THRUWAY AUTHORITY AND CANAL CORPORATION ANNOUNCE OPENING OF PORT BYRON OLD ERIE CANAL HERITAGE PARK
First of its Kind Project Promotes Tourism on the Historic Erie Canal
The New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation today announced the completion of the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park, an attraction for Erie Canal enthusiasts and upstate tourists interested in the history of the Canal and its impact on the economic and commercial development of both New York and the United States.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s “Path Through History” initiative and developed in conjunction with the Canal Society of New York State, the $9.6 million park is the first facility of its kind to offer access directly from the New York State Thruway to a historic site. Visitors can enter the park directly from the eastbound Thruway (I-90) at milepost 308.7 between exits 41 (Waterloo – Clyde – NY Route 414) and 40 (Weedsport - Auburn – NY Route 34), or from NY Route 31 in the Village of Port Byron. Due to the facility’s separate entrance points, visitors will not be able to access the Thruway directly from the Route 31 parking lot and vice versa.
“Governor Cuomo is demonstrating again his commitment to fueling tourism and regional economies in Central New York,” said Thruway Authority Board of Directors Chair and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. “The newly constructed Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park is a result of the collaborative efforts between state and local affiliates and will attract tourists and locals alike to experience the history of the Erie Canal firsthand.”
“This project is a shining example of the fostered cooperation we have cultivated between the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation,” saidThruway Authority Acting Executive Director Bill Finch. “The Thruway provides access to historic communities throughout upstate New York for millions of motorists each year, and the new Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park gives visitors a chance to experience the rich history of New York State and the Erie Canal by simply pulling off the Thruway.”
The park gives visitors an authentic glimpse into life on the Erie Canal in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries. Key historical elements include the enlarged Erie Canal Lock 52 and the Erie House Complex, which dates back to 1895 and includes the Erie House Tavern and Hotel, a mule barn, and blacksmith shop. Guided tours provided by the Canal Society of NY, allow visitors a first-hand experience to the facility’s historic structures. The newly constructed Visitor’s Center which is operated by the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council offers interactive displays and educational materials. For example, a model lock featured in New York State’s exhibit at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 is a centerpiece in the facility.
“The Thruway and Erie Canal have been major economic drivers for New York, both commercially and recreationally, for decades,” said New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton. “With the Canal system spurring hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism-based economic activity each year, it’s clear that people want to experience its history and this park is the perfect way tell those stories.”
“Every day, more and more people are coming to appreciate that New York’s culture and heritage is intimately connected to the development of the Canal system,” said Canal Society of New York State President Kal Wysokowski. The Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park is the culmination of 20 years of work on behalf of the Canal Society and became a reality because of our strong relationship with the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation, and we are very proud to now have a place where visitors can reach out and touch history with their hand.”
The entire project was completed by New York contractors and in a three phase sequence. Phase one, completed by Cold Springs Inc. of Akron, NY, included site work, installation of ramps and the parking area. Phase two consisted of the rehabilitation and restoration of various structures and was completed by Bouley Associates of Auburn, NY. The project’s final phase which involved the construction of the new Visitor’s Center with access off the Thruway and Route 31 was completed by Bette & Cring, LLC of Latham, NY.
“The Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation have given travelers the opportunity to glimpse into a dynamic aspect of New York’s transportation history and we are very proud to have been a part of it,” said President of Bette & Cring Construction Group Peter Bette.
Work completed includes ramps to and from the eastbound New York State Thruway, a parking area, paved trails connecting the parking lot with the historic lock, as well as informational signage. Numerous on-site buildings have been rehabilitated, including the historic Erie House and a newly constructed parking lot accessible from Route 31. Visitors can access historical information at the new Visitor’s Center and walk the grounds on the newly connected park trails. Facility hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
“We are proud to be a part of the opening of the Erie Canal Heritage Park at Port Byron, and excited to welcome in an attraction that promotes and honors the historical significance of the Erie Canal,” said Mike Linehan, Board Chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council. “This is a great new attraction for the Finger Lakes Region, and the FLRTC is honored to be a part of this project in partnership with the New York Canal Society and the New York State Thruway Authority.”
Originally conceived by the Canal Society of New York State, the project has come to life with the support and direction of Governor Cuomo, the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation.
NOTE: TO ENLARGE THE TYPE USE THE ZOOM IN FUNCTION ON YOUR COMPUTER
TO FOLLOW THE LINKS, HIGHLIGHT EACH, COPY IT AND PASTE IT IN YOUR SEARCH ENGINE
Ariel Standish Thurston: The Boy with the Awkward Mouth
by Nan Clarke
On October 4, 1829, a resident of Bombay, India, penned the following in a letter to her sister in New York State:
“I read over your letter; you say much about our dear Brother. Poor boy: I do pity him; but I hope his mother’s prayers, & his sisters’ prayers, will all be answered. When he was not 10 minutes of age, he was in my arms, & I was alone in the room, over a bed of fire-coals. I prayed that his life might be spared, his soul washed in the Lamb’s blood, & he at last wear a crown of glory. So did his dear mother pray, in that hour. For the sake of Jesus may every prayer in his behalf be heard, & answered. I thought, at his birth, the little boy had an awkward mouth, it was so very large. Then I thought it might be that he may speak forth more, to the praise of Jesus. Poor dear boy! Shall he, that child of prayer, live without prayer to God! Shall he go down to the dark pit, with all the light which the blessed example of his beloved mother, to the hour of her death, shed, all round! He beheld that example! He heard her dying prayer for him! & then she bade the world, adieu! Jesus is still mighty to save! His spirit is still powerful! That brother is our only dear brother. Our mother’s emotions on the birth of her first-born son, tho’ her last child, were more than ordinary. Her prayers for his salvation were many & constant, I am sure, till the hour of her death. Tell the dear boy, if he dies without God for his God and friend, these prayers––O how much lower will they sink him in the dark depths of endless woe.”
The Bombay resident was Philomela Thurston Newell Garrett, a member of America’s first foreign mission, which had been established in Bombay in 1813. Daughter of a New Hampshire farmer, and the eldest of his five living children, Philomela had left her family in 1817 and sailed to Bombay to marry Samuel Newell, a missionary whom she had never met. Newell was one of the first five men to leave American shores intending to convert India’s “heathen Hindoo” to Christianity. He died in 1821, and a year later Philomela married James Garrett, the mission’s printer.
All the mission’s members had vowed to spend their lives in India. No one ever returned home, even for a visit, without a physician’s certification that continuing to remain in India meant certain death. Indeed, the harsh climate and the diseases that it fostered often proved fatal to Americans and Europeans.
When she wrote the letter, Philomela had not seen her family in 12 years. Since letters took months to travel to the other side of the world, she had no way of knowing for certain where her sister was. But the Thurstons were a close-knit family, and communicated as best they could.
The recipient of the letter was Clarissa Thurston, a 28-year-old teacher who had devoted her life to female education. Convinced that girls and young women should have the same scholastic opportunities as their male counterparts, Clarissa left her innovative mark up and down the East Coast as both principal and teacher in academies for “young ladies” in six states. At the time of Philomela’s letter, she was probably in Prattsburg or Lyons, both within 80 miles of Elmira.
The “dear Brother” with the awkward mouth was Ariel, the youngest of the Thurston children. Born on June 11, 1810 in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Ariel grew up in a family deeply impacted by the Second Great Awakening. This massive religious revival encompassed the first half of the nineteenth century, spreading the teachings of evangelical Christianity throughout the eastern United States. At its core was the unshakeable conviction that those who rejected Jesus’ offer of salvation were doomed to burn eternally in the fires of hell. Ariel’s father, Stephen, served as a deacon and elder in the local Presbyterian church, and he organized both the first Sunday school and the first temperance union in Bedford, New Hampshire, when the family moved there after 1810. Ariel’s mother, also named Philomela, was the sister of two pastors of Congregational churches in Massachusetts. So it is no surprise that Philomela joined a mission, or that Clarissa included a healthy dose of religious instruction in her schools.
But did Ariel follow the same spiritual path as the other family members? Clearly his sisters feared for the state of his soul. Was Ariel truly headed for the “dark pit”?
The letter from Clarissa prompting Philomela’s concern was written from Lyons on January 7, 1829. At that time Ariel was a student at Amherst College in western Massachusetts, having attended Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire, from 1826 to 1828. Amherst was founded in 1821 as “an institution of higher learning for the education of indigent young men of piety and talents for the Christian ministry.”
But if Ariel entered Amherst intending to save souls after graduation, his plans soon changed. He left the school in 1829, and at the urging of his friend Alexander S. Diven moved to Elmira in 1830, where he began to study law under Judge Hiram Gray.
Years later Diven spoke of the bond the two shared as “poor boys. … He [was dependent] upon his sister [Clarissa], that sainted little woman. … We met in early life as students, relying upon our own resources. … We had to fight our own way, and when our funds ran out he went home with me to my father’s farm. We succeeded in earning enough to pay $1 a week for our board.”
Over the next few years Ariel continued to study law under Judge Gray, where, “as in school, he was noted as a thorough, industrious student and a deep thinker.” While still under Judge Gray’s tutelage, he taught school in Elmira for a time, and became principal of an academy in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In 1835 he was admitted to practice before the New York City Supreme Court, and he practiced law in that city for a short time. Returning to Elmira in 1836, he married Julia Clark Hart, daughter of the well-known and beloved local physician Dr. Erastus L. Hart.
During the next ten years, Ariel built his law practice in partnership with John Wisner, fathered three children (one of whom died in infancy), became a widower, and remarried. With his second wife, Cornelia Sophia Hull, he had five more children from 1847 to 1863. All these children lived to adulthood except William, who died in 1861 at age 14.
By the mid-1850s Ariel had assembled a lengthy resume that included a thriving practice, an interest in local and state politics, and a commitment to community service. In 1847 he was appointed to the Chemung Corresponding Committee at the state Democratic Convention. In 1850 he was elected to serve as Chemung County judge and surrogate, and remained in that position for five years. Also in 1850, he ran unopposed for the local post of First District supervisor. The year 1855 brought a failed bid for state treasurer, and in both 1856 and 1857 he ran unsuccessfully for the office of canal commissioner.
In the following year, Ariel and two other men obtained funds from the state legislature for the establishment of Woodlawn Cemetery, and in 1859 the Governor appointed him to a three-year term as a state assessor and member of the Board of Equalization, overseeing real estate tax assessment. Also that year he was elected to Elmira’s first Board of Education, and reelected in 1860.
When the Board of Supervisors decided that the county needed a new courthouse, Ariel was appointed to a commission to oversee the project. The work was done under budget, and the new building was completed and ready for use in 1862. Located on Lake Street, it still serves this purpose more than 150 years later.
The year 1871 brought an appointment of a similar nature, this time for the construction of a new jail. Charges of corruption during the bidding and nonconformity to the contract specifications had plagued the process from the beginning, and it was up to Ariel and the other commissioners to straighten out the mess. They were evidently successful; when the building was completed the work was pronounced “well done.”
As the result of another political appointment, in 1876 Ariel became a member of the Board of Managers of the new State Reformatory, located where the Elmira Correctional Facility is today. This innovative prison focused on rehabilitation and vocational training rather than on punishment. The following year he was named secretary and treasurer of the board.
Ariel was a charter member of the Chemung Valley Historical Society when it formed in 1876, serving as its vice president for a number of years. And when the need to revise the state tax code became evident, he was appointed to that commission in 1878. The following year he became both secretary and a trustee of the Newtown Monument Association, and in 1885 he was elected president of the first national gathering of Thurstons, held at Newburyport, Massachusetts. Shortly before his death he was an honorary manager of the Arnot-Ogden Memorial Hospital Board of Managers.
But it was Ariel’s ardent abolitionist views that led him to make his most distinctive contributions to his community. Although he maintained a lucrative law practice and close ties to Elmira’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens, he also befriended and aided the town’s most destitute and helpless residents––the runaway slaves who sought refuge there.
Through Ariel’s assistance and influence, one such individual, John W. Jones, received housing, education, and employment. Jones had arrived in Elmira in 1844. By 1850 he was living at Clarissa’s Female Seminary on Main Street, and working there as a laborer. Accounts of his education vary, but all credit Ariel with recognizing Jones’ innate potential. There is some evidence that Jones was educated in a private school run by Hugh Riddle, a boarder in Ariel’s home, and that another pupil named Loop was especially helpful in teaching Jones to read and write. Other sources indicate that he was a pupil in Clarissa’s school. If that is true, he was probably the only male student, and the only black student, in the history of the school.
Over the years Ariel devoted both time and money to aid the runaways, and in 1853 he risked his career by openly defying the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, a federal law that required authorities in free states to return fugitive slaves to their masters. The law also specified that local courts could not adjudicate a person’s status as a slave or a free man, and it subjected northerners aiding runaways to fines and imprisonment.
When a slave from Missouri named Juda Barber came before Ariel’s court, she testified that her owner, Mr. Barber, had hired her out to a Mrs. Warner. Juda had accompanied Mrs. Warner on a visit to her relatives in Horseheads, New York, and at some point she decided that she wanted to be free and to remain in Elmira. In a bold ruling, Ariel granted Juda her freedom.
During his time as Chemung County Judge, Ariel was a member of the Democratic Party, but as the debate over slavery intensified, he found his own abolitionist leanings more in line with the views of the newly formed Republican Party. Consequently he was one of the “prominent politicians” who in 1856 attended a state convention of Democrats desiring to unite with the Republican Party. He was elected to the office of vice president of that convention, and in the same year he changed his party affiliation to that of Mr. Lincoln’s supporters.
Also in 1856, Ariel and other abolitionists attempted to purchase the Elmira Gazette, a Democratic newspaper that was up for sale. They had hoped to turn it into a Republican paper, but a group of Democrats bought it instead.
As the war approached, some members of Elmira’s First Presbyterian Church left to form a new church now known as Lake Street Presbyterian Church. The primary motivation for the split was discontent with First Presbyterian’s position on slavery. The Lake Street group included a number of abolitionists, and Ariel was in the first group of trustees elected. He remained a member of the church until his death.
In spite of his prominence in the community, Ariel maintained a simple lifestyle. During the 1850s he lived at 411 Lake Street, in a little frame house, modest but cheerful, valued at $4,000. Opulent Victorian mansions housed most of his neighbors, but a mulatto barber and his family lived next door. Their property was valued at $1,800.
By 1870, having been widowed a second time, Ariel had married Georgianna Gibson, and they had moved into a somewhat larger frame house located at 413 North Main Street. This house was on the site of Clarissa’s former school, which had been closed a few years earlier. The home was not pretentious, but it was comfortable and equipped with a large and well-selected library. The household included Clarissa, several of Ariel’s children, his stepmother, some other relatives by marriage, three Irish servants, and a group of eight people who were probably boarders.
Ariel appeared to handle his finances wisely, accumulating wealth and indulging in few if any extravagances. His investments in real estate included a 50-acre farm, another property of about 200 acres, and a city block, sold to him by Clarissa, directly north of the Second Street Cemetery. His law office was on Lake Street near the courthouse. Neighboring businesses were unpretentious. They included a barber shop, a furniture factory, a saloon, and a tobacco store.
But arguably Ariel’s greatest wealth was to be found in his intellect. Describing his voracious passion for acquiring knowledge, he said, “When I learn that one of my ancestors was a soldier in … Sullivan’s campaign against the Six Nations, I do not rest satisfied till I have informed myself in regard to all events within my reach touching the main incidents of … that campaign. Thus I learn history.” And thus he learned whatever subject piqued his insatiable curiosity.
Genealogy was one such subject. Ariel collected wills and other records, and he traveled to England to learn what he could about the family there. As a direct descendant of Miles Standish, he was especially interested in that line.
Literature, particularly poetry, was another of Ariel’s passions. A classical scholar, he memorized poetry and was fond of quoting it. He also enjoyed writing it, and he occasionally presented his poems in book form as gifts to his friends. At age 80 he published A Birthday Souvenir, containing such poems as “Wild Roses,” “To Augustus,” and a hymn sung at the dedication of his church.
Combining several of his interests, in 1876 Ariel published “A Paraphrase of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Poem, Entitled the Courtship of Miles Standish.” Convinced that Longfellow’s poem contained erroneous information about the Standish family, Ariel rewrote it in verse form, making what he believed to be necessary corrections. He sent a copy to Longfellow, who was singularly unimpressed. Writing to his friend George Washington Greene, Longfellow described Ariel as “a foolish man in Elmira” whose paraphrase “consists in altering the lines enough to make them rhyme!” Longfellow added, “I suggested to him that perhaps he might have employed his time and talent more profitably in writing an original work.”
Ariel continued to practice law and pursue his wide-ranging interests until his death, which occurred unexpectedly while he was visiting his granddaughter Julia Gayley in Braddock, Pennsylvania. He died of a broken neck, sustained in a fall down the stairs, during the early morning hours of September 23, 1894. He was 84. Today the Thurston family plot at Woodlawn contains a monument to Ariel as well as the graves of his first two wives, several of his children, and their spouses.
In his will Ariel left most of his property to his children and grandchildren. The totality of his bequest to his wife, Georgianna, was a book, his portion of another book that they owned jointly, the “bed now occupied by her,” other bedroom furnishings, and the lounge in the front parlor.
A few days after his death, the Chemung County Bar met to “bear testimony to the exalted worth of the departed … jurist.” One by one, attorneys and judges spoke of Ariel’s “sterling integrity.” He was a man with “one of the best hearts, … always cheery and pleasant. … Among the older members of the bar he was the most active and able.” He had the “least enemies among the profession.” He was “a lover of wisdom. Within the last twelvemonth he was … endeavoring to discover authorities by which he could solve the mooted questions that agitated the … philosophers of ancient Greece.”
The boy with the awkward mouth had clearly grown into a man of words. They were essential to his professional success and his enjoyment of life. Yet Ariel is primarily remembered as a man of action with an exhaustive list of personal accomplishments and civic contributions.
But with all the good that he did, there is no solid evidence that he fit his sisters’ definition of a Christian, or that he worried about the “dark pit.” It may be that he viewed his church membership as a civic activity rather than a source of spiritual nourishment. And it may be that Ariel simply believed that he served God––and earned his place in heaven––by serving man.
Philomela Garrett to Clarissa Thurston, private collection.
“A History of Amherst College,” accessed June 19, 2011, https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/facts/history.
W. L. Montague, ed., Biographical Record of the Alumni of Amherst College, during Its First Half Century 1821-1871 (Amherst, MA: n.p., 1883), HYPERLINK "http://ia600409.us.archive.org/27/items/cu31924092694680/cu31924092694680.pdf" http://ia600409.us.archive.org/27/items/cu31924092694680/cu31924092694680.pdf. See also Thurston, 1635-1892 Thurston Genealogies, 175.
Ausburn Towner, Our County and Its People: A History of the Valley and County of Chemung from the Closing Years of the Eighteenth Century (Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1892), 131, http://ia600400.us.archive.org/12/items/cu31924025959192/cu31924025959192.pdf.
“Ariel S. Thurston: The Death of One of Elmira’s Foremost Citizens,” Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press,September 24, 1894, HYPERLINK "http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html" www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html.
“Ariel S. Thurston,” Elmira Daily Gazette, September 24, 1894.
Thurston, 1635-1892 Thurston Genealogies, 175-76.
“Committee of Correspondence,” Elmira Gazette, November 25, 1847.
H.B. Peirce and D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Chemung County New York; with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1879; facsimile ed., Ovid, NY: W.E. Morrison & Co., 1981), 59.
“The Charter Election,” Republican, May 10, 1850.
Peirce and Hurd, History of Chemung County, 59.
“Ariel S. Thurston,” Elmira Daily Gazette, September 24, 1894.
Peirce and Hurd, History of Chemung County,120.
E.O. Jameson, “Necrology of the New England Historic Genealogical Society,” New England Historical and Genealogical Register 49 (January 1895): 90-91, HYPERLINK "http://books.google.com/books/download/The_New_England_historical_and_genealogi.pdf?id=zsYMAAAAYAAJ&hl=en&capid=AFLRE72DFQOaEwzPudnCEMlzqt9lE2rbyY25noYFT39_Nbn6zXCg47UNq-hE6PjeOxwkELjFHhq4PjyBDZdfdehZbsgj2izhIQ&continue=http://books.google.com/books/download/The_New_England_historical_and_genealogi.pdf%3Fid%3DzsYMAAAAYAAJ%26output%3Dpdf%26hl%3Den" http://books.google.com/books/download/The_New_England_historical_and_genealogi.pdf?id=zsYMAAAAYAAJ&hl=en&capid=AFLRE72DFQOaEwzPudnCEMlzqt9lE2rbyY25noYFT39_Nbn6zXCg47UNq-hE6PjeOxwkELjFHhq4PjyBDZdfdehZbsgj2izhIQ&continue=http://books.google.com/books/download/The_New_England_historical_and_genealogi.pdf%3Fid%3DzsYMAAAAYAAJ%26output%3Dpdf%26hl%3Den.
“The Real Founder of Our Fine Schools,” July 4, 1909, Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, NY.
Peirce and Hurd, History of Chemung County,38.
Peirce and Hurd, History of Chemung County, 39.
“Reform in Taxation,” Syracuse Daily Courier, April 23, 1878, HYPERLINK "http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html" www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html.
“Monuments, Markers and Boulders in This Vicinity, Erected in Honor of the Sullivan Expedition,” Waverly Free Press and Tioga County Record, August 30, 1912, HYPERLINK "../../Downloads/www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html"www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html.
Brown Thurston, The Doings at the First National Gathering of Thurstons, Newburyport, Mass. (Portland, ME: Brown Thurston, 1885), 5, http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/FH31&CISOPTR=68604.
“Hospital Report,” Elmira Daily Gazette and Free Press, October 18, 1894, HYPERLINK "http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html" www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html.
1850 US Census, Town of Elmira, NY, 202, Dwelling 159, Family 170, Line 15.
Abner C. Wright, “Underground Railroad Activities in Elmira,” Chemung Historical Journal (September 1968): 1756.
“Underground Railroad: Route to Freedom,” Elmira Sunday Telegram, March 8, 1961, quoted in Chemung Historical Journal (June 1961): 863.
“Eric Foner on the Fugitive Slave Act,” PBS Online, accessed July 2, 2011, HYPERLINK "http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4i3094.html" www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4i3094.html.
“Underground Railroad Series: Abolitionists in Elmira,” Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice, accessed July 2, 2011, HYPERLINK "http://www.joycetice.com/undergrou/ckfeb04.htm" www.joycetice.com/undergrou/ckfeb04.htm.
“Convention of Republican Democrats,” New York Daily Tribune, July 25, 1856, HYPERLINK "http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html" http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html.
Peirce and Hurd, History of Chemung County,59.
“Lake Street Presbyterian Church,” AE Monthly, accessed July 2, 2011, http://www.americanaexchange.com/AE/aemonthly/aemonthlyarticledetail.aspx?f=2&page=1&articleid=92&month=10&year=2003&type=articles.
“The Thurston Homestead,” Elmira Telegram, March 25, 1894, HYPERLINK "http://www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html" www.fultonhistory.com/fulton.html.
1855 New York State Census, Town of Elmira, NY, First Election District, Dwelling 487, Family 526, Line 32.
The laborers on the Junction Canal in Chemung, N.Y., a few days since stuck a placer of skulls, supposed to be those of the red man of the forest, who were sadly routed by Sullivan and his party in this valley. Besides the skulls, other relics of the Revolution were found.
November 18, 1856
First Arrival of Anthracite Coal at Elmira,
From the Wyoming Valley
Celebration of the Event.
Yesterday afternoon, at 1 o’clock, the first boat load of Pittston Coal arrive at our village, over the Junction Canal. An event of so much importance to the business interests of Elmira, as a matter of course, was not permitted to pass by without some manifestation of public joy.
Accordingly, at 2 o’clock, a large procession of citizens - including the entire Board of Supervisors - was formed opposite Haight’s Hotel, and proceeded by Wisner’s Band, marched to Tuthill’s Mill, where they found the boat, Towanda, Capt. May, freighted with fifty tons of anthracite coal, direct from the Pittston mines.
Among those from a distance that were noised in the procession, Charles Minot, Esq., late General Superintendent of the New York and Erie Railroad; Senator Hall, of Hornellsville; Hollis White, Esq., of Niagara Falls; C.C.B. Walker, Esq., of Corning; Col. Overton, Collector of Tolls at Athens, Pa.; John Richards, Esq., and Capt. May, of Pittston.
As many persons as could conveniently get on the boat boarded her at once, and she proceeded amidst the firing of cannon, to the Clinton street lock, where Col. S.G. Hathaway was called out and made a brief but eloquent speech, welcoming the offices of the boat, and congratulating our citizens, as well as those of our sister State of Pennsylvania, upon the important event they had met to celebrate - the final completion an successful navigation of the North Branch and Junction - an event which promises to open a vast trade between the two great States, and yield largely to their resources.
At the conclusion of the Colonel’s speech, cheers were given for the speaker, the Superintendents of the North Branch and Junction Canal, John Arnot Esq., Messrs. Maffit, Shearer and Capt. May.
The boat then proceeded on to the Canal Basin, where Mr. Richards, of Pittston, was loudly called for and responded in a few appropriate remarks. After which the procession again formed and returned to Haight’s Hotel, and there dispersed.
The North Branch Canal was commence in 1828, at Northumberland and completed as far as Nanticoke, a distance of fifty-six miles, in 1830. Sixteen miles more, extending from Nanticoke to the mouth of the Lackawanna, were put under contract in 1830 and completed in 1834. Every foot of these sixteen miles is within the Wyoming coal basin, the greatest known anthracite coal field in the world. Prof. Silliman estimated its contents at twenty to thousand millions of tons. Other competent geologists, afar extended and careful explorations, and making a reduction of one quarter for loss, place it at nine thousand and sixty millions of tons.
By the completion of the extension of the North Branch Canal from the mouth of the Lackawanna to the State line, a distance of 94 miles, and of the Junction Canal from the State line to this place a distance of 18 miles, the whole of this immense deposit is now brought into navigable communication with the entire network of canals that traverse this State, thus ultimately offering the very best and the least expensive mans of supplying the whole of Western New York, and the west generally, with this valuable mineral. We say ultimately, because the advantages of this connection cannot be fully developed till the enlargement of the Chemung Canal is effect; a measure that should urgently be pressed pun the attention of the Legislature at its com in session.
At Towanda, thirty-three miles below this, the North Branch Canal receives the coal, brought to it by a railroad sixteen mils in length, extending to the Barclay bituminous coal field, a deposit of not less than twenty millions of tons of bituminous coal, of treaty purity, and and of unsurpassed excellence for the smithshop, and for the puddling furnace.
These deposits must eventually furnish an immense tonnage for the Junction Canal, in the success of which all our citizens have a deep interest, and which owes its existence to the enterprise and public spirit of a few capitalists, prominent among them is our respected townsman, Mr. Arnot, and Mr. Hollenbeck, of Wilkes Barre, Pa.
The revolution that may be wrought in the course of trade, by the connection now effected, cannot, at this time, be fully appreciated. That it must be extensive and important is apparent when it is considered that Montezuma, by this connection, is brought by canal navigation, as new to Philadelphia as to New York, we are, by the Junction, the North Branch an Pennsylvania canals, but 300 miles from Philadelphia, the navigation of which will commence two weeks earlier, and close two weeks later than will those of our own State.
Friday, November 18, 1856
Correspondence of the Pittston Gazette.
Taken from notes of a Log Book on the
First Trip via North Branch Extension
(From log kept by John Richards Jr., a passenger)
Elmira, Nov. 20, 1856.
Mr. Richart: Dear Sir: - Tuesday morning (Nov. 11,) before daylight two boats loaded each with twenty-five ons of Pittston Coal left the outlet lock, bound for the farthest point of navigation up the North Branch Canal, and, if possible, to Elmira. It was soon discovered that we should breast no “lofty surge,” but, instead, about twenty-five inches of water; the berme and tow-path, like Scylia and Charybdis, staring at the marines from either side, between which it was necessary to steer with the utmost care.
This depth of water increased gradually in our progress when we reached McKune’s lock, three miles about Buttermilk Falls, at midnight, a distance of 14 miles of the Canal, being delayed some hours, and separated from the other half of the “Fleet” by breaks in the Harris narrows. We wish here to thank Mr. Elliot for his kindness and attention, without whose aid we should have have been stranded.
At McKune’s the water was nearly three feet. From this, we passed smoothly along to Tunkhannock aqueduct, on Wednesday, whee to our surprise we were greeted by the Band of that place, followed by a procession of people, and coming on deck the band struck up a martial air, which seemed to send inspiration into those showy and ever lasting hills of Tunkhannock - looking down upon us - echoing and re-echoing and cheering on the programs of the first boat through their mist via the North Branch Canal.
Being law in the season - the old story - the old promise of the completion of the Canal, so long listened to, but so often broken to the hope - “the sixth age” about “shifting into the last scene of all” the sight of a boat freighted coal, floating up the channel, inspired an irresistible feeling of gratification, and I heard a man with gray hairs say “Well I have lived to see a loaded boat come up the North Branch Canal!”
Our Boat went on the same night around that wild Horse Neck to the Dam. Next day, Thursday, we passed the slack water, the village of Meshoppen, Skinner’s Eddy to Laceyville, where we were presented with the “Stars and Stripes.” At night we brought up at the long town of Browntown, and waited patiently the arrival of the rest of the “Fleet,” from which we had been so long separated, and which might have been, for anything we knew, shipwrecked or the horse knocked down.We could, for depth of water, have unloaded one boat into the other at Tunkhannock. The
The night wore off, and the East was turning gray before the Chesapeake hove in sight - moving towards more like a ghost than anything else; and indeed she was ominous like a ghost, for she brought a sudden reversal of my good fortune. It as necessary to unload her cargo into the rival boat just now overtaken. The Captain of the pioneer boat impatient of delay and an advancing rival - the other obstinate as though it as a virtue - the Mules pleased with the exhibition of so much obstinacy, their favorite quality - with all this the day breaking in the East betokened nothing pleasant - the common lot of all explores!!
For a time no commands, no appeal, no threats, no entreaties availed; but at last the unloading was effected, and the pioneer boat, Tonawanda, set sail once more in four feet of water, winding through the rich flats of Wyalusing, where the people came out to greet us with a cannon’s fire and its rolling echo. They placed the cannon on our deck, and we made it answer back our thank for their kind welcome. This cannon we took with us to Elmira.
Passing along the Terrytown narrows we fired over to the resounding shore to give some of the people of that place an opportunity to reverse their long declared opinion on the impossibility of navigating the North Branch Canal. All went on smoothly with the exception of the lock-tender at lock No. 12, - growing old in the service, - who, in his anxiety to lock the first boat through in style, had put across the lock a temporary bridge, and nailing down all the boards but one, on which in crossing, by the”perverseness of matter,” he stepped, and fell some twelve or fourteen feet into the raging canal. But his excited state of mind acknowledged no injury except pretty hard twist of the neck. - We passed on to Standing Stone Friday night, Mr. B. Laporte, Mr. Simon Stevens and others receiving complimentary shots from the deck.
Next day, Saturday, we passed through the pleasant flatlands of Wysox - the canal in the finest order - occasionally rolling the cannon’s echo along the vales. I heard Mr. Rahn tell a lock-tender not to give us more than six feet of water. Here we wish to thank Mr. Rahn, (Sup’t of the upper half of the Canal, under Mr.Maffit,) fir his assistance, notwithstanding had taken no sleep for three nights previous. Soon the village of Towanda appeared in sight, the cannon announcing our approach.
On the burnt bridge, now under speedy repairs, a crowd had gathered to welcome us across the pool. Tying to two tow-lines one skiff, and shooting them over to the bridge, the crowd drew us in fine style to their hospitable shore. Declining any further demonstration which was offered, we went on to Tioga Point, the Packet Boat passing us at Ulster, and its Captain receiving a complimentary fire from our deck.
The next day was the Sabbath. With an eye to the spiritual welfare of our crew, we hesitated about proceeding on that day; but as the good Clergy in that region, for the last 2 or 3 months, had recognized a political religious excitement we thought there might be such a thing as a North Branch Religion Extension feeling, and that a crew which had encouraged to navigate up a canal for years consigned by the general voice of the people along its whole length, to its grave, and placed with the list of projects never to be revived,- that such a crew was sound in the doctrine of a resurrection. In this frame of mind we passed silently and reverently along the beautiful country around Tioga Point, breaking the stillness of the sacred day by no cannon’s echo, - nothing save an occasional blast of the horn to warn a drowsy lock-tender of our approach.
When we reached the residence of Mr. David Shearer (Sup’t of the Junction Canal), Capt. May sounded the horn with a true boatman’s cadence, and shortly Mr. Shearer came on deck in high glee, saying, “Ah, I knew that Juniata horn.” He was formerly engaged on the Juniata Canal, and for some years has been in this region “waiting for the moving of the waters” in the North Branch Canal - “As the mind is pitched the car is pleased,” and if any music ever fell pleasantly on the warm the sound of the Juniata horn awakened joy in his heart.
Monday morning we were one mile from Elmira, when we received word to stop and wait for a welcome. An extra was issued by the Daily Gazette, calling out the citizens to escort the first Boat Load of the Black Diamonds of Wyoming Valley into their city. Meanwhile our Boat was prepared with flags - the mules caparisoned, and true to their natures in compliment to such honor they presented the most indescribable indifference.
At 2 o’clock a procession formed before Haight’s Hotel (a Hotel and a landlord not to be surpassed,) and led by Wisner’s Band, proceeded to the Boat filling the deck to overflowing. A gun manned and drawn by horses followed, shaking the air, and answered back by our gun, which was loaded by the citizens and fired off by cigars. The boat stopped at the Junction of the Chemung and Junction Canals, where Col. G.S. Hathaway, addressed the crowd in an eloquent speech, welcoming the Boat to their borders, as the harbinger of another tie of brotherhood, and another means of intercourse between the Keystone and Empire States, complimenting Mr. Maffit for his industry and perseverance. The boat passed on to the Basin, when the procession re-formed and returned to Haight’s Hotel, where cheers were given for Mr. Arnot, Mr. Hollenbeck, Mr. Maffit, Mr. Shearer, Wyoming Valley, and Capt. May. And the citizens of Elmira may be assured that such a welcome as they gave us will be gratefully remembered by the people of Wyoming Valley.
So ends my Log Book. Grateful for escaping the dangers of a perilous navigation, and thankful for the welcome we received and to Mr. Maffit and his Superintendents, Messrs. Ellio and Rahn, I think of taking a farewell to Boating, and the first train of cars Home.
Yours truly, J.R.
P.S. - Above Tunkhannock, the Canal is in fine order. Below to Pittston some repair is only necessary to make it, another season, capable of floating all Boats that can get into it. Below are the names of places and distances from Pittston to the State line, (as given in Maffit’s Report.)
Names of places Pittston Place to place.
Gardiner’s Ferry5.40 1.65
Buttermilk Falls 10.64 5.24
Osterhouts 17.15 6.51
Tunkhnnock 22.10 4.95
Teague’s Eddy 25.06 2.96
Hunt’s Ferry 26.47 1.41
Mehoopeny Ferry 33.30 6.83
Black Walnut Bottom 41.00 4.44
Skinner’s Eddy 43.90 2.90
Laceyville 44.68 .78
Keeney’s Ferry 46.95 2.27
Browntown 51.37 4.42
Wyalusing 54.43 3.06
Terrytown 56.15 1.72
Homet’s Ferry 59.75 3.60
Rummerfield’s Creek 63.70 3.95
Standing Stone 66.60 2.90
Wysox 70.00 3.40
Towanda 74.65 4.65
Smith’s Mill 80.70 6.05
Ulster 82.32 1.62
Milan 86.80 4.48
Athens 90.00 3.20
State line (con. with
Junction Canal 94.20 4.20
Elmira Star Gazette
December 29, 1928
The Junction Canal
The Junction Canal first organized in 1846, was constructed in 1853 and joined the Chemung Canal in 1854 at a point near the present location of East Washington Avenue and Baldwin Streets. The course was eastward, passing on the south side of the present Lackawanna passenger station, to a point between Lake Street and Madison Avenue; across East Fifth Street to a large basin and dock on Madison Avenue, about 200 feet north of East Clinton Street.
The canal then passed eastward between the present large gas tank and the James Manufacturing Company’s plant, to Newtown Creek. The boats passed across the creek to the east bank of the stream and thence along the east bank of the Chemung River, a distance of about 18 miles to the State Line, near the former “Johnny Cake Hollow,” where it connected with the north branch of the Susquehanna Canal.
There were 11 locks and three dams in the 18 miles of construction. One lock was located a few feet east of Madison Avenue in Elmira.
Abandoned in 1873
The canal was abandoned in 1873, when the locks and feeder dams were torn out. For many years afterward the old canal bed was partly filled with surface wage and the former William Jeffers saw mill on William Street used the old channel to float logs or the mill work.
John C. Greves of the Chemung Canal Trust Company is the last surviving member of the board of directors of the Junction Canal Corporation, which was kept in existence many years after the canal was abandoned.
Among the Elmirans who were boat owners and engaged in freight traffic on the old canal were: Henry C. Spaulding, Peter Morgan, Peter Bigs, George Hulbert, Henry M. Partridge, Isaac Baldwin, John Arnot, Sr., and several others.
Another feature n the canal was a “packet” boat used for passenger service. All boats were hauled by horse or mule power.
What was later the Northern Central Railroad and the Elmira Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad originated as the Canandaigua and Corning Railroad. On March 12, 1845, publication was made of application for incorporation. The bill passed May 11, 1845. The capital was to be $1,600,000. Time was extended April 16, 1847 and again March 24, 1849. An adjourned meeting was held at the town hall at Canandaigua on May 30, 1845. J. M. Wheeler, M.H. Sibley, Jared Wilson, John A. Granger and Oliver Phelps, a committee appointed Feb. 27th, submitted a favorable report, and another committee was appointed to procure a survey of the route.
Marvin Porter was the engineer employed, and his work was completed in July. The total cost of building and furnishing the road was estimated at $950,100. It long remained doubtful if the amount required could be raised. Meantime, meetings were held and the subject kept in mind. At an election held in 1849, among the directors are found the names of Francis W. Paul, W.M. Oliver, E. Smith, James Harris and Judge Phelps. In 1850, the contract for construction of the whole road was let to John S. King, who agreed to take $150,000 in stock in part payment.
The breaking of the ground towards he commencement of work took place at Penn Yan on July 4, 1850. In 1851 the enterprise was under full headway. On June 25th, one thousand men were employed laying rails from Penn Yan to Jefferson, and grading near Canandaigua. The road was opened from Canandaigua to Jefferson (now Watkins Glen) in September 1851, the New York and Erie Railroad furnishing engines, cars, etc. for a specified rate per mile.
The first engine, No. 94, with passenger cars attached, was run over the road in two hours, or a distance of 46 miles, on September 15th. Marvin Potter was the first superintendent, and three trains daily were run each way. A depot building was erected by Judge Phelps at Canandaigua, and this, on December 23rd, was burned in a large conflagration which destroyed much valuable property. The road connected with the Chemung Railroad at Jefferson, today known as Watkins Glen. The name was changed on September 11, 1852 to the Canandaigua and Elmira Railroad.
The directors met at Penn Yan during September to appoint employees and arrange to run the road on their own account. They appointed three conductors to operate the passenger trains.. A. Crozier was conductor of the freight train, and the baggage masters were Samuel Chissom and John Wakeman. William G. Lapham was the superintendent and proved an energetic and efficient officer. He later became a superintendent on the New York Central.
On January 1, 1853, the company began to run their own trains.ew York & Erie. . They had purchased six engines and a sufficient number of cars. The Chemung Railroad, which owned no rolling stock, was leased and would remain under their control for an indefinite period. Two passenger and two freight trains made the round trip daily.
The road was sold to parties in Elmira, Penn Yan and Providence, R.I. on April 23, 1857 and possession given May 1st. Price, $35,000, subject to $500,000 due bondholders. The name was changed to the Elmira, Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad and leased to the Erie in 1859. This lease was assumed by the Northern Central in 1866, but in 1872 the lease was cancelled and the Northern Central assumed full control.
The total cost of the road, equipment, and other expenses, as of September 30, 1858, was $200,000. Earnings were $17,989.46. Transportation expenses were $11,947. During the year, 15,852 passengers had been carried and 4,293 tons of freight. The road is now run as a part of the Northern Central Railroad, terminus being at Canandaigua.
The Northern Central railroad was long a part of the Pennsylvania Railroad System and the lines north of Elmira were formally taken over by the Pennsylvania in 1911. Stanley Station was originally called Gorham Station. In the early 1900s an old oil can was found in the local Pennsylvania Railroad depot bearing the name of Gorham Station. To avoid confusion with Gorham station on the Middlesex Valley Railroad, this e station was renamed Stanley, in honor of Seth Stanley, who gave certain grants of land and right of way through Stanley village for the railroad.
Among the earlier agents of Stanley station was M.D. Lawrence, who served as ticket and freight agent for over forty years, coming here from the Erie Railroad, at Watkins Glen.
The 'Peanut Branch'
The Batavia Branch of the New York Central was originally known as the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad and was at one time operated in connection with the Canandaigua and Corning road by the New York and Erie, but was sold to the New York Central Railroad in 1858. A meeting was held on March 4, 1851, at Lima, relative to the construction of a railroad having six foot gauge from Canandaigua to Niagara Falls, distance 98 1/2 miles. The capital stock was to be $1 million.
At this meeting Henry Allen was chosen chairman, and E.S. Gregory of Canandaigua, secretary. Articles of Association were drawn up and stock to the amount of $100,000 being subscribe, 10 percent was paid in. The following was he first board of directors: Of New York City, William H. Townsend, E.C. Hamilton, Moses Maynard Jr., H.A. Johnson, L.P.G. Foster and John I. Fisk; Isaac Seymour, of Peekskill, Augustus S. Porter of Niagara Falls, Benjamin Pringle of Batavia, Samuel Rand of Mendon, Francis W. Paul of Canandaigua, George Wright of East Bloomfield and Ira Godfrey of Lima. William H. Townsend was chosen president, and Isaac Seymour, treasure. Marvin Potter was appointed superintendent on December 10, 1851.
The country through which the line passed was largely agricultural. The C&NF had the most direct route to Niagara Falls and Suspension Bridge. It was very level, the average grade along the whole distance being 17 feet per mile. The estimated entire cost was $2,500,000. On March 18, 1852, a new board of directors elected Benjamin Pringle as president, William H. Townsend, vice president, Samuel Rand, secretary, and Isaac Seymour, treasurer.
The road was opened to Batavia, 50 miles, on January 1, 1853. Messrs. Douglas & Co., of Buffalo, took the contract from the Genesee river to Batavia and broke ground at Stafford. The road, also six foot gauge, was completed to Niagara Falls on July 1, 1853, and to Suspension Bridge, another mile and a half, on April 1, 1854.
The first passenger train was an excursion over the completed road on July 28, 1853. The passengers were the invited guests of John S. King & Company, the general contractor. Speeches were made on the occasion by various parties, of whom William G. Lapham, of Canandaigua, seemed to be the most eloquent, and whose remarks were printed in the newspapers of that day. The road was sold March 22, 1857, to James M. Brown and others, and the name changed to Niagara Bridge and Canandaigua Railroad. In July, 1858, the New York Central assumed control. It was nicknamed the "Peanut Branch" following a statement by Dean Richmond, president of the New York Central at the time, who is said to remarked, "it's nothing but a peanut of a railroad."
Research notes on these railroads
From: Gazetteer of the State of New York by Franklin B. Hough, Albany, N.Y., 1872, P. 134
Canandaigua Railroad. An act of April 12, 1828. To extend to the Erie Canal at Palmyra, 15 miles. Not built.
Canandaigua and Corning R.R. - Incorporated May 11, 1845. Opened from Canandaigua to Jefferson [Watkins], 46 3/4 miles, Sept. 15, 1851. Changed to "Canandaigua and Elmira R.R.," Sept. 11, 1852.
Canandaigua & Elmira R.R. - Changed Sept. 11, 1852 from the "Canandaigua and Corning R.R." Operated for a time by this company until 1859, when it came into the hands of the "N.Y. & Erie R.R. Co." by lease, and it was run by them until May, 1866, when it was leased by the "Northern Central Railway Co." (of Penna.) who changed the gauge from 6 feet to 4 ft. 8 1/2 inches, and have since ran it in connection with their lines in Pa. A probably return to Erie management, and an extension from Canandaigua to Avon has been mentioned. The "N.C. Railway" have made survey east of Seneca Lake to find some other northern route.
Canandaigua and Niagara Falls R.R. - Articles filed March 18, 1851, and road built; opened to Batavia, 50 miles, Jan. 1, 1853, and trough, April 4, 1854. Sold on foreclosure of a mortgage, and bought by James M. Brown, Charles Congdon and Robert Potter, who, with others, organized the "Niagara Bridge and Canandaigua R.R., " Aug. 25, 1858.
Niagara Bridge and Canandaigua R.R. Articles of Association filed Aug. 25, 1858 as successor to the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls R.R. Leased, May 18, 1858 for term of charter to the New York Central R.R. 99 miles. Part between Tonawanda and the Falls has been taken up.
Through - The first engine with passenger cars attached was attached was run over the Canandaigua & Corning Rail Road last Friday. We understand the distance (46 1/2 miles) was run in about two hours. The track being newly laid, it wouldn't be safe to drive the heavy iron horse over it at its utmost speed. The engine, "94," and cars belonged to the New York & Erie R.R.Co. - who we are informed have rented the new track, until the C.& J. Co. can supply themselves with suitable cars and engines, and can finish completely their car houses, switches, water houses, wood houses, &c.
The new Depot built at this terminus of the new road, is fast progressing under the auspices of Judge Phelps. On Monday the cars commenced running regular on this road - three trains per day each way. But people on the line of the Southern Road can now find their way readily to the State Fair in Rochester. But we opine that the Steamers on Seneca Lake won't carry all of them.
Our neighbors at Geneva probably feel a little "green eyed" at the prospect, but they may as well get used to it.
Our village is now in immediate connection with N.Y. City, at a distance of 356 miles, some 10 miles nearer than the Albany route. The traveler starting here at 5 A.M. will be landed in the great metropolis at 7 P.M., once a journey of from two to four weeks, there and back, it can now be accomplished in as many days; and business of any reasonable amount despatched.
Ontario Messenger, Canandaigua, N.Y. March 31, 1852
Erie Rail Road -- Double Track.
The Erie Railroad Company have put under contract a second or double track of their road from Great Bend to Owego, and about twenty-five miles in Orange County. The contractors, it is said, take stock for this work at par, and it is understood, are not to be put in market for a year.
The Middletown Whig Press says, it is rumored that the Company have in contemplation, in constructing their second track, to leave the original route in several places, and make an entire new road. One of the new routes will be to leave the road at the Lackawaxen, following up that river to Honesdale, and thence to Lanesboro, where it will intersect the old route - cutting off Deposit, and shortening the distance some twenty-eight miles, besides materially lessening the grade. At the last session of the Pennsylvania Legislature, a Charter was obtained for this purpose - a fact with which the people of Sullivan have been hitherto been unacquainted, and which shows that the hope that a track across our county will ultimately be constructed, has no foundation.
A new route has also been explored between Elmira and Olean, via Lindleytown, following up the Conawasque Creek, in Tioga county, Pa., to the head waters of Oswaya Creek, in Potter county, in that State, and down the same to Olean. The distance between Elmira and Olean, by this route, is some thirty miles less than by the old one, besides being a much easier grade.
These changes of route will shorten the distance from New York to Dunkirk nearly sixty miles, and lessen the time in running the road about two hours. - Monticello Watchman.
New York Daily Tribune, June 12, 1852
Letters from London speak of continued activity and firmness in the Iron market. Mr. John A. Winslow had purchased 5,000 tons of rails for a Western Road and the agent of the Illinois Central Road had offered [pounds] 5 12/6, G, half cash and half bonds, for 20,000 tons, sufficient to complete that Road. The letter also speaks of a good demand and firm prices for American Stocks and well known Railroad Bonds. A sale of $200,000 Erie Convertibles, 1862, had been been made at 88.
We also learn by this arrival that Mr. W.W. Gilbert, of the house Gilbert & Johnson, who went out as the agent of the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad and negotiated the six pecent Sterling Bonds of that Road for a million dollars at par and had purchased all the Iron needed for the Road at about $5 per ton below the present price. This negotiation places the Company in a condition to push the Road to completion with great dispatch.
They have now all the sections between Canandaigua and Batavia crowded with men, and the Road will be in operation between these points in November or December. Two-thirds of the distance from Honeoye Falls to the Genesee River is already graded. The piles for a bridge over the river, 400 feet in length, have been driven and the foundation and abutments are going forward. This bridge is to have a span of 180 feet. The other pile bridges, each 120 feet in length, and a truss bridge of 240 feet, are to be constructed between the river and the Canal, making a total waterway of 1,060 feet. The contractors on this Road, Messrs. King, Steinfeldt & Co., are men of energy and means, and will complete the Road promptly within the time specified.
American Railroad Journal, Sept. 4, 1852
Erie Railroad. – The Erie company have 22,000 tons of iron arrived and
at sea for their second track which is being pushed with vigor. The entire
iron needed for the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls R.R. has been shipped,
and a large portion of it received and on its way to Canandaigua – the
road will be completed to Batavia this winter. The force on the line is
Canandaigua Messenger, June 14, 1853
TO NEW YORK!
Canandaigua, Elmira, and New York & Erie Rail Road
On and after Wednesday, June 1st, 1853 the trains on this route, until further notice, will run as follows.
Three Trains Daily (Sundays excepted.)
Leave Canandaigua Arrive at Elmira
Express Pass. 9:30 A.M. 12:30 P.M.
Mail 6:05 P.M. 9:30 P.M.
Freight 11:30 A.M. 5:45 P.M.
Leave Elmira Arrive at Canandaigua
Mail 7:00 A.M. 10:30 A.M.
Day Express 4:00 P.M. 7:15 P.M.
Freight 10:30 A.M. 4:30 P.M.
WILLIAM G. LAPHAM, Supt., C.& E. R.R.
Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Rail Road
Change of Time.
Four Trains Daily except Sundays.
Tickets sold through to New York via Canandaigua & Elmira, and the New York & Erie Rail Roads.
This Road being broad gauge the Cars are more roomy and pleasant
than on any other route.
Express Pass. Train leaves Batavia at 7: 45 A.M.
" " 3:30 P.M.
Accommodation Freight do 10:00 A.M.
Express Pass. Train leaves Canandaigua at 11:00 A.M.
" " " " 3:20 P.M.
Connecting with Trains to Buffalo and Batavia.
The standard time on this Road is 15 minutes faster than the local time.
This is the most direct and pleasant route to Avon Springs.
SAM. BROWN, Supt.
Superintendent's Office C.& N.F. R.R.)
Canandaigua, Jun 14, 1853. )
Buffalo Daily Courier, June 25, 1853
The Lockport Democrat says that the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad Company have commenced construction of their magnificent depot buildings at the Falls. They will consist of an engine house, with stalls &c. erected on a radius of 133 feet with water tank, &c,; a machine shop 150 by 60 feet, with a house for the stationary steam power adjoining; a blacksmith shop attached to the machine shop 100 by 40 feet; a shop for wood work 410 by 50 feet; a large paint shop; freight and car buildings, wood house, &c. All these structures will be of stone, and they will be separated from the passenger depot by a distance of from 30 to 40 rods - an admirable arrangement which for the comfort of travelers should always be adopted.
The new site fixed on for the passenger depot is a judicious one, being 600 feet north of the Rochester Station. It fronts on Niagara street and extends north to the south bank of the hydraulic canal.
Auburn Weekly Journal, Wed., Aug. 9, 1854
An Extraordinary Leap For A Cow! - A gentleman of our acquaintance, in whose word entire reliance may be placed, informs us that while riding a few days since between Honeoye and Rush, on the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls railroad, a cow was seen upon the track, notwithstanding the rapid rate at which the thundering train gained upon her. The train was traveling at lightning speed, and very soon struck the cow.
The long nose of the 'catcher' struck under the beast just as she was making one of her highest bounds, when she was in an instant thrown to the height of thirty feet in the air, and again struck upon the track just as the last car shot from under her! The train consisted of the locomotive and tender, a baggage and two passenger cars. Our friend assures us that the cars did not pass over the animal, and the conductor and engineer testify to the fact that the animal was tossed up as described, and he, being in the last car, saw the dead creature after its fall upon the track. It was her last somersault! [Rochester Democrat]
Buffalo Daily Courier, March 21, 1855
The Niagara Falls Gazette states that the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad Co. propose to remove their repairing shops from the former to the latter place. Also that the same Company intend to build a large Depot at the Suspension Bridge, and that negotiations are in progress which, if successful, will ensure the early completion of the line to Youngstown.
Ontario Messenger, Oct. 1, 1856
The Canandaigua and Elmira R.R. went into the hands or a Receiver on the 17th inst., at the instigation of the 3d class bond holders. A meeting of the Directors, Stock and Bond holders was held in Penn Yan last Tuesday to devise means to extricate the Road from its present financial embarrassment if possible. A Committee was appointed to negotiation the 3rd, 4th and 5th class bond holders, on the feasibility of delivering up their bonds and taking stock in their stead. The committee will report at a future meeting to be held in this village.
Buffalo Courier, March 31, 1857
A Railroad in Chauncery - Embargo on the Trains
(From the Rochester Democrat)
The Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad Co., has for some time been in a bad way, financially. The road does not pay running expenses, and consequently there are no funds to meet constantly accruing obligations. Engineers, firemen, conductors, brakemen, trackmen, &c. have been unable to get their pay regularly , and of course have felt disposed to regard themselves as very well treated people.
They have continued to serve the company however, until the present week, in expectation of getting their dues at some time. Last week their January wages were paid up. Seeing that matters became worse rather than better, they resolved upon a grand stroke to compel the payment of what is due them.
One day, when the trains arrived at the Falls, the engines were put in the engine-house, one after the other, and the doors closed. When the time came for trains to depart, there were no engines ready to draw them; and no one was permitted to take them out, the engineers and firemen standing sentry at the doors, and forbidding the iron horses to emerge.
The Directors made a proposition to settle with the engine drivers and firemen, an pay back wages; but these made common cause with the other employees , and rejected the overture. On Thursday, a train arrived at Canandaigua from Elmira, having some sixty passengers destined for the Falls, who had paid through. The engineer and conductor were induced to take their train through. When they arrived at the Falls, the locomotive was put into the engine house with the others, and not allowed to return. The men who had taken the train on, returned via the New York Central road to Canandaigua.
In this condition things have remained since Wednesday last. It is doubtful whether the road will ever pay expenses; but it is an accommodation to the section of country through which it passes,, and may be put in operation again.
The Canandaigua and Elmira road, with which it connects, is in pretty nearly as bad a state, and it is to be sold under the hammer on the 16th of April next. Perhaps the western end might s well come to the block also.
Ontario Messenger, July 29, 1857
The late purchasers of the Canandaigua & Elmira Rail Road, have organized a company called the "Elmira, Canandaigua and Niagara Falls R.R. Co." and now operate the whole line from Elmira to Niagara Falls as a single road, under the superintendency of William G. Lapham, Esq. All necessary track repairs are to be made at once, and vigorous efforts to extend the business of the line will be renewed. The fare from Niagara Falls to New York, by this route has been reduced to $5, and $9 to Boston.
Quite a crash took place last Saturday night at this terminus of the new railroad. The track ends against a brick building, used by the Rochester & Syracuse Company (Auburn Road) for a water house. The engineer of the train which arrived here at 12:30 at night, (never having run the route before) had quite a notion of going to the Falls. The consequence was he drove into a dirt car that stood on the track, next to the building. This was well smashed up, being driven with great violence against the water house, broke quite an opening through the wall thereof. No person injured.
Ontario Messenger, Wed., July 14. 1858
The Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Rail Road has finally passed into the hands of the New York Central. Formal possession was taken of it on Tuesday of last week. It is understood that the gauge will be narrowed down, with all convenient haste, as far as Batavia, from which point to Niagara we understand will be abandoned. It is also reported the Central is about to purchase the Genesee Valley R.R. leading from Rochester southward. These operations secure to the Central great and permanent advantages over all competitors, for the travel from the West.
The Canandaigua & Elmira Rail Road has gone into the hands of a Receive and all remittances are henceforth to be made to its agent, W.G. Lapham, Esq.
Ontario Messenger, July 28, 1858
Change of Time . - A new Time Table went into effect on the New York Central and the Canandaigua & Elmira railroads last Monday, by which the passenger trains on those connect at this place. This arrangement will prove a great convenience to travelers over the Southern route, as no delays will take place here, and they will be enabled to take a more agreeable route, passing through through Rochester, thence to Buffalo or Niagara Falls, at intermediate places.
Ontario Messenger, July 28, 1858
The Canandaigua & Elmira R.R. was sold at public auction at the Court House in this village, last Friday, in behalf of the holders of the first mortgage bonds. It was purchased by C.N. Potter, Esq., of New York, as agent for the mortgagees, for the sum of $200,000; less by $145,000 than was claimed to be due, principal and interest, on the bonds. What disposition the purchaser intends to make of the road we are not advised.
We presume, however, the track will eventually be made the narrow gauge, thus allowing freight to pass from Philadelphia and the great coal and iron regions of Pennsylvania, to the lakes and the great West, without a change of cars. Should this be done, it cannot but be made a paying concern, at the price for which it was purchased.
The Canandaigua & Niagara Falls R.R., as heretofore stated, has passed under the control of the Central. The passenger trains have been withdrawn, and it will hereafter be used exclusively as a freight route. Passenger trains on the Central and the C.& E. Railroads, are to connect at this place, so that travelers on the southern route, will be better accommodated than heretofore.
Ontario Republican Times, Thursday, July 29, 1858
Rail Road Matters.
The Canandaigua and Elmira Rail Road was sold at public auction at the Court House in this village, on Friday of last week, at the instance and for the benefit of the bond holders. The whole amount of their lien was nearly $350,000. C.N. Potter, Esq., acting in their behalf, bid $200,000 for the road, and that being the highest, and in fact the only offer, it was struck off to him. It is said, though we know not on what authority, that the sale thus consummated is subject to a stipulation or understanding between the first and second class bondholders to the effect that the latter may redeem the road within a specified time by paying to the former the sum for which it was sold.
The general belief, however, that this will never be don, whether there was such an agreement or not, and that the property will ultimately, if it does not immediately, go into the hands of the Central Company. The road is 47 miles in length, extending from this place to Jefferson. From the latter point to Elmira, a distance of 22 miles, there is a road owned by other parties and understood to be under control of the New York and Erie interest. But it has always been operated under the under the Canandaigua and Elmira direction, and disconnected from that line would of course be utterly valueless. Hence it will have to go with its "better half" under the new proprietorship, whatever it is.
The Canandaigua and Niagara Falls road, as heretofore stated, gone directly into the hands of the New York Central folks. The work of reducing it to the narrow gauge has already commenced at its western terminus, or what will be its western terminus hereafter, t Batavia, and we understand the intention of the Central Directors is to put it in complete order and use it principally as a freight road. There is bur a single train each way daily, and that for the accommodation of way travel and the conveyance of freight, now running over it.
It is altogether probable, too, that the gauge of the road from this place to Elmira will also be narrowed during this season.
No Trains on the Canandaigua & Niagara Falls - We learn that the track between this place and Canandaigua is now undergoing the necessary alteration from broad to the narrow gauge, and that no trains will be run over it for some three weeks. The temporary suspension will prove a serious inconvenience to the inhabitants living along the line of the road. But it will last but for a short period. The resumption of business along the road, under the auspices of the New York Central, will afford a guarantee of stability and certainty to the route which has it has never yet possessed.
Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Railroad - The work of reducing the gauge of the Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Railroad to that of the New York Central is now completed, and regular trains are to commence running next Monday. We understand that much gratification is felt by the people along the line of the route with the connection of the two roads and with the fact that the former is, henceforth to be under the direction of so efficient a company as the New York Central.
The Canandaigua & Niagara Falls R.R. - The track of the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad, now in the hands of the New York Central, has been reduced to the narrow gauge, the work has been completed, and the road is now in good running order throughout the entire route.
Two trains arrive and depart daily with the accustomed regularity, which is a characteristic of the New York Central; and the public along the line are highly gratified at the fact that the road has passed into the hands of a company so fully able to prosecute the business with promptness and efficiency.
The Canandaigua & Elmira Railroad, under the management of Mr. William G. Lapham, its efficient superintendent, will run its trains in connection with the New York Central, and we are glad to perceive that the business on this road, so important to the interests of Canandaigua, is gradually increasing, as the public confidence in its management gains strength.
N.Y. Central Railroad - Canandaigua, Batavia and Tonawanda Branch. - The old Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad has had its appellation changed, as above, and trains are now running over it regularly, having commenced Monday of last week.
The first train west leaves Canandaigua at 5:30 A.M., arrives at Batavia at 8:40 .M. The second train leaves Canandaigua at 5:05 P.M. and arrives at 8:40 P.M.
Trains going east leave Batavia at 6:30 A.M., arriving at Canandaigua at 9:40 A.M.; and at 4:00 P.M., arriving at 7:00 P.M.
Buffalo Courier and Republican, Sat., Oct. 30, 1869
A Curious Railroad Accident. - A curious railroad accident occurred on the Tonawanda, Batavia and Canandaigua branch of the New York Central Railroad, Thursday forenoon, between 11 and 12 o'clock, at Fallkirk, nine miles west of Batavia. A coal train coming west ran into a wood train at Fallkirk, and had its engine thrown with considerable violence from the track. By the collision five of the rear cars of the wood train were uncoupled and sent kiting on a down grade. They ran a distance of two miles, and only stopped when they came in collision with the engine of a coal train going east. The cars wee hurt, and the locomotive tumbled from its trucks. There was some smashing of cars all around, but nobody hurt.
General Roadmaster Otis and Division Roadmaster Bennett made an inspection of the "Peanut" branch of the New York Central on Thursday. While traveling along on the pony engine "Monitor" at a lively rate, a hand car loaded with lime was encountered near LeRoy. Chunks of lime, splinters of glass from the engine cab, pieces of wood and iron filled the air for a few minutes. When the sky was cleared a little, it was discovered that the hand car was demolished but little damage had been caused to the locomotive. The special party stopped long enough to get some of the lime dust off their clothing and then proceeded to Canandaigua.
Watertown Daily Times, Nov. 6, 1891
The New York Central has leased to the Lehigh Valley in perpetuity what has been known as the "Peanut Branch" extending from Tonawanda to Suspension Bridge. The negotiations for this arrangement have been pending many months, and it is a part of the deal under which the Lehigh Valley agrees not to insist on the building of the Buffalo, Thousands Islands and Portland from Suspension Bridge to Buffalo, which was originally intended to let the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg into Buffalo and to have been built jointly by that road and the Lehigh Valley.
(The same article appears in the Syracuse Herald Nov. 5, 1891, but adds:
"In addition to the lease of the 'Peanut' the Lehigh Valley will also have traffic rights over the Central's Falls branch, which will enable it to reach the Falls and Suspension Bridge. It will have its own independent line into Buffalo, and it sees fit, the contract with the Central allows it to discard a part of the Tonawanda branch, thus diminishing the mileage rate which it pays to the Central. In that case the Lehigh Valley will use only that part of the line from East Buffalo north to Suspension Bridge."
St. Lawrence Plain Dealer, Canton, N.Y., Nov. 11, 1891
The New York Central has leased to the Lehigh Valley in perpetuity its Tonawanda branch to Suspension Bridge. This is an old line, known as the "Peanut" Branch, which the Central has no especial use for. It has another line from Buffalo to Suspension Bridge.
Syracuse Daily Journal, Friday, March 18, 1892
On the Same Track
A Costly Smash-up on The "Peanut" Road Near East Bloomfield, N.Y.
Rochester, N.Y., March 18. - The attempt to run two trains in opposite directions on the single track railroad met with the usual results near East Bloomfield yesterday afternoon on the "Peanut" branch of the New York Central. No lives were lost, but the experiment will cost the company about $25,000.
A west-bound freight train left Canandaigua with orders to run to East Bloomfield. At the same time another freight was running east. The two trains were to have passed at East Bloomfield, but the operator at that place allowed the latter train to run ahead after it had stopped at the station before the arrival of the other freight.
The heavy trains came together two miles east. The engineers and firemen saw the danger in time to jump. The engines were both reduced to scrap iron and piled the cars into the ditch. Seven loaded cars were completely wrecked. The wrecking gang from Batavia worked all night and the road is clear this morning. The trains last night were sent over the Auburn branch from Canandaigua and by way of the main line from Batavia.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 13, 1898
The New York Central authorities announce that on and after May 15th the station known as Miller's Corners, located on the Canandaigua and Batavia branch, will be called Ionia, corresponding with the change in name of the post office. Tickets reading to and from Miller's Corners will be honored for passage until new tickets can be printed.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Friday, January 12, 1917
New Caledonia Station.
One Built by Central Completed - A Handsome Building
Caledonia, Jan. 11. - The moving out of the old station of the New York Central railroad in this village, into the new has been accomplished and the old structure, which has done duty for about sixty years, ever since the Canandaigua branch was put through, has been razed. The new station stands on the west side of North street, the old one being on the opposite side.
It is a handsome, commoious building, 24 by 104 feet, with ample aiting rooms, offices, freight room and toilets.It is steam heated and lighted by electricity. Large platforms for the handling of freight are on the outside and everything seems convenient and substantial.
The outside is not entirely finished but is covered with wire lath upon which stucco willbe placed in the spring, when it will be painted a light gray color. The interior finish is yellow pine.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, July 6. 1917
(This is in reference to farming in the town of Mendon)
Cucumbers have been quite extensively raised in this part of the town for several years, and every year about 100 carloads are shipped from the Ionia Station of the New York Central railroad.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Wed., June 15, 1921
Central Proposes to Put
Passenger Coach on Freight
Batavia, June 14.- It has been announced in Batavia that on June 26th two passenger trains are to be discontinued on the Batavia-Canandaigua branch of the New York Central Railroad, according to copies of the new timetable which goes into effect at that time. At the present time there are four passenger trains on the road and it is now proposed to turn two of the trains into trains which handle freight as the chief business, but will also have one coach on each train, and passengers will become incidental.
The trains which are slated to become "mixed" will make the trip, if they keep up with their running time, in five hours, or at the rate of nine miles an hour. It will be impossible for the trains to go faster than that and still maintain their schedules. When freight demands are pressing passengers will be obliged to spend many hours on the road.
It is stated that the business men of Canandaigua are to hold a mass meeting tonight in that city and will protest against the proposed change and will prepare a notice to the Public Service Commission that it joins with Batavia in making a complaint.
R.R. Coley, secretary of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, states that the schedule which it is proposed to put into effect now is somewhat similar to one in effect forty-five years ago.
Peanut Line 'Gallop' Has Goober Flavor - Ambition Realized
By Railroad Fans
(On Sunday, July 21, 1946, the Buffalo Chapter of the National Railway
Historical Society sponsored a special excursion over the New York
Central's "Peanut Line" from North Tonawanda to Caledonia and return.
Following is an article published in the Buffalo Courier Express July 28,
Buffalo railroad fans have realized a life long ambition. They have
eaten peanuts on The Peanut. It happened last Sunday when an "Iron Horse
Gallop" was made over this historic one-track branch of the New York
Central between North Tonawanda and Caledonia.
Russell H. Shapely, 178 Box Ave., president of the local chap-ter of the
National Railway His-torical Society, which sponsored the excursion, saw to
it that there was plenty of peanuts aboard the train to commemorate the
occa-sion. They were served unshelled in paper bags and in the form of
peanut butter sandwiches.
It was the second such trip of the fans in the postwar period, the first
having been made last month over the New York, Ontario & Western Railroad
between Oneida and Sidney. Next on the agenda are tours over the Niagara,
St. Catherines & Toronto and the Arcade and Attica, scheduled for early in
Got Name in 1855
An excursion over a little known or used line is considered a red
letter day by the railroad fans and the Peanut Branch of the New York
Central proved ideal. Orig-inally known as the Canandaigua-Niagara Falls
Railroad, the name Peanut has stuck since 1857 when the Central took it
over and the late Dean Richmond of Batavia, then operating vice-president,
reportedly referred to the acquisition as "only a peanut of a line."
Though still an important rail link, serving among other big customers
as National Gypsum Co., in Clarence Center, the Peanut has seen its heyday
as a railroad. No scheduled passenger trains have run on it in more than a
decade. One freight makes a round trip daily on week days. On Sundays the
Peanut is a "dead duck," or was until last week.
Looking from a window as the special nosed out of North Tonawanda at
the beginning of the run, one of the fans saw an elderly man apparently
sunning himself in the backyard. He was sitting in an arm chair, a pipe
in his mouth, his eyes closed. Aroused by the train he awakened with a
start and when he saw it was not only a train, but a passenger train as
well, a look of surprise spread over his face and his pipe fell to the
Even Cows Surprised
Further on, the train surprised a housewife at her Sunday morning
toilet. She had rushed to the doorway to see what was happening and it was
apparently not until the last coach had passed and she saw herself in the
exposure of several pairs of male eyes on the observation platform that she
realized she was standing there in her scanties.
Elsewhere along the line, cows came up to the fence to see the
excitement. On the return trip, some fishermen on a small lake near Akron
Junction nearly capsized their boat when one of their number stood up to
point to the train.
Usually on their "Iron Horse Gallops," the railroad fans are all over
the train, in the cab of the locomotive, hanging out of the windows,etc.
The older the coaches, the bumpier the roadbed and the more smoke they
inhale, the better they like it. In this respect their style was somewhat
cramped last Sunday as the Central gave them some of its air-conditioned
coaches and you don't open the windows on them.
Ticket Dated 1853
At LeRoy, Earl E. Bloss, a carpenter of that village as well as a
railroad fan, boarded the special and presented to President Shapley an
unused excursion ticket on the Canandaigua-Niagara Falls Railroad from
LeRoy to the Falls,dated August 24, 1853.
Among railroad fans who made last Sunday's "Iron Horse Gallop" were
Edward G. Hooper of Baltimore Md., assistant secretary of the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad and president of the national society; L. Newton Wylder of
Lima, Peru, who happened to be in Buffalo on business at the time, and
Rogers E. M. Whitaker of the magazine New Yorker's staff, who came from New
York City to make the trip.
Whitaker has travelled an estimated 500,000 miles on railroad fan trips,
375,000 miles since in 1936 when he started to keep a tab on mileage. It is
not unusual for him to hop a plane to some distant part of the country just
for the privilege of riding a few miles on some antiquated railroad.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, April 6, 1924
Railroader Tells of Early Years on ‘Peanut Branch’
Brightly Painted Cars and Engines Used on
Roads Out of Batavia; Car Shops at LeRoy
By R. A. Murphy
(Below we print some reminiscences of some of the small railroads around Batavia, N.Y. that are now incorporated into the New York Central. The writer is a Rock Island pensioner and at one time was superintendent at Minneapolis. He was born in Batavia and was one of the pioneer railroad men of that section. His reminiscences were contained in a letter to A.M. Clough, supervisor at Batavia, and were evoked by a picture of the Batavia station that was printed in a recent issue of the New York Central Lines Magazine.)
In looking through the New York Central Lines Magazine, I noticed a photograph of the New York Central depot at Batavia, which is one of the finest little cities in Western New York. The longer I looked at it, the more I thought of Batavia, my boyhood home in the days before the Civil War, and the railroads we had running into that town.
We had the old six-foot gauge Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Railway. They had engines called the Niagara, Sam Brown, Ben Pringle, Elmira and others, all inside connected engines. Today this old railroad is the Peanut Branch of the New York Central Railroad. I remember two brothers, Mike and Pat Dwyer, who ran engines on this old road. I often rode down to LeRoy with them.
Car Shop at LeRoy
There was a car shop at LeRoy where they built cars for the New York Central Railroad. They would load them on the broad gauge cars and haul them to Batavia, place them on a turntable, let them down on skids on a four-foot eight and a half inch track, on rails laid between the rails of the six foot gauge and deliver them to the New York Central Railroad. Your Tonawanda branch is part of this old six-foot gauge railway.
Then we had another six-foot gauge road we called the Cohocton Valley Railroad . This road ran from Avon to Batavia only, in those days. They graded the right-of-way nearly to Buffalo, built a bridge over the Tonawanda Creek, but never used it. They had a one-stall roundhouse at Batavia and a small turntable. When they wanted to turn the engine, they had to disconnect the tender from the engine and turn them separately. The hostler’s names were Pat Shea and Tom Reardon. They were engineers afterward on the Erie, and Northern Central Railroad, now the Pennsylvania Railroad. Often before putting the engine in the roundhouse they would run her east of Batavia to pump her up, and I would go with them and ring the bell. We had no air bell ringers in those days on engines, or any injectors either.
This road was afterward built to Attica to connect with the old Erie Railway at that point. They had quite a time crossing the New York Central at Batavia. The New York Central had nearly 500 of the finest men you could find – all from Erin’s Green Isle – to keep the old Cohocton from crossing, and you bet they didn’t cross until the New York Central allowed them to do so. The road into Batavia first was the good old New York Central of today – the four track road of America.
Old Ep Powers pumped water for them with a tread mill and two or three horses. He could not do this today. In those days old man Clark would switch cars with an old gray horse and pull the little red wheat cars down to Monell’s and Gould’s warehouses. Of course, there were no elevators in those days. Charles Gould, the father of the Gould coupler, was raised in Batavia. I remember him well as a boy.
Then when the Civil War started I went to work in the Western Union Telegraph office of the New York Central for William McElron as a messenger boy. Many a message I delivered in old Batavia, and many a message I delivered to the home of Dean Richmond, who was President of the New York Central Railroad. In my estimation, as a boy and when I grew to be a young man and until he passed away, I thought there was no other man like him. He was so good and kind to everyone, and his good wife and family were the same.
In 1863 I ran away from home and went to New York and enlisted. When I was discharged from the army in October, 1865, I came back home, worked on the track a little while, and then went on as a brakeman for Conductor Mose Cleveland on a mixed train between Batavia and Canandaigua. I doubled the road of 50 miles each day, wooded up about eight times, on the round trip, unloaded freight and broke by hand – for $35 a month, and I was happy and contended.
Crime to Miss Coupling.
I remember well the Creamer brake and the board that was fastened by8 one bolt in one car in passenger trains to keep passenger trains from falling off when going from one car to another. There was considerable slack with the old pin and link couplers. When an old time brakeman would miss making a coupling for the first time, you would year the rest of the gang yell “New Man.” It was almost a crime to miss making a coupling in those days.
On the Peanut Division we had Engineers Al Lyons, George McFagan, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Boyington, Charlie Martin and Hat Hamlin. The conductors were Mr. Peak, Al Richmond (Dean’s son), Hank Agar and Mose Cleveland and a man by the name of Smith who ran extra on the Tonawanda line. Mr. Marsh was also a conductor. I have forgotten the engineer’s name. John DeWolf fired for him. Mr. Northam, who was later yard master at Buffalo, was the extra conductor. Conductors on the Peanut in those days wore plug hats.
On the Attica Branch they had an old dome boiler engine, with Harvey Backus and engineer. McMahon was his fireman and J.D. Terrell was the conductor. The engine was named after him. The train consisted of two cars. Old Man Chase was the baggageman and ran as an extra conductor. On the man line we had the engines Racer, North Star, Dean Richmond, Byron, Bergen, Pembroke, Churchville and others. Some of the engines were inside connected with a “V” hook, and were called Hinkleys. Some of the engineers I can recall were Lin Ham, Nick Kehoe, Dick Hart, Hank Carter and brother, Matt Earhart and brother. Matt was called the “Flying Dutchman”; John and Hank Day, brothers, then Mat Sanford and Ed Woods. “Old Boy” Houghtail was a passenger conductor.
A man by the name of Coddington would take charge of three stock trains from Buffalo to Rochester. They had no large packing houses in the West in those days. The stock of all went through to New York City. Another old conductor was L. Wood.
Partly Single Tracked
I made many a trip between Buffalo and Rochester, and stood at the end of the track at Byron and Bergen waiting for a train to come before we could pull out, as Byron was the first end of double track, and then Bergen. They had a one-armed operator at Byron who was a noble fellow, and would give us all the information he could about trains while we were wooding up the engine. So, you can see, kind acts are never forgotten, and I have never forgotten. He was a good man.
Those were the days when an engine went into Dave Upton’s shop. They did not squirt the black paint onto her and send her out in a day or two, as they do now. The engine’s wheels were painted and varnished a beautiful red, and landscapes were painted on the sides of the tenders, such as Niagara Falls, Genesee Falls and other beautiful scenes. Also the sides of the headlights had pictured painted on them. In wooding up, should a fellow strike the side of the tank with a stock of wood he would have to get the gloves as with the fireman. I know I would have been thumped one day had I not been the better man of the two for having a stick of wood accidentally strike the side of the tender. But as a rule, the boys were very careful in wooding up.
Wooden Brake Shoes
Our cars in those days had the old wooden brake shoes. You had to watch them to keep them from burning up going down old Byron grade. Loaded freight cars in those days were not allowed to go off the line. All cars had the contents transferred at all junction points. No car accountants in those days as now! They had what they called “car chasers” who rode over connecting lines looking for cars that were lost.
I remember one time after I had left the New York Central, in the forepart of 1868, and gone to work on the Northern Central Railroad out of Canandaigua, now the Pennsylvania Railroad, of a car coming to our line loaded with beer from McKechine’s brewery for Elmira, N.Y., and which should have been transferred at Canandaigua. Agent William Burgett asked me if I would haul the car without its contents being transferred. I told him “Sure.” I took it to Elmira. Then after being unloaded at Elmira, the car was used locally between Elmira and Williamsport.
In about ten days, along came a car chaser. I was on this run as an extra conductor. Along came the car chaser and asked me if I ever saw it before. I told him “No,” and that I thought they might have loaded it by mistake. You know railroad men never told a fib in those days, neither do they now. At least I never heard of them telling any, and I have been a trainmaster and an assistant trainmaster on the B.C.R.N. and the good Rock Island Railroad for 35 years after coming West in 1880. As I am only a kid now – 78 years of age – the good old Rock Island Railroad pensioned me off nearly eight years ago.
Well, did you know that the New York Central had a continuous rail in 1865 and 1866 on part of the Buffalo division? The rails were split in two, lengthwise, and bolted together so they made a continuous rail. The joints were not opposite each other. If Andy McVully’s father were living or old John Fredly, supervisor, they could tell you about those days and rails. Good men they were. I hope they are happy in heaven, where the tamping of ties, laying of steel, lining up track, shoveling snow or shimming up old chair iron does not bother them now. Good bless them and others who worked with them in those days, and helped pump an old hand-car to and from work for six or eight miles each morning and evening.
Watertown Daily Times, Thurs., June 15, 1925
Railroad May Use Gas Cars
Possibility of Utilizing Them on Suburban Lines
Patrick E. Crowley in City
President of New York Central, Here Visiting
His Brother, Says Bus Competition is
Hard to Meet.
Although no decision has been reached in regard to operating gas cars on local lines of the New York Central, thee is the possibility that they may be operated in this section on the suburban lines, according to a statement today from Patrick E. Crowley, president of the New York Central Railroad, who arrived here today to visit his brother, T.W. Crowley, division superintendent, who is ill at his home.
"The gas cars are still in the experimental stage," said Mr. Crowley. "They have been tried on the Big Four and this year we are having some made for the New York Central. There are only two lines on which I know definitely that they will be operated. Those likes are the Lake Mahopac branch on the Harlem division and the Batavia-Canandaigua branch. They will be put in operation this summer and other lines may be added.
"This section is pretty well covered with bus lines and thee is some question as to whether they will be put on here for some time. Local conditions have a great deal to do with deciding whether a line is feasible," was Mr. Crowley's reply to the question, do gas cars pay. "When it is necessary to carry baggage, mail, express, coach and smoker, it is difficult to combine all into one car, or one car and a trailer. The gas trains are seldom more than two cars. We have not tried any on the New York Central yet, but will be able to tell more after they have operated on some of the lines.
"The bus competition is difficult to meet, for the bus takes a man practically to his door, while by rail he has to be transported to the station usually on each end of the trip. Of course in winter, the railroads are kept open to traffic where in many cases the highways are blocked.
"The possibility of substituting gasoline for steam on the Watertown-Syracuse fast train is something on which I could not make a definite statement. That too would depend on whether it would be possible to operate more economically by gasoline.
"Freight is heavier this year than last," he replied to a question on car loadings, "and the passenger trains are carrying more passengers.
"My sole object in this trip to Watertown is to visit my brother."
Ontario County Times, Canandaigua, N.Y., Wed., Aug. 5, 1925
Gasoline Train on Peanut Railroad
Started on Regular Schedule This Morning – Townsend Walling, Driver.
A new era in transportation, following that over the old Indian foot
trails, then stagecoach, wood burning locomotive and the coal burner,
commenced in this section yesterday, when the new gasoline engine driven
train made its trial run over the Peanut branch of the New York Central
railroad from Canandaigua to Batavia.
The engine arrived Friday night from Philadelphia and had been tuned up
and adjusted in the local yards. The trial run, made over the branch line,
was satisfactory to the railroad operating officials present and the train
put in service on the regular time schedule this morning. The gasoline
locomotive, with attached trailer for passengers, was built by the J.G.
Brill company of Philadelphia.
The locomotive has much the appearance of an electric car with the
driver’s cab in front. Power is furnished by a 200-horsepower gasoline
engine, built by the Winton Engine Company of Cleveland. In this unit is
also located the room for the train crew, the railroad post office and
The second car is a trailer, which will accommodate 60 passengers. The
body and coach work of the train are of steel. The trailer is the 55-foot
standard railroad coach type and has a separate smoking compartment, and a
rest room with wash room included. The train is equipped with Stephenson
hot water heat and Westinghouse air brakes. The inside finished, including
all doors, sash and mouldings, is of mahogany, stained in rich finish.
The train will make the regular schedule runs on the Peanut and is
limited by a governor to a speed not to exceed 60 miles per hour. The
locomotive was operated by Vaughn W. Oswalt, service manager of the
Automotive Car Division of the Brill Company, who drove it from Philadelphia
to Canandaigua. Mr. Oswalt is breaking in Townsend Walling for the regular
LeRoy, Oct. 2 - Le Royans are gratified now that the new timetable on the Baravia-Canandaigua branch of the New York Central is out, to find that the passenger service here is not eliminated as had been predicted. Last April two of the passenger trains on this branch were taken off, leaving only two, one west in the morning and another east at night. This service is maintained by a gasoline motor train, and this has been ordered continued for the present at least. This train carries passengers, baggage and brings the first mil from Canandaigua and points east in the morning. Its discontinuance would have resulted in considerable inconvenience.
It was proposed to take off this passenger service and substitute a passenger coach attached to the way freights, which never could be depended upon, local residents declare. This was the plan adopted by the Erie Railroad on its Avon-
Attica branch several months ago. Had this plan been adopted by the New York Central, the only passenger service by railroad serving LeRoy would have been the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh.
This curtailment in railroad passenger service is said to be due to the growth of the motor buss business since LeRoy is on the main line between Buffalo and Rochester with buses operated almost hourly.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Sunday, July 3, 1938
Honeoye Falls' First Train Hailed 85 Years Ago Today
Honeoye Falls - "Here it comes!" rang out the cry from the great throng of watchers, as a thin puff of smoke far in the distance to the east, followed by a shill whistle, signaled the slow progress of the first train to enter the village Honeoye Falls 85 years ago today, on July 3, 1853.
The great opening of the new railroad, known as the Peanut Branch, anticipated weeks in advance, marked the beginning for the new era in transportation fot the townspeople, and offered a connecting link with the outside world.
It is said the single branch line connecting Canandaigua and Niagara Falls originally owned by the Canandaigua & Niagara Falls Railroad Company and later absorbed by the New York Central, of which the Peanut Branch is a part, was laid as a strategem of railroad to prevent a possible connection between the New York & Erie and the Great Western of Canada at Suspension Bridge.
Covered Span Picturesque
The covered railroad bridge which formerly spanned the Honeoye Creek was a picturesque adjunct of the road in the early days. A stone block house with stationery engine for pumping water to the locomotives which used wood for fuel, was razed long ago and is a memory now of only the oldes† inhabitants of this area.
The soot-blackened railroad station with its dingy back office where the telegraph operator sat majestically aloof over the keys of his clicking instruments has been removed. Only the freight house remains. Silent through long trainless hours it awakens with a pathetic flicker of life to mark the arrival of the two trains a day, one going in each direction where formerly there were 10.
The fate of the Peanut Branch is still pending. The railroad company has proposed abandoning the old branch line, now reduced to the minimum of one freight train a day.
Lehigh Survey Made.
Lehigh Valley Railroad officials made a local survey of conditions recently for the purpose of giving further consideration to the proposed plan of connecting their road with the New York Central here if the situation warrants it.
In a report submitted to the Interstate Commerce Commission, Examiner J.S. Pritchard stated that for the years 1932 and including 1937 the average number of carloads forwarded annually from Honeoye Falls was 223 and the number received 192.
In 1937 the New York Central Railroad paid village tax to the amount of $39 on assessment valuation of $20,000 with the rate of $2 per $1,000. The company's assessment at the present is $18,000 on the property within the corporate limits with a tax of $14 per thousand.
Honeoye Falls - Today marks the final day of freight service on the portion of the New York Central's Peanut Line which runs from a point west of Holcumb to a point east of Caledonia.
According to railroad officials stations affected by this discontinuance of the branch include West Bloomfield, Ionia, Golah, West Rush, Scottsville, and Maxwell, as well as Honeoye Falls.
Embargoes have been issued warning all roads covering freight consigned for shipment to or from stations on the line that freight service ends tonight.
A proposed switch connection between the Lehigh Valley and the nearby Central tracks is under consideration at present. Negotiations have been instituted by representatives of local industries to procure options on property adjoining the proposed hookup for a right of way.
The fate of the railroad bridge used for many years as a foot bridge and short cut between east and western portions of the village is pending. Should the Lehigh reach a satisfactory agreement with the Central in effecting a connection between the lines, freight service to the Snyder Packing Company, located at the extreme eastern portion of the village, would be considered it was learned, and the railroad bridge which spans Honeoye Creek adjacent to the Hamilton mill would be retained. Otherwise the bridge an all other adjuncts of the road, including trackage, will be salvaged.
Rochester Times-Union, Saturday, Jan. 14, 1939
Choo Choo Crews Take Bye Bye Tour;
Peanut Express ‘Whizzes’ Up Valley Last Time
Old-Timers Turn Out to Line Tracks
By Clyde Blackwell
Hoarse pipings of a locomotive whistle over the rolling fringe of the Bristol hills sounded the death wail of the “Peanut Branch” of the New York Central today.
For after today one-train-a-day freight service from Canandaigua to Batavia will meet dead-ends at Caledonia and Holcomb. Then they will back to their starting point. The track between Caledonia and Holcomb will be torn up.
In the little Holcomb station, the pot-bellied stove crackled early this afternoon. Stationmaster Frank D. Boughton hunched over his telegraph key, chattering the message that the single east and west bound freights would meet in front of the station for the last time in 15 minutes.
Swaying down the 85-year-old line with three cars and a caboose, was the locomotive which Engineer Tom Moynihan of the eastbound with his five-man crew had been waving goodbyes ever since they left Caledonia.
At Golah, West Rush and West Bloomfield, already struck from regular schedules on the 25 miles of “dead” track, old men stood and saw another mark of their youth vanish with the steam of the moving train. At Honeoye Falls and Ionia, only regular stops , the old men came down to take a closer look and talk with the friendly train crew.
At Honeoye Falls, however, negotiations may preserve a railroad, for the Hemlock branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad that crosses the Central tracks may be connected with the present Central track. Because trains can’t go at right angles, a few hundred feet of track will have to be installed to complete the line.
The west-bound freight, with another three cars and a caboose puffed to a stop in front of the Holcomb station, Engineer F.G. Smith sat in the warm cab waiting to hear the whistle on Moynihan’s locomotive come down the grey misty air.
Smith is the dean of the run, having piloted engines over the track for 31 years, was fireman on the “Peanut” as early as 1904. Doing a maximum of 10 miles an hour, Smith and Moynihan took their usual eight hours to complete the 75-mile from Batavia to Geneva today.
“It’ll seem strange to say goodbye to my friends,” was all Smith would say as he spoke of the heyday of the line when three passenger trains and three freight trains rumbled on the “Peanut” each day. He’s seen passenger service dwindle to two or three passengers a trip, finally go out of existence in 1933.
Farewell With Smile
Moynihan puffed his train into a spur. He and his crew got out. In the crew was C.H. Lawrence, of Batavia, fireman; C.F. Beswick, of Oakfield, conductor; L.B. Kurtz, of Lyons; F.J. Stickney, of Batavia, brakemen; and H.J. Wassink, of Batavia, expressman.
On Smith’s train were T.J. Ferris, Batavia, fireman; Fred Schraffenberger of Lyons, conductor; T.G. McMahon, of Dresden, and L. A. Grodon, of Geneva, brakemen. The crews met, shook hands, joked.
Then Smith and his crew climbed back on the train. Black smoke puffed from the stack, the wheels slipped, the train moved slowly past Moynihan’s train up the snow-covered tracks. A whistle piped over the hills for the very last time and echoes finally faded into silence.
Holcomb - With the cutting of the rails of the New York Central Railroad, the actual abandonment of the "Peanut" line from here to Caledonia was made complete Monday.
The rails were cut 2,000 feet west of the crossing at the Caledonia station, the part of the line that went out of operation, Jan. 15 at midnight, through permission of the Interstate Commerce Commission. All block signals were discontinued between Caledonia and Canandaigua, and the agents located at the stations between Holcomb and Caledonia are temporarily out of a job.
With the exception of the cutting, the actual demolition of the trackage is not yet in progress. It is expected operation will be started, and all buildings, tracks, switches, equipment an anything connected with the former line will be dismantled and sold or junked.
The Holcomb station is open and all freight, express and telegraph business is maintained the same as previously. A train is scheduled to arrive from Canandaigua each day, about 2:30 p.m and leave for that city about 3 p.m.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Wed., January 25, 1939
Railroad Transfers Agent at Holcomb
Holcomb - Frank D. Boughton who for the past 43 years has been agent at the New York Central Station, has assumed the same position at the Victor station. The change is due to the closing of the "Peanut Branch" between Holcomb and Caledonia effective Jan. 15. Lewis L. Pierce who for the past 44 years has been agent at Ionia station, has taken charge of the local depot.
Boughton started as an operator in the Holcomb office in August, 1894, with John Murray as agent. After the death of Murray, Boughton received the agency on Sept. 10, 1895, and has been here since.
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, April 30, 1939
Lehigh Trackage Being Linked to Peanut Line
Honeoye Falls - Asided by improved weather conditions work is being pushed along rapidly on the switch connection linking the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Honeoye Falls with the 1,200 feet of track on the abandoned Peanut Branch of the New York Central.
Tons of earth from Lehigh property adjacent to the tracks are being excavated daily to fill in a stretch of 1,000 feet to the level of the Lehigh roadbed, which tapers from a nine-foot level to a height of four feet. The new track will run from a point on the Lehigh line and crossing the "Y" turntable will run diagonally past the rear entrance of the Dibble Seed Company plant to the former Central road.
The present plan eliminates dangerous street crossings and proximity of trains in the residential section. Final negotiations for options for the right of way were completed y local businessmen who have depended on the New York Central for shipping facilities.
The short stretch of the Central track utilized by the Lehigh is all that will remain of the 85-year-old Peanut Branch. The track is being torn up and adjuncts of the road are being razed, The fate of the railroad bridge spanning the Honeoye Creek and used for more than a foot bridge, is still pending.