Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 30 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 30 of 192)
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ruary 9, 1894, and the funeral exercises over
his remains were the most impressive ever
seen in the city.

John M. Glazier was Collector of the port
of Erie, and is now business manager of the
Erie Business ITniversity.

Otto Luedecke left Erie to do editorial
work in Milwaukee.

F. A. Mallory has a position on a leading
New York daily.

H. Merhoff is working at the printing

John F. Boj-er is in the railroad service.

The following persons not previously
named, are dead : R. Lyle White, James
Hendricks, B. F. McCarty, John Shaner, J.
P. Cochran, George W. Riblet, G. J. Ball,
Wm. Kelley, T. B. Barnum, H. L. Harvey,
Eugene J. Miller, W. H. Harris, Joseph S.
M. Young, S. W. Randall, Thomas Laird,
Hiram A. Beebe, J. M. Kuester, Carl Benson,
J. B. Johnson, C. Moeser, Samuel Perley.



Canal and the Several Railroads.

AS early as 1762 a suggestion was made
to unite the waters of Lake Erie with
the Delaware river. The Legislature
in 1823 passed an act for the ap-
appointment of Commissioners to
explore a route for connecting Lake Erie
with French creek by canal and slack-
water. A convention of delegates from forty-
six counties, Giles Sanford representing Erie,
met at Harrisburg in August, 1825, and passed
resolutions in favor of a canal from the Sus-
quehanna to the Allegheny, and from the
Allegheny to Lake Erie. The State embarked
in the enterprise soon after, going heavily in
debt for the purpose, and by October, 1834,
the first boat from the east reached Pittsburg.


In the meantime a furious agitation sprung
up in the Northwest over the question
whether the extension of the canal from Pitts-
burg to Lake Erie should be by way of the
Allegheny river and French creek, or down
the Ohio and up the Beaver and Shenango
rivers. The first was known as the " East-

ern" and the latter as the "Western" route.
The Western route having been adopted by
the advice of the engineers in charge, another
controversy arose in the county over the lake
terminus of the canal, some wanting it to be
at Erie and others at the niouth of Elk creek.
Erie was finally selected, through the labors of
Elijah Babbitt, who was a member of the Leg-
islature at the time. In 1832, through the
eflForts of John H. Walker, the State ceded the
third section of 2,000 acres of land west of
Erie to the borough, for the purpose of build-
ing a canal basin at the harbor, reserving 100
acres for a county almshouse. Work on
the enterprise progressed at irregular spots
and intervals until 1842, when the State re-
fused to appropriate any more money. At Erie
ground was broken for the canal on the 4th of
July, 1888, amid great festivities. To Capt.
Daniel Dobbins was awarded the honor of
throwing up the first shovelfull of earth. L"p
to 1843 the State had expended more than ,|4,-
000,000, and it was calculated that but $211,-
000 more were needed to make the canal
ready for use.




At the session of 1842-43, the Legislature
passed an act incorporating the Erie Canal
Company, and ceding to it all the work that
had been done at such immense cost, on con-
dition that the corporation would finish and
operate the improvement. This company was
organized with Rufus S. Reed as president,
and C. M. Reed as treasurer. The first boats
to reach Erie were the Qiieen of the West, a
packet boat, crowded with passengers, and the
R. ,S. Reed, loaded with Mercer county coal,
both coming in on the same day, the t5th of
December, 1844. The canal entered the city
limits of Erie near the recently destroyed car
works, and followed the ravine of Lee's run
to the bay, which it joined near the foot of Sas-
safras street. A commodious basin for the
protection of the boats was built in
the bay, at the outlet, which still re-
mains, being the enclosed part of the harbor
on both sides of the public dock. The canal
was of moderate capacity, the average boat
only carrying sixty-five tons.


A good business was done for thirty years
after its completion, mainly in coal, iron ore
and merchandise. Up to 1858, when the
Lake Shore R. R. was opened to Toledo,
the canal also carried large numbers of emi-
grants, who came to Erie by steamer from
BufTalo, and took this route to the Ohio val-
le}'. A number of packet boats for conveying
passengers ran on the canal, and it was the
grand avenue of trade and travel for the west-
tern counties. W. W. Reed was superintend-
ent in 1860, and continued in that capacity
until the canal was abandoned.

The canal continued to flourish until the
completion of the Erie and Pittsburg R. R.,
which soon proved to be a formidable com-
petitor. An enlargement was proposed, but
never undertaken. The capitalists who had
faith in its enlargement offered Gen. Reed,
who controlled most of the stock, a handsome
sum for the canal, but, in the midst of their
negotiations, were notified that he had dis-
posed of it to the railroad management. The
latter operated it in an unsatisfactorv manner
to the boatmen until 1871, when the fall of
the Elk creek aqueduct gave them an excuse
for abandoning the work. Since then the
locks and bridges have been taken to pieces.

and the channel filled almost everywhere in
the county.


The earliest public movement in regard to
the construction of a railroad along the lake
shore was through a convention held in Fre-
donia, N. Y., in 1831. Its object was to ar-
range for building a road from Buffalo to the
State line, with the understanding that it was
to connect with one in Pennsylvania. The
delegates from Erie were C. M. Reed, P. S.
V. Hamot and Thomas H. Sill.

The Erie and North East R. R. Company,
the first railroad organization in the county,
was incorporated April 12, 1842. Books for
subscriptions were opened on the I9th of
October, 1846, most of the stock being taken
in Erie. The active men in forwarding the
project were Charles M. Reed, John A. Tracy
and John H. Walker. The surveys of the
road were completed in the spring of 1849,
under the direction of Milton Courtright, who
had been one of the engineers in locating the
canal. Contracts for the construction of the
road were let on the 26th of July of the same
year, and the grading was commenced soon
after. The road extended from Erie to the
State line, at or near Northville.


Previous to thi.s, a company had been
formed to build a railroad from Dunkirk
to the State line, under the auspices of the
New York and Erie R. R. Company. A
second road was projected by the New York
Central Company from Buffalo, by way of
Fredonia. to the State line. Both routes were
surveyed, the right of way obtained, and some
work done. A contract was entered into by
the Erie and North East Company for a connec-
tion with the Dunkirk and State line road,
which would have given a uniform six-feet
gauge, and made Erie the practical terminus
of the NewYork and Erie R. R. Shortly after-
ward, another arrangement was made with the
Buffalo, Fredonia and State line road for the
laying of an additional track of the NewYork
gauge of four feet eight and one-half inches.
In course of time, a compromise was effected
between the two New York corporations, by
which they violated their contract with the
Erie and North East Company, and agreed to
build but one road between Buffalo and the


State line of the Ohio gauge of four feet ten
inches. The object of this was to force the
Erie and Xorth East Company to adopt the
same gauge, and compel the break, which had
to occur at some point, to be made within the
limits of New York. This did not have the
effect they anticipated, and the Erie & North
East R. R. was completed with a six-feet
track. Work on the road went on slowly,
and the first passenger train did not come into
Erie until the 19th of January, 1852.


The Franklin Canal Company was incor-
porated on the 27th of April, 1844, to repair
the Franklin division of the canal. On the
9th of April, 1849, a supplement to the char-
ter was secured authorizing the company to
build a railroad on the route of the canal be-
tween Meadville and Franklin, and to extend
it northward to Lake Erie, and southward to
Pittsburg. This charter was so construed as
to permit the building of a railroad from Erie
to the Ohio State line, and one was accord-
ingly constructed, largely through the efforts
of Judge John Galbraith and Alfred Kelle)-.
At the State linejt connected with a road that
had been completed to Cleveland, under the
laws of the State of Ohio. The first train ran
from Erie to Ashtabula on the morning of the
28d of November, 1852. As the Pennsylvania
law stood at that time, all roads entering Erie
from the east were to be six feet or four feet
eight and one-half gauge, and all from the
west four feet ten. The gauge of the Franklin
Canal Company's road was therefore different
from that of the Erie & North East road, ne-
cessitating a break at Erie.


The change of gauge at Erie and at the
State line proved to be a serious inconvenience
to the railroad companies, and on the 17th of
November, 1853, a contract was entered into
between the Buffalo and State Line and the
Erie and North East Companies, by which the
latter were to alter their track to four feet ten
inches, making a uniform gauge from Buffalo
to Cleveland. By this time, two-thirds of the
stock of the E. andN. E. R. R. had passed into
the hands of Buffalo and State Line parties, who
had entered into a contract to run the improve-
ment as one road. The change of gauge was
commenced on the 7th of December, 1858, but

was not completed till February 1, 1854, when
the first train under the new arrangement ar-
rived at Erie from the East.


This scheme created the utmost indigna-
tion amonp; the people of Erie county, who
saw in it the defeat of their hope of having
Erie made the lake terminus of the New York
and Erie R. R., and a purpose to make the
city nothing more than a way station. At 10
o'clock in the forenoon of the 7th day of De-
cember, 1858, an immense assemblage of the
citizens of Erie gathered at the depot, tore

' down the bridges over State and French streets,
and took up the track across every street east
of Sassafras. Near Harbor Creek Station, on
the same day, the track was torn up in three
places. In the latter township, on the 28th
of December, while the railroad men were re-
laying the track, a fracas took place, in which
a pistol was fired by a train conductor, and
two citizens of the township slightly wound-

[ ed. The excitement that ensued was the most

; intense ever known in the county. f)nly a
few citizens of Erie sided with tiie railroad

1 companies, and they were treated as common

I enemies.

i The railroad question obliterated party

lines to a great extent, and in each of the years

! 1854, 1855 and 1858, for'the first time in a long
period, one of the two legislative Representa-

I tives elected from the county was a Democrat.

j The agitation among the people was followed
by an appeal to the Courts, and the interposi-

! tion of both State and United States officials
was required on several occasions. During

I the two months in which the populace pre-
vented the track from being changed, passen-
gers and freight were transferred between
Harbor Creek and Erie by stages and wagons,
causing a delay that-subjected our city, county

! and people to innumerable curses from the

1 eastern and western patrons of the railroad.
A second series of outbreaks occurred in Erie

I and Harbor Creek in 1855, when the bridges
were again destroved and the track torn up.


j The Supreme Court decided that the road

1 constructed by the Franklin Canal Company

was not a legal building under the charter, and

the charter itself was repealed in 1854. Mean-


while, the stock had been mostly purchased
by the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula
Company, owners of the connecting road
from the Ohio State line westward. A new
charter was granted by the Legislature in 1855
or 1856, on condition that the company, known
as the Cleveland and Erie, should subscribe
$500,000 to the Philadelphia and Erie R. R., ex-
tend its track to the harbor of Erie, and retain
three citizens of Pennsylvania perpetually in
its Board of Directors.

The charter of the Erie and North East
Company was repealed in 1855, but restored
in April, 1856, conditioned upon the expendi-
ture of $400,000 toward the building of a
road from Pittsburg to Erie. A few years
afterward the Erie and North East and the Buf-
falo and State Line R. R.were consolidated un-
der the title of the Buffalo and Erie R. R.

Some time in the early sixties the consoli-
dation of the Cleveland and Erie R. R. was ef-
fected with the Cleveland and Toledo, and at a
still later date this organization was consoli-
dated with the Michigan Southern, making
one management from Erie to Chicago, which
became known as the Lake Shore and Michigan
Southern Company. Into this organization
the Buffalo & Erie was merged in 1869. The
control of the Lake Shore R. R. is in the hands
of the rich Vanderbilt family, with Chauncey
M. Depew as their legal and bu-iness repre-


The track of the road is ostensibly four
feet, ten ixiches, but has been graduall}' nar-
rowed to four feet, nine inches, which is the
universal gauge of the United States, with few
exceptions. In building the road the greatest
difficulties experienced were at the gullies of
the lake shore streams. These were originally
crossed by wooden viaducts, which have been
replaced by arches or iron bridges.

The first depot at Erie was a clumsy look-
ing brick structure, built in 1851. It was re-
placed by the LTnion depot in 1864, the ex-
pense of constructing which was borne equally
by the two Lake Shore organizations then ex-
isting. The Philadelphia and Erie Company
pays interest for its use on one-third of the
cost and one-third of the current expense of
keeping it up, less a small rental from the Erie
and Pittsburg Company. Ira W. Hart was the
first ticket agent, commencing in 1852, and

Wm. S. Brown the first freight agent, ap-
pointed in 1853. John Sutter became con-
nected with the road September 16, 1855,
being probably the oldest employe in continu-
ous service at Erie.

The western roundhouse was built in 1862,
and the eastern in 1863.


The following are the distances by this
route from Erie to the places named :

E.'iSTw.\RD— Miles, Westward— Miles.

Wesleyville 4 Swanville 9

Harbor Creek 8 Fairview 11

Moorhead's 11 Miles Grove 16

North East IS Spring-field 20

State Line 20 Ohio Line 26

Ripley 23 Conneaut 28

Westfield 31 Ashtabula 41

Brocton 39 Painesville 67

Dunkirk 48 Cleveland 95

Buffalo 88 Sandusky 158

Rochester 137 Toledo 208

Albany 385 Chicag-o 452

New York 528

This road, while one of the best managed
and constructed in the Union, has, strange to
say, had two or three of the worst disasters
ever known in railroad history. One of these
was at Ashtabula, on Friday, December 29,
1876, at 7 : 30 p. m., when seventy-two persons
were killed, and the other at Angola, N. Y.,
when the loss was smaller, but scarcely less ap-
palling in its general features. In both cases
citizens of Erie were among the dead or in-



The Lake Shore R. R. claims the record
of having made the fastest time for a long
distance of any in the world. A train of three
Wagner cars, drawn by a single engine, left
Chicago at 3 : 30 A. m. (Central time), on the
24th of October, 1895, and reached Buffalo at
11 : 30: 43. The distance is 510.1 miles, and
the time was 481 minutes and 7 seconds, an
average speed, incrlusive of stops and changing
of engines, of 65.7 miles an hour. The great-
est run was made between Erie and Buffalo,
a distance of 86 miles, which was made in 70
minutes and 16 seconds. In two instances
between Erie and Buffalo the train attained a
1 speed of 96 miles an hour. The engine which
I secured this remarkable result was No. 564,
handled by Engineer William Tunkey. The
object of the fast run was to ascertain at what


rate a train could be taken over the road with
safety for general through passenger business.
Different engines were used on each of the
divisions, and the run for the divisions were :
Chicago to Elkhart, 87.4 miles, in 85 minutes
•li) seconds ; Elkhart to Toledo, 138.4 miles,
in 124 minutes 85 seconds ; Toledo to Cleve-
land, 107.8 miles, in 10(5 minutes 6 seconds;
Cleveland to Erie, 95.5 miles, in 85 minutes
82 seconds; Erie to Buffalo, 80 miles, in 70
minutes 16 seconds.

The train arrived in New York City, over
the Central road, at 10: 15 (Eastern time) in
the evening of the day it left Chicago, having
made the distance of 980 miles in 17 hours
and 45 minutes.



A railroad was projected from Erie to
Philadelphia as long ago as 1830, upon nearly
the same route that was ultimately adopted.
In 1838 a railroad was commenced at Sunbui-y
by Stephen Girard and others, intended to
connect Erie with Philadelphia by way of
Pottsville. A few miles of it were built
eastward, and then the work stopped on ac-
count of financial depression.

In 1837 a bill passed the Legislature in-
corporating the Sunbury and Erie R. R.
Company. An organization was regularly
effected, the stock to secure the charter being
taken by the United States Bank, and engi-
neers were emplojed to survey a route in 1838
and 1889. Nothing further was done for some
years. In 1854 the project was simultaneously
revived in Philadelphia, in Erie and in the Leg-
islature. The city of Philadelphia subscribed
$1,000,000 toward the construction of the
road, the county of Erie $200,000 and the city
of Erie $300,000, in addition to 150 water lots
for dock accommodations. The Cleveland
and Erie Company were required to subscribe
$500,000 to the road, as a condition of secu-
ring a new charter. About this time the State
exchanged a portion of her carKil.s for $3,500,-
000 of Sunbury and Erie bonds, thus placing the
company on a substantial footing. By Decem-
ber, 1854, the road was in running order from
Sunbury to Williamsport, where a connection
was made with the Northern Central R. R. to
Elmira. The division of the road from Erie
to Warren was begun in August, 1856, and
completed in December, 1859, the Middle
division remaining unfinished. In the spring

of 1861, the name of the corporation was
changed to the Philadelphia and Erie R. R.
Company. The war coming on in that year
alarmed the stockholders, and the road was
leased, in 1862, to the Pennsylvania Railroad
Companj- for a term of 999 years. Work was
vigorously p osecuted by the lessees, and in
October, 1864, the first passenger train came
through to Erie from Philadelphia with a
large party ot excursionists.


The road is 287 6-10 miles in length, oper-
ated in three divisions, as follows : Eastern —
Sunbury to Renovo, 92 4-10 miles; Middle —
Renovo to Kane, 100 7- 10 miles ; Western —
Kane to Erie, 94 5-10. At Sunbury, con-
nection is made with the Southern division of
the Northern Central R. R., under the same
management, which gives a direct route to
Harrisburg, Baltimore, Washington, Phila-
delphia and New York. The distance from
Erie to Harrisburg is 347 miles ; to Baltimore,
425; to Washington, 468, to Philadelphia,
453, and to New York, 548. Below are the
distances along the road itself, measuring from
the foot of State street in Erie :

Outer Depot 2

Wag-ner's S

Belle Valley 7

Lang^don's 9

Jackson's 13

Waterford Depot 18":

Le Boeuf 23

Union City 27

ElKin....: 32

Ivovell's 34

Corry 37

Columbus 39

Spring- Creek 44

Garland SO

Pittsfield 54

Youngsville 58

Irvineton 60

Warren 66

Stoneham 71

Clarendon 73

Tiona 76

Sheffield 79

Roystone 82

Ludlow 86

Wetmore 90

Kane 9.=;

Wilcox 104

Ridgwav 119

St. Mary's 129

Emporium 149

Cameron 155

Driftwood 168

Renovo 196

Lock Haven 224

Jersey Shore 236

Williamsport 248

Muncy 260

Milton 275

Northumberland .285.6
Sunbury 287.6


In surveying the road, considerable diffi-
culty was experienced in finding a suitable
route to reach the level of the lake from the
high lands on the south. The course finally
adopted was bv way of Four-Mile creek,
necessitating a long curve to round the Second
ridge, which compels over seven miles of rail-
road to make the distance of four and a half


miles by common road from Erie to Belle
Valley. The grade between Jackson's and
Erie is at one place eighty-three feet to the

Tiie following figures give the height of
the road above tide-water at the points
named :


Erie, foot of State street 573

Summit, at Jackson's 1,229

Union City 1,270

Corry 1,431

Garland 1,309

Warren 1,200

Sheffield 1,337

Kane 2,130

Wilcox 1,527

Ridgway 1,393

St. Mary's Summit 1,696

Emporium 1,021

The first general Superintendent of the
road was Joseph D. Potts, who took charge at
its opening in 1864. The superintendents of
the western division have been : Samuel A.
Black, appointed in July, 1859; William A.
Baldwin, February 7, 186-' ; John W. Rey-
nolds, May 1, 1868. The general oflices were
at Erie until 1874. when they were removed
to Williamsport.

The company occupied a frame building at
the foot of State street, in Erie, as a passen-
ger and freight depot, until the completion of
the Union depot, to which the passenger
traffic was at once transferred. The freight
business continued at the former point until
the erection of the new freight building on
Parade street in 1880.

The shops of the road are at Erie, Kane,
Renovo and Sunbury.


The charter for the Erie and Pittsburg
Company, was obtained in 1856, by parties in-
terested in the Erie and North East Companj^
The new charter of the latter company pro-
vided that it should invest $400,000 in the con-
struction of a road in the direction of Pitts-
burg. With this sum and the money of the
stockholders, the Erie and Pittsburg road was
graded from near Miles Grove to Jamestown,
Mercer county, and the track laid to Albion.
In 1864, the road was continued to New
Castle, where the Erie and Pittsburg R. R.
proper terminates. At that place connection
is made with the New Castle and Beaver Valley
R. R., which connects in turn with the Pitts-

burg, Fort Wayne and Chicago at Home-
wood, and with a road down the Beaver val-
ley, making direct connection in both cases
with the " smoky city."

The company own extensive docks at Erie
for the handling of coal and iron ore, built in
1863, and since then largely extended. The
round-house in Erie was erected in 1865, and
the shops bought of McCarter & Scoville in

The distances by this route are as follows :


Erie to a little west of Miles Grove (Lake

Shore road) 16.5

Cross' 21

Albion 27

Spring- 32

Conneautville 35

Jamestown 57

Greenville 63

Sharpsville 75

Sharon 78

Middlesex 84

New Castle 99

Homewood 113.9

Pittsburg- 148.9

The superintendents of the road have been
R. N. Brown, J. L. Grant, W. S. Brown, J.
J. Lawrence, F. N. Finney, John M. Kimball
and H. W. Byers. W. L. Scott, of Erie, was
president of the corporation many years.

The road was operated as a feeder to the
Lake Shore until the 24th of March, 1870,
when it was leased to the Pennsylvania R. R.
Company for a term of 999 years. On
the first of March, 1871, the management
was transferred to the Pennsylvania Companj',
a separate corporation from the Pennsylvania
R. R. Company, organized to operate the
Western lines leased or owned by the latter.

From Erie to a short distance west of Miles
Grove, the E. & P. uses the Lake Shore track,
with the exception of two and one-half miles
between the city and the dock junction. The
company own the connecting road along the
bay front of Erie, from the Pittsburg dock
to the foot of State street. It was built about

The headquarters of the road were in Erie
until 1881, when they were removed to

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 30 of 192)