Another item from John Stewart's Collection
SOUVENIR PROGRAM Railfan\Excursion on the Fonda Johnstown and
Sunday October 3, 1954
Sponsored by The Capital District R. R. Club of Albany, New York
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FONDA JOHNSTOWN & GLOVERSVILLE R. R.
THE STEAM DIVISION
The Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad was incorporated on January 17,
1867 to build and operate a railroad between the cities of its
name. The first ground
was broken on October 1, 1867, and regular operation began on
Tuesday, November 29, 1870.
The entire rolling stock of the railroad at that time consisted of
an 0-4-0 locomotive called the
"Pioneer", one baggage car, two coaches, two box cars, and four
flats. Enthusiastic editorials of
the day envisioned the ultimate extension of the road to Ogdensburg
and the St. Lawrence River,
but nothing was ever to come of that dream. Almost as soon as
construction the Fonda-Gloversville
segment was well underway, agitation began for an extension to
Northville. Construction started in
October of 1872 on this additional line, and was completed in 1876.
Coincident with the building of this
extension, seventeen acres of land bordering on the railroad and the
Sacandaga River near Northville
were purchased, and developed into an amusement park and resort.
Sacandaga Park, as it was called,
boasted a fine hotel, cottages, picnic groves, midway, golf course,
ball park, and a passenger hauling
miniature railway of considerable length. The park developed into a
great revenue producer, and
brought in people by the trainload, from as far away as Albany.
In 1888 the railroad built two impressive and identical passenger
stations to handle
their growing business, one at Johnstown, and one a t Gloversville.
The station at
Johnstown later burned, but the one at Gloversville is still in
and houses the main offices of the company. In the year 1890, F.J. &
G. steam trains
hauled 239,800 passengers. The railroad's shops in Gloversville were
among the best
equipped in the area; and in addition to extensive repair and
rebuilding work on the
road's own engines and cars, and the cars of the Johnstown,
Gloversville and Kingsboro
Horse Railroad, the shops handled repair work on stationary steam engines and
other heavy machinery for the various industries in the towns served
by the railroad.
The first plans for a branch to Broadalbin were made in 1892, and contemplated a
line leaving the Northville extension just north of Mayfield. However
the F.J. & G.
did not feel that the potential business out of Broadalbin would
justify a railroad, and
turned the project down. Interest continued nonetheless among the
people of Broadalbin,
and in 1895 a connection was built via a somewhat different route, by the
Gloversville and Broadalbin Railroad Company. The F.J. & G. leased this trackage
upon completion, and acquired it outright in 1932.
The New York Central became interested in purchasing just the steam division of
the F.J. & G. in 1926, but the railroad consisted also of extensive
operations at the time; and the finances of the two divisions were so
no way could be found to legally separate them, so the N.Y.C. gave up the idea.
In 1928 work began on damming up the Sacandaga River to make what is now
Sacandaga Reservoir. This reservoir was planned to ultimately flood
out a large portion
of the F.J. & G. Northville branch right of way; and since the private
had already greatly reduced the railroad's passenger business to the
park, it was decided
to abandon the line from Broadalbin Junction to Northville. All steam
service was abandoned at this time, since the Gloversville-Sacandaga
had accounted for nearly all the business that remained in recent
a 7:30 A.M. daily except Sunday mixed train continued to run from
Broadalbin and return, and can still be ridden today by the early
enthusiast. An interesting side-note on the flooding of the reservoir
is that it filled up
much faster than anticipated, covering part of the F.J. & G. track
before it could be
torn up. Several cars would have been lost to the waters also, except
that an intrepid
crew ran their engine thru axle deep water to pull the cars out.
The company has owned a total of sixteen steam locomotives at various
its existence. Of these, only one remains on the property. An 0-6-0, No. 14 is
still in storage in the Gloversville roundhouse, but has not seen
service since 1946.
That year saw the end of all steam power in regular service, except
for one emergency
in 1947. Present active power consists of two 1000 HP Alco-GE diesel
Nos. 20 and 21, purchased new in 1946, and a smaller 44 ton center cab
GE diesel electric
switcher, No. 30, bought second hand in 1951.
The road had a total of thirty one coaches, combines, and baggage cars
at different times. A number of These were second hand cars from the B & 0, and
D L & W railroads, and the Manhattan Elevated Lines. Combines (coach-baggage)
Nos. 21 and 22 are the only serviceable remnants of this fleet. Car
No. 21 was purchased
from the D L & W in 1916, and No. 22 was bought new from Jackson and Sharpe
in 1900. Gas electric car No. 340 was acquired from the Huntington and Broad Top
RR in 1938, and is presently used in mail and express service daily
except Sunday. The
F.J. &-G. also had three Brill gas-mechanical drive railcars, of which
No. 202 remains,
stored in the Gloversville roundhouse.
Twenty freight and service cars were also on the roster, of which two flats, two
cabooses, one snow plow, one flanger, and one tool car remain. Flanger
No. 10 and the
snow plow (no number) have both been rebuilt in their lifetimes, the
snow plow losing
its cupola in the process. The turntables at Fonda, Gloversville, and
Broadalbin are retained
today for the sole purpose of turning this single ended snow fighting equipment.
Diesel locomotives No. 20 and 21 are always run with their hood ends
pointed up the
line, to secure better ventilation for the engine and generator, on
the difficult climb
out of the Mohawk River valley from Fonda. The grade on this part of
the line is two
percent maximum.'.. . . .
THE ELECTRIC DIVISION
The electric division at its peak boasted several times the mileage of the steam
division, and consisted of several, smaller purchased electric railway
connecting trackage and extensions built by the parent F. J. & G. steam road.
The Johnstown, Gloversville and Kingsboro Horse Railroad began horse
from Johnstown to Gloversville in March of 1899, following the highway route.
Sleighs were substituted for the cars whenever the tracks were covered
snow and ice. The rail was laid on longitudinal stringers, rather
than cross-ties, and the
highway itself was a plank road. In 1892 there was a short period of
between the J.G. & K.H.R.R. and the Belt Line Railroad, which was
building a local
horse line in Gloversville, for the use of South Main St. in that
town. The matter was
finally settled by the purchase of both companies by the Cayadutta
Electric R.R., and
their consolidation into a single system. These horse car lines were
electrified the following year.
The Cayadutta Electric Railroad itself, was organized to build an
from Gloversville to Fonda, via Johnstown, in competition with F.J. & G. steam
road. Regular operation over the electric line began in the summer of
1893. The Cayadutta
route did not closely parallel the steam line, but went by a somewhat shorter
(overall) route lying several miles to the east. The Ward Leonard
the contract for supplying and installing the electrical equipment on
the line. There
were some financial shenanigans in connection with this job, which
ended with Cayadutta
having to pay the laborers about $2000 in back wages, which the contractor had
left without paying. The Cayadutta Electric Railroad and the Fonda,
Gloversville Railroad were merged in 1902, although it is not clear
which party exercised
the controlling interest.
Another small electric line in the area was the Mountain Lake Electric Railroad,
which operated four single truck open cars, and one single truck
coach-baggage car on a summertime basis only, from a connection with
belt line northward to a resort at Mountain Lake. The line was lightly
and ran into quite hilly country, so steep grades and sharp curves
On the night of July 4, 1902, open car No. 1 left the lake resort
loaded down with returning
picnickers, closely followed by the closed combination car No. 5. The closed car
ran away on one of these grades, and smashed into the rear of the open
had made a safety stop at the head of the next steep hill down the
line. The two cars,
locked together, careened down the mountainside at an estimated 60-70
miles per hour,
and left the rails at the next sharp curve. Fourteen people were
killed, and many more
were badly hurt in the wreckage. The resulting damage claims
bankrupted the line,
and the F.J. & G. took it over the following year. The name was
changed to Adirondack Lakes
Traction Co., and numerous safety switchbacks were installed. The cars
all the way downtown over the belt line tracks in an effort to improve
service, but people were
understandingly reluctant to ride them. Patronage continued to decline
to the point that the FJ & G.
abandoned the operation completely in 1916.
The Amsterdam Street Railway began operation in 1873 with horse cars. Electric
operation began in 1890, at which time the company extended its lines
to Fort Johnson,
and Rockton and Hagaman, The F.J. & G. purchased the Amsterdam property in
1902, for a link in its projected interurban extension to Schenectady.
this new double tracked line began the same year, starting from the
at Sulphur Springs Junction, a few miles south of Johnstown, and going down thru
Tribes Hill to Fort Johnson. East of Amsterdam, another double track
line was built thru
to Scotia, where a connection was made with the tracks of the
Schenectady Railway Co.
Thru service to Schenectady began in June of 1903, using St. Louis
Built cars Nos. 75-
82, well known among trolley enthusiasts as part of the fleet
originally intended for
the Lehigh Valley Transit's stillborn New York City extension.
In its forty odd years of operation, the F.J.& G. electric division
operated over one
hundred and thirty cars of all types. from small four-wheel
"toonervilles' to heavy interurban~
trolley freights, line and service cars, and an electric locomotive. Pride of
the division in its early days were the twelve handsome railroad roof,
arch window interurban
cars for the Schenectady service, numbered 100-107 and 150-153, built also by
the St. Louis Car Co.
The bulk of the F.J.& G. business to Sacandaga Park came up from Schenectady
and Amsterdam on the interurban cars to Gloversville, transferring
there for the steam
trains to the park. The combined electric-steam round trip excursion
ticket from Schenectady
cost one dollar. The big interurban cars also carried frequent special parties
from Johnstown and Gloversville thru to Saratoga and Troy over the
lines of the Schenectady
Railway. It had originally been hoped to operate regular thru service into
Albany, over the lines of the Schenectady Railways and the United
but the latter would not permit operation of the F.J.& G. limited cars
over its tracks
in the city of Albany, as they were considered too large and heavy.
The private automobile competition that was draining the lifeblood away from
many an electric railway after the first world war, was making itself
felt no less on
the F.J.& G. The summer of 1930 saw the end of rail operation on the
belt line, the Johnstown local lines, and the local line following the
the two towns. Busses were substituted for passenger trolleys on the
run to Fonda,
but this trackage remained for electric baggage service. In the mid
1920's the company's
steam generating stations at Johnstown and Tribes Hill were closed, and the
road turned to purchased power from the Adirondack Power and Light Corp.
(now Niagara Mohawk Power Corp).
In 1931, a determined effort was made to rehabilitate the remaining interurban
passenger service from Gloversville to Schenectady. Five new hi-speed
weight, streamlined interurban cars, numbered 125-129, were purchased from the
Brill Company. All manual substations were replaced by automatic
installations, and their
maintenance made a part of the line car foreman's duties. The
economies affected by
the conversion to one-man operation using the new cars, and the
elimination of the
substation operators enabled the company to substantially reduce fares
in an attempt
to win new riders. All these courageous efforts not withstanding, the
. forced to file in bankruptcy in 1932, and a receiver was appointed
by the courts.
Back in 1928 the Schenectady Railway's bridge over the Mohawk River had been
weakened by ice jams, and subsequently closed to pedestrian and motor
The trolleys continued to use the bridge however, despite the fact
that the state considered
the bridge unsafe, and thought also that the piers were so close together as to
constitute a menace to navigation on the state barge canal. On April
5, 1938, the public
Service Commission forbade further trolley operation over the bridge,
with the result
that the interurban cars had to terminate their runs at the Scotia end
of the span,
and transfer their passengers to a bus for the last mile into town.
Since there were no
turning facilities on that side of the bridge, the single ended Brill
hi-speed cars could
not be used. Base service was furnished temporarily by two Cincinnati
weight, double ended interurban cars, which had been bought from the
R. R. (Albany-Hudson), when it was abandoned a few years earlier.
This added inconvenience further reduced passenger business. Since neither the
Schenectady Railway nor the F.J.& G. felt that they could afford to
rebuild the bridge,
application was made to abandon the line. June 24, 1938 marked the
end of all interurban
electric railway service from Gloversville to Schenectady, and the
service from Gloversville to Fonda. Busses replaced the passenger
cars, and gas electric
No. 340, running on the steam division took over the Gloversville-Fonda baggage
operation. All electric division equipment was soon scrapped, except
for the light weight
interurban cars. The five Brill cars were sold to the Bamberger
Electric Railroad, running
between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah; and continued in service there
until 1952, when they
were scrapped. The two ex-Albany Southern cars were sold to the
Portland Electric Power Co.
(Oregon) and were used in interurban service there until replaced by
newer equipment in 1953.
So passed from the scene this comprehensive and interesting electric
Much of the old right of way can be easily seen and followed in this
area, but it
too now is slowly being obliterated, as the new generation builds on
the graves of the
Our thanks to Fred Abele, Howard Cole, Dave Nestle, Rand Warner
and others whose writings and research have been drawn on for this story.
THE CAPITAL DISTRICT RAILROAD CLUB
The Club meets at the West Albany RR YMCA at 8:15 P.M., the first Thursday of
the month, September thru June. The meetings feature programs of
Membership is open to all men who are interested in railroads.
Our next meeting is Thursday, October 7, and will feature members'
of trains and trolleys seen on this summer's vacations. Visitors are
welcome. To get
there, go down North Manning Blvd. from the intersection of Clinton
and Central Avenues,
and bear straight onto New York Central Avenue. The YMCA and parking lot
are on the left, overlooking the West Albany Shops of the New York
CLUB OFFICERS FOR THE 1954-1955 SEASON ARE:
President-David L. Waddington, 2576 Consaul Rd., Schenectady, N. Y.
Vice-President-Philip Hayner, 2304 Barcelona Ave., Schenectadv. N. Y.
Treasurer-Fred B. Abele, 3 Warren St., McCownville (Albany), N. Y.
Recording Secretary-Mrs. Charles L. Ballard, Box 3, Poestenkill (Troy), N. Y.
Corresponding Secretary-Richard Abbott, Danker Ave., Albany, N. Y.
William Allen -- Tickets
Charles & Roberta Ballard - Arrangements & Publicity
Keith Steltz - Publicity .
David Waddington - Booklet & Flyers