Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad

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Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad
Locale Auburn, New York to Syracuse, New York
Dates of operation 1902–1930
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Syracuse, New York

The Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad was an interurban rail that ran from Auburn, New York to Syracuse, New York, a distance of 24 miles (39 km).[1] The railroad owned a total of 58 miles (93 km) of track which "was as fine as any in the state."[2]

The road was owned by Clifford D. Beebe of Syracuse. The Beebe Syndicate controlled interurbans that ran from Rochester to Syracuse, to Auburn to Oswego on Lake Ontario.[3]

The company declared bankruptcy in 1927 and streetcar service in Auburn ended at that time; however, interurban service continued until the business was sold in early 1930. Rail service was abandoned on April 15, 1930.[4]


Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railway about 1905

The Auburn and Syracuse Electric Roadroad ran from Downtown Syracuse to Auburn via Split Rock Quarry, Marcellus and Skaneateles. The entire length in Onondaga County was owned by the county.[1]

The railroad was established in 1902 from the Auburn Interurban Electric Railroad, which had opened a line that ran along the highway from Auburn to Skaneateles, a distance of 7 miles (11 km). During 1902, the company consolidated with the Auburn City Railway to form the Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad. During 1903, the company built an interurban on private right-of-way from Skaneateles to Syracuse, a distance of 20 miles (32 km). The new line was double-tracked in 1906.[3]

Billed as the "Scenic Route," the road featured a combination of freight and passenger service that was unique to local lines.[5]


The company maintained "regular and up-to-date service to suburban homes and industrial plants." They had lines running to Fleming, Sennett, Owasco, Skaneateles, Split Rock, Syracuse, Marcellus, Onondaga and Camillus.[2]

In 1905, the company owned 43 cars, with 29 in daily operation. The power house which supplied the current was located on Clark Street in Auburn and the company offices were on Genesee Street. By 1905, the company had 225 employees and during periods of construction work they sometimes had as many as 500.[2]

Company management[edit]

The officers of the company were Clifford D. Beebe, president; A. M. Michael, secretary; and R. P. Stevens, general superintendent. The general offices were located in Syracuse, New York, and the operating offices were in Auburn.[2] By 1906, the company headquarters were located in Downtown Syracuse at 500 Onondaga County Savings Bank Building. Treasurer that year was Willis A. Holden and assistant general manager was R. A. Dyer, Jr.[6]

Vacation excursions[edit]

By November 1905, the Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad had cars to Split Rock, Marcellus, Skaneateles and Auburn.[7]

Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad - Searchlight Excursion to Skaneateles Lake - August 7, 1911

During August 1911, the railroad was providing vacation excursions to Upstate New York locations such as Skaneateles Lake which they advertised as "A Perfect Ride in Perfect Safety Searchlight Excursion." The trip was scheduled three times a week and included a 38 miles (61 km) "scenic" trolley ride and a 30 miles (48 km) "searchlight sail" and one hour of dancing at Ten Mile Point, New York. On weekends the railroad ventured to Fair Haven instead of Skaneateles Lake. The round trip price was 75 cents, no matter the location or day and the main ticket office was located at 340 West Fayette Street.[8]


The company operated a steamboat on Skaneateles Lake and an amusement park on Owasco Lake. Passenger traffic was heavy in the summer months and the interurban carried substantial amounts of express. The railroad also handled occasional freight cars in railroad interchange.[3]

Labor union[edit]

During June 1916, an agreement with the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electrical Railway Employees was offered to workers from the Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad as well as Syracuse and South Bay Railway, Empire United lines and the Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad. Additionally, the Fulton city lines and Oswego city lines were included in the agreement. Attending the conference were H. J. Barrette and Burton Sampson of the Auburn line, Patrick Long and Willis Pickard of the South Bay road and John Manning and Arthur Hubbell of the Lake Shore road.[9]

Employee strike[edit]

In May 1919, railroad employees were on strike after they tried to force the company to "dispossess a tenant from property" the company did not own or exercise any rights of control. The Amalgamated union officials were insistent that their men be allowed to run the Auburn and Northern Railroad, Port Byron line which was owned by Empire State Railroad Corporation.[10]


The company went bankrupt in 1927 and streetcar service in Auburn ended at that time; however, interurban service continued and the business was sold to Enna Jettick Shoe Company for the amusement park on March 20, 1930. Rail service was abandoned on April 15, 1930.[4]

Land use[edit]

By 1974, the railbed from Syracuse to Split Rock was occupied by Onondaga Boulevard and from there to Marcellus the bed now a trail. Dunbar Woods Road south of Martisco is the trolley bed. From Marcellus to Skaneateles the railbed was occupied by Lee-Mulroy Highway. A section of roadbed along Lee-Mulroy Highway just east of Rickard Road, Skaneateles is still present, along with a deteriorated culvert. From Skaneateles to Auburn, the railbed was on Franklin Street Road by franchise. All evidence of this section is now gone.[1]



  1. ^ a b c "Inventory of Abandoned Railroad Rights of Way". New York State Department of Transportation, 1974. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railyway Company". Auburn Daily Advertiser, 1905. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Hilton, George W. & Due, John. The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press, 1960, p.314. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "New York Trolley Lines". Don Ross Group, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  5. ^ Lawless, Don (April 13, 1978). "Once Upon a Trolley p.3". The Post-Standard. Syracuse, New York. 
  6. ^ Andrew Boyd. Boyd's Duplex Directory of Syracuse. Sampson & Murdock Co., Publishers, 1908, p.32. 
  7. ^ "The Railroad Roster". The Post-Standard. Syracuse, New York. November 21, 1905. 
  8. ^ "A Perfect Ride in Perfect Safety". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. August 7, 1911. 
  9. ^ "Amalgamated Men Preparing Agreement". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. June 12, 1916. 
  10. ^ "Employee Strike". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. May 4, 1919. 
  11. ^ Lance Reagan