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SOUVENIR PROGRAM Railfan\Excursion on the FJGRR

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  • Gino's Railpage
    Another item from John Stewart s Collection Gino SOUVENIR PROGRAM Railfan Excursion on the Fonda Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad Sunday October 3, 1954
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29, 2007
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      Another item from John Stewart's Collection

      Gino

      SOUVENIR PROGRAM Railfan\Excursion on the Fonda Johnstown and
      Gloversville Railroad

      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
      use-somewhat enlarged,
      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
      electric interurban
      operations at the time; and the finances of the two divisions were so
      interwoven that
      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
      automobile
      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
      division passenger
      service was abandoned at this time, since the Gloversville-Sacandaga
      Park traffic
      had accounted for nearly all the business that remained in recent
      years. However,
      a 7:30 A.M. daily except Sunday mixed train continued to run from
      Gloversville to
      Broadalbin and return, and can still be ridden today by the early
      morning railroad
      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
      times during
      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
      electric switchers,
      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
      in operation
      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
      properties, with
      connecting trackage and extensions built by the parent F. J. & G. steam road.
      The Johnstown, Gloversville and Kingsboro Horse Railroad began horse
      car operation
      from Johnstown to Gloversville in March of 1899, following the highway route.
      Sleighs were substituted for the cars whenever the tracks were covered
      by winter's
      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
      bitter contention
      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
      interurban railroad
      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
      Company secured
      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,
      Johnstown and
      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
      closed combination
      coach-baggage car on a summertime basis only, from a connection with
      the Gloversville
      belt line northward to a resort at Mountain Lake. The line was lightly
      constructed,
      and ran into quite hilly country, so steep grades and sharp curves
      were numerous.
      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
      car, which
      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
      were run
      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.
      Construction on
      this new double tracked line began the same year, starting from the
      Cayadutta trackage
      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
      Traction Company,
      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
      Gloversville
      belt line, the Johnstown local lines, and the local line following the
      highway between
      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
      (65mph). light
      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
      company was
      . 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
      vehicle traffic.
      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
      built, light
      weight, double ended interurban cars, which had been bought from the
      Albany Southern
      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
      electric baggage
      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
      railway system.
      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
      old.

      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
      railroad interest.
      Membership is open to all men who are interested in railroads.
      Our next meeting is Thursday, October 7, and will feature members'
      colored slides
      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
      Central Railroad.

      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.

      TRIP COMMITTEE

      William Allen -- Tickets
      Charles & Roberta Ballard - Arrangements & Publicity
      Keith Steltz - Publicity .
      David Waddington - Booklet & Flyers



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      www.fjgrr.org
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