Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad

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Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad
Locale Syracuse, New York to Baldwinsville, New York
Dates of operation 1905–1917
Successor Empire State Railroad Corporation
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Syracuse, New York

The Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad, an interurban railway, was incorporated on September 9, 1905, after it was purchased by the Beebe Syndicate.[1] The line ran from Syracuse, New York, to Baldwinsville, New York, a distance of 14 miles (23 km) with a short branch to the New York State Fair grounds ending at Long Branch Park[2] west of the city for a total of 23.53 miles (37.87 km) of electric track.[3]

By 1911, the company had 13 fast electric limited trains leaving Syracuse daily for Baldwinsville, Phoenix, Fulton, Minetto and Oswego.[4]

In 1917, the company was reorganized as the Empire State Railroad, also called Empire State Railway. Streetcar service on the route ran until 1931 when it was abandoned.[5]


Long Branch Park on the shore of Onondaga Lake – Streer car depot about 1900

The Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad served the Oswego, New York, area and began operations in 1905 when it was formed from the Lake Ontario and Riverside Railway, which dated back to 1896 and was a system originally built by the Oswego Street Railway.[5]

The rail was also the successor to the Syracuse, Lakeside and Baldwinsville Railway and was owner of Syracuse and Ontario Railroad. By 1906, the company had contemplated joining the two lines and extending the system to form a through line from Syracuse to Oswego, passing through Baldwinsville, Phoenix and Fulton.[3]

Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad – 1911

Syracusans could travel north to Oswego to Lake Ontario and points in between via the Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad to South Bay and Brewerton on Oneida Lake by way of the Syracuse and South Bay Railway.[2]


During 1906, the company had authorized and issued $500,000 of capital stock, par value of $100 per share. The funded debt for a first mortgage at five percent gold bonds was $500,000, dated March 1, 1899, and due in 1949. The company also had a second mortgage at six percent gold bonds for $150,000, dated July 1, 1901, and due in 1931. These bonds were given as collateral against liabilities due stockholders.[3]

Net income at the end of June 1903, was $2,915 and by 1905 was $18,424. During that same period, total operating expenses had grown from $53,520 to $78,282; however, total passengers carried had decreased from 1,938,009 to 1,690,925.[3]

Total liabilities from 1903 to 1905 grew from $1,067,928 to $1,272,490.[3]


The company owned 17 motor cars and 5 service cars, 2 snow plows, 2-400 G. W. Walker generators, 1600 H. P. Wheelock engines, West and General Electric motors, St. Louis cars and Puckham trucks.[3]

Company management[edit]

In 1906, officers of the company were president, Clifford D. Beebe; vice-president, Franklin J. Kaufman; secretary, Edward J. Chapman; treasurer, A. R. Peck; and general manager, William B. Rockwell.[3]

That same year, directors were Edward A. Powell, Jas. M. Belden, W. R. Smith, W. J. Smith, Edward Joy, Edward N. Trump, Arthur R. Peck, Charles M. Warner, Franklin J. Kaufman, P. R. Quinlan and W. R. Rockwell, all of Syracuse, New York. The general office was located at 200 W. Genesee Street in Syracuse.[3]

By 1908, vice-presidents were H. S. Holden and C. B. Benson. Willis A. Holden was treasurer, Harold C. Beatty was secretary and W. B. Rockwell was general manager.[6]

Route expansion[edit]

During June 1910, the company had completed plans for double tracking of its railway between Long Branch Park and Baldwinsville, a distance of 3 miles (4.8 km).[7]

Beebe relocated part of the track from the highway to private right-of-way and built northward to Oswego on Lake Ontario. The line, 38 miles (61 km) in length, was completed on July 26, 1911, and its "physical standard" was one of the highest of any interurban. It was double-tracked, strung with catenary overhead, and built to permit 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) running. Schedules demanded more modest speeds, calling for 1:40 total time for the trip.[1]

By October 1911, the company advertised they had 13 fast electric limited trains leaving Syracuse daily for Baldwinsville, Phoenix, Fulton, Minetto and Oswego. The roadbed was "built to the highest steam railway standard." The "Fast Limiteds" left Electric Railway Terminal in Clinton Square ten minutes after each hour from 7:10 am to 7:10 pm.[4]

In February 1912, employees at the Halcomb Steel Company in Geddes filed a complaint that the rise in fares between the electric terminal and the plant from five to ten cents for a cash fare and from ten to fifteen cents for a round trip was exorbitant and unreasonable.[8]

Empire United Railways (1913-1917)[edit]

Financial issues in 1913 forced the company to merge with two nearby interurbans; the Auburn and Northern Electric Railroad and the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Rapid Railroad forming the Empire United Railways which failed in 1917, at which time each road assumed their individual name.[5]

Labor union[edit]

During June 1916, an agreement with the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electrical Railway Employees was offered to workers from the Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad as well as Auburn and Syracuse Electric Railroad, Syracuse and South Bay Railway and the Empire United lines. 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]

Empire State Railway (1917-1931)[edit]

The rail was in use until 1917 when it became known as the Empire State Railroad. Streetcar service on the route ran until 1931, when it was abandoned in favor of buses.[5]

Road abandonment[edit]

On June 18, 1919, the "upstate Public Service commission" approved the declaration of abandonment of the Syracuse, Lake Shore and Northern Railroad Company, which had merged with Empire State Railroad Corporation of "that part of its route on the east river road in Scriba, New York. The railroad asked for the abandonment of this 1.25 miles (2.01 km) section of road on the east side of Oswego River in 1911.[10]


  1. ^ a b Hilton, George W. & Due, John. The Electric Interurban Railways in America. Stanford University Press, 1960, p.314. Retrieved March 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Ganley, Joe (March 21, 1997). "Passengers used to travel throughout area by trolley". Syracuse Herald-Journal. Syracuse, New York. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h McGraw electric railway manual: the redbook of American streetcars. Volume 13. American Street Railway Investments, 1906 p. 254. Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Fast Limited Every Hour to Oswego". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. October 8, 1911. 
  5. ^ a b c d "New York Interurbans and Streetcar Railroads"., 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ Andrew Boyd. Boyd's Duplex Directory of Syracuse. Sampson & Murdock Co., Publishers, 1908, p.32. 
  7. ^ Electric railway journal, Volume 35. McGraw Publishing Company, New York, New York, June 1910 p. 764. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Ask Reduced Fare". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. February 8, 1912. 
  9. ^ "Amalgamated Men Preparing Agreement". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. June 12, 1916. 
  10. ^ "Road Abandonment Approved by State". Syracuse Herald. Syracuse, New York. June 18, 1919.