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Historian's Corner GIF This page is devoted to some of the many historical articles about railroading in the Western New York area. This installment was written by Society member Harold J. Ahlstrom as it appeared in our August 1987 issue of "The Railway Flyer." As more articles are added, old ones will be archived on our history page. So sit back, or feel free to print out, and enjoy the rich railway heritage of Western New York.

The "Buffalo & Williamsville" Electric Railway Company - 1893 - 1930
by: Harold J. Ahlstrom

       In 1860, stagecoaches were drawn by four horses and were improved to become imposing vehicles with glass windows to protect travelers from the elements. By 1866, The "Buffalo Williamsville and Clarence" Omnibus Line operated coaches leaving Williamsville at 8:30am and 5:00pm and leaving Buffalo at 3:00pm for the return trip to Williamville. On April 4, 1893, the horse-drawn Buffalo to Williamsville stage coach made it's last run. .1

On April 5th, 1893, service began on the new "Buffalo & Williamsville Electric Railway Company." The "International Railway Company" (IRC) had recently extended their Main Street line to a loop at the present location of University Plaza. The new trolley line started adjacent to this loop and operated on the north side of the road out Main Street, through Eggertsville and Snyder. At Reist Street in Williamsville the track went into the center of the street. There were passing sidings at Reist Street and at "Dead Mans Curve', which was probably the sharp curve in Eggertsville. Just after crossing the Ellicott Creek bridge in Williamsville, the track curved right into a large old building that had been a paper mill. This was the car house for the line.

The first cars were four-wheel closed cars built by "St. Louis Car Company," numbered 1 and 2, and two closed trailers, 3 and 4. Shortly after, two four-wheel open cars were bought for use on a new branch. This branch went off Main Street, north on Reist Street to Hartman's Grove, at about the location of Park Country Club. For several years this picnic spot created many extra fares in the Summer months. The base schedule for the Main Street line was half an hour service, using two cars.  .2

At the turn of the century, several trolley promoters were planning in interurban line from Buffalo to Rochester, including the Buffalo and Williamsville owners. As a start, track was laid from the carbarn east of Main Street to Transit Road with shuttle service given by one car. They also built a local line in Batavia, the length of the village east and west in preperation to laying private right-of-way connections between the villages and then on to Rochester. The building of the "Rochester Lockport and Buffalo" high speed interurban on a northerly route, roughly along the Erie Canal stopped all such plans for the B&W. Eventually, the 2-3/4 mile Batavia line was sold to the "Batavia Traction Company."

I have pictures of car 100 operating in both Williamsville and Batavia, so they must have had the equipment around at various times. Kuhlman built car No. 100 was joined by two double truck, center entrance cars, 101 & 102 in 1914 which were bought from J.G. Brill Company. In the meantime the single truck cars 1 & 2 were renumbered 21 and 22.

The Buffalo and Williamsville held the mail contract for the Williamsville Post Office and employees of the Amherst Bee local newspaper have told of carrying out bundles of papers and loading them on the cars for points west. In September of 1930, the company was sold to the Buffalo Transit Company, who were local bus operators, and they lost no time in converting the route to gasoline bus operation.


1.  Illustrated Williamsville Chronology - 1830 - Williamsville Historic Commission, Maureen Gleason, Joseph A. Grande, Images of America: Amherst. Arcadia, Press, 2004.
2.  Illustrated Williamsville Chronology - 1893 - Williamsville Historic Commission, Maureen Gleason, Joseph A. Grande, Images of America: Amherst. Arcadia, Press, 2004.
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This page was last updated: January 28th, 2023 - Published 1983

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