• B.A.&A. Narrow Gauge

  • All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad
All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad

Moderator: Benjamin Maggi

  by Mountcastle
I was reading part of Ed Lewis' book yesterday evening and I came away a little perplexed concerning the guage of the Buffalo, Attica & Arcade Railroad.

The book says that, after the Attica & Freedom R.R. disbanded in 1894, the B.A.&A. was incorporated and was to be a standard gauge railroad; that service was interrupted from that point for two years (if I remember correctly) while the narrow gauge tracks were taken up and replaced by standard gauge tracks. Makes perfect sense, of course.

Until you flip the page, that is, to see photos of (impossibly antique-looking) trains described as "B.A.&A. narrow gauge".

It seems to me that if service was interrupted from the date of incorporation until the completion of the standard gauge right-of-way, there would have been no B.A.&A. narrow gauge trains.

What am I missing?
  by CarterB
"1853 plans were made for a three foot narrow gauge operation from Attica, through Arcade, to the Pennsylvania State line in Cattaraugus County to be called the Attica and Allegheny Railroad. Local residents raised construction capital but the line was never built.

In 1880 the narrow-gauge Tonawanda Valley Railroad was organized with financial backing from the Erie Railroad and built a narrow gauge line from Attica to Curriers. In 1881 the Tonawanda Valley Extension Railroad was built and extended the line southward from Curriers to Arcade. Later in 1881 these two railroads were consolidated as the Tonawanda Valley & Cuba Railroad which extended the line further south to Cuba, NY.

In 1892 the south end of the line was cut back from Cuba to Freedom and the company was renamed the Attica and Freedom Railroad.

This company was not successful and on October 13, 1894 the company was reorganized as the Buffalo, Attica & Arcade Railroad. In 1895 the line was converted to standard gauge."

Source: http://wnyrails.org/railroads/aa/baa_home.htm
  by Mountcastle
Yeah, but that doesn't really explain things. Between the incorporation of the B.A.&A. and the completion of the standard gauge right-of-way, there was no rail service, according to Lewis' book. So whence the narrow gauge B.A.&A. trains?

In comparison to the information you've posted, however, there is a discrepancy with the Lewis book, which states that the Attica & Freedom was formed in 1891. Your information gives 1892 as the date. I wonder which is correct.

Curses! More questions!
  by CarterB
My guess is that the photo/s are mislabeled and were of the predecessor NG operations.
  by Mountcastle
I'd have to guess you're probably right about that; it makes the best sense. I hate it when authors aren't infallible.

  by BSOR Patarak
That photograph has stirred up many discussions about the narrow gauge. It has been mislabeled in many publications. They were first printed in the R&LHS Bulletin #40 (1936) in an article by Captain Winfield Robinson on the narrow gauges. (I say 'they' as there is another similar view taken from the other side of the locomotive.) The images have been filed in the archives at Sacramento with the wrong caption on it, most likely leading to the mislabeling in the Lewis book. The question is raised due to the locomotive. There was a #7 that was reported to have been a Bradford, Bordell & Kinzua #7 National Locomotive Works. This loco fits the description. Some rosters show this engine as TV&C and also on the BA&A. It is more likely that the TV&C rented or borrowed the locomotive during an up swing in traffic when the Erie tried to funnel standard gauge freight on narrow gauge trucks over the line around 1883. There is also the possibility that the BA&A rented or borrowed a narrow gauge engine for the construction work to lay the standard gauge rails. If the latter is the case, then the train in the photograph would not have been possible. It looks like a revenue train with a coach on the end. From news paper clippings from Wyoming County, the BA&A did not handle revenue freight until the standard gauge tracks were laid. That was not completed until 1895. They may have run a few cars between Johnsonburg and Attica in 1894 for revenue as standard gauge.

As for the National Locomotive, it most definitely came from the BB&K as they were one of the last narrow gauge lines to operate in the area. They collected the rolling stock of many of the connected narrow gauges as they shut down operations. The TV&C line was essentially broke in two pieces when the shut down. The southern portion from Freedom to Cuba was in dispute in law suits by stock and bond holders of the TV&C. The claimed that the receiver of the company did not make an honest attempt to operate the southern end of the line. They even tried to operate trains between Cuba and Rushford. That is part of the reason that the Attica and Freedom only went that far south. The BA&A acquired the right of way from the A&F but never rebuilt the whole thing. They wanted to get as far as Fish Lake (now Crystal Lake) for the picnic grounds, but the only real business at that end was hauling gravel out of Sandusky. Most of the southern part of the line ended up in the hands of the B&S and the Goodyears. The picnic grounds were sold to them and was listed in the B&S timetables as a destination.
  by BSOR Patarak
I show that the Attica & Freedom was incorporated in November of 1891. It could easily be seen why one might call it 1892. They probably didn't run any revenue trains until 1892. It is doubtful much work was done in the winter to ready the property for operations.
  by jgallaway81
Pat makes a point here, that wasn't his intention. It is something that needs highlighted regardless.

In addition to the pre-A&A roads, he also mentions Bradford, Bordell & Kinzua and the Buffalo & Susquehanna lines.

This highlights something that I haven't taken to heart, and explains why my research falls so short of Pat's: Other avenues of exploration: Tie-ins that provide a frame of reference: even evidence that one source might not be as infallible as many of us have held him up to.

My point is that without researching the lines whose lives intersect with the A&A in history, we can never truly understand the A&A itself either.


Pat, I wonder if it isn't possible that #7 DID run on the BA&A as NG... would they not have needed a "cleanup train"? A job that went from one end of the line to the other picking up all the cars left behind through time? That could be what the picture is.

I'm not claiming that, just posing a theory which might fit the facts?
  by BSOR Patarak
I often considered that a possibility that the BA&A did operate a Narrow Gauge freight service to start with. Some of this thought may have been too from the Lewis Book (as it was my first A&A reference guide). Now as I have done more research into it, I lean towards that picture being under the TV&C banner. However, as you suggest, the BA&A must have had some form of narrow gauge power at least for a short time. Newspaper reports around the forming of the BA&A talk much about the "standard" gauge railroad coming. Editors of the time were pretty descriptive in their writing as it was the only medium for news. After the cost of laying the standard gauge track, there would have been cost benefit to the widening as you no longer have the expense of a transfer at Attica.

My thoughts on it being a "clean up" train are that given the length of time that the line would have been shut down, the railroads would have been screaming for their cars back. Since it was narrow gauge, the smaller cars most likely would not have been sent off line. The freight would have been transloaded at each end into the smaller cars, or trucks changed out. There was a Ramsey Transfer at Attica and a turntable arrangement at Cuba for putting narrow gauge trucks under the standard gauge cars. Cars transferred this way were top heavy and wouldn't take the curves and unlevel track too well. In the picture in question, some of those box cars look rather large compared to the engine. If this was indeed the Erie traffic from 1883, they most likely would have been standard gauge cars on the smaller trucks. So, I doubt there would have been many cars left behind to actually clean up after. Much of the narrow gauge equipment was sent into PA where it was still useable under the TV&C. In various New York State Railroad Commissioner's Reports, you can see the amount of equipment go down towards the end of the TV&C. I'm sure if just for tax reasons, they wanted to get rid of as much as they could. With that said, a narrow gauge coach remained on the property until at least 1915 under the BA&A. It was actually retrucked with standard gauge trucks!

As for a #7 being there for the TV&C and/or BA&A, both are possible. I've seen it listed in both rosters in different places. If it was rented or borrowed by either road, it would need to have been returned. A locomotive is a sizeable investment and wouldn't just be forgotten about, the owner would want it back. This said, it would have been much easier for the TV&C to "borrow" it with a direct connection to the narrow gauge network at Cuba. As for the BA&A, at the time they would have borrowed it, it is doubtful that one could have been brought up from Cuba on the narrow gauge track. It would have had to have been loaded on a flat car and transported to Attica via the Erie. This in itself would have generated a news bit in one of the small towns as it rolled through. One might think they would need a narrow gauge engine for the construction work. Or, another though was just to install longer ties and slide one rail over enough to start at the north with the standard gauge. Then a standard gauge work train could be used to do all of the work. The north end of the railroad was supposed to have been built wider with the anticipation of widening the gauge as far back as the Attica & Alleghany RR. It was the southern half under the TV&C that was "thrown" down with parts of it built on wood trestle work instead of fill and grading. (quick and cheap)

But, it is all a bit of a guess since there are no first hand witnesses to it. It sure is fun to think about.
  by wdburt1
I just stumbled across this thread. I am working on a book about the Erie's Allegany Division. The Erie's 1883 decision to divert all freight moving between Attica and points west of Almond from routings via Hornellsville to the TV&C is therefore of interest to me.

A few days ago I came across a letter that Clare Rogers wrote to an unidentified librarian regarding the photo that is the subject of this thread, with a xerox copy of the photo attached. Like Pat, Clare came to the conclusion that this was an 1883 TV&C photo (which would be of great interest to me), and not from the BA&A era. The first car in the train is a NYLE&W car. As Pat says, it's not likely that the Erie would have left such a car behind for a cleanup train.

The only possibly jarring note is that all the individuals in the photo are identified by name. I suppose that whether this presents a problem for the 1883 theory depends on whether the person who said it was a BA&A photo also identified the people in the photo. Maybe they were just written on the back.

If in fact the photo in question is of one of the 1883 bridge traffic trains, I'd like to obtain and scan the best possible image for the Erie book.

Pat--You say Cuba used a turntable to transfer cars between gauges. I thought there was a Ramsey transfer there. ???

BTW, I recall finding the old turntable pit down at the west end end of the narrow gauge yard when I was a kid. A big brown snake slithered into the water when I walked up.

  by BSOR Patarak
Pat--You say Cuba used a turntable to transfer cars between gauges. I thought there was a Ramsey transfer there. ???
I base this on a clipping from the Cuba Patriot newspaper as described by Bill Reddy in the Three Rivers Narrow Gauge publication, Light Iron and Short Ties, Volume VIII, Number 3, September 1990 on page 17. It describes the two small table arrangement and storage track used to transfer wheel sets between cars.

Also, as far as the picture goes there is also a copy negative of it at the Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum at Strasburg as well as the one at the R&LHS archives in Sacramento. I haven't obtained a copy for myself as of yet.

  by jgallaway81
WDB, I mis-read that when I first read Pat's response as well.

However, his re-description reminds me how this thing worked....

A car was jacked up, the SG trucks rolled onto what is today known as a "Truck-table" a turntable just large enough for a single truck. The truck was then turned 90' and rolled onto a storage track. An NG truck was rolled on to the table from teh other side and spun into position. It was then rolled under the car which was let down. The car was then rolled to the other side of the table and the other end was done.

I'm pretty certain I got that sequence right.

Now, here is an interesting tie in. One of the railroads that was mentioned as being interested or helping to finance the construction of one of the NG predecessor lines was also noted as being involved in the history of the East broad Top Railroad. The reference is in the "Images of Rail: East Broad Top Railroad" by Kenneth C. Springirth.
  by wdburt1
I think I remember Bill Reddy's LI&ST article and probably have it here. I guess I was just mis-remembering the Ramsey transfer aspect. Just now I referred to a diagram that I drew in August 1991 for a tour by the Three Rivers NGHS of the Cuba yard site. It shows two side by side "transfer hoists/turntables." I was the guide for the Cuba tour. IIRC it was the same day that Clare Rogers guided us around Fairview--something I wish we could relive.

  by Mountcastle
Pat makes a point here, that wasn't his intention.
LOL. Did anyone else roar when they read that?
  by tomjohn
Mountcastle wrote:
Pat makes a point here, that wasn't his intention.
LOL. Did anyone else roar when they read that?
Yes I too received a good chuckle out of that one ..