Ulster & Delaware Railroad Historical Society

Otis Elevating

The Otis Elevating Railway represented the final stage in improved transportation to the Catskill Mountain House. When the great resort opened in 1824, early travellers from New York City faced a gruelling four hour stagecoach ride from the steamship landing at Catskill, 12 miles distant. When the Catskill Mountain Railroad reached Palenville in 1882, the brutal stage ride had dropped to a manageable two mile ride. Still, the increasingly sophisticated vacationer found the hour-long stage ride fit for a barbarian.

The Beach family, owners of the Catskill Mountain House, enlisted Otis Elevator Company, headed by Charles Owen Otis, to develop a cable railway. Drawing on his expertise, Otis called upon other great industrial firms of the day, (Hamilton-Corliis to supply the engines and Roebling to supply the cable) to help execute the project. The Railway opened on August 7, 1892 with coaches and baggage cars from Jackson & Sharp of Wilmington, Delaware. For detail on the technical aspects of the Otis, see our 1892 feature articles from Engineering News. Please also enjoy our collection of historic postcards depicting the Otis and the Mountain House which it served. Finally, we have contemporary views of the Otis (including a quadrangle map showing the present-day location of the Otis right-of-way).

The Otis Elevating Railway, later the Otis Railway, closed forever after the 1918 season, an early victim of America's love affair with the automobile.

List of Stations
0.00 Otis Junction
Catskill Mountain Railway
1.33 Otis Summit
Catskill Mountain House

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