Fullfilment of the Remarkable Prophecies
Relating to the Development of
Railroad Transportation

By Henry Whittemore—1909


A well known writer on railroad affairs said in 1861: "Thus in the last twenty-five years a thousand million of dollars has been spent in the construction of roads . . . . These rails give circulation to all the surplus capital that is created by labor within that circle. It is on this principle that may be explained the immense prosperity that has been seen to attend the enormous expenditure of railroads, particularly during the last ten years. The great advantage of railroads is that they practically diminish distances between places in proportion to the speed attained."

The same writer says: "In New York the question of railroads had been early discussed. A publication of Col. Stevens of Hoboken, in 1812, advocated a railway instead of a canal to the lakes, but his proposition was opposed by Chancellor Livingston on grounds which indicate very odd ideas of the nature of the work."

New York was the pioneer State in railroad enterprises, and while others were doubting, hesitating and discussing their practicability, railroad companies were being organized in every part of the State involving millions of dollars. Col. John Stevens who first suggested and demonstrated their practicability was a native of New York, though his experiment was in New Jersey. Hundreds of capitalists in every part of the State were ready to invest their money in what seemed to them a safe and sure enterprise, which would yield satisfactory returns. During the first twenty-five years-from 1830 to 1855 there were, in addition to the roads which proved successful, or partially so, ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE COMPANIES organized which never laid a rail.

The first regular application for a railroad charter made to the New York Legislature, was by Stephen Van Rensselaer and others in 1826 for power to construct a railroad between the Hudson and the Mohawk rivers, and they "received the grant," says one writer, "for the reason that no railroads were then in the country at all, and that as the petitioners were willing to make the experiment at their own cost it was a good opportunity to permit it." The surveys for the road were not made until 1830, and the road was opened in September, 1831."

"Meantime the charters of the Harlem, and the Saratoga and Schenectady had been granted. The opening of the Mohawk road caused much excitement. A road from the Hudson to the lakes was agitated, and applications were made to the Legislature in 1832 for forty-nine roads, of which twenty-nine charters were granted, and of this number six were constructed, viz.: The Brooklyn and Jamaica, Hudson and Berkshire, Erie, Rensselaer and Saratoga, Tonawanda, Watertown and Rome. In 1835 six railroads were chartered; of these, the Utica and Schenectady, the Whitehall and Rutland, and Buffalo and Black Rock were constructed. In 1834 ten railroads were chartered, and of these five were constructed, the Auburn and Syracuse, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, Long Island, Lockport and Niagara, and the Saratoga and Washington. In 1836 forty-three railroads were chartered, seven of which were built, the Albany and West Stockbridge, Albany and Buffalo, Auburn and Rochester, Attica and Buffalo, Lewiston, Schenectady and Troy, Skaneateles and Utica. In 1837 fourteen railroads were chartered, but none of them were constructed. In 1838 the State authorized a loan of its credit to the extent of $3,000,000 to the Erie Railroad, and $100,000 to the Catskill and Canajoharie, and $250,000 to the Auburn and Syracuse. In 1839, the Oswego and Syracuse railroad was chartered; and the city of Albany lent $400,000 to the Albany and West Stockbridge road. In 1840 acts were passed by the Legislature to loan the credit of the State to the extent of $3,478,000 to six roads; and provision was made for a sinking fund to be paid into the treasury by the railroad companies except the Erie. In 1840 the city of Albany was authorized to invest $350,000 in the Albany and West Stockbridge road. The Erie, having defaulted on its interest, was advertised for sale by the Comptroller, which did not take place, however. This was not the case with the Ithaca and Orange, which was sold for $4,500, and the Catskill and Canajoharie for $11,000. In 1845 the several railroads from Albany to Buffalo were, for the first time, permitted to transport freight on the closing of the canal by paying the State the same toll as the canal would have paid. In 1846 the Hudson River and the New York and New Haven roads were chartered. In 1847 the seven roads, making the line from Albany to the lakes, were required to lay down an iron rail of fifty pounds to the yard. They were likewise authorized to carry freight all the year by paying canal tolls; and all the railroads were made liable for damages in case of death by neglect of the companies' agents. In 1848 the general railroad law was passed. The law provided, however, that the Legislature should decide whether the 'public utility' of the road justifies the taking of private property. From 1826 to 1850, one hundred and fifty-one charters were granted, and of these thirty were carried into effect. The line from Albany to Buffalo was composed of seven distinct companies finished at different times. Most of these were restricted as to fares. The Mohawk and Hudson—or Albany and Schenectady—was not restricted."


This company was formed Feb. 26, 1851. The road was built from Rouses Point to the Canada line, 2½ miles; and subsequently leased to a road in Canada of the same name, which extends to St. John and road Prairie, opposite Montreal.


This was formerly known as the Castleton and West Stockbridge Railroad. The Company was organized April 9, 1830, but nothing was done under the first name. The name of Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad was assumed May 5, 1836. The road was opened from Greenbush to Chatham, December 21,1841, and to the State Line, September 12, 1842. It was leased to the Western (Mass.) Railroad, Nov. 18, 1841, for the term of its charter, and later was operated as a part of that road, including the ferry at Albany. The city of Albany at different times issued bonds for $1,000,000 to aid in building the road, the lessees paying the interest and $10,000 annually toward the sinking fund. It connected at Albany with Springfield and Boston.


This company was organized December 9, 1858, extending from the New York and Erie Railroad at Little Valley to the southern line of Chautauqua county


This company was incorporated May 14, 1845, with a capital of $750,000. Time extended April 11, 1849. Other roads allowed to take stock April 9, 1851. Capital increased and company allowed to purchase the Buffalo and Rochester Railroad from Attica to Buffalo, and to change its name March 3, 1851. Name changed to Buffalo and New York City Railroad April 16, 1851.


This company was incorporated by act of the Legislature passed May 1, 1834. Daniel Sennett, Ulysses F. Doubleday, Bradley Tuttle, Daniel Munroe, Grover Lawrence and William Lawrence, Jr., were the original incorporators, with power "to construct a single or double railroad between the villages of Auburn and Syracuse, on such route as a majority of the directors of said company might determine." The capital of the company was placed at $400,000. The law required that $20,000 should be expended in the construction within two years after the passage of the act, and that the road should be completed and in operation within five years thereafter, otherwise the corporation should cease to exist and the charter become null and void. Hon. Elijah Miller was the first president.

Work was commenced in December, 1835, and the first payment to contractors was made in January, 1836. On April 4, 1837, an act was passed authorizing the Commissioners of the Land Office to sell and convey to the company such portion of "farm Lot No. 253, of the Onondago Salt Springs. Reservation to the town of Saline lying between the Canal and the streets across said lot as may be necessary for the track of said roan upon said land for a depot, and for the construction of a basin for the accommodation of said company."

The road was opened from Auburn to Geddes with wooden rails, June 8, 1838, at which date Sherwood's stage horses were put upon the line between Auburn and Geddes, and continued to draw the cars till June 4, 1839, when the "iron horse" was put on in their place. On that day the first engine ran on the road; the "Syracuse" was connected with the train, and an excursion was made over the entire road, and brought into the city, the bridge across the mill pond having been completed in the spring of 1839.


Though not a New York corporation, the connections of this road form a part of the great railroad system that has contributed so largely to the wealth of the Empire State, and assisted in developing its towns, cities and villages along the line of its route. The charter of the road is dated March 5, 1833. The road runs from Worcester, 44 miles west of Boston, to the Massachusetts State line, and thence 38¼ miles over the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad, leased and operated by the Western road into Albany, 200 miles from Boston. The first passenger train that left Boston was on April 7, 1834, for Davis's Tavern, Newton, to which place the Worcester road was then opened. It was completed to Worcester July 3, 1835. The Western in continuation was opened to Springfield, Oct. 31, 1839, and reached Greenbush Dec. 21, 1841, thus establishing the route from Boston to the Albany basin in seven hours. It then connects with the New York Central road, which carries the line 229 miles to Rochester, where, by the Lockport division of the Central road, 77 miles, connects at Suspension Bridge with the Great Western Canada road, and thus with the Michigan Central to the Illinois Central and the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans.


This was one of the earliest companies formed in the southern portion of the State. It was chartered in 1832, and was opened from the South Ferry to Jamaica, a distance of about twelve miles in 1836; and not long after the Long Island Railroad, chartered April 26, 1834, ran cars over the same track, reaching some of the towns in Suffolk county. The route was along Atlantic street, and what is now Atlantic avenue. Although this road was a great advance on all previous modes of travel, its value as a means of local travel was limited to the immediate vicinity of the street through which it passed, and it served even this need imperfectly. The equipment, even at that period, was not by any means up to date. The best locomotive on the road at that time seldom exceeded a speed of twelve miles an hour, and the Long Island Railroad having no competition to fear, was not then, nor for many years after, equipped in the best manner. "More than twenty years later," says a local writer, "in its passage through Atlantic avenue, an active boy or man found no difficulty in keeping up with its express trains for two or three miles."

Although chartered in 1834 the main line was not opened for travel through to Greenpoint until July, 1844. It was designed to be a direct route between New York and Boston by connecting at the eastern end of Long Island with a line of steamers for the main land. But the competition of the New Haven all-land route diverted the through travel. The Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad leased, from its completion in 1836, extended its line to the South Ferry in Brooklyn. The new line to Long Island City having been completed in 1861, the line in the city of Brooklyn was abandoned, but rebuilt some years later as far as the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.

The road was not a financial success, and was for some time in the hands of a receiver, but subsequently revived, and with additional capital and other management, it became a paying enterprise.


This company was organized in 1859 by the consolidation of the Buffalo and Bradford, and the Buffalo and Pittsburg Railroad.


A local history of Erie county says: "In 1836 we had but a single railroad running into Buffalo—that from Niagara Falls—of not less than twenty miles in length, with no connection whatever with any other road.

"Out of the wreckage of the period of disasters came the first steam railroad in Erie county. Besides the Buffalo and Black River Road two railroads were incorporated as early as April, 1832, neither of which, however, constructed its proposed lines. One of them was the Buffalo and Erie Railroad Company, which proposed to build a road seventeen miles long to East Aurora. Considerable stock was subscribed, and the line was surveyed. In the midst of the most hopeful anticipations came the crisis of 1836, and the project was abandoned.


This was formerly known as the Attica and Hornellsville Railroad. Articles were filed January 23d, 1851. On October 31, 1857, thirty-one miles of the road were sold to the Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad Company, and the name changed to Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad.


Was another product of the inflated period, and when the first ominous signs of the crisis were seen in 1836, the road was in process of construction. On the 26th of August of that year the first steam locomotive in the country was placed on this road at Black Rock, and ran from there to Tonawanda at a speed of fifteen to twenty miles an hour. On the 6th of the following month its trips were extended to Buffalo; and on the 5th of November were running regularly to the Falls."


This company was formed by the consolidation of the Buffalo and Attica Railroad Company, which had constructed a road from Attica to Rochester, and in. 1862 opened a new direct line from Buffalo to Batavia, and sold its line from Buffalo to Attica to the New York and Erie Railroad Company. The latter leased their line to the New York and Erie Company, which built a branch from Attica to Hornellsville, thus forming a continuous line from Buffalo to New York; the whole line was ready for traffic in 1852.


This company was formed June 6, 1849. The road was opened from Dunkirk to the State Line January 1, 1852; and to Buffalo 22d of February following. The company purchased the North East (Penn) Railroad under act of April 13, 1857, and later formed one company from Buffalo to Erie, Penn., which was opened under the name of Buffalo and Erie Railroad.


This road was incorporated April 21, 1828, for the purpose of constructing a railroad from Catskill to Ithaca "to transport, take and carry property and persons upon the same by the power and force of steam, of animals, or any mechanical or other power, or any combination of them which the said corporation may choose to apply." The capital stock was fixed at $1,500,000, in fifty dollar shares, and the State reserved the right to subscribe for one thousand shares. In case the right was exercised, the comptroller was to become ex-officio a director. Jacob Haight, Thomas B. Cook, Francis A. Bloodgood, Ebenezer Mack and associates were named in the act, and Jacob Haight, Thomas B. Cook, and Orrin Day were appointed commissioners to open subscription books at Catskill. The corporation was authorized to allow persons to use the railroads with "suitable and proper carriages," by paying tolls at the gates which the company might erect as soon as ten miles of the road were completed. An act of March 29, 1829, extended the time for opening subscription books to the following year. While the enterprise did not prove successful it indicated the interest which had been awakened in Greene county, which culminated in another project a little later.


The scheme of constructing a railroad from Catskill to the West, which gave birth to the Catskill and Ithaca project, found another expression in this enterprise. The act of incorporation was passed April 19, 1830, naming as incorporators William Deitz, Thomas B. Cook, Clarkson Crolius, Henry Leiber, James Lynch, George Spencer, Israel Foote, John Adams, Herman J. Ehle, Harmon J. Quackenbos, and George Sprakes. The capital stock was to consist of $600,000 in fifty dollar shares. The commencement of the work was opened with great display; the following, comprising only a part of the extensive programme:


For celebrating the breaking o f ground o f the


On Thursday the 27th Oct. 1831

Thirteen Guns at Sunrise


This was followed by the ringing of bells and an immense gathering of people who marched in procession, with bands of music, and orations by the distinguished men of the day.

The company was organized and ready for business early in the summer of 1835, but nothing was done on the road except surveying, until the fall of that year, when ground was broken near the creek at Catskill. In 1836 contracts were given out through the whole length of the line, and it was expected the road would be completed by the close of 1837. The charter was amended April 20th, 1837, so as to increase the capital stock $1,000,000, and authorized the directors to borrow to the amount of $400,000 for the completion of the road, and to secure the loan by a mortgage upon the property and stock of the company.

The railroad was not successful. It was used mainly for the transportation of freight in connection with the great tanning interests.

Among the earliest railroad enterprises following that of the Mohawk and Hudson was the Ithaca and Oswego Railroad which subsequently became the Cayuga and Susquehanna Railroad.


This company was incorporated May 11, 1845, with a capital of $1,500,000. Time extended to April 15, 1847, and again, March 24th, 1849. Surveys were begun in June, 1845, and the construction in 1850. The road was opened from Canandaigua to Jefferson (now Watkins) 46-and-74/100 miles, Sept. 15, 1851, the New York and Erie Railroad furnishing engines, cars, etc., for a specific rate per mile. The road was allowed to connect with the Chemung Railroad at Jefferson, and to change its name Sept. 11th, 1852, to Canandaigua and Elmira Railroad; it subsequently became a part of the New York Central system.


This road under the former name was chartered June 28, 1828,—the second railroad charter granted in the State. The road was opened in April, 1834. An inclined plane at Ithaca rose 1 foot 4 28-100 feet, and stationary steam power was used for drawing up the cars. Above this was another inclined plane that rose one foot in 21 feet, on which horse power was used. 'The road was subsequently sold to the comptroller on stock issued by the State, on which the company had failed to pay interest. A new company was organized, and the above name assumed April 18, 1843. The road was reconstructed; the inclined planes were done away with, and on January 1, 1855, it was leased to the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, and operated by them as the Cayuga division. This became an important route from the coal mines of Pennsylvania; coal and iron forming the principal item of business.


Which became a part of the Erie system, was incorporated May 14, 1845; the commissioners appointed to procure subscriptions being Charles Cook, William Maxwell and Lyman Covell. Not much was done at that time.


This was formed February 24, 1852, and opened June 28, 1854, extending from Flushing to Hunter's Creek, and by ferry to New York, a distance of twelve miles. 


The construction of a railroad parallel with the Hudson River, connecting the City of New York with the City of Albany, affording a communication between the two cites at all seasons of the year, was considered an object of so much importance that, in 1833, a number of enterprising citizens of Albany obtained from the Legislature a charter for a company with a capital of $3,000,000, and permission to construct the road, but the amount of capital was not subscribed, and the project for the time was abandoned, and some twenty years elapsed before it was again undertaken. The then estimated cost for a road for a single track, was $12,000 per mile, which would amount to nearly $2,000,000 for the entire line. It was believed that branches of this road might easily be constructed to Hartford and New Haven, and a large amount of business might me expected, not only from the eastern counties of New York, but from Berkshire county, Mass., and Litchfield and Fairfield counties, Connecticut.

The failure of the first project probably discouraged any further attempt for many years, and it was not until the early part of 1846 that the matter was again revived, and this time by prominent citizens of Poughkeepsie, among whom was Matthew Vassar, D. B. Lent and N. J. Coffin. Associated with them were a few capitalists from New York and other places, who were convinced of its feasibility, its safe investment and its practical advantages as a connecting link with the commercial channels of the North and West. The first survey of the route was paid for by the people of Poughkeepsie, and it was through their influence that a charter was obtained May 12, 1846. The construction of the road was begun in 1847, and seventy-five miles were completed in 1849, which year it was in part first opened to the public. It was opened to Peekskill from New York, September 29, 1840; to New Hamburg, December 6, 1840, and to Poughkeepsie, December 31, 1849. The road was rapidly completed, and the northern section was opened from Albany to Hudson, January 10, 1851; to Tivoli, August 4, 1851; and through its entire length from New York to Albany, a distance of one hundred and forty-three miles and a half, October 1, 1851. It has 3,595 feet of tunnels, varying from sixty to eight hundred and thirty-five feet; one of which is through solid rock, just above New Hamburg, in Dutchess county.

"On the 29th of September, 1849, passage travel over the road as far as Peekskill was commenced. The average number of passengers per day for the first month (October), was 830; and the total number for the month, 21,593; and for the next month (November), the average number per day was 1,055; and the total number for the month 27,441. At this time it was calculated that the land taken for the roadway in Westchester county had cost the company, exclusive of agencies and other charges, $185,905.02 ; and also that the grading had involved an expenditure of not far from a million dollars, which was about three hundred thousand dollars above the cost estimated in the original contracts in 1847."

The Vanderbilt influence came into control of the New York and Hudson River Railroad in 1864, but the road between New York and Albany was operated independently of the Central Railroad until 1870, when, in accordance with the legislative act of November, 1869, authorizing a consolidation of the whole interest between New York, Buffalo and Suspension Bridge, the consolidated organization assumed the title of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company. The Hudson River Railroad cost to build and equip $78,014,954—or $76,272 per mile.


Stephen Van Rensselaer and others, on April 17, 1826, obtained a charter from the Legislature of New York to construct a railroad between the Mohawk and the Hudson, connecting Albany with Schenectady. This, as has already been stated, was the first charter ever granted for any railroad in the United States. The company had a capital of $300,000, and by charter obtained the privilege, if necessary, to increase the capital to $500,000.

The credit of this enterprise is probably due to Mr. George W. Featherstonaugh more than to any one else in the State. The History of Albany County, N. Y., states that Mr. George W. Featherstonaugh, an honored and influential citizen of Schenectady, and his father, George W. Featherstonaugh, were among the first and leading projectors of this enterprise. As early as 1812 he published a pamphlet explaining the superior advantages of railways and steam carriages over canal navigation.

In 1825 a writer in the Albany Argus urged upon capitalists the absolute necessity of their building a railroad from Albany to Schenectady, under the plea that it was the only course to take to prevent Albany going to decay through the rivalry of Troy. It thus appears that local jealousies had much to do in furthering this enterprise.

"Mr. Featherstonaugh, in a letter to the Mayor of Albany, said the transportation of property from Albany to Schenectady was seldom effected in less than two, and sometimes three days. By railroad, he argued, the communication between the same points could be made in winter and summer in three hours at no greater cost than by canal, paying for sixteen instead of twenty-eight miles. He regarded this experiment, which he believed to be practical, as a test whether this economical mode of transportation would succeed in this country.

"The bill introduced by Mr. Featherstonaugh passed the Assembly March 27, 1826, as stated, granting a charter for fifty years, and limiting the time for construction to six years. Stephen Van Rensselaer, known as the 'old patron,' of Albany, and George W. Featherstonaugh of Schenectady, were the only persons named as directors in the charter. On the 26th of June of that year books were opened for subscription to the stock of this road, and the stock was eagerly taken up by capitalists, but for some cause the company moved slowly; for more than four years elapsed before the road was begun.

"On the 20th of July, 1830, the ceremony of breaking ground for the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad took place near Schenectady, with a silver spade, by Stephen Van Rensselaer. In September it was announced that stock had risen ten per cent.; and the editor of the Albany Daily Advertiser predicted that trains would run from Albany to Schenectady in a quarter of an hour, and reach Utica from Albany in four hours.

By the 25th of July, twelve months from the time when the ceremony of breaking ground was performed, the road was completed from the junction of the Western Turnpike and Lydia street, Albany, to the brow of the hill at Schenectady. Both of these points were at first reached by stages, and afterwards by an inclined plane, the passengers being carried to the railroad station in a car drawn by a rope by means of stationary engines.

The first locomotive used on the road was called the DeWitt Clinton, which was the third locomotive constructed by the West Point Iron Works of New York. On August 3d a trial trip was made a distance of twelve and a half miles in forty-five minutes; and on the 10th they ran a train a day each way.

The August 9th Excursion.

On August 13th a large company assembled to take a trip on the railroad, but the engine proved defective in her boiler and was retired for repairs. At this trial, and on previous ones coal or coke had been used for fuel, but wood was finally adopted.

On the 9th of September the DeWitt Clinton was again put upon the railroad and succeeded in drawing a train over the road in forty-five minutes.

On September 24, 1831, another excursion over the road was given by the directors, to which were invited the State and city officials and eminent citizens. Of those who were present on this occasion were Governor Enos T. Thropes, Lieut.-Governor Edward P. Livingston, Senator Charles E. Dudley, Comptroller Azariah C. Flagg, ex-Governor Joseph C. Yates, Chancellor Reuben H. Walworth, Stephen Van Rensselaer, Francis Bloodgood, Joseph Alexander, John Meigs, Erastus Corning, Lewis Benedict, John Boyd, Thurlow Weed, William Bay, Simon DeWitt Bloodgood, William B. Winne and L. H. Tupper, of Albany; Samuel Swartwout, Philip Hone and Jacob Hays, of New York; John L. D. Grant, of Schenectady; David Matthews, builder; Churchill C. Camberling, President of the road; Chief Consulting Engineer F. C. Ward; Paymaster, Dudley Farline; W. Benedict, Superintendent, and others.

In the spring of 1832 the road was completed through the whole line, and the inclined plane being in working order, another grand excursion was given on the 14th of May, extending from the foot of Ganesvoort street, Albany, into the heart of Schenectady. The cars were drawn up the incline by means of a long rope attached to them, and a stationary engine at the top; the whole steadied and balanced by a car loaded with stone, descending on the opposite side track. The same ceremony was observed at both terminations of the road, occupying much time. The same style of coaches were still used. In the fall of this year a new pattern of car was built at Schenectady, more nearly like those now in use, the architecture of which was modeled from Dr. Nott's parlor stove, and was called the "Gothic Car."

In 1833 the company had a road fifteen and three-quarter miles long, with a double track. The width between the rails was four feet six inches. The rails were made of timber on which iron bars were fastened. In January, 1832, the Company reported to the Legislature that the amount actually paid and disbursed in the construction of the road was $483,215, and that $156,693 would be required to complete it. In 1833 the cost of the road had run up to $1,100,000. Its shares sold at thirty per cent. premium to begin with, but later they sold for only twenty-five cents on the dollar. It was then bought up by more enterprising parties; the inclined plane system was abolished; a longer grade, curving up the hill from Albany was substituted, and the twelve miles replaced by heavy iron ones. On September 22, 1843, a train of three cars ran from Albany to Schenectady in thirty minutes.

From 1843 to 1851, when the first great trunk line was put in operation the intervening years were filled with railroad enterprises, and almost every portion of the State growing even more bold in conception, and more successful in execution of operation. It was believed and asserted by many, that, as predicted by some of our great statesmen, the State of New York was hastening on its way to supremacy, and could be justly entitled to the name of the Empire State.

The legitimate and successful railroad enterprises led to many speculative schemes that resulted in considerable expenditure of means to promote, but with very unsatisfactory results. Among these was the Catskill and Ithaca Railroad in Greene County, N. Y


The first road projected between New York and Albany was known as the New York and Albany Railroad. This was incorporated by act of the Legislature, April 17th, 1832, authorizing the construction of a road, commencing at the. termination of Fourth avenue, New York City, and extending along the line of the Hudson River to the city of Albany.

The Company not being able to avail itself of its privilege, "after six years of vicissitudes and vain efforts," surrendered its rights in Westchester county to the New York and Harlem Railroad which was incorporated the year previous. The Legislature in May, 1840, affirmed the compact between the two companies, empowering the Harlem Company to construct a bridge over the Harlem River, and a railroad through Westchester county to an intersection with the New York and Albany's line of road, which would be at the southern boundary of Putnam county. The first portion of the road which it was determined to build was as far up as White Plains. The question was raised as to the ability of Westchester county to support a railroad. A careful estimate was made as to the prospective income from the enterprise. It was estimated that $47,788 would be received from the passengers, and $60,980 from freight, or a total of $108,768, which it is said would fully meet all expectations and yield a profit of at least twenty-five per cent. on the capital invested. Another engineer estimated upon an immediate income of $60,000, of which amount $950.00 would come from the Catholic School at Fordham and Powell School at Westchester. Another gave it as his belief that the town of East Chester "will contribute along with Ram's Marbel Quarry $15,000; and six other towns of Westchester county $10,000 to support a railroad." Among those particularly interested in this new enterprise was Governeur Morris, who had been so very active in promoting the New York and Erie Canal.

The "estimates" of the prospective income from Westchester county were doubtless satisfactory; for the road was constructed to Fordham in 1841; to Williams Bridge in 1842; to Tuckahoe, July, 1844; and to White Plains the same year, passing through the towns of Morrisania, West Farms, Yonkers, East Chester, Scarsdale, Greenberg and White Plains. The company reported in 1846, that the cost of construction of six miles of road from the south side of Harlem River Bridge to Williams Bridge was $38,475 per mile, while its thirteen miles of road from Williams Bridge only cost $11,177 per mile.

The road was formally opened to Croton Falls in June, 1847, and passed through the towns of White Plains, Mount Pleasant, New Castle, Bedford, Lewisboro and North Castle, and through, it is said, ninety-seven farms.

The original capital of the company was $350,000, which, in 1832, was increased to $500,000, with a stipulation that the road should be completed to the Harlem River in 1835. Although this was not done, the Legislature in the latter year authorized the company to increase the capital to $750,000; to borrow $400,000; and in 1839 to convert the bonds into stock. When the extension through Westchester county was begun, the capital had been increased to $1,950,000; and still another increase of $1,000,000 was needed to carry the road through the county. When the line was completed to Chatham Four Corners, in January, 1852, it had cost $7,918,118, and its liabilities were over $11,000,000. At Chatham Four Corners it connected with the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad.

William T. Jones, of New York, who had already constructed a steam carriage in 1829, finished a locomotive in 1832, which was the first one used by the Harlem Railroad. This was sold to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and exploded in 1834. This was provided with a "spark arrester."


This corporation was formed by consolidating several railroads already in operation, and some projected roads between Albany, Troy and Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The act following the consolidation was passed April 2, 1853, and was carried into effect the 17th of May following. The consolidated capital amounted to $23,085,600, and debts were assumed to the amount of $1,947,815.72. The following is a list of the roads which came under the first organization, with the date of charter of each road:—

Albany and Schenectady

Utica and Schenectady

Syracuse and Utica

Auburn and Syracuse

Auburn and Rochester


Schenectady and Troy

Rochester and Syracuse

Batavia and Attica

Attica and Buffalo

Rochester and Buffalo

Rochester and Lockport and Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls and Lewiston

Lockport and Tonawanda

Rochester and Charlotte


When the project of consolidation was under consideration the stocks rose rapidly to high premiums, and the principle of consolidation was to create a scrip stock to the amount of the aggregate premiums, and divide the pro rata among the stockholders of all the companies. That scrip to the amount of about $8,100,000 was figured as a part of the cost of the road. The road was straightened so as to make the direct line only 298 miles from Albany to Buffalo, but the other lines and routes added to it make a total of 594 miles. The capital stock of the company on September 30, 1868, was $28,780,000, and there was an indebtedness of $11,520,000, mostly in bonds. The total earnings of the road in 1854, the year of the consolidation, was $5,918,332. From this sum they had risen in 1857 to $8,027,253, but receded to $6,200,000 in 1850. From 1865 to 1868 inclusive they had averaged $14,350,000 per annum. In 1869 a stock dividend of 84 per cent., amounting to nearly $24,000,000, was declared under the plea that the surplus earnings had accumulated, and the stock had amounted to nearly fifty-three million dollars, and was consolidated with the Hudson River Railroad; the united capital of the two being called seventy-five million dollars; though the actual cost never exceeded forty-five million dollars. The net earnings of the consolidated roads in 1869 was about seven million dollars.


The Hartford and New Haven Railroad had been in operation for some years before serious thought was given to a land connection of New York with New Haven by rail. Steamboats were running regularly between these cities, and the need of railroad communication was not felt.

In 1844 public sentiment had changed, and the Legislature of Connecticut, on application, granted a charter, and soon after application was made to the New York Legislature for permission to run to New York City, but failed on account of the strong opposition of the Harlem Road and of the Westchester Turnpike Company. An agreement was finally reached with the Harlem Road almost on its own terms, in 1846, and later with the Westchester Turnpike Company. In May, 1846, the New York and New Haven Railroad was authorized to join with the Harlem Road at or near William's Bridge.

In 1846 a contract was made with Messrs. Alfred Bishop, Mr. G. L. Schuyler and Mr. S. G. Miller. Mr. Schuyler subsequently transferred his interest to Mr. Bishop. By Dec. 31, 1848, the whole of the capital stock was subscribed. By the spring of the following year the line had been located and approved by the commissioners.

The line adopted was in the main that surveyed by Professor Twining, except from the Harlem Junction to New Rochelle, the entrance into Bridgeport, and the entrance to New Haven. Professor Twining's line was run to a point on the western edge of the head of the harbor, and from thence was indefinite, except that it contemplated crossing the harbor and the canal basin on piles, and running along the shoal waters to the Hartford Road.

The cost of the road and equipment entire was $2,701,879.13, exceeding the original estimate by a very large amount. The fares were made very low: $1.50 from New Haven to New York, and fifty cents from Bridgeport on account of the steamboat competition. It continued in a prosperous condition, however, for some years until overtaken by two great disasters, one following the other. The first was known as the "Norwalk Disaster." On the 6th of May, 1853, a train heavily laden with passengers plunged through an open draw into the Norwalk River. Forty-five passengers met instant death, and many more were seriously injured. The heavy claims for damages prevented the payment of the dividend for that year, which the earnings would have warranted. The several claims were settled amounting to $252,311.50, and the report for 1854 showed only two or three still in litigation.

When again everything looked promising for the company, the whole country was startled by the report of a defalcation by one of the most trusted officers of the company, whose name hitherto had been above reproach.

The suspension of the dividends in consequence of the Norwalk accident had caused a fall in the stock of the road in 1854, from 85 on June 23, to 79 on July 1., and to 67 on July 3. An examination of the books showed that stock to the amount of $1,000,000 had been issued by the banking firm of which the President of the road was a member, and by it pledged as collateral to raise money. There had been no check upon the President except his honor, and the non-payment of dividends gave him the opportunity to issue certificates in unlimited quantities without exciting suspicion. On July 3, 1854, he wrote a letter to the Directors, resigning his office, calling attention to the condition of the books, saying that much would be found there wrong, and excusing his brother (his partner) of all blame. He disappeared from New York and is supposed to have died abroad.

In order to restore its credit as a result of these irregularities, the company, in 1855, was empowered to issue $3,000,000 of mortgage bonds for the purpose of retiring the old bonds, and securing and paying just claims. In the same year the Directors Of the road were authorized, for the purpose of adjusting the claims against the company incurred through the transactions of their President to increase the capital stock to an amount not exceeding the sum of two million dollars. In 1857 arrangements were made with the New York Central Railroad Company and the New Haven Railroad became a part of that extensive consolidation of several roads.


Was allowed to Newburg April 8, 1845, and opened January 8, 1850.


This Company was formed April 29, 1839, and the route was surveyed during the summer of that year. The Company was fully organized March 25, 1847. The road was opened in October, 1848, thirty-five miles and a half in length. In 1872 it passed under the management of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company.


This company was formed February 25, 1850, commenced running in August, 1851, and opened July 20, 1852, connecting with the Lake, St. Louis and Province Line Railroad, crossing the Ogdensburg Railroad at Mercer's Junction.


This road was chartered April 14, 1832. The articles of incorporation named as the first directors John Cramer, Elisha Tibbets, John Knickerbacker, Richard P. Hart, Townsend McCann, Nathan Warren, Stephen Warren, LeGrand Cannon, George Vail, Moses Williams, John P. Cashin and John Paine. John Knickerbacker and John House, of Waterford; Stephen Warren, William Pierce, William Haight, James Cook and Joel Lee, of Ballston Spa, were designated as commissioners to open the books of subscription. Work was commenced the following year, and on October 6, 1835, the first passenger train north bound, left Troy. The northern terminus of the road near the present depot in Ballston Spa.

While this road extended as far north as Ballston Spa, only the Schenectady and Saratoga Railroad had been built as far north as Saratoga Springs; the latter road thereby receiving a majority of the traffic between Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa. As soon as the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad had been completed, an agreement was entered into with the other road whereby the passengers and traffic of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Road might be carried on north of Ballston Spa over the tracks of the Saratoga road.

This road finally went into the hands of the creditors, and was purchased by a new organization, which raised the capital stock to $600,000, and later to $800,000. In June, 1860, it leased the Saratoga and Schenectady and the Albany and Vermont Railroads. All these with other additions subsequently passed into the possession of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Co.


This company was formed June r, 1851; allowed to extend the road to Portage. Work was commenced in 1852, and the road opened to Avon in 1854, connecting at Avon with the Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad.


This road was constructed from Rutland to Eagle Bridge about 1851-2. The company neglected to send reports for several years, and information could not be obtained at the proper source.


This company was formed May 23d, 1850. The road was opened June 1, 1853, connected with the W. R. and C. V. R. at Pierrpont Manor.


This Company was chartered by the State Legislature February 16, 1831, and was empowered to "construct and maintain a steam railroad between Schenectady and Saratoga Springs, passing through the village of Ballston Spa. The incorporators named in the act were Henry Walton, John Clarke, William A. Langworthy, John H. Steele, Miles Beach, Gideon W. Davison, Rockwell Putnam and 'such other persons as shall associate with them for that purpose.' " The road was directed by law to be either single or double track; to pass as nearly as practicable through the village of Ballston Spa. The charter was for fifty years. Churchill C. Cambridge, Samuel Young, Thomas Palmer, Daniel T. Toll, John J. DeGraff, William James, James Stephenson and John Townsend were designated as commissioners to receive subscriptions to the capital stock of $150,000.

The road was commenced September 1, 1831, and was opened for business July 12, 1832, except a short distance at Ballston, which was completed in April, 1833. The length was twenty-one and a half miles, and cost $217,201.22, exclusive of the land it occupied. Incidental and other expenses brought the cost up to $297,237.00. About three miles of the road was laid on a stone foundation. Trenches were dug about two by two and a half feet, and filled with broken stone, closely rammed, and upon this square blocks of about two cubic feet were placed three feet from centre to centre. On these stone blocks cast iron chairs were placed to receive the wooden rails upon which the iron plate cross-ties of timber secured the rails from spreading. The remainder of the road was laid upon longitudinal sills, upon which the sleepers rested; notched on both sides to secure the sills in their place, and also to receive the wood rail upon which rested the iron plate as in the first part of the road. It had a single track with turnouts. The road was comparatively low; in no case exceeding sixteen feet grade to the mile. "Steam power was used to good advantage," and the net increase in the earnings of the road from April 1, 1833, to February, 1834, was about ten per cent. on the capital stock.


This company was chartered May 2, 1834, with a capital of $600,000, but the company was not fully organized until April 20, 1835. The work of construction was at once begun, and over $60,000 expended, when it was stopped until 1838. The time was extended to April 13, 1840; again to May 6, 1844; then to April 4, 1850; and the capital stock was increased to $850,000 April 7, 1847. April 7, 1848, the company was granted permission to extend the road east to Vermont. Upon resuming work a route was in part adopted, and the work of laying rails begun April 16, 1848. On August 15th of that year the road was opened from Saratoga Springs to Gansevoort; Dec. 10, 1848, it was opened to Whitehall, and April 9,1851, to Lake Station a mile and three-quarters beyond Whitehall Junction. The road was sold Feb. 27, 1855, on foreclosure of second mortgage, and the name changed to


The new company was organized June 8, 1855, with a capital stock of $300,000. It ran from Saratoga Springs to Castleton, Vermont, fifty-two and a half miles. It became the successor of the Saratoga and Fort Edward Railroad, which was incorporated April 17, 1832, with a capital of $200,000 to construct a road from Saratoga Springs to Fort Edward, seventeen miles. By the act of May 2, 1834, nothing in the meantime having been done toward the building of the road, the surveys, maps, etc., were allowed to be sold to the Saratoga and Washington Railroad Company.

The Schenectady and Troy Railroad was incorporated May 21, 1837. The stock was divided into five hundred shares at one hundred dollars each. The building of the road began in 1841, and trains began running to Troy in the fall of 1841. It was constructed by the city of Troy, the corporation issuing its bond .s to the amount of $649,142.


This company was originally formed July 2, 1851, as the Syracuse and Binghamton Railroad. It was opened through Oct. 23, 1854. It was sold Oct. 15, 1856, under foreclosure of mortgage, and the name changed to the Syracuse and Southern Railroad. The above name was .assumed under act of March 31, 1857. In 1858 the company was authorized to purchase the Union Railroad to the canal at Geddes.


This road was chartered May 11, 1836, and was entitled "An act for the construction of a railroad from Syracuse to Utica." The Company was required by law to pay the President and Directors of the Seneca Railroad the amount of damages which the said railroad company might sustain by the construction of the railroad, and also to pay toll to the Canal Commissioners on all freight other than the regular baggage of passengers carried by the railroad during the season of canal navigation. The Schenectady and Utica Railroad Company was absolutely prohibited in its original charter from carrying any freight. This prohibition was removed by act of March 7, 1844, and the above named road was allowed to carry freight during the suspension of canal navigation by paying the Canal Commissioners such tolls as would have been paid on the goods had they been transported by the Erie Canal. This opened tall the roads to freight through to Buffalo subject to the same conditions as those imposed upon the Schenectady and Utica Railroad. The road was formally opened in 1839.

The line from Syracuse to Rochester composed of the Auburn and Syracuse, and the Auburn and Rochester Railroads, was 104-miles over a crooked route with heavy grades. In 1849 the attention of Mr. John Wilkinson and others was called to the necessity of constructing a more direct route and level railroad between Syracuse and Rochester; and with that object in view they organized the Rochester and Syracuse Direct Railroad Company. The surveys were made by O. Childs, and showed that a level railroad could be constructed twenty-two miles shorter than the old line. In 1850 three companies consolidated under the name of the Rochester and Syracuse Railroad Company, and the Direct Road was built in the ensuing year under the direction of James Hall, engineer, and opened in 1853, at the same time of the grand consolidation, forming the New York Central Railroad.


This company was formed May 15, 1851, and work commenced in June, 1851. The road was opened Aug. 1, 1852; connected the Troy and Boston Railroad with the Western Vermont Railroad; subsequently leased to the Troy and Boston Railroad Co. 


This Company was incorporated May 11, 1845, and organized May 14, under a lease from the New York and Albany Railway Company. According to the charter the road extended from Washington street, in Troy, to where it intersected the track of the Schenectady and Troy Railroad, to Greenbush, where it connected with the track of the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad. On its completion trains were drawn by locomotives up through River street to the intersection of King and River streets, Troy, where the depot was situated. On January 1, 1851, the road was leased to the New York and Troy Railroad Company. This was subsequently leased to the Hudson River Railroad for seven per cent. on $275,000 its capital stock.


This company was formed March 6th, 1851, and the road constructed from Hoosick, near Eagle Bridge, to Salem. It was opened June 28, 1852, and leased to the Rutland and Washington (Vt) Railroad until March; 1855, when it was placed in the hands of a receiver, and run by the Albany and Northern Railroad.


This company was formed July 21, 1851, and the road commenced in February, 1853, and opened February 22d, 1854. It was owned by parties representing the interest of the Troy and Greenbush, Troy and Boston, Rensselaer and Saratoga, and New York Central Railroad.


This company was formed January 10th, 1851. The road extends from Paterson and Ramapo, N. J., to the New York and Erie at Suffern. It subsequently became a part of the New York and Erie Railroad system.


This Company was formed April 17, 1852. It was clothed with powers to build a road from Rome to Watertown, and thence to the St. Lawrence, or Lake Ontario, or both, with a capital of $1,000,000 in shares of one hundred dollars. Work was to commence within three, and end within five years.

In April, 1852, just twenty years after the formation of the company, the railroad was completed and put in operation from Watertown to Cape Vincent, twenty-five miles. The total length of the entire line was seventyseven and a half miles, and its total cost $1,957,992. The road is now known as the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railway.


This road was incorporated by Pennsylvania April 9th, 1850, and allowed to extend the road to the New York and Erie Railroad at Elmira. The village of Elmira was authorized to loan its credit for $100,000 toward the construction.

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