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PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR


A cut of loaded hoppers bound for local Staten Island industry is pulled from B&O car float No. 56 by the assigned St George switcher. While fully operational, the float bridge is only tem- porarily installed here at its final location. As soon as the flats in the background are finished, the rest of the groundcover com-


pleted, and most importantly, the harbor “filled” with water, the author will fasten everything down securely. Until then crews have to be vigilant that neither the float nor the float bridge itself are knocked out of alignment! This photo shows the culmination of a project that started some 32 years ago.


Modeling the B&O’s St. George float bridge


Located on Staten Island, this structure was vital to the railroad’s operations in New York Harbor/Tom Griffiths


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ntil the mid-1970’s, the Balti- more & Ohio Railroad operated its own marine fleet in New


York Harbor, interchanging cars with several other railroads. These opera- tions were based at the St. George yard of its subsidiary Staten Island Rapid Transit. They also had a small freight yard with a float bridge connection on the west side of Manhattan, as well as several pier-side terminals without rail service in Manhattan.


After the B&O sold the Staten Island passenger operations to the New York Transit Authority the remaining freight operations were passed over to another operator. Service ended around 1990 with the closure of the Proctor & Gam- ble plant in Port Ivory; freight trains re-


56


turned to the island on a limited basis in 2006-2007. With the exception of a few rotting wood pilings and some mysteri- ous chunks of concrete, the former B&O freight yard and all traces of the marine operations are gone at St. George. In their place is the minor league ballpark of the Staten Island Yankees, and al- most exactly on the site of the float bridges (there were once three) is the Staten Island 9-11 Memorial. On a very hot Sunday a week after


4th of July, 1976, I made a visit to the then still-active yard at St George. I was in the company of several friends, and we were accompanied by the fa- ther of one who happened to be the yardmaster at Staten Island’s Arling- ton Yard. His presence presumably lent


an air of legitimacy to the expedition. We spent about two hours wandering around the yard, which, it being Sun- day, was quiet. I took many photos of the facilities there, including the wood float bridge. Until that visit, I had nev- er really thought much about how the railroads managed to get all those freight cars onto and off of the floats that were constantly being shuttled around the harbor. I dropped the film off at the Camera Barn on my way to work the next morning, and that sim- ple act turned out to be the start of a project that would extend far into the future, it not being completed until 2008, some 32 years later! Upon getting my slides back a few days later, I realized that the float


DECEMBER 2011


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