Utica Herald, July 5, 1882 - Researched & Submitted by Richard Palmer


Narrow Gauge Railroads 

     The Elmira Advertiser develops some interesting facts regarding the great network of narrow gauge railroads which has been rapidly extending itself of recent years throughout northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York. The work of constructing these roads has mainly been pushed by two interests, the Erie and its allies, and the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia railroad, with its syndicate associates in Elmira.

     The roads thus far constructed are largely confined to the oil regions of Bradford, Alleghany and Clarendon. Of the roads that are now being built or projected, the Advertiser says "they will not only reach the Warren, or Cherry Grove field, but will cover, as by a network, the forest and mineral region of Pennsylvania, embraced in the counties of Potter, McKean, Tioga, Clinton, Lycoming, Forest, Elk, Warrren, Venango, Clarion, Indiana, Armstrong and Alleghany, but have connections in this state covering equally the counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Steuben, Livingston and Wyoming, reaching out to Erie and Buffalo."

     It is confidently claimed for these narrow gauge roads, as managed in the section of the country of which we are speaking, that they have proved the most profitable investment of the times, having in no instance less than eight percent, annually upon their stock, and in a majority of cases anywhere from 15 to 70 percent.  It is undoubtedly true that  the profits of narrow gauge roads in this particular section are larger than could be expected elsewhere for the system taps and develops the greatest timber, coal, oil, bark, iron and gas region of the continent, and the amount of business that can be developed for it is practically limited, only by the resources of the great capitalists who are bending their energies to its rapid expansion.

     But there is much in their experience with these narrow gauge roads which can be studied with profit by the people of other sections of the state and country. We believe the narrow gauge road has a future before it of which few persons now dream. For trunk road purposes it is of course impracticable, but for purposes of local development, it answers all the ends of a full gauge road, without bankrupting the parties who invest their money either for gain or through patriotism.

     The ambition of little towns to be connected by railroad to their nearest market center has saddled many of them with a debt that has more than neutralized the advantages they hoped and expected to gain from its construction. There are still plenty of villages which suffer from the absence of railroad connection, and are debarred from it by the great cost of constructing even a short lateral.

     For many of these communities the narrow gauge road offers a way out of their difficulty which is comparatively inexpensive, and yet answers all the purposes sought after. The expense of our neighbors in Herkimer county, who constructed the Herkimer, Newport & Poland narrow gauge road, is a case in point. It will not be many years, we believe, before their enterprise will have many imitators in central New York.