Olean, Bradford & Warren Railroad


The Olean, Bradford & Warren Railroad was planned as a three-foot gauge line running 63 miles from Olean, NY to Warren, PA via Bradford PA. The city of Warren never contributed to the construction of the line and, as a result, the only work done between Bradford and Warren was an initial survey. The Olean-Bradford section ran in two states and was incorporated as two separate companies with two separate charters. The 12.5 mile section in New York was the Olean, Bradford & Warren Railroad while the 10.5 mile section in Pennsylvania was incorporated as the Olean, Bradford & Warren Railway.

Work began on construction of the line in the fall of 1877. On October 8, 1877 a gang began grading the line starting in Warren towards Olean. On November 5 of the same year two hundred men began work on the northern end of the line and the contractor promised to reach the state line by the first of the new year. Despite a snow squall on the 14th of December, he kept his promise and reached Gilmore City in December. On February 8, 1878 the last spike was driven and the road was put into operation.

The OB&W connected to a number of other narrow and standard gauge railroads. Most notable among them was the Kendall & Eldred Railroad which connected to the OB&W at Tarport (East Bradford). The two companies shared the same management, and were operated by the same personnel.

The road was profitable and very active, mostly in support of the oil industry in the area. In 1879, the OB&W ran 7,140 freight trains and 21,598 passengers trains and had total earnings of $72,000. By 1881, revenue had climbed to almost $110,000.

During that era, as today, the larger railroad systems were always looking to lease or purchase smaller systems to add to their empire. The OB&W was no exception and on June 11, 1878, only four months after it began operation, the Olean, Bradford & Warren Railway (the Pennsylvania section of the line) was sold to the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railway. The BNY&P purchased the New York section of the line on December 8, 1881.  Though it was owned by the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia, the line continued to operate as the Olean, Bradford and Warren until it ceased operations.

Operations on this line slowed and in 1894 a report was issued recommending that operations on the line be halted. They continued until August 6, 1896 when the last train ran on the line. The company existed until June 30, 1898 when it was closed and the rail and any tangible assets of the line were removed.

Others believed that the route between Olean and Bradford was a viable one and on June 30, 1898 the Olean, Rock City & Bradford Electric Railway Company acquired the OB&W right-of-way through condemnation. The new owners converted the track to standard gauge and operated the line by use of electric power. Electric operations continued under a variety of names until September 27, 1927 when the traction company closed up shop.


Number Builder Build
Type Notes
1 Brooks Dec 1877 312 4-4-0 Sold to Coudersport & Port Allegheny Railroad in 1882
2 Brooks Dec 1877 313 2-6-0  
3 Brooks Feb 1878 321 2-6-0  
4 Baldwin Feb 1878 4273 4-4-0 Sold to Allegheny Central Railroad
5 Brooks Apr 1878 326 2-6-0  
6 Brooks Apr 1878 325 4-4-0 Sold to Liberty Iron Company
7 Brooks Jan 1879 349 2-6-0 Sold to B.A & A in 1895
8 Brooks May 1878 327 2-6-0 Ex-Kendall & Eldred. Became BNY&P 120 and WNY&P 120
9 Brooks Jun 1878 328 2-6-0 Ex-Kendall & Eldred
10 Brooks Jun 1878 329 2-6-0 Ex-Kendall & Eldred
11 Brooks Mar 1879 350 2-6-0 Ex-Kendall & Eldred

Newspaper Articles


  • Kilmer, Lawrence W. Bradford & Foster Brook Peg Leg Railroad.