Jamestown, Westfield & Northwestern Railroad
This line ran from Jamestown to Westfield and serviced the famous Chautauqua Institution on Chautauqua Lake. In its 70 year life it changed its name numerous times utilizing almost every possible permutation of "Jamestown", "Chautauqua", and "Lake Erie." From 1881 to 1913 the line was a steam line, at which point it was electrified. This first-person account described a trip on the line in 1927.
The Steam Years
The first segment opened was the Mayville Extension Railroad, a branch of a steam railroad which began operation June 20, 1881 and ran from Mayville to the Chautauqua Assembly Grounds. The next segment was the Chautauqua Lake Railway which opened from Jamestown to Mayville Jct. on July 25, 1887 with trackage rights on another road another 1.2 miles into Mayville. On September 28, 1887 it absorbed the Mayville Extension Railroad. On October 17, 1894 the company was reorganized into the Jamestown and Lake Erie Railway. A branch of the line was opened from Clifton to Falconer on February 15, 1897.
The company reorganized again on January 1, 1899 and emerged as the Jamestown & Chautauqua Railroad. The Jamestown, Chautauqua and Lake Erie Railway built a line from Mayville to Westfield on July 1, 1902 and leased the Jamestown & Chautauqua Railroad. The company also operated a fleet of steamboats on Chautauqua Lake. The Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company, an interurban line, bought up all the stock on 1907. Unfortunately, the line was unprofitable, went into receivership and was purchased in December 1913 by the Broadhead interests, owners of the Jamestown Street Railway and the Chautauqua Traction Company.
During this time the two branch lines of the road were disposed of. The Falconer branch was leased for a time to the Erie Railroad and was abandoned and torn up in 1908. The Chautauqua branch was leased and later sold to the Pennsylvania Railroad which operated it as a freight-only line until abandonment in 1926.
On December 8, 1913 the Jamestown, Westfield & Northwestern Railroad took over the line and began electrifying the main line from Westfield to Jamestown. During the electrification project the company built a new station about mile east of Mayville and abandoned their 1.2 miles of trackage rights of the Pennsylvania Railroad into the village. On August 20, 1914 the handsome interurban cars lettered with the slogan "America's Scenic Route" began operating. Power for the line was purchased from the municipal power plant in Jamestown and the company had a permanent substation in Westfield and portable substations in Greenhurst, Bemus Point and Mayville which converted the 11,500 volts AC to 650 volts DC.
When the line was first electrified, the investment in conversion equipment was reduced by utilizing the facilities of the Chautauqua Traction Company, the interurban which ran along the west side of the lake and was also owned by the Broadhead family. Taking advantage of a Chautauqua Traction substation in Stow, the JW&NW ran two lead-covered cables on the lake bottom from Stow to its tracks in Bemus on the opposite side of the lake. The system employed a double throw switch so that if a cable became grounded the current could be reversed so it became the negative feeder and the line could continue to operate.
Passenger operations ended November 30, 1947 following the death leading members of the Broadhead family. The line began diesel powered freight service which continued until January 21, 1950.
The railroad was abandoned in stages beginning in 1938 and ending in 1950. The following list shows when each segment was abandoned. A special thanks goes to Richard Palmer who provided this information.
Jamestown Street Railway discontinued Jan. 16, 1938
Jamestown Street Railway (Falconer to Lakewood) discontinued Jan. 29, 1938 (18.29 miles)
Jamestown - Boat Landing March 31, 1940
Jamestown - Westfield (electric pass. service), Nov. 30, 1947
Jamestown - Westfield (diesel freight service) Jan. 21, 1950
Lines and Stations
Mayville, Chaut. St.
Westfield, Main St.
N. Y. C. STATION
Source: September 28, 1941 JW&NW timetable
The JW&NW had a fleet of Interurban cars, freight motors and work equipment. Click on the car number for more information and/or photos of the car.
|300||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||60 (as delivered)||53' 6"||Burned following a wreck in early 1920s.|
|301||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||60 (as delivered)||53' 6"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|302||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||60 (as delivered)||53' 6"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|303||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||60 (as delivered)||53' 6"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|304||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||60 (as delivered)||53' 6"||Junked after 1944 wreck.|
|305||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||60 (as delivered)||53' 6"||Out of service in late 1930s. Was used a lunch counter on Washington Street in Jamestown.|
|309||St. Louis Car Co.||1916||72||66' 0"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|310||St. Louis Car Co.||1916||72||66' 0"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|311||St. Louis Car Co.||1916||72||66' 0"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|312||St. Louis Car Co.||1916||72||66' 0"||Retired in 1947 when passenger service ended.|
|111||???||???||Former Chautauqua Traction # 111|
|306||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||Express converted to a Plow|
|307||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||Express converted to a Line Car|
|308||Cincinnati Car Co.||August 27, 1914||Rail Car|
- Ahlstrom, Harold. 1942. "Jamestown Westfield & Northwestern", Central Electric Railfans' Association (CERA) Bulletin 40.
- Coniff, William. Date Unknown. "Chautauqua Lake Route", "Electric Lines" section of Railroad Magazine.
- Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad, September 28, 1941 timetable.
- New York State Department of Transportation Abandonment lists
- New York State Public Service Commission Annual reports
- Reifschneider, Felix E. 1949. Interurbans of the Empire State.
- Woodbury, John. 1958. Unpublished notes.