Hopewell Junction: A Railroader's Town

A History of Short-line Railroads in Dutchess County, New York

By Bernard L. Rudberg & John M. Desmond

Subjects: New York/regional, General Interest, American History
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Paperback : 9781438490700, 176 pages, November 2022

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Before the Rails Reached Hopewell

2. After the Rails Reached Hopewell

3. Glimpses into the Standard Operating Procedures of a Short-Haul Railroad: The Letter Books of the ND&CRR

4. Rivals of the Newburg, Dutchess, and Connecticut Railroad

5. The Birth of Hopewell Junction

6. Changes to Hopewell Junction

7. Living in Hopewell Junction: 1920s–1950s

8. Working the Rails: 1960–1974

9. More Rails Depart Hopewell

10. Restoring the Depot

Appendix: Recent Photographs of the Restored Depot, the Replicated Signal Station, and the Newly Constructed Bernard Rudberg Pavilion

Works Cited

Reveals the life and lore of a vanished era of railroad history.


Hopewell Junction: A Railroader's Town tells the remarkable history of the east-west, short-line railroads that ran throughout Dutchess County, New York from 1869 to 1984, centering on the hamlet of Hopewell Junction. It explains how these lines transformed the rural countryside and supercharged the growth of the agricultural and small-mill communities of Dutchess County during the last half of the nineteenth century and throughout most of the twentieth century. The story includes a group of hardscrabble pioneers who struggled to establish their own rail networks. It relates the innovations in design and construction that made these lines possible and the challenges posed to their success by accidents, bad weather, and bad luck. After World War II, new modes of transportation and the growth of suburbia lead to the decline and eventual abandonment of many of these rail lines. However, a group of dedicated local historians and citizens banded together to make sure that this history was preserved, including the restoration of the historic depot at Hopewell Junction, listed as a historic and architectural resource on the New York State Register of Historical Places in 2020 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021.

Bernard L. Rudberg (1932–2016) was a railroad aficionado and grandson and great-grandson of railroad men in Sweden. He served as the President and Historian Emeritus of the Hopewell Depot Restoration group and as Vice President of the Dutchess County Genealogical Society. John M. Desmond is Professor Emeritus of English at Dutchess Community College. He is the coauthor (with Peter Hawkes) of Adaptation: Studying Film and Literature.


"Bernard Rudberg's earlier work on Hopewell Junction and the east-west railroads of Dutchess County landed luckily in the patient hands of author John Desmond. Many years ago, I met Desmond, when he asked me to 'take the train' up the Hudson from Grand Central Station, to address students and faculty at Dutchess Community College on the challenge of writing narrative nonfiction. Ironically, the greatest part of that challenge is unearthing original source material that provides understanding, offers authenticity, and colorizes storytelling—all gold to a writer. I can't imagine a book more suited to satisfying an author's craving for the little-known and long-forgotten facts. It made me want to write a book about trains." — Gary Kinder, author of Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History and Discovery of the World's Richest Shipwreck

"An incisive narrative providing valuable perspectives on how railroads brought revolutionary change to rural regions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Lively first-person recollections convey how 'ribbons of steel' connected and bound communities together socially and economically. The book provides rich memories of restoring a historic site." — Paul Stich, author and educator