• " History of Railroads in WNY" by Edward Dunn

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Fireman43
 
Just read again my copy of his book second edition - paid closer attention this time to his final chapters on "Merger Mania , Bidding Wars,Compromise, Split Up and Chaos'. I also took note of his many observations of how the chickens of over regulation had come home to roost
First read was in 2001 and sinking in now the dramatic and traumatic times for the railroad industry.

I take it trouble started Post WW2?
  by NYCRRson
 
"I take it trouble started Post WW2?"

Well, it all starts back around 1820 when a guy named MacAdam, a Scot, invented a way to make sturdy roads with fine gravel and tar (also know as Asphalt)...

And then, a guy named Ford came up with an assembly line to make lower cost cars and trucks...

And then lots of folks owning brand new lower cost cars and trucks (with encouragement from Henry) wanted "paved roads"...

An aside, did you know that the whole Charcoal grill industry was started by Henry Ford, he had lots of tiny bits of hardwood left over from constructing the bodies of the early cars, and he wanted folks to drive around a lot and have picnics with hot food (cooked on a charcoal grill) to sell more cars. Basically he was a tightwad that hated to throw away waste wood when he could still sell it and "make a buck". Kingsford Charcoal is actually a company started by old Henry and later "spun-off" from Ford Motor company (true fact).

And then the government started started paving dirt roads with asphalt (roads in rural areas around WNY were mostly dirt until the late 20's)...

And then there was a little event called the Great Depression....

In between the assembly line and the Great Depression was a World War, the government took over the railroads and ran the wheels off of everything...

Then there was the Roaring Twenties when the RRs where going great guns and built things like Buffalo Central Terminal (it was built with foundations and drainage pipes to support the future addition of 2 more platforms / 4 more tracks)...

And then there was another World War (My Pop flew a P-51 escorting Bombers into occupied Europe) which ran the wheels off all the railroad equipment all over again...

Then the RR folks invested in lots of new passenger cars (re-equipped 20th Century limited of 1948, etc.) but the GI's coming back to the "homefront" after years riding in stinky crowded troop trains fell in love with travelling in their own car when and where they wanted to....

The End....

Ok, just one edit, somewhere along the way some Wright guys invented the airplane an a Brit invented the Jet Engine... That forever doomed long distance passenger trains to "too slow" status...
  by BR&P
 
A couple additional historical notes with more impact to western NY state was the idea of big wide open roads going all across the country, and making a water system that allowed large (at that time) ocean-going vessels to go all through the Great Lakes.

Times change, but those two things in particular made a MAJOR impact on western NY railroading in the 50's and 60's. :(
  by NYCRRson
 
"A couple additional historical notes with more impact to western NY state was the idea of big wide open roads going all across the country, and making a water system that allowed large (at that time) ocean-going vessels to go all through the Great Lakes."

Indeed, the "Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways" took quite a toll on the passenger train business of the NYCRR (and others). That happened all across the US starting along the Eastern Seaboard and spreading westward. President Eisenhower observed during the ground attack on Germany in WWII that the enemy could repair the bombed roads much quicker than they could repair bombed out railroad tracks (especially bridges).

The ironic thing is that the NYCRR rearranged their New York State passenger offerings in about 1968 as the "New Empire Service" to match the demand. Here we are 50 years later and Amtrak is running a schedule that matches the NYCRR "Empire Service" almost exactly with nearly the same number of trains with the same number of seats operating at about the same schedule (trains per day, departure times, etc.). One really has to tip your hat to the NYCRR passenger operations folks to come up with a service that is still "Just About Right" 50 years later.

And, indeed the St. Lawrence Seaway permanently removed Buffalo as a "transload" location where grain, lumber (and a few other products) left ships on the upper lakes and continued their journey by rail to the East Coast, that is a Buffalo/WNY specific injury to the RR's in WNY. A bit of karma involved, about 100 years earlier Buffalo was a major location were folks (and goods ) left the rails and travelled in the other direction to settle the Midwest.

I guess the old saying "what goes around comes arounds" has some merit...