Rhinecliff, NY (RHI)
Clinging to a bluff above the Hudson River, the station was built for the New York Central in 1914. Large arched windows flood the airy waiting room with natural light and provide sweeping views.
455 Rhinecliff Road
Rhinecliff, NY 12574
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 202,406
- Facility Ownership: Dutchess County
- Parking Lot Ownership: Dutchess County/CSXT
- Platform Ownership: CSXT
- Track Ownership: CSXT
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Rhinecliff station was built for the New York Central Railroad in 1914. The light-colored brick and stone exterior is punctuated by soaring arched windows; paired brackets support the deep eaves of a gabled roof covered red clay barrel-tiles. The station clings to the bluff above the Hudson River and uses many levels and stairways, some interior and some exterior, as well as a covered bridge over the tracks for foot traffic. At one time there were four tracks along the Hudson through Rhinecliff. Today, only the former southbound tracks and platforms are used, and the former northbound tracks provide a long, narrow parking area. The interior uses much brick and polished wood and provides a lovely view over the Hudson River.
The Rhinebeck area, which includes the town and village of Rhinebeck, the hamlet of Rhinecliff, and the city of Kingston, is one of the oldest European-settled areas of New York State. In 1686, five Dutchmen from Kingston, which lies directly across the Hudson, traded for the property with three Native Americans, acquiring 2,200 acres with four miles of waterfront. At the north was the ancient trail that led west through the Delaware Water Gap and east into New England. The southern boundary was the Landsman Kill (stream) which provided fine mill sites. While not ideal farmland, the purchase was an ideal transportation hub. Hendrickus and Jacobus Kip moved to become residents, and hence the entire tract was first known as Kipsbergen. Jacob Beekman, a businessman from New York, bought up land surrounding Kipsbergen, and his property developed separately from the waterfront Kipsbergen, which maintained its ties to Kingston. Even today, members of the original Dutch families still occupy the area.
In 1737, the British established the precinct of Rhyn Bec and included Kipsbergen in its boundaries. In 1849, Charles H. Russell of New York City moved both the ferry and the new railroad depot somewhat south of the original Kip tracts and began to develop the area. The Hudson River Railroad made its first stop in Kipsbergen in 1852, providing fast year-round transportation to other parts of the state in addition to the longstanding ferry service to Kingston. The name was then changed to Rhinecliff. During this period Russell built the Rhinecliff Hotel, still in business today, having been much-restored.
Rhinecliff is on a part of the Hudson that is lined with large, beautiful estates, many built in the mid-1800s by prominent New Yorkers such as Elizabeth Shermerhorn Jones and William B. Astor, providing seasonal employment for the Rhinecliff residents. The Rhinebeck and Connecticut Railroad, started in 1872, carried coal to New England and commodities to growing industries, such as Baker’s Chocolate in nearby Red Hook. In the 1890s, when Rhinebeck became the greenhouse-grown violet capital of the world, Rhinecliff was its shipping center. In 1912, the four-tracking of the railroad was begun, and the older station abandoned in favor of the current one built one block north and east. The pedestrian and vehicular overpasses built at that time provided access to the ferry without the dangerous grade crossing of the previous depot.
Rhinecliff, which is built almost vertically up the slate Hudson bluff, has largely resisted the growth of nearby Rhinebeck or Kingston, with which it still retains close ties. Daily life in Rhinecliff, however, changed profoundly when in 1957 the ferry was replaced by the two-lane Rhinecliff-Kingston Bridge a little to the north of the hamlet. In the 1960s, a town improvement committee formed to fix up the decaying dock and depot area. The entire community is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributor to the Hudson River National Historic Landmark District (added to the Register in 1990). The station itself is not listed on the Register separately. The station’s popularity continues to grow, as Rhinecliff has been rediscovered and embraced by an emerging arts community.
Close to Rhinecliff, in nearby Red Hook, Bard College was founded in 1860 as Saint Stephen’s, in association with the New York City leadership of the Episcopal Church. In 1928, the college became an undergraduate school of Columbia University, and in 1934 the name was changed to honor John Bard, who had donated the Chapel of the Holy Innocents and part of his estate of Annandale to found the college. Bard has long been renowned for its emphasis on the place of the fine and performing arts in a liberal education. Today, its performance, fine, and decorative arts curricula have extended to graduate studies.
Amtrak provides both ticketing and help with baggage at the Rhinecliff station, which is served by 26 daily trains.
Empire Service trains are supported by funds made available by the New York State Department of Transportation. The Ethan Allen Express is financed primarily through funds made available by the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the New York State Department of Transportation.
- 42 Short Term Parking Spaces
- 141 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Dedicated Parking
- Elevator Accessible
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- Pay Phones
- Quik Trak Kiosk
- Ticket Office
- Wheelchair Lift