The Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad was built by William Seward Webb in 1891 south from Malone to reach the Mohawk & Malone that he was building north from Remsen at the same time; the two were joined in 1892, and became the Adirondack Division of the New York Central in 1893.
New York Times, May 18,1891
THE ADIRONDACK RAILROAD
WORK ON THE PROJECT ALREADY UNDER WAY.
DR. SEWARD WEBB'S SCHEME FOR BUILDING A ROAD THROUGH THE WILDERNESS — HOW THE PLANS WERE ORIGINATED AND PERFECTED.
Malone, May 17.— The unanimity and vigor with which ail of the great journals of the metropolis have suddenly awakened to the fact that a railroad is to be built through the Adirondacks, is a little amusing here, where the enterprise has been the one absorbing topic of conversation and newspaper comment for more than a month. Everything: now ascertainable has been known in Malone for weeks, and the three newspapers of the town have weekly published from one to two columns regarding the project.
It Is more than three years now since this undertaking began to take form. The people here had been vainly trying for twenty years before that to gain ampler rail way facilities, and successive failures had brought them almost to despair. Then hope revived, because co-operation came from Canada. Valleyfield is a thriving little city on the St. Lawrence, with an unrivaled water power and boundless energy among its people. It has cotton mills and other factories, and desired to add the manufacture of iron to its industries. Some of its leading citizens conceived the Idea of building a railroad to the Adirondack in order to secure the ore. They prospected for a route and then obtained from the Dominion Parliament a charter for a road, with subventions almost sufficient to meet the cost of construction. But this charter extended only to the international boundary, where the line could connect with nothing nor command enough business to defray the cost of operating.
Two years and more of agitation and negotiation followed, and then Edson J. Chamberlin, manager of the Canada Atlantic Railway, interested himself in the matter, with the result that he guaranteed to extend the road from the border to Malone, a distance of about eleven miles, if Malone would pay him a cash bonus upon completion of the work amounting to about $37,000. This money was raised by the people, who were confident that if they could get a railroad to the St. Lawrence, that link would be an attraction which would in time bring one from the Hudson or the Mohawk. As a part of the scheme there was organized at Malone the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railroad Company, with a capital of $2,000,000, and the articles recite the object of the company to be to build a railroad from the Canadian border through to Schenectady. That part of the road lying in Canada is styled the St. Lawrence and Adirondack Railroad.
On the 1st of April one of Malone's citizens received a telegram from Henry Patton, the Albany millionaire lumber merchant, saying that Dr. W. Seward Webb would be at Malone the next day, and at once arrange for the building of a railroad from the village southward, past the Saranacs, and extending to a connection with the New-York Central. No one in Malone had theretofore heard oven a suggestion of such an undertaking. The dispatch was regarded for a time as an April fool joke. But Dr. Webb came as announced, a great public meeting was held, and a proposition was submitted. Dr. Webb said: "Raise $30,000, secure its payment to me when the road is finished and in operation, and I will build a railroad from your village through the Adirondacks to Herkimer or Schenectady, skirting the Saranacs, the first fifty miles to be completed within four months and the entire line within two years." He gave only one week in which to raise the bonus, but it was in hand at the appointed hour.
Without waiting for the expiration of the week Dr. Webb set his surveyors at work, looking out a line and getting ready for the contractors. They have been continuously at work ever since, and to-day the line Is located through almost to Paul Smith's, while for six or eight miles south from this village all the cross section and detail work is completed. Still greater progress would have been made but for the fact that after starting the work and finding that the road from Malone to the Saranacs could not be finished in time to handle the Central's Adirondack business this season. It was determined to effect a trackage arrangement with Kurd's Northern Adirondack Railroad from Moira to Tupper Lake, and from the latter point build a spur to Saranac Lake, which should be in operation by the 1st of July. This new undertaking compelled a division of the engineer corps recruited for Malone, which has somewhat delayed operations here.
The spur referred: to will have a length of fifteen or twenty miles, and will pass near the Saranac Inn and Corey's Carry on the Upper Saranac, and terminate at the village of Saranac Lake. Work is now being crowded upon it with great energy. Two hundred Italians have begun the work of grading, and their number will be increased as fast as the surveyors can make ready for them. A part of this spur may be utilized as a link in the main line, but otherwise so much of it as lies to the westward of the trunk line will amount, after this season, to hardly more than a side track. It is counted upon to serve as a great aid in expediting work upon the permanent line, by affording the means of carrying in rails and other materials of construction.
Work at Malone has not as yet reached considerable proportions. Mr. Westbrook of William Street. New-York, has the contract for grading the first forty miles south from this village. He has sublet this work to Sullivan & Hawkes, I. A. Hodge, and McLane & Co.—the last firm beginning ten miles to the south and engaging to do all of the grading through to Paul Smith's. The only one of these firms that has as yet broken ground is Sullivan & Hawkes, and they are working only forty or fifty men. They have been delayed in getting their plant here, but upon its arrival will employ a larger force and show more energy. McLane & Co.'s contract covers a territory whose beginning lies at the entrance of the forest. They have not yet cut a tree nor lifted a shovel of earth. The Herald's story that charcoal is already being made here is pure fabrication, and it is said in this vicinity that Dr. Webb declares that the freight rates for that product of the forest will be fixed so high that no one can ship it and realize a profit. He recognizes that the coal kilns are the most destructive of all agencies in denuding the Adirondacks, and, being as solicitous as any one for the preservation of the woods, will not permit his road to be used by vandals.
The above is an outline of the organization originally effected at Malone. To a complete understanding of the situation it should be added that Dr. Webb and his associates have formed the Mohawk and Northern Railroad Company, and already consolidated with it the Herkimer, New-York and Poland Railroad Company, whose line—a narrow gauge—extends from Herkimer to Poland. This road Dr. Webb acquired in April, and will convert it to standard gauge. He has also Incorporated the Mohawk and St. Lawrence Railroad Company, whose articles recite the purpose to build from Poland to Malone. When the work is further advanced, all of the companies will be consolidated under the name or the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railroad Company, which will own and operate the line clear through from Herkimer to the Canadian boundary. So many separate companies were found to be necessary because as surveys were made routes were changed, and original charters failed to cover all of the territory through which it is now intended to pass.
Besides all this. Dr. Webb has entered into a contract with Mr. Chamberlin, by the terms of which he is to become the owner or perpetual lessee of the St. Lawrence and Adirondack Railroad, which begins at the Canadian line, at the terminus of the Adirondack and St. Lawrence, and extends north twenty miles to Valleyfield, where connection is to be made with the Canada-Atlantic Railway, leading direct to Ottawa, and also with the Grand Trunk and the Canadian Pacific.
The specifications under which the new road is to be built are precisely the same as those used in the construction of the West Shore Railroad. The rails are to weigh 75 pounds to the yard, the fishplates are for 6 spikes, and the ties are to be 3,000 to the mile instead of the usual 2,800. The equipment of the road is to be the best that money can buy.
Work is going on in Canada, from Valleyfield toward Malone, and also at Poland, Herkimer County, where several hundred men are employed.
Malone Palladium, May 21, 1891
Work on the line from Tupper's Lake to Saranac Lake goes forward vigorously. A force of men is cutting a swath through the woods from Tupper's Lake and another gang is grading near Big Clear. The plan of this work is that at a point about four miles from Tupper's Lake the road shall strike the line of the survey for the main line and be coincident with it from there inward. Then from a point somewhere near Saranac Inn another spur will be built reaching to Saranac Lake village —a distance of perhaps six or eight miles.
Malone Palladium, May 28, 1891
The surveyors who have been locating the line from Tupper's Lake to Saranac Lake have made such progress that the contractors can not put too many men at work to please them. By Saturday night the first two miles of the line out from Tupper's Lake will be all graded ready for the ties and rails, and the track will be laid not more than a day or two later. A locomotive has been rested from Mr. HURD for use with the construction train, and the track-layers will follow close upon the heels of the graders. At one point, where a considerable cut is to be made, work will be prosecuted day and night. Additions are being steadily made to the working force, and it will be but a few weeks now to the time that through Central trains will be running to Saranac Inn, to the village of Saranac Lake and to Paul Smith's. Then New Yorkers will find journeying to the wilderness a matter of greater comfort and expedition than ever before.
Orders have been given to engineers to extend the survey of the line they are running from Tupper's Lake to the village of Saranac Lake from the latter village to Mirror Lake, a distance of eight or nine miles. There are two mammoth hotels near the latter place, and Dr. WEBB'S road is to be built almost to their doors. This intention has been in Dr. WEBB'S mind for weeks past, but has been revealed to the public only recently.
Dr. WEBB has secured the best legal advice to be obtained in the State, and it is unanimous that his right to condemn the lands of the State precisely as if they were private property is plain and undeniable. So, if the commissioners of the land office should refuse to make the grant, proceedings would at once be taken to acquire the desired lands under the power of. eminent domain. Even if this should fail, Dr. WEBB says that the road will still be built. It has been started, and he is bound to push it through. He declares unequivocally that if prevented from crossing State lands he will go around them. It is shameful that so much annoyance and expense should be needlessly, if not; maliciously, put upon the company, and local opinion is strong and bitter against the interests responsible for it. At the same time, we feel gratitude and admiration that are inexpressible for the resolute will and the loyal energy of the man who, having once pledged his faith to us, permits nothing to stand in the way of fulfillment of his engagements. Malone and Franklin county owe much to Dr. WEBB and will not soon forget the obligation.
Ogdensburg Daily Journal, December 2, 1891
Italians Deserting the Railroad Construction Camps in the Adirondacks.
The Lowville correspondent of the Utica Herald writes:
Nineteen Italians who had been at work on the Adirondack and St. Lawrence railroad, walked from Stillwater to Lowville Sunday, and took the evening train for New York. Some of them claim that there are not camps enough to accommodate the laborers employed on the road, and that they were compelled to make their beds on wood piles. They also complain that they could not obtain a sufficient amount of food. With two or three exceptions, none of the men had overcoats, and when they arrived in Lowville were suffering from the piercing cold wind which they had faced in the journey. An effort was made to have the men go to the Young Men's Christian association rooms pending the arrival of the train, and also to other convenient and comfortable quarters, but they sternly refused all offers of friendship. They started a fire near the depot, and with nineteen loaves of bread, bologna sausage and cheese they hovered around the fire apparently contented with their surroundings and happy in the thought that in a few hours they would reach New York.
Adirondack News, December 20, 1891
The Adirondack & St. Lawrence Telegraph & Telephone company has been incorporated with a capital of $75,000. The papers were filed with secretary of state on Saturday. The incorporators are Dr. W. Seward Webb, who takes 680 of the 750 shares of stock, Henry L. Sprague, F. G. Smith, F. Egerton Webb and James Eagan, of New York, Edward M. Burns, of Middleville, and John H. Prail, of Newtown, L. I. The telegraph line to be erected follows the new railroad from Herkimer to Remsen, thence to Malone and thence to where the Adirondack & St Lawrence R. R. crosses the Canada line. The articles of incorporation provide for branches to Northwood, Herkimer county, to Cranberry Lake, St. Lawrence county, and the village of Saranac Lake.—Farmer.
Malone Gazette, July 22, 1892
THROUGH THE ADIRONDACKS.
The First New York Train via Malone Goes Over the A. & St. L. Saturday. The Road Successfully Opened.
Last Saturday was a red-letter day for Dr. Webb and the people of Malone, for it marked the formal opening of the northern division of the Adirondack & St. Lawrence railroad and brought the first Adirondack tourists from New York through Malone to the summer resorts in the mountains. The train came from New York to Utica by the Central, from Utica to Norwood by the R., W. & O., and from Norwood to Malone by the O. & L. C., and by the Adirondack & St. Lawrence to Saranac Lake village and Tupper Lake. The event was announced by circular from the headquarters of the road at Herkimer early last week and great preparations were made on the newly finished portion south of Loon Lake to have the road-bed in readiness for the heavy train that was expected. Local managers were on the qui vive and every man in any way connected with the management was highly elated that the long expected opening was to take place.
The train was due here at 8:00 a. m., but owing to delays below Norwood it was after ten o'clock when it reached Malone. Dr. Webb and party were taken on in their private car "Elsmere," and the train, consisting of eight Wagner drawing room, dining and buffet coaches, with sleepers, proceeded up the line to Saranac Lake village drawn by two A. & St. L. locomotives of the heaviest kind. In the Webb party were Dr. Webb, Theodore Butterfield, general passenger agent of the R., W. & O., Mr. Flagg, of the Wagner Palace Car Company and others prominent in railroad affairs. Supts. Burns and Allison, M. E. McClary, C. W. Breed, N. H. Munsill, F. D. Paddock, M. W. Hutchins, representatives of the Malone press and others from this village availed themselves of the opportunity of the first ride over the line and these, with a large party from New York and other cities who were going to the Adirondacks for the summer, made op the passengers. J. A. Sleicher of the Mail arid Express, Mr. Barnes, of the Albany Journal, H. E. Jones, of the Tribune staff and other newspaper representatives were on the train, showing that the great tourist public of New York are interested in the line and are eager for any information relative to its operation.
As the train moved up the line from the junction to Ringville the scene was entrancing. The valley of the Salmon river lay in full view, while farther up could be plainly seen the first peaks of the Adirondacks covered with timber and the sheets of mist that roll up from their sides in cloudy weather. From Whippleville to Mountain View, formerly State Dam, was to the minds of many the finest view on the whole trip. The road at this point is perfect and the heavy palace cars sped over the rails without perceptible jar, affording the New York people who saw for the first time the beauties of this region a splendid opportunity to witness scenery which cannot be surpassed in this or any other State. That they were charmed with what they saw and the new road was evident from the praise of both which was constantly heard on all sides. Above Wolf Pond to Loon Lake the road runs through solid forest which has never felt the axe of the lumberman, but occasional glimpses may be seen of the mountains which rise on all sides. Saturday was a cold, damp day, but the delightful shade which this virgin forest will afford the passengers in hot weather cannot be exaggerated. As the train passed Wardner's, at Rainbow, crowds of guests stood at the door waiving a welcome to the "first train," while at Paul Smith's, which is about three miles from that famous resort; the veteran hotel man had coaches waiting for passengers and a merry blast from the bugles of the tally-hos spoke promise of good cheer and a hearty welcome to the train. At Saranac Junction the "Elsmere" was taken from the train and Dr. Webb and party went on down the main line to one of his parks, Lake Lila. Owing to the delay in leaving Malone Saranac Lake village was not reached until three o'clock, which was a disappointment all around, as the people of that enterprising and handsome town had planned a warm welcome. The entire village, headed by a brass band, was at the new station at the hour when the train was expected and waited until afternoon, expecting each minute to hear the sound of the welcome whistle, but were finally compelled to postpone the demonstration. There was no lack of welcome, however, when the train finally arrived and the entire party were soon comfortably seated at a late but highly relished dinner at the various hotels. The GAZETTE representative found himself with others of the Malone party at The Berkeley and we can cheerfully testify to the excellence of the dinner and to the fact that the genial proprietor did not get rich out of the profits of the repast. Everyone was hungry and although mine host tried to look cheerful it was evident that his extensive larder was being severely taxed. The train left on the return trip at four o'clock, and as the sun was then shining brightly the beauties of the scenery could be better appreciated. The run to Malone was finished at 7:40 and after a few minutes' stop at the station the train pulled out for Norwood on the return trip to New York. It was in all respects a delightful trip and only the beginning of others which shall unite in bonds of friendly unity the county seat and its enterprising neighbor, now happily united by rail—Saranac Lake.
Malone Gazette, July 22, 1892
The stations on the Adirondack & St. Lawrence railroad between Malone and Saranac village are: Ringville, Mountain View, Wolf Pond, Loon Lake, Rainbow Lake, Paul Smith's, Tupper Lake Junction, Saranac Junction. Trains will run hereafter daily over the line to these points (Sundays included), on which service equal in all respects to that of the New York Central is established. No pleasanter trip than that from Malone to Saranac or Tupper Lake can be imagined.
Malone Palladium, December 22, 1892
The dining car on the A. &. St. L. R. R., which when first put on was run only from Malone to Montreal, now runs between Saranac Junction and Montreal. The change was doubtless made in order to be able to serve breakfast to through passengers from the south before arrival at Malone and dinners going south after leaving Malone, as well as to assure provision for the comfort of passengers in case of possible detentions by snow this winter. If such detentions are experienced, it is almost certain that they will occur between Malone and Saranac Junction, and it would not be pleasant to be blockaded for a few hours with no means at hand for appeasing hunger. The car shows a loss on every trip, of course, but as a means of advertising the line and making it the most attractive between New York and Montreal it is surely a good investment. The finish of the car is elegant, its management superb. The bill of fare could not fail to satisfy an epicure and the service is delicate and admirable. The cooking is beyond criticism, and, except that the variety may not be as great the meals are as fine as those at the largest and best city hotels. For it all only moderate prices are charged. This car, added to the other advantages of the road, makes a trip via the A. & St. L. a luxury and delight. When the line becomes better known, and when people shall have learned the comforts and pleasures it gives, it can not fail to be the most popular of all routes into Northern New York and Canada.