The Erie Railroad was chartered in April 1832 from the banks of the Hudson River to the shores of Lake Erie as the New York and Erie Railroad, with the restriction that it could not enter any other state or connect with railroads from other states. This line was completed in 1851 between Piermont and Dunkirk via Little Valley, Cattaraugus and Dayton. The route of the line through Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties was subject to much debate and lobbying and is an interesting story in its own right.
At Salamanca, the railroad connected with the Atlantic & Great Western Railway, another broad-gauge line. The Erie had a complicated relationship with the A&GW. The Erie first leased the A&GW in December 1968, forced the A&GW into receivership, leased it again in March 1870 until the A&GW was foreclosed in 1871, in 1874 the Erie again leased the A&GW, but later canceled it. The A&GW was sold at foreclosure and reorganized as the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad, or Nypano. In 1883 the Erie leased the Nypano and on February 24, 1896 purchased the entire capital stock of the company. In 1941 the property of the Nypano Railroad Company was conveyed to the Erie. The A&GW/Nypano was the Erie's link to the west and the cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati and Chicago.
Realizing that it may have made a mistake in placing its Lake Erie terminus at Dunkirk instead of Buffalo, the Erie began reached Buffalo in 1863 by leasing the Buffalo, New York and Erie Railroad Company for 450 years. The Erie reached Buffalo from the south via the Buffalo & Southwestern Railroad from Jamestown to Buffalo in 1872. This line connected with the main line at Dayton, NY.
The Erie went through a number of name changes in its history. As noted above, the company was chartered in 1831 as the New York and Erie Railroad. In 1861 it changed its name to the Erie Railway when it completed its line to Dunkirk. On April 24, 1875 the bankrupt Erie Railway was sold for six million dollars and the entire property was transferred to the New York, Lake Erie and Western Railway. In May 1893 the NYLE&W went into bankruptcy again and was reorganized in 1895 as the Erie Railroad Company.
The Erie was built as a broad-gauge line, having 6 feet between the rail as opposed to the standard 4 feet 8 1/2 inches. This enabled the Erie to carry wider and larger items than it's standard-gauge competitors, but made it difficult to interchange with them. In 1880 the entire mainline of the Erie was converted to standard-gauge in a single day. For a description of the event, read an article on it in the Newspaper Articles section of this site.
On October 12, 1955, the Erie had a large derailment on a bridge in Gowanda, NY. I have stories and photos of the wreck.
Like most railroads, the Erie offered passes for free passage over the line. Here is a collection of Erie Railroad passes from 1869 to 1935.
The following table lists the opening dates of the New York & Erie Railroad in New York State. It is from the Annual Report of the New York State Railroad Commissioners, September 30, 1855 and was compiled by Richard Palmer.
|Piermont - Goshen||44||September 22, 1841|
|Goshen - Middletown||7||June 7, 1843|
|Middletown - Otisville||8||November 3, 1846|
|Otisville - Port Jervis||13||January 6, 1848|
|Port Jervis - Binghamton||127||December 28, 1848|
|Binghamton - Owego||22||June 1, 1849|
|Owego - Elmira||36||October 2, 1849|
|Elmira - Corning||18||January 1, 1850|
|Corning - Hornellsville||41||September 1, 1850|
|Hornellsville - Dunkirk||127||May 15, 1851|
|Chester - Newburgh||18||January 8, 1850|
|Hornellsville - Portageville
||30||January 22, 1852|
|Attica - Hornellsville||60||May 3, 1852|
Buffalo, New York & Erie (controlled by the Erie)
(formerly Buffalo, Corning & N.Y.)
|Painted Post - Kennedyville (Kanona)||22||April 15, 1852|
|Kennedyville - Avoca||3||May 1, 1852|
|Avoca - Liberty||7||May 31, 1852|
|Liberty - Bloods||4||July 1, 1852|
|Bloods - Wayland||6||August 2, 1852|
|Wayland - Batavia||54||March 1, 1854|
|Avon - Rochester||18||October 2, 1854|
Major WNY Facilities
Lines and Stations
- Avon to Attica
- Avon to Corning
- Binghamton to Dunkirk
- Hornell to Buffalo
- Salamanca to Meadville
- Buffalo to Jamestown
- River Junction to C B Junction
- Rochester to Mount Morris
- 1843 Survey Map of the New York and Erie Railroad
- 1855 Map of the New York and Erie Railroad
- 1869 Map of the Erie Railway
- Map from a 1938 Public Timetable
- Erie 107, a 0-6-0 B-6 Class Locomotive (small picture) (large picture)
- Erie 128, a 0-8-0 C-1 Class Locomotive (small picture) (large picture)
- Erie 299, an 0-8-0 C-4 Class Locomotive in Jamestown, NY
- Erie 557, a 4-4-2 E-3 Class Locomotive
- Erie 878, a 4-6-0 G-8 Class Locomotive (small picture) (large picture)
- Erie 1210, a GP-7 Locomotive
- Erie 1723, a 2-8-0 H-21 Class Locomotive
- Erie 1733, a 2-8-0 H-21 Class Locomotive
- Erie 1785, a 2-8-0 H-21 Class Locomotive
- Erie 2032, a 2-8-0 H-21 Class Locomotive
- Erie 2701, a 4-6-2 K-4 Class Locomotive (small picture) (large picture)
- Erie 2915, a 4-6-2 K-5 Class Locomotive (small picture) (large picture)
- Erie 3090, a 2-8-2 N-1 Class Locomotive in Jamestown, NY
- Erie 3399, a 2-8-4, Turntable, and Roundhouse at Salamanca, NY
- New York & Erie Railroad - May 8, 1854
- New York & Erie Railroad Salamanca Timetable - May 2, 1862
- New York Lake Erie & Western Railroad - November 15, 1880
- Erie Railroad Timetable in Olean - July 9, 1900
- Buffalo-Jamestown Timetable - September 24, 1922
- July 19, 1864 - Terrible Collision on the Erie Railway
- November 21, 1872 - A Proposed Change of Gauge Upon the Erie
- January 10, 1870 - The Erie Trials.; The Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Out of the Coils of the Erie Managers
- March 14, 1873 - Interesting Facts in the Secret History of the Atlantic and Great Western Road
- May 12, 1873 - Proposed Lease of the Atlantic and Great Western to the Erie Company
- June 26, 1874 - The Atlantic and Great Western Railroad Lease
- January 4, 1879 - Erie's Narrow Gauge
- January 9, 1879 - Erie To Build New Grain Elevator in Hoboken
- February 22, 1879 - Erie's New Acquisition; Securing Control of the Atlantic and Great Western
- June 24, 1880 - The Erie Narrowed
- January 27, 1881 - Five Dead in wreck at Tioga Center
- January 27, 1881 - One Legged Railroad Car
- February 3, 1881 - Train 5 Looses Wheel
- July 21, 1881 - A Special Train for Nine Passengers
- July 30, 1881 - Conversion of the Erie to Standard Gauge
- February 1, 1898 - The Erie Years: A Railroad Memoir
- February 14, 1902 - Ten Freight Cars Derailed
- February 18, 1902 - Killed By The Cars
- January 9, 1913 - Landslide on Erie Near Cattaraugus
- October 4, 1918 - Two Men Are Killed in Tail-End Wreck
- May 9, 1919 - Stolen Pork Found In Attic
- October 12, 1955 - Freight Wreck Loss Put at $250,000
- October 13, 1955 - Erie Freight Wrecks on Creek Bridge
- October 20, 1955 - Erie Speeds Repairs on Wrecked Bridge
- February 16, 1959: Why Erie Car Repairs Cost Less
- Carleton, Paul. 1988. The Erie Railroad Story.
Comments: This focuses mainly on Erie locomotives.
- Hungerford, Edward. 1949. Men of Erie. New York,
NY: Random House
Comments: A very good history of the Erie Railroad.
- Kilmer, Lawrence. date unknown. Erie Railroad Bradford
Branch. Olean, NY: Lawrence J. Kilmer.
Comments: History of the Erie coal lines in Western Pennsylvania and Western New York.
- Westing, Frederick. 1970. Erie Power. Medina,
OH: Alvin F. Staufer.
Comments: A great book on Erie locomotives.