Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad

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The Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad was created in 1893 with the merger and consolidation of smaller logging railroads [1] and was independently owned until 1929 when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad bought a majority of the capital stock of the Buffalo and Susquehanna. (the B&O also bought control of the Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh Railway at the same time) The Baltimore and Ohio officially took over the operations of both roads in 1932. [2]

In 1954, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad, and its remaining subsidiaries, was formerly merged into the Baltimore and Ohio system [3] , and in 1956, the Baltimore and Ohio sold the remaining 97 miles of former Buffalo and Susquehanna track to the H. E. Salzberg Company, who organized the Wellsville, Addison and Galeton Railroad to operate the line, until final abandonment in 1979.

The Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad was created and constructed by Frank H. Goodyear, a Buffalo fuel dealer, to move Frank's lumber and coal to Frank's companies and ports in Buffalo and onto Franks steamships on the Great Lakes. The line was started in Keating Summit, extended into Galeton, where it branched off to Wellsville, Addison, and Ansonia. The Wellsville branch was briefly extended to Buffalo, New York. Near Keating Summit, the line was extended south from Wharton, through Du Bois, and terminating 75 miles south at Sagamore, Pennsylvania. At its peak, the railroad ran 250 miles from Buffalo to Sagamore, Pennsylvania and had more than 400 miles of track.

Initial Acquisitions

In 1885 Frank H. Goodyear, a Buffalo lumber and fuel dealer, bought thousands of acres of virgin Hemlock timberland in northern-central Pennsylvania. Up until the 1880s, the lumber industries mostly avoided Hemlock, due to its ring shaking and high knot content [4], instead choosing to go after the more solid Pine and Spruce forests. By this point, with most of the other local competing softwoods forests already denuded, there was a now a growing local demand for the cheaper Hemlock. To extract the lumber from his new investment, Frank first organized the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad. This line ran from Keating Summit, Pennsylvania on the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad (later part of the Pennsylvania Railroad) to his sawmill in Austin, Pennsylvania. The Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad ran from Keating Summit (Forest House) east to a switchback and then south down the north branch of Freeman Run toward Austin . [5]

The Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad opened officially as a common carrier on December 14, 1885. Although most of the lumber railroads of the time and area were 3-footers (narrow gauge), Goodyear used his foresight in building his logging railroads of permanent quality to a standard gauge and laid with 70 pound rail, which really paid off in the future. In Austin, Pennsylvania, Frank built a huge sawmill, and brought all his timber here by rail to get cut. Then in 1886 Frank extended the line 13 miles south to Costello, Pennsylvania where there was a large sole leather tannery. The leather tanneries used the hemlock bark, which was a by-product of the saw mills, to create tannin. [6] This allowed Frank to benefit greatly by supplying one industry with the waste product of another.

In 1887 he joined with his brother to create the firm of F. H. & C. W. Goodyear. In the end, it was this firm that owned most of the properties, mills, railroads, locomotives and many other assets. Starting in 1891, the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad would be extended north west up past Galeton, all the way to Ansonia, where it would make a connection with the Fall Brook Railway. To get here, the railroad had to cross a large ridge. To accomplish this, the railroad built four large switchbacks, instead of tunnels. This may have been acceptable thinking at the time, as the line was still primarily a logging railroad, where switchbacks were quite common. These switchbacks would limit trains to 15 cars. [7]

Starting in the early 1890s, an initiative was started to build a number of smaller lines linking the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad at Costello, up to Galeton and east to Ansonia. It should be noted at this point that there already was a narrow gauge line running from Galeton north east up to Addison. The Addison and Pennsylvania Railway was started in 1882 from Addision, reaching Gaines by 1882, and Galeton by 1885.

In 1891, The Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad Company (of 1891) was started in Galeton and headed south west 14 miles to Cherry Springs, Pa. Cherry Springs is at the top of the hill, between both sets of switchbacks.

At the same time, in 1891, the Susquehanna Railroad Company connected the Sinnemahonig Valley Railroad at Costello, heading north east to Hull, 14 miles away. This line went from Costello, south to Wharton, then north east up to Conrad. Conrad was Hull Station.

Both of those lines were completed by 1893, when the Cherry Springs Railroad Company was created and completed the connection of 9 miles from Hull to about 2 miles from Cherry Springs, Pa. The Cherry Springs Railroad literally connected the 14 mile Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad (of 1891) with the 14 mile Susquehanna Railroad. This connecting line proceeded north west from Conrad, up the hill, to just past the first switchback, to the top of the hill, at Cross Fork Junction.

The Cross Fork Railroad Company would have connected here at the top of the hill, and proceeded back down the hill, south, to the logging boom town of Cross Fork.

Started in 1892, the Coudersport and Wellsboro Railroad Company (not to be confused with the Wellsville, Coudersport, and Pine Creek) was now finished in 1893, building east from Galeton to Ansonia, Pa., where they would make a connection with the Fall Brook Railway.

In 1893, now that all the little lines were finished, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad (of 1893) was created as a result of the merger of the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad Company (of 1891), the Susquehanna Railroad, the Cherry Springs Railroad, and the Cross Fork Railroad. [1].

At this point, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad's main line now started with a connection with the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad at Keating Summit, utilizing a small switchback it proceeded south east, past Austin and Costello, where at Wharton the line would proceed north east up the grade. About 14 miles south of Galeton, four large switchbacks were required to get over the ridge and into Galeton. The mainline continued past Galeton and made a connection with the Fall Brook Railroad at Ansonia. The main offices for the Buffalo and Susquehanna assumed the old offices of the Sinnemahonig Valley in Austin, PA.

Construction and Expansion

The Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad now extended sixty-two miles from Keating Summit to Ansonia, with a 13 mile branch to the booming logging town of Cross Fork.

By 1893, it is reported that Frank Goodyear owned ten locomotives. [5]

The line was served by a number of Shay logging locomotives, based out of Austin, Pa. [8], as well as a Baldwin 2-8-0 locomotive. With the expansion into Galeton, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad now needed more locomotives, and purchased eleven new locomotives in 1894 and 1895. (probably from Baldwin) [9]

Many construction railroads and temporary lines were being built by the B&S, or the F. H. & C. W. Goodyear company, or the lumber companies themselves, to service the timber transport in the area. The Lackawanna Lumber Company, Emporium Lumber and Central Pennsylvania Lumber company all used the main lines of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad tracks with their equipment. [5] Most of these companies were owned or partnered with the Goodyear brothers.

As the lumber and tanning business expanded, Frank Goodyear was joined by his brother Charles. Upon reorganization, Frank Goodyear stepped down as president of the railroad and assumed the positions of first vice president and chairman of the board. Goodyear's brother, Charles, became second vice president and general manager of the railroad, while Marlin Olmstead became president.

In 1895-1896 the B&S RR Company built a 37 mile extension north-west from Galeton to Wellsville, NY, where the B&S now connected with the New York, Lake Erie and Western (Erie Railroad). The Goodyear's had purchased timber lands along the Pine Creek, north of Galeton, a few years previous, and now it was time to start logging those properties. Very soon the Goodyear brothers would also build a large lumber mill in Galeton, also.

At Wellsville, there operated a short line called the Wellsville, Coudersport and Pine Creek Railroad. It ran south about 10 miles from Wellsville to Hickox. (just south of Genesse,) It was a small operation with plans of eventually extending south to Coudersport. The WCPC was forced to lease their railroad to the B&S under threat of a parallel track. (the B&S actually started grading a parallel ROW to force the issue) It was leased on Jan 1, 1896 for 85 years at $8250 a year. The B&S acquired their only locomotive. [9]

As of 1896 the B&S had sixteen locomotives and over eight hundred freight & passenger cars. [9]

Along this north-western line to Wellsville, about half way from Galeton to Genesee, there existed a 5 mile stretch of very severe grades, with a peak grade of 2.84 percent. Many curves and twists were used to get over the hill, requiring the B&S to use multiple engines on even average sized trains.

In 1895, the original narrow gauge line that ran from Galeton to Addision, the Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad, converted from narrow gauge to standard gauge. This would help simplify interchange and operations in the Galeton area, as the B&S was driving a lot of business in the area, and the Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad was hoping to get a bigger share of the traffic. This would not be the case, as Frank had other plans.

Starting on March 18, 1896, the 'Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad had extended from Addison into Corning, New York via trackage rights over the Fall Brook Railroad. The Buffalo and Susquehanna railroad would pay the Fall Brook Railroad 14 cents per ton for the 43 miles to get to Corning, New York. [10]

This implies that the Buffalo and Susquehanna did not use the original line that ran from Galeton to Addison, the Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad, instead having a trackage agreement with the Fall Brook Railroad. Addision is right next to Corning, and both would have given the B&S an interchange with the New York, Lake Erie and Western (Erie Railroad), for markets east (like NYC). This may have been intentional. By keeping B&S freight off the A&P, Frank would help keep the line under utilized, and keep its stock price low. Also, the Fall Brook Railroad directly competed with the Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad, as they both served Westfield, Knoxville, and Elkland, as the two ran parallel to one another.

Eventually, in 1898 Frank Goodyear would now purchase the 45 mile Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad (from NY Senator Thomas C. Platt) running from Galeton, PA to Addison, NY. [11]

With the Buffalo and Susquehanna railroad now owning a direct route to Addison, New York (and another eastern connection with the New York, Lake Erie and Western (Erie Railroad), the trackage rights agreement for traffic into Corning, New York with the Fall Brook Railroad was allowed to expire on June 1, 1898. [12]

One wonders if the Fall Brook Railroad ever knew of the Buffalo and Susquehanna's real intentions. At this point, a business partner now became a direct competitor, as the B&S now competed directly with traffic into the Corning area, as well as the parallel track in Westfield, Knoxville, and Elkland. It wouldn't matter much by then anyway, as the Fall Brook Railroad was leased into the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad in 1899. [13]

With the hub of activities now greatly centered around Galeton, in 1894-98 the B&S moved its base of operations from Austin to Galeton and began construction of a large yard, 6 stall engine house, car repair shop, freight and passenger station. This included new and modern brick structures. Around this time, there was another railroad that connected from Germainia to Galeton, the Galeton South Branch and Germania Railroad, which was probably a small logging railroad. [9]

By 1899, the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad was reported to have modern and very comparative facilities with a total of 19 locomotives [14]:

   * 10 (2-8-0) consolidations of 70-98 tons
   * 4  (4-6-0) 10-wheelers of about 65 tons, all Baldwins except 1 (Brooks)
   * 5  (4-4-0) eight wheelers

F. H. & C. W. Goodyear Co. was reported to have an additional 12 Shays for use by their lumber companies.


  1. ^ a b Pennsylvania State Archives http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/Bah/DAM/mg/mg457.htm
  2. ^ Western New York Railroad Archive - Roehm, Pete. 1985. "The Last Buffalo and Susquehanna Steamer", Railpace magazine, Piscataway, NJ: Railpace Company, Inc. http://wnyrails.org/railroads/bs/bs_last_steamer.htm
  3. ^ WELLSVILLE, ADDISON AND GALETON RAILROAD - Ed Lewis - copyright 1971 http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/county/allegany/RailroadsAlleg/WAG-Railroad/WAG%20-%20LEWIS/WAG-LEWISBOOK.htm
  4. ^ US Forest Service - Association of ring shake in eastern hemlock with tree attributes http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/19175
  5. ^ a b c Allegany County, NY - Local History & Genealogy Site - SINNEMAHONING VALLEY RAILROAD http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/county/allegany/RailroadsAlleg/RRWriteup-RT/SinnemahoningRR.htm
  6. ^ Western North Carolina Nature Center - Eastern Hemlock page http://www.wildwnc.org/education/trees/eastern-hemlock-tsuga-canadensis-pinaceae-pine-family
  7. ^ Western New York Railroad Archive http://wnyrails.org/railroads/bs/bs_home.htm
  8. ^ On-Line Reference and Research Site for Shay Locomotives http://www.shaylocomotives.com/data/owner/own-f.htm
  9. ^ a b c d Allegany County, NY - Local History & Genealogy Site - Buffalo and Susquehanna Expands North http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/county/allegany/RailroadsAlleg/RRWriteup-RT/B&SExpandsNorth.htm
  10. ^ Annual report of the Secretary of Internal Affairs of the COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, for the YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1896. PART IV. Railroad, Canal, Navigation, Telegraph and Telephone Companies. http://books.google.com/books?id=NME2AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA45
  11. ^ A History of Buffalo by J. N. Larned published 1911 http://books.google.com/books?id=CsgBAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA130
  12. ^ Annual Report of the Secretary Of Internal Affairs of the COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, for the YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1898. PART IV. Railroad, Canal, Navigation, Telegraph and Telephone Companies. http://books.google.com/books?id=X5IpAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA57
  13. ^ Tioga Central History http://www.tiogacentral.com/history.php
  14. ^ Locomotive Engineering - A Practical Journal of Railway Motive Power and Rolling Stock - January 1899 http://books.google.com/books?id=EY4jAAAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA77