Access by train/transit:
Metro-North Cos Cob Station
The Cos Cob Power Plant was the first power plant in the United States built
specifically to supply mainline traction power to a major railroad. It
operated at a frequency of 25 cycles, or Hertz as we now call it.
The power plant was constructed between 1905 and 1907, and supplied power to
the New Haven RR, Penn Central RR, Conrail, Amtrak, and Metro North from
1907 to 1986, when power was converted to 60 cycles.
And how about that name??? The name "Cos Cob" is derived from the Coe Family. Way
back in the day, in 1641, Robert Coe settled on a plantation in Stamford. A sea
wall at that time was referred to as a "cob" -- and thus it became Coe's Cob,
and eventually abbreviated to Cos Cob.
Pictures with the marking of HAER come from the U.S. Library of Congress.
Library of Congress
Red Over Yellow Dot Com
Getting here couldn't be any easier. It is just off exit 4 of I-95,
the Connecticut Turnpike.
If you're going south on I-95, take a right onto Indian Field Road at the
end of the exit ramp, and take an IMMEDIATE right turn onto Sound Shore
Drive, it's almost like making a U-Turn. Go exactly a quarter of a
mile, and the entrance to the station parking lot will be on the left, just
before you go under I-95.
If you're going northbound on I-95, take a left at the end of the exit ramp
onto Indian Field Rd, and cross I-95 to Sound Shore Drive.
If you want to go to the side where the station is, go about halfway up
Sound Shore Dr and hang a left onto Sachem Rd, which goes under the tracks.
Take a right on the other side, and the station lot will be on your right
From Wikipedia: A 1903 New York State law prohibited the use of steam locomotives
in New York City. The New Haven line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad ran
commuter trains into the city, and electrification all the way to New Haven would avoid
massive congestion and delays to commuter trains if locomotives were changed at the New
York City limits or at Stamford, CT.
The "New Haven" chose AC electrification as proposed by Baldwin-Westinghouse, with
locomotives which could operate on the third-rail DC system within city limits, and
the AC system on the main line.
The plant was built by Westinghouse in 1907 in Mission Style, and was located where
the Mianus River empties into the Cos Cob Harbor of Long Island Sound. The plant
used coal-fired steam turbines, and the three-phase alternators supplied single-phase
power at 11 kV 25 Hz directly to the catenary. They also supplied power to the New
York Central's Port Morris generating station to compensate the NYC for power
consumed by New Haven trains on the NYC's third-rail supplied line to the Grand
Central Terminal within the city limits.
The power station was decommissioned in 1986-87.
The plant was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, but
despite the listing and local and national debate, the plant was demolished in
2001. Part of the site is now a public park, and a plaque commemorating the
plant is located at the nearby Cos Cob Railroad Station. (end Wiki)
From the Univ of CT: The Cos Cob Power Plant was conceived in 1903 as
a result of the New York State legislature’s law that prohibited all steam
locomotives from entering New York City after 1908 due to train wrecks in
the Park Avenue Tunnel caused by low visibility from locomotive smoke and
steam. The New York Central Railroad, which operated all railroad traffic
between Woodlawn, New York, into New York City, decided to install a
low-voltage direct current third-rail electrical system; thus after
1908 all locomotives coming into New York City's Grand Central Terminal
(then under construction), would be forced to operate off third- rail.
Although the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, better known as the
New Haven Railroad, operated considerable low- voltage direct current
trackage at this time, this system was considered inadequate for the
operation of heavy trains over long distances at high speeds. The New
Haven Railroad’s engineers, working with Westinghouse Electric and
Manufacturing Company of Pennsylvania, decided to install high-voltage
11,000 volt overhead wires on the tracks from Woodlawn, New York, into
Connecticut. These wires would be powered from the railroad's own power
station, using single-phase alternating current (ac) electricity. This
was done at a time when low-voltage direct current electrification was
the rail standard of the day.
Construction of the power plant began in 1905 in Cos Cob, Connecticut,
located in the town of Greenwich on the Mianus River. On 24 July 1907,
the first New Haven Railroad electrified passenger train traveled from
Grand Central Terminal to New Rochelle, New York. The initial
electrification covered all four tracks to Stamford, Connecticut,
and in 1913-1914 was extended to New Haven, Connecticut.
The New York Central Railroad's third-rail system from Woodlawn,
New York, into Grand Central Terminal required the New Haven Railroad's
locomotives to operate both off this system and on their own high-voltage
overhead wire. This meant that these locomotives and multiple unit cars
had to change over between these two systems while moving at track speed.
With so much traffic it was considered unworkable to stop every train for the changeover.
The initial overhead catenary construction from Woodlawn to Stamford
utilized two parallel messenger wires supporting a single trolley wire
by vertical hangers, resulting in a triangular construction. The
rigidity of this arrangement was found to be undesireable, so the
1913-1914 electrification extension to New Haven utilized a single
messenger wire, as did other extensions. The system reached 673 track
miles at its maximum.
The Cos Cob Power Plant was the first power plant built exclusively
for a railroad and is considered an engineering achievement for its
use of high-voltage alternating current (ac) for railroad electrification.
The plant served the New Haven Railroad until the railroad's demise in
1969, and then served Penn Central, Conrail and Metro-North until it was
closed in 1986. The Cos Cob Power Plant received landmark status from
the American Society of Mechanical Engineers/Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers in 1982. (end UConn)
View of the catenary, feeder towers, and the Cos Cob Power Plant (center
background), looking west from the north side of the Mianus River Bascule
Bridge. Note that the catenary poles end at bridge 313. Trains are carried
across the bascule bridge by their own momentum and pick up the catenary
on the east side of the bridge. The feeder lines carry power across the
river above the level of the opened bascule on the towers to the left and right.
The right tower in HAER-142 is no longer there.
Not that I have anything against people making money, however, when a company
pirates something available for free, and then charges you for it, I do
begun to have a problem, witness the above picture available on the Library
of Congress website for free, and below, the same photo for sale for the
measly sum of up to 200 bucks!!! This is just plain wrong!!! If
you have a problem with this, keep in mind that I make NO money from any of
my website adventures, therefore you have no ads, and it costs me about $25
a month to host the two websites with website security.
The Cos Cob Metro North Station
GPS Coordinates: 41.02984, -73.60013
1 Cos Cob Avenue, Cos Cob, CT 06807-2736 (29.6 miles to Grand Central Terminal)
The basic New Haven structure remains, but got a new high-level platform in the 1980's.
From Wikipedia: Built around 1894, the station house is a modest wood frame structure
measuring about 50 by 20 feet (15.2 m × 6.1 m). It has a clapboarded exterior, and an
asymmetrical gabled roof with a short face toward the track, caused by the loss of the
original platform shelter. The interior retains most of its original finishes.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 as the Cos Cob Railroad
Station. The station has two high-level side platforms each six
cars long. The station has 567 parking spaces, 361 owned by the state.
The Station Agent was eliminated on January 15, 1972.
The New York and New Haven RR was merged into the New York, New Haven and Hartford
RR in 1872, and the station became part of that railroad. Beginning in 1907,
the NYNH&H built the Cos Cob power plant as part of an effort to electrify the main
line. As with all New Haven Line stations along the Northeast Corridor, the
station became a Penn Central station upon acquisition by Penn Central
in 1969, and eventually became part of the MTA's Metro-North in 1983.
The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
From the New Haven days
Power Dispatcher's Office
From red over yellow dot com: Passers-by often mistake the existing structure on the
west end of the bridge for an interlocking tower, but it is actually the New Haven
railroad's power dispatcher's office that controlled the entire 25Hz AC power
network. The New Haven system of 1914 and modified over the years, uses an
autotransformer architecture with 22/24Kv feeders supplying 11/12Kv overhead
contact wires. Cos Cob was chosen as the site of the power dispatchers
office because it was also the site of the power plant supplying the
25Hz electrification power.
Former NH Tower?
Sitting next to the Power Dispatcher's Office is what maybe a tower, maybe
not, not sure, cannot find any information on it. It's not for
controlling the bridge, because the control room for that is on the bridge.
Anyone know? Did we used to have a set of crossovers here?
From Wikipedia: The "offical" name of the Cos Cob Bridge
is the Mianus River Railroad Bridge.
The bridge is a bascule bridge built in 1904 over the Mianus River, in Greenwich CT. It
was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The bridge carries the Northeast
Corridor, the busiest rail line in the United States, both in terms of ridership and service frequency.
It is operated by the Metro-North Railroad, successor to Conrail, Penn Central,
and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, which erected it, and is owned by the
Connecticut Department of Transportation
It is a rolling lift type moveable bridge, built by the American Bridge Company, to
replace a previous unsafe bridge on the site. It has a total length of 1,059 feet
(323 m), divided into 11 spans. Seven of these are deck truss spans, while the
others are deck girder spans, all set on stone abutments. The main movable span
is 107 feet (33 m) long; four of the truss spans are 120 feet (37 m) in length.
It is one of eight moveable bridges on the Northeast Corridor in Connecticut
Not too far south of Cos Cob in New York is RYE. In Rye, we have a
phase break in the overhead power due to Rye being on the ends of two power
districts. The Pennsy had a unique signal for indicating a phase
break, but not many are still left. There was one near Perryville MD,
but it long since disappeared, and there is supposed to be one in
Philadelphia on one of the old Reading lines.
If you have ever seen it in person, or seen pictures of it, you will
immediately know it can only come from the New Haven.
Here is a description of the catenary: The construction of the overhead
trolley line is unquestionably the most novel feature of the New Haven
Railroad equipment, at least from a constructive point of view. It was
realized, when designing the system, that in view of the high speed of
many of the trains, which frequently reaches from 70 to 75 miles an hour,
it would be necessary to provide a trolley wire which would remain in
true line and level, as distinguished from the loose and swaying wires
of the ordinary trolley-car service. The system is built as follows: At
about every 300 feet, the tracks are spanned by heavy latticed bridges
erected upon massive concrete foundations. The bridges consist of two
end posts and a deep latticed truss spanning the entire width of the
tracks. The wires of the transmission line and signal service are
strung upon the posts, and the four catenary trolleys are hung from
the trusses. Each catenary consists of two half-inch steel "messenger"
cables, which are cradled in the same way as the cables of a suspension
bridge, and from these, and midway between them, is suspended a 3/8-inch
copper trolley wire, the attachment being made by a series of triangles,
which decrease from 6 feet on a side at the trusses to 6 inches at the
center of each span. The triangles are formed of 3/8-inch galvanized
pipe and they serve to hold the copper wire firmly in alignment and level.
At intervals of two miles the place of the ordinary bridge is taken by a
special tension bridge of much heavier construction — sufficiently heavy
to enable it to take up the slack of the wires when adjustment of that
kind is necessary. Up on the bridges, also is carried a set of section
brake switches for cutting out the two mile section of the road which they serve.
Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.
I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page. This is something I have fun with while
trying to help others.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.
For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented
I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct. Once in a while,
an error may creep in :-)
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or
disoriented. Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the
railroads on them. If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job
of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads. Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted. Screen captures are made
with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it!
By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous
and/or other stuff.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit
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Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.