Otis Elevating Railway

Otis Elevating Railway

Otis Elevating Railway

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The Otis Elevating Railway was a cable funicular railroad to the Catskill Mountain House in Palenville, New York. For the first 64 years of its existence, the Catskill Mountain House was accessible only by a long stage coach from Catskill Landing on the Hudson. Faced with increased competition from the Hotel Kaaterskill, served by the Kaaterskill Railroad, Charles Beach hired the Otis Elevator Company to build a cable funicular railroad straight up the Wall Of The Manitou. Opening on August 7, 1892, the line was 7,000' long with a rise of 1,630', a maximum grade of 34%, and an average grade of 12%. In 1904, the line was shortened and the lower trestle eliminated.

A cable pulled the specially-designed passenger cars up the mountain, with the car having a mechanism that hooked onto the cable. To balance the system there were two cars. The cars were built by Jackson & Sharp Co. in 1892, and each car could seat 75 passengers. The cars were named Rickerson and Van Santvoord. A small open-air baggage car was coupled to the downhill end of each passenger car.

The cable was pulled by two Hamilton Corliss steam engines that spun a set of cogwheels that drove the cable. Each engine was 12 inches in diameter and had a 30-inch stroke. Steam was supplied by two Manning Patent vertical tubular boilers. As one car went up from the bottom of the incline, the other car went down from the top of the incline. There was a passing track in the middle of the run where the track split in...
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