds apace; here are three views of them during construction and one just taken on 26 Sep 99 from a harbor cruise boat:

65th St. Float Bridges 1999   65th St. Float Bridges 1999   65th St. Float Bridges 1999
[First three are thumbnail images; click on pictures for full images.].

65th St. Float Bridges 26 Sep 99
(photos © 1999 B. Ente - all rights reserved)

I'm glad they're building float bridges again but - this is progress?  Except for the modern cranes, hard hats, background equipment and buildings, and color, the pictures could just as well have been taken a 100 years ago!

Rail-marine fans should see the beautiful color photo by Frank Quinn (he's in it!) of the LIRR tug "Patchogue" tied up at Long Island City ca. 1949, on the October page of the 1999 Long Island-Sunrise Trail Chapter (National Railway Historical Society) calender.

Rail-mariners should post signs reading:

    No Littering!
    No Loitering!
    No Lightering!

More great, good news for rail-mariners (per the indefatigable Bernie Ente): STATE OKAYS AMERICAN MARINE RAIL FACILITY IN THE BRONX - Oak Point Railyard Facility Receives Draft Permit - American Marine Rail (AMR) has jumped through another hoop in its two-year quest to build a barge-to-rail transfer station in Hunts Point, obtaining a draft permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

A "masterwork" on the rail-marine subject is:

Volumes 1 and 2

by Thomas R. Flagg
(noted NY Harbor Historian)

These all-color hardcover books can now be ordered from Ron's Books, 914-967-7541 (or ronsbooks@aol.com), [as of 20 Nov 2000, updated 29 Apr 2005].

More specifically, these are:   added (18 Feb 2015)

    by Thomas R, Flagg (128 pp., list $55, ISBN 1-58248-048-6, November 15, 2000)

    by Thomas R. Flagg (128 pp., list $60, ISBN 1-58248-082-6, August 1, 2002)

  Publisher: Morning Sun Books, Inc., 9 Pheasant Lane, Scotlch Plains, NJ 07076

Now frightfully expensive at collector prices, they are well worth the expense.

Also, although I'm not offering a rail-marine bibliography, these other references are from my Boxcab Bibliography and LIRR Bibliography:

Railroad Model Craftsman, Feb 1950, pp. 8-10, "Bronx Freight Terminal", article by Warren Crater, with A. Q. Vogel photos of CNJ #1000 at work.

    Railfan & Railroad, October 1991, pp. 59-69, feature article by Bob Hart on the
        New York Central System's West Side Freight Line, with map, including
        photos of steam boxcab Shay #1897, Q-motor steeple cab #153, electric
        boxcab #329, 1924 I-R prototype, tri-power #554, etc.

    "Brooklyn's Waterfront Railways - A Pictorial Journey", Jay Bendersky,
        1988, Meatball Productions, East Meadow, NY, LoC 88-60327,
        ISBN # 0-9620237-0-1.

    Railpace Newsmagazine, September 1992, cover and pp. 20-31, feature article by
    Carl G. Perelman and John P. Krattinger on the New York Cross Harbor RR
        (and predecessors such as the BEDT), "The Railroad that goes to Sea".

    Railmodel Journal. Oct-Nov 1992, "Baltimore's Fells Point" (and an HO version in Oct 1993).

note-rt.gif In addition, while not a RR or marine book, there is a book about the Fairchild Aerial Survey photos, "Cities from the Sky: An Aerial Portrait of America", by Thomas J. Campanella, which shows all Manhattan yards and the West Side freight line in 1921 (endpapers), and many pages with pier and float details like you can't even imagine!  Just for example, there are photos showing a huge array of car floats at Wallabout Market in 1932 (page 43) and yards flanking the Brooklyn Bridge in 1931 (page 41).

Rail-Marine HELP!

While I don't get into genealogy, a gentleman from Sweden was interested in where his grandfather, one Tage Roslund, who came to the US in 1924 and lived in Brooklyn, worked.  What makes this interesting for me is that Mr. Roslund worked, according to a letter he wrote home, on what he described in a letter as a "train boat".  That's "Tg bt" in Swedish, which is very close to "tug boat" in English.  The line he wrote he worked on was the "Duntless Fowing {or Flowing} Line", in New York harbor, with an office at "15 More" or "Moor" Street (probably Moore); that sure smacks of "towing" to me and the name sounds familiar.  Searching the Web proved fruitless; does anyone out there know of any such firm?  Could Roslund have worked on a rail float or a tug boat?

A correspondent wants to model a locomotive that he believes operated on the B&O's Fells Point car float.  There were two box cab locos, #4 and #10, which ran off overhead trolley lines (at least for a while, he doesn't know if they were straight electric).  He also doesn't know what the #4 was, but believes the #10 was a B&O class CE-1.  Can anyone direct us to more information and possibly a photo of either of these box cabs?  I referred him to the B&O Historical Society.  Can anyone give us more info on the CE-1?

As a matter of fact; I can!  on 27 Aug 04 I received a reprint of a series in Railmodel Journal from Oct-Nov 1992, "Baltimore's Fells Point" (et seq.) in which there are several photos of 1895 GE 5-ton B&O #4 and 1909 GE 10-ton B&O #10, plus the 1954 Cat DT-1 (and PRR #146) rubber-tired tractors.

You may wish to visit the Railroad Page, et seq.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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