Lots of material available
- I'm encouraged to see how many people in the Fulton County area have artifacts from
the FJ&G era. I've always been afraid that little or nothing remained and
no one cared. Also, since I've been away for many years and have only a few
Leader Herald clippings my mother sent me, bring me up to speed on what finished
the line off in 1984. Was it politics as someone said earlier, a recession, the
DO lost interest,or what.I was caught by surprise I remember, after all the
money and upgrades were put into the line.
>Was it politics as someone said earlier, a recession, theMain reason the railroad went under is that local government, specifically
>DO lost interest,or what.
Gloversville, did not care to have the railroad. Eugene Reppenhagen was
mayor at the time of the abandonment and he did close to nothing to try to
work to save the line.
DO has told me that they asked to sit down with city and county governments
to figure out what could be done to save the line. The City of Gloversville
in specific was less than helpful. Johnstown was, for a time, thinking of
rebuilding the line as a tourist railroad, but Fulton County Chamber of
Commerce and City of Gloversville ended up getting their way.
I've heard plenty of complaints about DO---people saying they didn't give
the railroad a decent chance; saying they started focusing more on regional
container shipping than running shortlines; etc.
Here's an excerpt from my FJ&G presentation which I've given around
Gloversville and surrounding communities:
"Delaware Otsego�s best year on the FJ&G was in 1980. However, the year
of 1981 produced half the business as did 1980....
"Business continued to drop off, and 1982 brought half the business of
1981, or a quarter of 1980�s business. The company was no longer profitable
[but could pay expenses]. By 1983, business on the FJ&G was not even
generating enough money to support expenses or pay bills...
"Two cars were carried on the railroad during the whole month of February
1984. Regular service was dropped on March 1, 1984."
(c) Copyright 1995-1999 Aaron Keller
The last train ran November 27, 1984. Equipment was taken off the line in
the fall of 1988. The tracks were removed in full by the fall of 1990.
Interestingly, plans immediately came up in 1990-1991 to use the property
for Gloversville Transit System storage and for a linear park. Seems
strange that plans "suddenly" materialized and happened as soon as the
tracks where torn up.
DO gave any potential buyers or potential government action almost six years
to decide to do something with the FJ&G. I consider that rather generous
since a number of other branches have been just torn up without any time
period for local debate or action to save the tracks.
I consider the main reasons the FJ&G left to be as follows, in order from
most important to least important:
(1) The general population in Gloversville/Fulton County doesn't care about
much of anything. Anyone who lives there now realizes this. People stopped
caring right about when the FJ&G went out. The effects of "chronic
unemployment" (as Gloversville was described by ABC News) have more
far-reaching social effects than people would like to think. People didn't
care that the railroad was dying and their elected politicians echoed that
feeling... they just let it go.
(2) There wasn't enough business in Gloversville/Johnstown to warrant a
freight operation, as I described above. Two cars a month won't cut it.
Most of the newer, somewhat-major shippers and receivers in Gloversville
are, in general, companies that rely highly on truck shipments.
(3) Federal transportation funding practices did not allow any specific
funding for tourist railroad operation. Had the ISTEA grant system been
available for the FJ&G, things might have been different. The government is
currently trying to make transportation funding more equally-distributed
through allowing intermodal transportation to take a stronger stand against
highway congestion. These federal programs had not been implemented at the
time of the FJ&G's demise and, had they been available, the line could have
probably been operated rather easily as a tourist railroad. It surprises me
that a local chamber of commerce, which pushes tourism in the region, did
not think of this sort of thing earlier.
(4) Delaware Otsego began focusing on its role as a intermodal traffic
carrier. It didn't put quite as much time into its shortline operations.
This is rather minor, though, as Walter Rich told me he was "sorry to see
the railroad go" but did it because he had "no local support."
>I was caught by surprise I remember, after all theThis was DO and the State of NY's way to try to save things. Didn't work
>money and upgrades were put into the line.
though because it didn't have enough local support.
There have been studies done on the quality of transportation in
Gloversville since the railroad left, and they described Gloversville as
less than favorable, from what I hear.
Hope this helps sort some things out. I'm sure there are those who disagree
with this interpretation of events and I'd like to hear from anyone who has
some more information to throw on the table.