LV Canastota Branch history

Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.

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LV Canastota Branch history

Postby Cactus Jack » Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:05 pm

Anyone know what size rail the mainline was laid with between Cortland and Canastota ?

Also, what customers were located at Cazenovia in the '60's ? I recall being stopped at the Route 20 crossing there for a southbound doing some work at GLF? He was working south of the crossing with the train north of the crossing. He backed onto his train, and took off south with 6-8 mosc cars. I believe the power was an RS-2 or 3. Do not recall the caboose.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby lvrr325 » Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:31 am

If you're in CNY, watch for Lyman Grey with the display of old lanterns and passes and things at the train shows, he does a lot of them all around upstate NY. He'd know for sure; he has a bunch of photos and things taken by someone who lived there in the 1960s. There's a couple maps on eBay now, but they don't show much south of GLF - I know there was at least one customer, maybe two, because the businesses are still active today, you can see where the ROW ran between them. Even the plaza next to Route 5 was angled to match the ROW - that may change, I see a couple weeks ago they tore the Eckerd/Rite-Aid end of it down completely to build a new store.

In fact, after the LV abandoned the line, Penn Central operated the very end of the line in Canastota for a bit - I have not come up with an exact abandonment date yet. But it's on a NYC track zone map updated to 1972 (I am trying to see if I can borrow it and make some copies).

One interesting thing I did find out - the Lehigh Valley disputed the assessment on the EC&N north of Canastota through the town of Lenox, prior to and after abandonment. Eventually as with some other LV property once tracks were gone it was transferred to the Ablan Corp. - and they let this part of the line go for taxes rather than pay what the town demanded. That may explain why it's nearly impossible to pick out now.

FWIW, today the GLF mill has an ice cream shop in it, there is a miniature golf course in the old LV yard, and displayed there is a real LV caboose. And not a single train stops in Canastota anymore - unless CSX dumps it on the ground.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby Cactus Jack » Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:55 pm

Thanks for the info.

Would they by any chance of had a green? caboose on that job ?

I don't know when the rail was pulled, but a group was trying to make a tourist railroad out of it called the Canastota & Cazenovia RR or something like that. Never got beyond the paper stage.

I always tried to figure out the EC&N from Canastota north, but it is about impossible. I suspect it went through the middle of the easterly Thruway Cloverleafs or thereabouts. South of Canastota it was pretty easy to see - 20 years ago - winding up the hill towards Perryville and Clockville. At Caz there was a thru plate girder bridge just north of the Route 20 crossing for years, but it has since disappeared - can't say when. For several years after abandonment there was also a top deck girder? bridge just north of New Woodstock, but I believe it too has disappeared. Last time I was in New Woodstock, over ten years ago, there was a historical group trying to remodel the depot for a museum.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby lvrr325 » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:07 pm

Canastota to Cazenovia is now hikable as a trail, although I'm not sure just where it ends - that bridge in Caz has been gone at least a dozen years now.

I think the principal behind that railroad was named Beers and went on to be involved in the Ontario Lines, he died 4 or 5 years back and some of his things were donated to the CNY NRHS, including a carousel of slides that were supposed to cover the line - but once shown maybe one or two were LV and the rest all sorts of RR subjects, a trip on the D&RGW narrow gauge included. (FWIW, I think the road could have been workable if it included the freight customers in Canastota on the deal, even moreso if they could have gotten the PC to include the West Shore on to Vernon with it).

New Woodstock was restored with a NYC wood caboose stuffed and mounted outside. You can pick out the ROW in spots from there to Cortland, with gaps where it's been plowed back into the fields. In one spot near DeRuyter it serves as a driveway to a home. In Truxton the depot still stands, in rough shape. An apartment complex straddles the ROW just past the I-81 overpass (I have to think when that overpass finally comes due for replacement, they'll just fill it in, unless they build a trail under it).

So far as I know the green LV cabooses had no special assignments, unless they were still assigning them to specific conductors that late. The green was just a bit of parent PC influence.


If you hike the Erie Canal trail in Canastota you can find the southern abutment of the LV still there, and houses on the other side of Canal Road. I think the only way to trace most of the line would be to use a 1937 topo map and a current one side by side to show you where to look for it. Just to give an example of how sweeping the changes have been, the same file notes the LV once crossed the NYC main on a bridge; now the NYC main is elevated through town.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby chnaus » Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:27 pm

We traced this line last year. The guy that runs the ice cream shop in Canastota has
a great display of local photos in his office.
The depot in Truxton is now rehabbed into the town offices.
They sent me an 8 X 10 of it,in trade for a val map .

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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby lvrr325 » Tue Sep 30, 2008 5:00 am

It's interesting that the line from DeRuyter to Cortland was built by the NY&OM, but never operated by them. The Cazenovia, Canastota & DeRuyter would lease it after the Utica Ithaca & Elmira operated it for a couple of years. Apparently these two roads merged to become the Elmira, Cortland & Northern prior to being taken over by the LV, but the Archer book doesn't give a lot of details.

The CC&D basically joined the ROW at the site of the station in DeRuyter, from the north. A remnant of NY&OM remained for a few thousand feet eastward. I've found some documentation that the locals wanted to build a sauerkraut/pickling plant that could have been served by this track, in the late 1940s. Looking at the sattelite photos on Google doesn't show anything still there, if this was ever built.

The freight station in DeRuyter was sold to a local concern in 1938 and that's why it still remains.

One of Taibi's O&W books notes that the Oswego Midland made an arrangement to use the UI&E from Cortland to Freeville, and built more of their "Western Extension" from here to Scipio Center - which the UI&E then operated. What's not clear is if this was abandoned by the O&W, or the LV - there is a small booklet on the history of railroads in Tompkins County that I think includes more details, but I have to find my copy.

I'm starting to think it might be nice to research and put together a history on this line.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby Cactus Jack » Sat Oct 11, 2008 11:20 pm

The NY&OM did indeed operate over the Deruyter to Cortland section both prior to and after the UI&E operations between Cortland and Norwich. The UI&E operated into Norwich between April 1875 and May 1876 when the Midland once again resumed service over the line until 1880 into Cortland. NY&OM ran over the U&IE between Cortland and Freeville very briefly to access their line once again to Scipio Summit on the "Western Extension".until the UI&E took over operations from 1873-1876. After 1876 the newly formed Ithaca, Auburn & Western took over the Freeville to Scipio Center line and in 1889 had extended it into Auburn. It closed CA 1892 and was scraped out.

The UI&E at one point apparently thought of opening a line from Deruyter to Randallsville via Georgetown, scraping the old Midland route over Crumb Hill (which they were never to even own). Apparently this was to be an outlet for coal moving to the Mohawk Valley from Elmira that came out of the Pennsylvania anthracite fields. Just how this route was surveyed, if it ever was is a mystery as there is quite a hill due west of Randallsville and some rough going over to Georgetown way.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby lvrr325 » Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:58 pm

During June 1880, The New York Ontario & Western Railway abandoned the DeRuyter branch never having run a train over it.
That's from Page 266 of Taibi's Remembering the New York, Ontario & Western Railway - Oswego to Sidney and Branches.

As I read back I see the Midland ran some trains on the line, so it could be I misunderstood the reference to the reorganized O&W not using the line to include the O&M, which was not the case. According to this book, they withdrew from any operation west of Norwich in 1875. Given the line was built to DeRuyter in 1871 and into Cortland by Jan 13 1872, that wasn't very long. (The line to Scipio Center was completed by the end of 1872).
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby Cactus Jack » Mon Oct 13, 2008 9:58 pm

Correct, the NYO&W never operated any of the Western Extension out of Norwich. NY&OM operation was always sporadic, officially ending with the January 1880 reorganization as the NYO&W. Right off I don't have the last recorded date of NY&OM operations west of Norwich, but it may have been in December 1879. Operations from Cortland west seem confusing and I would need to study up further on that section and Midland operation... or largely lack therof....

As an aside, this past summer I was back in NY and around the Canastota area, and WOW how it has changed ! Used to be pretty evident where the tracks crossed Route 5, but no more. I also recall going up the hill out of town some 30 years ago towards Clockville and the abandoned right of way was very visible to the west of the road. Was tempted to go to Hamilton that way instead of via Munns but didn't...maybe next trip whenever that may be.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby lvrr325 » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:00 pm

It took looking at an overhead sattelite shot to figure out where it crossed Route 5. Turns out the plaza on the corner with Route 13 is built with the back angled to match the ROW. It's changing again, though, the last few times I was through they'd torn down the entire end of the plaza to build a new standalone Eckerd.

On the bright side, the ROW going south is a trail now, and can be hiked.


Did you see the LV caboose on the ROW by the old .. AGF.. I can't think of the right initials, but the old feed mill in where the freight house used to be.

I should look through my documents again and see if anything in it tells about rail size. Most of it is leases and dispositions or changes in property - believe it or not there was a grade crossing elimination done in one area, even.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby Cactus Jack » Tue Oct 14, 2008 11:25 pm

No, I missed the caboose !

Hope you find some info on rail size.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby lvrr325 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:58 pm

I've been following this line on Windows Live Local using the Birds-Eye view - you can follow all of it on there except roughly from South Cortland to around Deruyter (which can be followed on Google using the close-up sattelite views).

Anyhow, there are two LV cabooses along the line - there clearly is one in Cazenovia in addition to the one in Canastota. It seems to have fresher paint, and is located next to the ROW by the stations (I'd have to check, but it looks like both the freight and passenger stations exist there). For a while there was some confusion, as I was never able to confirm this car existed and I thought the one in Canastota might have come there from Cazenovia. It might take some detective work to ask the folks at the miniature golf place just when they got their caboose.

I'm not sure how old their images are, but when I checked my own house I found them to be about three years old. Some look to be more recent than that.

There are also (so far) three bridges remaining above Cortland - one a few miles below New Woodstock, one just above (like 100 yards or so) and one more a few miles further north. I can also see why the trail that uses the ROW above Cazenovia doesn't continue to use it to the south - although most of it is clear, it's plowed into fields in a number of places, built across in two or three spots, and used as private driveways in several more locations.
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby Otto Vondrak » Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:50 am

There is an LV timetable for sale covering Cortland-Ithaca: Item # 190296183783
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby RussNelson » Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:54 pm

lvrr325 wrote:Anyhow, there are two LV cabooses along the line - there clearly is one in Cazenovia in addition to the one in Canastota. It seems to have fresher paint, and is located next to the ROW by the stations (I'd have to check, but it looks like both the freight and passenger stations exist there).


They do. This is the passenger station and caboose. Don't have a picture of the freight station, but it's still there.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/russnelson ... 437690498/

There are also (so far) three bridges remaining above Cortland - one a few miles below New Woodstock, one just above (like 100 yards or so) and one more a few miles further north. I can also see why the trail that uses the ROW above Cazenovia doesn't continue to use it to the south - although most of it is clear, it's plowed into fields in a number of places, built across in two or three spots, and used as private driveways in several more locations.

Here's the one just above Cazenovia:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/russnelson ... 437690498/
and you missed this one at Rippleton Cross(ing):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/russnelson ... 702186528/
And yes, the row south of Cazenovia is poorly preserved. Some idiots built a subdivision, and rather than keeping the railbed as a recreational walkway (which would have at least joined into the Gorge Trail and who knows how far south it could have been extended), they bulldozed it into nothingness. Criminal stupidity. "Hey, I know! Let's throw away a few hundred thousand dollars in a free amenity!" "Yeah, great idea!" "Good thing we can afford to be this stupid". "Yeah, it is."
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Re: Canastota Branch

Postby Cactus Jack » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:06 pm

I understand now that the removal of rails and ties began in spring of 1968 and completion of abandonment terminated August 30th, 1969.

Track was used as far as Truxton during this time for switching of gondola cars to load rails and ties that were being taken up.

I'm still not sure what size rail was on the line.
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