PRESENT STATUS: Paved and open
NATURAL FEATURES, FLORA & FAUNA:
Section 2 contains
a marvelous beaver pond near Sharon Station and some
other interesting habitat as noted below. The rail
4-color Botanical Brochure will be posted at the website
AN ATTRACTIVE FARM SCENE
(northwestern side of Route 343
A hillside pasture and farm pond west of the
trail just north of Rt. 343 is an excellent illustration
ecology of grazing and the vegetational structure
of a grazed landscape.
The animals select for plants which can survive
or resist their grazing: low-growing herbs with
the cropping level of the animals’ teeth, tall herbs
with irritant foliage (e.g. nettles), and prickly shrubs
that resist or limit the animals’ attempts
to eat them. Horses that have been in the pasture
on common reed, an invasive plant in wetlands
of our area. Of the wetland plants, the horses
to native sedges and grasses. Their grazing does
not seem to have much effect on the reed, however,
around the edge of the farm pond. The grazing
horses, short-growth meadow and scattered red
an attractive picture.
The view is already open, so there is no need
to remove any trees or shrubs.
RED CEDAR SHRUBLAND
(#13 on the botanical brochure map)
A very good example of this shrubland is located a little
less than half a mile north of the Route 343 intersection.
The shrubland is located just yards north of a short stretch
of low wooden fencing installed when the trail was built.
The red cedar shrubland is characterized by eastern red
cedar and the near absence of tall trees. This reflects
the high calcium content of the soils. The cedar layer
may be very dense, with almost no breaks, or fairly sparse
with grasses, low shrubs (especially gray dogwood, silky
dogwood and northern arrowwood), and broad-leaved herbs
in open areas between groups of cedars or individual cedars.
Two regionally rare plants are located in the cedar shrubland:
common juniper (the squatter and pricklier relative of
the red cedar) and the yellow-flowering shrubby cinquefoil
(see photo and line drawing in botanical brochure). It
is also the home of a regionally rare butterfly, olive
hairstreak, which in northern Dutchess County, would be
near the northern limit of its range.
SHARON STATION BEAVER POND
(#12 on the botanical brochure
This marsh-like wetland is home to a variety
of semi-aquatic animals and plants. Signs of
well-worn grooves in the banks. Three tall herbs – purple loosestrife,
common reed, and cattail – dominate the
shallow edges of the pond. These invasive plants
space and resources; any of the three may gain
an edge and supplant the others, or they may
coexist for many
years before the balance changes.
(#10 on the botanical brochure map)
The cinder flora habitat is the strip of vegetation
located immediately south of Coleman Station
between the rail
trail and the gravel mine along the trail’s western side.
Cinders of the rail bed berm have unusual chemical influences
which favor particular plant species, some native, some
alien. Wet and dry cinder soils have different species
of plants. There are “wet” cinder flora and “dry” cinder
flora. The habitat here is the latter (dry).
Plants here are well adapted to dry conditions.
bluestem and little bluestem line the margins
of the path, along
with the dry-loving plants such as cypress spurge,
sleepy catchfly, lowbush blueberries, clack oak
and scrub oak.
Big bluestem, the tallest grass here, is regionally
rare and may have been transported by trains
from the midwest.
was Mile Post 84.59 of the original New York & Harlem Railroad (for more general railroad
history, please go to the Railroad History page). In
1762, Dr. Thomas
Young named Amenia for the Latin word "Amoena," which
means "pleasing to the eye." The town
includes the hamlets of Leedsville, Amenia Union,
Smithfield, and Wassaic. The original Amenia
Center, settled in 1742 by Captain S. Hopkins,
was located a mile north of the Amenia traffic
light. When the Dutchess Turnpike (Route 44)
1805 to connect
Hartford and Poughkeepsie, the town grew to its
After the Revolutionary War, abolitionists were active
in the area. They were led by Ezra Reed, who freed his
slaves in 1788. Then in 1794, Jacob Bockee introduced a
bill to the New York legislature for the abolition of slavery.
The bill was passed on July 4, 1827.
Amenia had local industries and manufacturing.
This included iron ore mining, carriage and wagon
works, wood finishing mill, brickyard, and manufacture
ware and household utensils. Amenia also had
a cattle pen to ship livestock to New York City
the opinion of one local historian, “The industrial,
manufacturing and commercial activities of the Harlem Valley
towns are often minimized with today’s
Grandma Moses bucolic view of past history.”
Noted Amenia residents included Decost Smith,
author, and Ammi Phillips, the noted colonial "borderline painter" of
primitive portraits in New York and Connecticut.
James Bockee, Ephraim Paine, and Elisha Barlow
politicians from Amenia. Lewis Mumford, twentieth
historian and city planner, was a resident of
of Mechanic Street, the Amenia railroad station
was located on the west side of the trailhead
rail trail parking lot. The former train station
located here had a ticket office, waiting room
telegraph office, freight platform, and a Railway
Express Agency office. There were spur tracks
the contents of freight cars on to horse wagons,
trucks. A spur used to run west near Broadway
Avenue to an iron ore bed behind Dill's Best
Store on Route
44 west of the current traffic light. Along Railroad
Avenue (which the rail trail parallels as you
approach the Amenia
trailhead from the south), another spur serviced
a brickyard on the west side of the tracks. The
brickyard later became
a feed mill operated by the Wilson & Eaton Company
which the the railroad also served. Wilson & Eaton
Company had a large warehouse for bagged feed,
building supplies, and other commodities on one
of the rail
spurs. The company also had a coal unloading
facility for home
and business heating needs until oil replaced
coal in the 1950's. The mill closed in the 1960's.
rail trail parking lot in Amenia was the site
of the "Barton
House," also known as the "Colony House," a
large hotel serving travelers and businessmen.
Summer vacationers from New York City de-trained
to stay at Lake
Amenia resorts and several other bungalow colonies
Sheffield Road: As
you head north, at the first road crossing is
Sheffield Farms milk plant located
west side of the trail (the large white concrete
structure). Unprocessed milk in cans was shipped
by rail to Sheffield
Farms bottling plants in New York City. The building
is one of the few remaining “creameries,” or “milk
plants.” The building is now an artist's
Route 343: The second road crossing north of the Amenia
trailhead is Route 343, or Sharon Road (Sharon, Connecticut
is the next town to the east). The agribusiness complex
on the east side received carloads of fertilizer by rail
until rail service ended in 1980. Fertilizer is now trucked
in from bulk distribution terminals on the railroad trunk
lines located upstate.
Sharon Station: There is an old restored railroad station
in Sharon Station. It was severely damaged by fire in 1997.
A local family purchased it and restored to its original
1870's appearance. The station now is a private residence.
You might have difficulty knowing exactly where it is located
without the following information.
In Section 2, the trail is intersected by two different
roads each named Sharon Station Road. When traveling north
on the rail trail from the Amenia trailhead, the third
road intersection is with Amenia's Sharon Station Road.
As you continue northward another 7/10's of a mile, you
cross into the Town of North East. The next intersection
you encounter traveling north is with North East's Sharon
Station Road. The two Sharon Station Roads eventually merge
to the west, just a few hundred feet from an intersection
with Route 22. To the east, both roads remain separate
but bring motorists into Sharon, Connecticut. The restored
train station is located at the intersection in the town
of North East.
The Sharon Station railroad station was both a passenger
and freight station. The south end of the restored station
was the warehouse-like freight section. It had an apartment
upstairs for the railroad agent. Sharon Station was a busy
facility as it served patrons from Sharon, Connecticut
and other nearby Connecticut towns.
Besides having a train station, Sharon Station
was the site of the huge Manhattan Mining Company
quantities of iron ore were shipped to local
and regional iron furnaces
via the railroad until the late 1890's. The company
also operated a blast furnace that produced "pig iron" that
was shipped out to foundries to make cast iron
products. In the 1960's, Agway constructed a
plant on the north side of Sharon Station Road
with a rail spur.
It was dismantled after rail service ended in
Coleman Station: Before
the railroad came to Coleman Station in 1851,
farm goods were taken by oxen to the
and shipped south to New York City by barge.
Amasa D. Coleman successfully petitioned the
New York & Harlem
Railroad for a depot stop, thus the name Coleman
Station. Once the
stop was established, local goods were shipped
to New York City by rail, traveling faster and
ever before. By 1911, Coleman Station had its
own commercial dairy, Sheffield Farms. Sheffield
was one of
the model commercial farms in Dutchess County
and one of
the largest suppliers of milk to New York City.
On September 30, 1993, the Coleman Station Historic
District was placed on the National Register
of Historic Places.
Coleman Station is one of the last areas in Dutchess
County to retain its original historic and architectural
Still in use today are early homes, Sheffield
houses, and Hiddenhurst Mansion.
On the east side of the Coleman Station parking
lot, some remnants of the foundation from a large
milk bottling plant can be seen. Carloads of bottled
milk for New York City were shipped out via daily
Coal for the boiler house and empty glass bottles
were shipped in by rail. The workers' frame houses
standing on Sheffield Hill Road which runs east
from the Coleman Station parking lot. Ice was harvested
in the winter
at local ponds and lakes, stored in large ice houses,
and used to keep the milk chilled when shipped
in warm weather.
Ice harvesting was a source of extra income for
farmers and working men.
March 16, 1888 five locomotives pushing the snowplow, “Old
Eli”, derailed while clearing the first
large rock cut north of Coleman Station. Five
and four others were injured. The locomotives,
traveling at 40 mph or faster, hit the hard-packed
the deadly wreck. The rail rrail passes through
the rock cut
which was dug before the advent of power tools.
The cut was made with hand drills and black powder
days of TNT and pneumatic drills. The rock was
taken away with
wagons pulled by horses and mules. Men with sledgehammers
had to break it up small enough to be carted
DIRECTION to the Amenia trailhead:
Note: Please be sure to see the note further below about
parking at the trailhead.
From New York City: Take Saw Mill Parkway (from Manhattan)
or the Hutchinson River Parkway (from Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn)
north to interstate 684. Take 684 north to Brewster where
684 becomes Route 22. Continue north on Route 22 to the
traffic light in Amenia. Turn right on to Route 343 heading
east for about a quarter of a mile. Make a right on to
Mechanic Street just before the Cumberland Farms Store
on the left. Proceed about a quarter of a mile and the
trailhead is on your left.
From Poughkeepsie: Take Route 44 east to Amenia. At the
traffic light, continue east (i.e. go straight through
the intersection). Continue for about a quarter of a mile.
Make a right turn on to Mechanic Street just before the
Cumberland Farms Store on the left. Proceed about a quarter
of a mile and the trailhead is on your left.
From Connecticut: Take Route 4 to Sharon, CT. At the clock
tower in Sharon take Route 343 west heading toward Amenia.
When the speed limit drops to 35 mph as you approach the
hamlet of Amenia, begin watching for a Cumberland Farms
Store on the right-hand side. You will need to turn left
on to the street immediately past the entrance to the store.
The street is Mechanic Street. The trailhead is about one-quarter
mile in on Mechanic Street on the left.
From the north: Take Route to the traffic light in Amenia
(the junction of Routes 22, 44 and 343). Turn left on to
Route 343 heading east for about a quarter of a mile. Make
a right turn on to Mechanic Street just before the Cumberland
Farms Store on the left. Proceed about a quarter of a mile
and the trailhead is on your left.
PARKING: If the parking lot at the Amenia trailhead
is full, please backtrack towards Route 343 a few blocks
and park in the Amenia town hall parking lot on your
(which is also next to the firehouse).
*Note: Many thanks to
local railroad historians Heyward Cohen, Jack Shufelt,
and Lou Grogan (The Coming of the New York and Harlem
Railroad, Pawling, NY: Louis V. Grogan, 1989) for much
of the railroad history that appears above.