Gleaned from newspaper microfilm by Richard Palmer, whose eyes will never be the same! Thank you Dick, on behalf of all rail fans. rt/2007
Railroad News Items from the "Bolivar Breeze"
Contributed by Richard Palmer
This article was originally printed by the "Friendship Register", August 18, 1955. It was a contributed by a former resident who then resided in Orlando, FL., now deceased, Walter F. Stiles. It touches on a nearly lost history of a very important tiny railroad which connected Friendship "over the hill from", Bolivar & Richburg during the Oil Boom years. -- The story was re-printed by the "Landmark Society" in the 1974 Wellman Home Plaque Dedication Brochure.
Narrow Gauge Railroad Linked Friendship
With Bolivar-Richburg -- Oil Boom Towns
by Walter F. Stiles
"One day which I recall as in June, 1881, my father took me up to the Erie Station, where we joined about a hundred other "Sidewalk Superintendents", to see them unload the first narrow gauge engine from an Erie flat car. At that time, the Erie had a side track on the south side of the main track and car in question was parked just west of Depot Street.
A track of light rails was laid up to the level of the car floor with an easy grade down to the ground level, then more track was laid over to a side track of the new railroad line. People referred to this road as the Friendship Railroad, but, the first corporate name that I remember for it was the Allegany Central Railroad.
There are several sizes of Narrow gauge railroads, but, this one was of three feet gauge . . . that is, it was three feet between the rails, whereas a standard gauge road like the Erie is four feet eight and one half inches between rails.
This new engine was real fancy in finish. It had a lot of polished brass on it, and under the cab windows, a name: "A. W. Miner." Being a small boy at that time, the name did not impress me, but any boy who grew up in Friendship in those days and kept his eyes open soon learned that Asher W. Miner, who was president of the First National Bank, and his son-in-law, Colonel Abijah J. Wellman, the cashier of the bank, were the spark-plugs of about all the first class activities in the community.
The terminal for the Narrow Gauge was rather congested, as the Erie held fast to land on one side and on the other side was the large, brick house occupied by Wesley Lambert, his wife and good looking daughter, Jennie. Like many other dead-end terminals, the Grand Central Station for instance, there was no handy place to turn the little "choo choo" around. The company built a small car and repair shop, with a Wye up in "Dogtown" and there is where the Engine had to go for a turnaround.
The road was of quick and hasty construction, the track was not ballasted and much of it was not properly drained, with the result that the frosts in winter and the thaws in spring worked havoc with its alignment. Business was good and the road with all of its defects, served its primary purpose of furnishing much needed transportation to the new oil fields and the thousands of people who had congregated there.
It was said that at one time Bolivar had a population of 10,000.
The railway had little by way of equipment at the start. Narrow gauge cars were hard to come by on short notice, although they did, after a while, get some fine cars and plenty of people rode in them just for the novelty of riding on a different kind of a road. One car that I remember, was a flat car with a canopy top and wooden benches running lengthwise.
The railroad was extended to Olean.
That city had turned into what was said to be the largest oil gathering point in the world! Large refineries had been established there and oil was shipped by the train load.
Business was so good and money so plentiful that the Allegany Central was reorganized as the Lackawanna and Pittsburg and extended first to Angelica, where the people were hot to have a railroad, and then extended up in the sticks in a northerly direction.
This colorful and memorable "Little" railroad was junked in 1890 and a return to the stage coach lines was the sole connection between above mentioned points and the outside world." (Richburg History p.35)
Friendship Weekly Register, Thurs., June 9, 1881
The Narrow Gauge - Friendship to Bolivar!
Work commenced this morning
This morning several men and teams left here for the purpose of commencing work on the narrow gauge railroad to be run from Friendship to Richburg and Bolivar, and thus meet the Olean and Eldred railroads and grading has commenced in or near the "west notch" between this place and Richburg. This will put the rest the fears and speculations of many of our inquisitive citizens, and the commencement is heralded with joy. It is safe to state the road will be completed and trains running within forty days.
The ties are largely secured, the rails and irons are now at the Erie depot, unloaded, waiting the time to come when they shall take their part in the Friendship, Bolivar & Olean R.R., and the future for Friendship looks bright and promising.
At this writing the directors of the Friendship Railway are holding a meeting and things will be pushed forward to completion as fast as possible. Let the good news be spread.
Andover Express - June 30, 1881
"Friday last the engine for the Narrow Gauge between Friendship and Richburg arrived and bears the fine name of A. W. Miner.
The engine of the new Narrow Gauge road was placed on the track Tuesday evening. The train will soon be making daily trips with George Brown "former fireman with Dan Chapman on the Erie line" as engineer. Theron Cross is the conductor and Byron C. Laning, Fireman."
Friendship Weekly Register, Thurs., July 14, 1881
Rapidly Nearing Completion
Several Cars on The Line
Since the commencement the work on the Friendship Railroad has been pushed forward with great rapidity, and the construction hands have labored hard and well. The grade from Friendship to Richburg is nearly completed, and the ties and rails are being laid on this end of the route. Eight gondolas are used on the construction train and the road will be in full blast within a very short space of time. The new locomotive is a "darling" and works easily and well.
Andover Express - August 4, 1881
The new railroad and recent oil development have infused new life into the beautiful time of Friendship. The Erie trains daily bring hundreds of strangers here to take the stage for the new oil fields. People who pass through, speak admirable of the beautiful village and the courteous people they meet. Some very good sales of property are taking place. The side tracks of the Erie are constantly filled with carloads of boilers, engines, cables, timbers, and all kinds of supplies for the new field at "Richburg". A large number of men and teams are constantly employed in removing iron for the new field at Richburg. Hotels are well filled and trade seems to be booming.
Friendship Weekly Register, Thurs., Aug. 18, 1881
THE NEW RAILROAD!
Friendship and Richburg Joined Together!
The Friendship Railroad Nearly Completed.
The building of the Friendship Railroad has been watched with deep interested by the good citizens of our enterprising and wide-awake town, and while some of our neighbors have been throwing envious missiles at the project, the construction has been steady and rapid. Before this issue of the Register will have reached its readers the iron horse will be sounding its loud snortings through the city of Richburg, and carrying passengers to and from the city of grease. The grading is complete throughout the whole line, and the rails will be laid to Richburg today (Thursday) and through to Bolivar before Monday.
The scenery adjacent to the new railroad is so varied in its numerous formation as to take too much space for a detailed account in today's paper. Especially through the Notch is the landscape strikingly grand, where the passengers ride over high, long trestle work, with deep and romantic ravines on either side; the towering mountains in the distance, with bountiful growth of forests, thickly studded with almost innumerable derricks - no finer scenery can be found in this section of the State.
The railroad bed has been graded with more than the usual amount of care, and is built to last. The rolling stock, &c. is all of the best make, and in short, the Friendship Railroad is the best running to the new oil field. The completion of the road at this early day is a good lift for our young city, and establishes the fact far beyond a doubt that Friendship is the great center of the Allegany oil fields. Friendship certainly offers better inducements to land purchasers than either Cuba, Scio or Wellsville, and building lots are being sold off at a rate that excels Maud S. by several seconds and a fraction.
Today Friendship is the liveliest town in the county, and besides our former manufactories and oil refinery, new industries are being established that will assist materially in revolving the wheel of fortune and good times. Land is not held in Friendship to speculate on - nor is it sold for such purposes. "The train makes three trips a day between Friendship and Richburg. Good day, sir!"
Friendship Weekly Register, Thurs., Sept.1, 1881
The Friendship Railroad is now completed, and is making three trips daily to Richburg, and will run regular to Bolivar before Saturday night! Let all people along the line rejoice. The citizens of the towns south of us can come to Friendship - the oil center of Allegany counrty - by rail! While one or two penny-a-liners were harping upon the early completion of their roads into the new Oilderado, Friendship kept quiet, working steadily and surely, and now has the honor of first sending the iron horse into the heretofore quiet and beautiful hamlets of Richburg and Bolivar. Shake, neighbors, shake!
Friendship Weekly Register, Thurs., Sept. 1, 1881
The First Train to Richburg
Seated on the foremost car of the construction train on the afternoon of August 25, 1881, we steamed out of Friendship to make the first trip over the narrow gauge to Allegany's most prominent city of derricks, Richburg. The thump, thump of the cars as we glided past the company's numerous switches, was about lulling us to sleep in the warm, August sun, when we were somewhat revived by the blowing of a fresher breeze, occasioned by our increased rate of speed across the fertile meadows of Friendship, and none more fruitful and well cultivated are to be found in Allegany County than those through which we passed, between Friendship and Nile.
Our train had steamed along so swiftly that it seemed almost impossible five minutes after starting, that it really was the church steeples of Nile we saw through the smokey atmosphere, a half mile to our left. As we wound around the hills of Nile, new scenes constantly attracted our attention; one of the most attracted our attention; one of the most attractive of which was the large trestle, over which we crossed the valley, at a height of forty feet from terra firma.
The shadows which here began to creep across the car denoted our near approach to the forests, through whose cooling shades we swept, over trestles, embankments and culverts, emerging in the beautiful meadows of West Notch, where we caught the first odors of the distant oil field, borne up to us on the southern breeze, in a few moments more we were whistling through the cut at the Notch and started on the descending grade the other side.
As the car rocked to and fro over the newly constructed road we implored the engineer with all the railroad signals at our commend to stop and let us get off, but he only riled at our fright and we went booming on around the hill-side at the rate of nearly a mile a minute. The urchins by the way sought a more remote fence stake from which to view the first train, and two young ladies who wished to start a flirtation with the fireman, showed their deep anxiety for his safety by signals, too touching to be described; but now the derricks at this once so quiet Sabbatarian town began to loom up before us, and soon we went steaming into the busy little city - the first train to Richburg.
While our train was exchanging its load for iron for one of human freight we observed the town from a rise of ground near the site of the future depot. We saw buildings fast nearing completion on every side and all kinds of industry connected with an oil town being pushed with unusual vigor. The hissing of taps, the clutter of hammers and tread of hundreds of feet convinced us that Allegany County had had the foundation for one of the largest cities in Western New York.
With the signal of "all aboard for Friendship," we pulled out of the coming city, and after a half hour's ride stole into Friendship with the shades of evening, having completed the first ride to Richburg by rail.
(First timetable of the Friendship Railroad published in the Friendship Weekly Register, Sept. 29, 1881. Stations shown are Friendship, Nile, Wirt Center*, West Notch,* Richburg and Bolivar. Three trains daily in each direction. Running time, about 50 minutes.
*Stop only on Signal. W.O. Chapman, Sup't.)
Allegany Central Railroad,
Wellsville Daily Reporter, Aug. 23, 1881
Wellsville Daily Reporter, Nov. 1, 1881
A New Railroad, An Important Enterprise.
Friendship (N.Y.) Weekly Register, Thurs., Nov. 17, 1881
The Erie has placed a Tracy patent switch at the transfer of the Erie and the Allegany Central Railroads at this place. Yesterday when train 9 pulled in, the switchman set the switch for the side track, but when the train pulled out it kept to the main track just as if nothing had been wrong. A large mogul engine was backed out of the siding when the switch was set for the main track, and kept the rail just the same.
This is a wonderful invention, yet its workings are as simple as a couple of young lovers.
Cuba Patriot, Friday, Nov. 25, 1881
Allegany Weekly Democrat, Wed., Jan. 11, 1882
_____ The good people, the bad and the indifferent, of Angelica, were in a hilarious state of excitement Monday afternoon, occasioned by the advent of a locomotive and train of cars into the ancient capital over the Allegany Central road. Cannon was fired, bells rung, maidens with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes danced with joy, and according to Sheriff Gillies, saint and sinner stepped up to the St. Charles Hotel, and indulged in round after round of tangle-foot. We congratulate Angelica, and the people thereof, in having at least emerged from heathen darkness into the glorious light of civilization and progress. Angelica is now the Mecca where the weary pilgrims from Birdsall, Grove, Granger, Joncy, Allen, (let us include Wellsville) will travel to offer up their devotions, and lay their wires for a candidate for County Judge. In the exuberance of their joy, Raymond and Gillies clasped hands and swore eternal fidelity. The former will serve as headlight on the locomotive, and the latter furnish fuel. Great credit is due Frank Smith for his untiring exertions in securing the completion of this great enterprise for Angelica. At about three o'clock in the morning Joe Gillies was found walking in front of his hotel, his head bowed down,and soliloquizing thus: "This goodly frame, the earth, compared with our locomotive, seems like a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is our engine! How noble its throttle valve; how intimate in boiler capacity in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel of beauty and power, how like a god!" Angelica is once more to congratulate you. Remember there is ever the Asylum in Utica.
Cuba Evening Review, Wed., Jan. 11, 1882
Oil Echo, Richburg, January 25, 1882
Richburg Railway Directory ____________ Allegany Central Leave Richburg, West, 6:54 a.m., 10 a.m., 3:20 p.m., 6:10 p.m. East, 9:26 a.m., 10:20 a.m., 1:40 p.m.., 6:32 p.m. Bradford, Eldred and Cuba Leave Richburg, West, 10:27 a.m., 1:20 p.m., 4:45 p.m. East, 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m.
The noon train on the Allegany Central R.R. has to run a freight car in addition to the ordinary baggage car to convey the large amount of express matter and overplus of passengers' trunks that daily are shipped to Richburg. it is n.g. for Bolivar to constantly to assert that the largest amount of freight and express goods are shipped there, for such is not the case, certainly so far as Olean trade is concerned. The fact is that out of the aggregate of passengers on the little road at least three take tickets for Richburg for ever one traveling to Bolivar, "Patsy" or "General" Bolivar notwithstanding.
Oil Echo, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 1882
The arrival and departure of trains from the new Allegany Central platform caused a little confusion among those accustomed to the first arrangements when the B., E. & C. platform did serve for all the trains.
Oil Echo, Richburg, Feb. 28, 1882
Locomotive sparks set fire to a large quantity of oil on the flats below the village yesterday and, although there was no valuable property endangered, the appearance of the dense smoke created some alarm among those in the village.
Oil Echo, March 4, 1882
The arrival and departure of trains from the new A.C. R.R. platform caused a little confusion among those accustomed to the first arrangement. when the B., E. & C. platform did service for all the trains. Oil Echo, Richburg, Tues., March 14, 1882 If there is one branch of the newspaper industry that requires more energy and pluck than another, it is that which is conducted by the news agent on the railroads. There is one person in this section of oil country who, through close attention to duty, has achieved a great success in the news selling business. His name is L.J. Smith and he has the entire patronage of the Allegany Central trains running between Angelica and Olean. His morning sales of the Echo have often reached as high as 100 copies. Courteous and accommodating to passengers, and withal a sharp eye to business, Mr. Smith is on the right road to prosperity.
Oil Echo, March 13, 1882
The Allegany Central railroad have their own conductors on the B., E. & C. trains running the seven mile trip between Bolivar and Ceres. The road belongs to the Allegany Central and the use to which is put by the B., E. & C. R.R. is merely for the accommodation of its patrons, all pecuniary benefits falling to the Allegany Central.
Cuba Evening Review, April 6, 1882
The Allegany Central Railroad authorities have made an arrangement to put on a through coach every Saturday from Richburg to Bradford returning through from Bradford to Richburg on Monday morning. It is thought that the through coach will ere long become a daily institution.
Oil Echo, Friday, April 14, 1882
The Allegany Central company have now the exclusive use of their track between Bolivar and Ceres, and aside from this they now have a road of their own from the latter place to Eldred junction.
Heretofore they have used the B., E. & C. trains over their own new track between Ceres and Bolivar. The B., E. & C. railroad company are working on both ends of the Cuba branch.
The Allegany Central railway will be running through to Swains, on the Erie road, in twenty five days. Within two months this road will be in shape to send passengers through to New York and Albany via Rochester and the New York Central Railroad.