Wellsboro Agitator, June 11, 1881  - Researched & Submitted by Richard F. Palmer


Early Railroad Profits

 The Enormous Dividends of the Narrow Gauge Lines in the Bradford Oil Regions.



     Soon after the great railroad purchase recently made by the Buffalo, Pittsburg and Western Railroad Company, attention was called to the enormous dividends which the narrow gauge railroads of the oil country were paying their stockholders. Through the courtesy of the Secretary of of Internal Affairs to a correspondent, access was given to the statements made under oath by the officers of those Companies doing business in McKean County. These statements will soon be published in connection with the general railroad report issued by the Department.


    There are three of these roads now running - one from Bradford, the Olean, Bradford and Warren, which runs to Olean, N.Y., and there connects with the New York, Lake Erie and Western and the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia railroads, and the Bradford, Bordell and Smethport, which connects Bradford with the county seat of McKean county. The two first of these roads are part of the recent purchase which also embrace the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia and McKean and Buffalo railroads, together with a large body of coal lands in the southern townships of McKean county. None of these roads have any bonded indebtedness and last year they paid dividends as follows:


     The Olean, Bradford and Warren, on a capital stock of$150,000, thirteen dividends, twelve at two percent, and one at five percent, making a total of $45,000. The Company had a surplus on hand at the end of the year of $1,836,778.  The Kendall and Eldred Railroad, on a capital stock of $150,000, paid twelve dividends at three percent, four at six percent, and one at ten peercent, making a total of $105,000. Besides these dividends, the Company built a plank road costing them $1,176,650, which earned $3,700 above expenses in about six months.     At the end of the year this Company had a surplus on hand of $2,558,150.


    The Bradford, Bordell and Smethport road traverses an unbroken wilderness its entire length of twenty five miles. It commenced doing business in June of last year, but the road was only running a distance of seven miles at that time. In September the Company commenced declaring a dividend of two percent, and continued to declare that dividend monthly to the end of the year on a capital stock of $250,000. At the end of the year the Company had a surplus of $2,651,989.


     The Olean, Bradford and Warren Railroad Company is now actively engaged in extending its road to Warren, a distance of some thirty five miles. On the route which it traverses are several recently-developed oil fields, and, at the western terminus it strikes one of the liveliest towns in the State.


     A charter has just been granted for a narrow gauge road from Eldred to Ceres, in McKean county, which is intended as a part of the projected road from Wellsville, Allegany county, N.Y. to Eldred. It will there connect with the Kendall and Eldred, and will  make a continuous narrow gauge line from Bradford to Wellsville, on the New York, Lake Erie & Western road.


    This piece of road will traverse a very promising oil development which lies just north of the State line, between Allegany county, N.Y. and McKeen and Potter counties, Pa.  It is proposed to build a branch from the Bradford, Bordell and Smethport road to Kane, on the Philadelphia & Eri road, there to connect with the narrow gauge road being constructed from the lower oil fields in Clarion county to Kane. It is also proposed to connect this road with the coal fields in the southern part of the county, a tract of some 3,000 acres adjoining the large tract just purchased of the Buffalo Coal Company, being owned by gentlemen connected with the enterprise - [Smethport Miner]