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Roll of Honor Inductee's

        Our "Roll of Honor" has been established to recognize the tens of thousands of men and women, living or deceased, and employees on the railroad, interurban and city street railways, and railroad related industries, who contributed so much to our Western New York Railway Heritage. For a $100 donation, a plaque will be mounted on a permanent display board in the Heritage DiscoveRY Center, Buffalo, New York, bearing the name, occupation, railroad (industry) and years of service. Your donation will be applied toward our continuous preservation efforts.

Trainman on the Bethlehem Steel Lackawanna Narrow Gauge Railroad - February 25, 1937 - July 15, 1981
By: Greg Jandura
         Another Western New York Railway Historical Society "Roll of Honor" inductee for 2012 is Mr. Eugene Pantera who made a lasting contribution to the betterment of railroads, and who had a life long connection to Buffalo and Western New York.

         Eugene Pantera, brother of new Society member, Dr. Joseph Pantera, worked on Bethlehem Steel's narrow gauge railroad that was within the confines of the Lackawanna steel plant, moving hot liquid steel to the mills for rolling. As a child, he was always fighting with his brother. As an adult, he was considered his brother's best friend , and was very close with all of the other men on the narrow gauge railroad within the steel plant. He is also remembered for his good humor and the ability (since childhood) to make people laugh.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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New York Central Steam Locomotive Engineer January 10, 1881 - October 25, 1952
By: Greg Jandura
         The WNYRHS proudly inducts another distinguished individual into our Roll of Honor at the Orchard Park Depot who made a lasting contribution to the betterment of railroads, and who had to Buffalo and Western New York connections.

         Mr. Andrew Balon, grandfather to new Society member, Dr. Joseph Pantera, was a physically strong family man with hands so calloused, they seemed like leather. He lived in Lackawanna. With a backyard abutting the railroad tracks, he and his grandson would run out to hear and feel the forces of the magnificent steam engines as trains went by.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters 1889 - 1979
By: Greg Jandura
         As is our yearly tradition, the WNYRHS proudly inducts another distinguished individual into our Roll of Honor at the Orchard Park Depot who made a lasting contribution to the betterment of railroads, and who had to Buffalo and Western New York connections.

Asa Philip Randolph was born April 15, 1899 and died May 16, 1979 at the age of 90. He was a social activist, union organizer and leader, and fighter for civil rights for African-Americans. To honor and recognize a lifetime of achievement, he was given the prestigious Medal of Freedom by then President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. Ten years after his death, the United States Postal Service honored him with the issuance of a 25-cent commemorative postage stamp.

"Any American who travelled overnight by train in the first half of the twentieth century knew the friendly smile of the Pullman porter. The porter worked for the Pullman Company, which owned and operated the sleeping cars for train travel. He carried passengers' luggage and helped people get on and off the train. He made their beds and polished their shoes while they slept.. the porter responded to passengers' requests any time of the day or night."(1)

         But all was not well behind this false facade. It's what the traveling public didn't see or know. Although railroad employees worked 240 hours a month, the porters were required to log 400 hours or 11,000 miles of travel, whichever was achieved first. The company expected them to be at the station several hours before departure to ready the sleeping cars and to assist passengers who were boarding. None of these hours counted toward the monthly total, though. The time clock ticked only when the trains were moving.

         "For all their hard work, the porters, who were referred to as "George" after George M. Pullman, were poorly paid. In 1925, they earned $67.50 a month, on average, which was far less than any other railroad workers were paid. From that small salary, they had to buy their uniforms, which could consume half of their salary, and the shoe polish they used on their job. They were charged whenever a passenger stole a towel or water pitcher. They had to pay for their own meals and lodging when they slept away from home between train trips. Porters depended on tips from passengers to support themselves and their families. They could ride for half-far on their day, but not in Pullman cars. They could not be promoted to conductor, a job reserved for whites, even though they frequently performed many of the conductor's duties. The Pullman Company got away with treating their workers so poorly because being a porter was the best job that many Black-Americans could get. Those who lived in the south were tenant farmers. Those who lived in the North found jobs in industry, but always at the lowest levels. To be a Pullman porter earned a man respect in his community. There were porters who had been trained as chemists, lawyers and scholars, but could find no better job. Everyone knew that there were plenty of people waiting in line to take his position, so, he dared not complain too loudly. This was about to change." (1,2)

         The Pullman Company did everything in its power to demolish the porter's union. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters came into existence on august 25, 1925. Asa Philip Randolph was elected president, a position he held until 1968. "The union demands included 240 hours of work per month, including time spent working while the trains stood at stations, and monthly wages of $150. Union leaders would meet with executives of the Pullman Company to discuss wages and other benefits" (1)

         By December of that year, there were 5,700 members. By late 1926, the union had offices in sixteen cities including Buffalo, New York. Hundreds of passenger trains originating or passing through Buffalo on a daily basis carrying sleeping and parlor cars employed a sizeable work force.

         The Pullman Company did everything it could to derail the union movement, but to no avail. "The Company squelched any efforts the porters had made to organize a union during the first decades of the twentieth century by either isolating or firing any union leaders. Like many other large ostensibly paternalistic companies of the time, the Company employed a large number of spies who kept the Company informed of union activities. In extreme cases, Company agents assaulted union organizers." (2)

         The Pullman Company vowed never to negotiate with the union, but on August 25, 1937, Pullman company executives and Brotherhood officials signed an agreement.

         In addition the accolades mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is also the A. Philip Randolph Porter Museum located in Chicago near the Pullman Historic District and Amtrak Superliner II Deluxe Sleeper 32503 named the A. Philip Randolph. The only other Superliner sleeper is named after George M. Pullman. A statue of A. Philip Randolph was erected in his honor at Washington Union Station. (3)


1. A. Philip Randolph, Union Leader and Civil rights Crusader. Reef, Catherine. Enslow Publishers, Inc.
2. Brotherhood of sleeping Car Porters. Wikipedia
3. A. Philip Randolph. Wikipedia

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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Entrepreneur - Business Man - 1849 - 1907
By: Greg Jandura
           The Western New York Railway Historical Society proudly inducts Frank Henry Goodyear into the "Honor Roll Hall of Fame" for his contributions to the betterment of railroads in our region of New York State and also in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Frank Henry Goodyear was born in Groton, New York (in Tompkins County) on March 17, 1849, the son of Dr. Bradley Goodyear, a county physician, and Esther P. (Kinne) Goodyear. From his early boyhood, he gave evidence of the shrewdness which afterward enabled him to build up one of the largest lumber businesses in the country and made him one of the richest men in Western New York.

           During his early years, the family moved to Holland, New York, where he attended the district school and East Aurora Academy. During his school years, both Frank and his older brother, Charles Waterhouse, worked at the Root & Keating Tannery. Frank later taught briefly in the school district. Frank moved on to taking the position of bookkeeper for Robert Looney in Alden, New York. Mr. Looney ran a farm. a few sawmills, a general store and a feed and grain business, and also owned vast timberlands in Pennsylvania. In 1871, Frank married the boss's daughter, Josephine. The father died in 1872, and his daughter acquired his estate. Frank and his wife moved to Buffalo, setting up a lucrative coal and lumber business with the help of Elbridge Spaulding.

         With his wife's inheritance of lumber tracts, he became interested in acquiring additional huge tracts of un-tapped lumber in Northwest Pennsylvania. Starting out slowly with earned or borrowed money, bolstered by skill, daring and smart insight, he absorbed other tracts of hemlock and hardwood timber lands in Kean, Potter, Elk and Cameron counties. He also ventured into the Austin-Galeton region, purchasing miles upon miles of additional hemlock and hardwood.

           These vast tracts of forested land were not overlooked by the early pioneers of Pennsylvania. The problem was market accessibility and profit potential. Some of his timber lands were very remote, while others were located on watercourses. Frank built temporary railroads called tramways, to carry his logs to the saw mills, instead of floating them downstream1,2.

           Frank Henry Goodyear is credited with the invention and development of the steam log loader. The Barnhart steam log-loader was not sufficient to do the job. He was impressed with the idea that he could build a modified steam shovel that could be carried on a railroad flatcar and moved from side to side to pick out logs from the holes and gullies and off mountain sides 1.

           As his lumber business grew and prospered, it was time to look at the big picture of getting his product to larger markets. Building a long-distance railroad would solve the problem. In 1885, the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad was chartered to build a railroad line from Keating Summit to Austin in Pennsylvania, where he had a saw mill. In 1887, Frank teamed up with his brother, Charles W. Goodyear, and began to expand his railroad empire. The business firm of E. H. and G. W. Goodyear was formed. By 1893, their railroad system had reached east to Galeton and Ansonia. Various railroads were then consolidated into the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railroad.

           At the beginning of 1896, the Buffalo & Susquehanna extended northward from Galeton to Wellsville, New York, and in 1898, the Goodyears purchased the Addison & Pennsylvania Railroad, a former narrow-gauge railroad (to be converted to standard gauge) from Galeton to DuBois and Sagamore, with the thought of continuing on to Pittsburgh. Coal became the mainstay south of the railroad, and lumber and leather (many tanneries were located along the line) were the principal commodities carried at the north end. The Goodyear lumber and railroad business prospered, and in the early 1900's, it included lumber mills in the South and the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad1.

           In 1906, the Goodyears built the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railway from Wellsville to Buffalo. It became a permanent freight and passenger line, with three hundred and fifty miles of first-class standard-gauge track and roadbed. The annual output of their holdings amounted to 200,000 board feet of hemlock and nearly as much hardwood.

           At the western end of the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railway, they incorporated the Buffalo & Susquehanna Terminal Railroad. This included two blast furnaces, four large modern steel elevators and a foundry. An equal joint venture between the Goodyears and William A. Rogers of Rogers, Brown & Company created the Buffalo & Susquehanna Iron Company (subsequently known as Roger Brown and Hanna Furnace) to be located in South Buffalo (stony Point, New York) in the vicinity of the Lackawanna Iron & Steel Company (Bethlehem Steel) plant. The Union Ship Canal was also constructed to bring in iron ore from mines in Michigan and Minnesota to be reduced to pig iron.

           New grain elevators would be built at Black rock, New York, in close proximity to the Wabash, Grand Trunk and Michigan Central railroads. A foundry located along the Belt Line on Winchester Avenue in Buffalo would be known as the Buffalo Foundry Company4.

           Frank Henry Goodyear was never involved with politics, although he held office twice as a Parks Commissioner and was appointed by President Grover Cleveland to examine government lands on the line of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Frank Goodyear was also President of the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railway and the steamship and iron companies of the same name, as well as the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad. He was a partner in the Goodyear Lumber Company and a Director at both the U. S. Leather Company and the Marine National Bank.

           He was in excellent health until a visit with his wife and son to Yellowstone Park in September, 1906. Returning to Buffalo, the family moved into their new residence at the corner of Delaware Avenue and summer Street. It's here that he passed away on May 13, 1907. Funeral services were held at the house on May 15, 1907, with internment in the Goodyear Family Mausoleum in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

           At 3 P.M. on March 15, 1907, when the funeral services began, trains came to a standstill, machinery in the lumber mills was stopped and the making of pig iron was discontinued for five minutes to enable his employees to reflect ion his passing. A final tribute was the flying of the flag in front of City Hall at half-mast until after the funeral services5,6.

           Besides his wife and son, who also bears his name, Frank H. Goodyear was survived by two daughters, Mrs. Ganson Depew and Mrs. George Olds Wagner. A third daughter, Mrs. Josephine Goodyear Siccard, died in September, 1904. His brother, Charles W. Goodyear, would continue the family business interests.


1. F. H. Goodyear Has Passed On. Vol. 13, Bibliography, PP 151-152. Buffalo & Erie County Library.
2. A History of the City of Buffalo. Buffalo Evening News (internet reference)
3. The Historical Guide to North American Railroads. Druhy, G.H. Kalmbach Publishing Company, Milwaukee, 1985. 4. Goodyears and Rogers To Spend 10 Million. Buffalo Daily Courier, p6; 16 May, 1902 5. Last Tribute to Frank H. Goodyear. Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; 15 May, 1907 6. F. H. Goodyear Has Passed On. Vol. 13, Bibliography, p152. Buffalo & Erie County Library

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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President NYC - Business Man - 1804 - 1866
By: Greg Jandura
           The Western New York Railway Historical Society "Roll of Honor" inductee for 2008 is Mr. Dean Richmond, whose legacy includes, among other things, an association with the New York Central Railroad during its early formative years.

           Dean Richmond was born at Harnard, Vermont, March 31, 1804. In 1814, at 14 years of age, he was left an orphan. The first steps in a career which secured for him great wealth and unusual influence, were assisted by no friendly support. The only legacy he received from his parents was one of obligation, and we find him first as a clerk, setting apart his savings to cancel his father's debt. Soon after, he moved to Syracuse, New York, where he engaged in the flourishing salt boiling business, making it fit for consumption. After a few years, he became quite successful. While there, he met his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Mead, in Troy New York. They would have eight children.

           His next step was to engage in the commission and forwarding business by which he gained a fortune which he invested in the purchase of railroad securities, becoming largely interested in several important railroads.

         In 1842, Mr. Dean Richmond came to Buffalo, later returning to Syracuse for three years, then moving to Attica, New York, where he lived for seven years. He then Settled upon his permanent home in Batavia, New York, where he built the Richmond Mansion.1

           Dean Richmond engaged in the grain business in Buffalo with H. M. Kinney, establishing the Richmond Elevator. He was a prominent figure in the business life of Buffalo. He was First Vice-President of the Western Savings Bank in 1851, and enjoyed the confidence of the entire community. He made for himself a national reputation, and infused life and energy into every project within his grasp. His presence never failed to be inspiring, for he was not only a man who believed in himself, but he believed in others.

           For years, he was a Director of the Buffalo and Rochester Railroad, and at the consolidation of the line from Albany westward to Buffalo forming the New York Central Railroad, which elected him to the position of Vice-President. The Honorable Erastus Corning was elected as President. On the resignation of Mr. Corning a few years later, Mr. Richmond was chosen to be the President. During his presidency of the New York Central Railroad, a steel bridge was constructed across the Hudson River, connecting access to New York City with Albany, and the main line from Albany to Buffalo was double tracked.2

           He was also President of the State Line Railroad, and his business connections in the West were of important and widespread character. Hic control over commerce on the lakes was almost unlimited, and he was as well-known in the West as he was in the cities of his own state. Dean Richmond owned a fleet of grain hauling ships

           Dean Richmond was very active in politics and in the New York State Democratic Party. In 1864, he was asked to run for the office of President of the United States, but refused due to his lack of formal education.

           Dean Richmond died in New York City on August 27, 1866, at the age of 62. A special train carrying railroad officials and other dignitaries accompanied his mortal remains back to Batavia, New York, where he was laid to rest. A second special train was chartered from Buffalo, carrying government leaders of the local community, businessmen, ordinary citizens and railroad men to Batavia.


1. The Duchess. "Richmond Mansion Builder Notable in Nation". Buffalo Daily Courier, September 12, 1926.
2. Harow, Allen F. "The Road of the Century". New York: Creative Age Press, 1947.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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DAVID BELL - 7/2007

By: Greg Jandura
           The Western New York Railway Historical Society is proud to induct Mr. David Bell, master ship builder and railroad locomotive builder of Buffalo, New York onto the "Roll Of Honor" for 2007.

          David Bell was born on December 7, 1817 in Amisfield, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. He apprenticed in 1834 at the age of 17 to the trade of millwright. Seeking a better life and golden opportunities that abounded across the Atlantic, he set sail for America in 1842 at age 24 and as fate would have it, he settled in Buffalo, New York where he found employment at the Buffalo Steam Engine Works. Three years later he formed a co-partnership with William McNish under the firm name of Bell & McNish. "They had little capital, but invaluable grit and experience and soon began to make the business pay."1

          One of their first undertakings was the building of the first steam engine for the Dart Elevator, Buffalo's first grain elevator, to move the grain on conveyor belts from ship to storage.

          In 1850 for reason unknown the partnership was dissolved and Mr. Bell operated the business alone until 1854 when he rented his shop to the Buffalo Steam Engine Company, becoming it's Superintendent. Shortly thereafter a devastating fire swept through the establishment just after his insurance policy had expired. Undaunted, he recovered and built a spacious new foundry in Buffalo's Canal District where Evans, Peacock and Norton Streets formed a triangle. This enterprise would be known as the David Bell Iron Steamship, Locomotive, Steam Engine and Boiler Works. "It had a 400 foot frontage on Norton Street, and two hundred twenty-five foot frontage on Evans Street. The main building built of brick was three-stories high, 150 feet long and 42 feet wide."2

          Steam propulsion was coming into vogue during the late 1850's and Mr. Bell's company built steam-tug and steam powered Erie Canal boats made a stir in the world. Handsome, swift and powerful, the Federal Government ordered several for use during the American Civil War.

          Ship building had gone "from wooden vessels to those made of iron and steam-powered. In 1861, David Bell began to build the "Merchant,"the first iron-propeller ever launched on the Great Lakes. Completed and launched in 1862 the undertaking of such a project was a huge success.

          Ever since the first railroads were chartered to operate in the United States in the 1830's, hundred's of entrepreneurs went into the lucrative locomotive building business. The railroads also turned out their own locomotives, built at their own company shops.

          Mr. Bell went into the locomotive building business in 1865, his first two ordered by the Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad. "He created additional shop facilities, put in new and improved machinery, and energetically went to work. As a deserved compliment to it's builder, the first locomotive ever built in Buffalo was named the "David Bell."1

          The Buffalo Morning Express described it as being suitable for both passenger and freight service. "The cylinders were 16 inch bore and twenty-four inch stroke. The driving wheels measure five feet and 1 1/2 inches. The boiler is adaptable to either coal or wood as fuel, having 150 copper flues. The weight of the engine and tender was 40 tons. In point of finish, she rates high in mechanics. Purchase price is $25,000."3

          "To ship the locomotive to its destination it was supposed to travel from the shop to the Exchange Street Depot, but the bridge over the Erie Canal was not sufficiently strong enough to sustain it's weight. It was taken instead to the Niagara Falls Depot, thence back to Buffalo via the Tonawanda and Batavia Railroad. "4

          On May 16, 1865 the "David Bell" made her inaugural run to Dunkirk, New York with several Lake Shore & Michigan Southern cars in tow. On board were about 150 invited guests.

          "Stops were made at Angola and Silver Creek, and the train reached Dunkirk in one-hour and 40 minutes. The excursion party reached Dunkirk in fme spirits and were ushered into the dining hall at the Dunkirk depot."5

          By the start of 1867 a total of six steam locomotives had been constructed. Two more would follow before going out of the locomotive building business. Those that were built in addition to the ones for the Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad were sold to either the New York Central or Erie Railroad.

          Turning his fulI attention to shipbuilding, Mr. Bell until 1894 built several more tug boats. a fire boat, police boat, revenue cutter, side-wheeled steamboat, government dispatch-boat and several yachts.

          Mr. David Bell passed away at age 85 from heart disease on April 19, 1903 and was laid to rest in the family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.


1. "David Bell, "Buffalo Morning Express, September, 1888. Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Biographical Scrapbooks, Series 6, Volume l.
2. "City Manufacturers/"Buffalo Morning Express, 19 January, 1867, p.4.
3. "The David Bell, "Buffalo Morning Express, 18 May,1865, p. 4.
4. "Bell's New Locomotive, "Buffalo Morning Express, 4 May, 1865, p.4.
5. "A Delightful Excursion, "Buffalo Morning Express, 17 May, 1865, p.4.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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New York Central & Hudson River Railroad - Civil Engineer - 1865 - 1949
By: Greg Jandura
           The Western New York Railway Historical Society is proud to induct onto it's Special Roll of Honor another individual, a native-born son, who as a Civil Engineer left his legacy not only on the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad in a big way, but also in other endeavors as well.

           William John Wilgus was born in Buffalo, New York on November 20, 1865, residing in a home during his early years at the corner of South Division and Elm streets. His parents were Margaret Ann Woodcock, and Frank A. Wilgus, the later a foreman at the New York Central Railroad's Carroll Street Freight House in Buffalo.

            Young William attended the Central High School in Buffalo from 1880 to 1883. Fostering a love for Civil Engineering, he studied as an apprentice draughtsman under Marden Davey, a noted local Civil Engineer upon his graduation from High School. Wilgus's formal education was completed through a Cornell University correspondence course in drafting from 1883 to 1885. Friends urged him to broaden his talent as he had a willingness to learn and a natural ability for this type of work.

         Seizing employment opportunity's in his chosen field elsewhere, William J. Wilgus departed Buffalo and between 1885 and 1893 worked as a rodman, and draftsman in successfully more responsible engineering posts first with the Minneapolis & Northwestern Railroad, then with the Duluth & Winnipeg Railroad, and finally with the Chicago Union Transfer Railroad. "It was while in the West that he got his hands-on construction experience which served him well throughout his career. The West, when Mr. Wilgus began his career was alive with railroad building. It was the place for civil engineers who knew their business. Mr. Wilgus was in that class and made rapid strides."1

           After nearly 10 years in the West, Wilgus wanted to be closer to his friends and family back in Buffalo, and in 1894 began a brief career on the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad (a New York Central & Hudson River Railroad subsidiary) as Division Engineer. Seizing the opportunity, he returned to Buffalo in 1895 as Chief Engineer with the Buffalo Terminal Railway Company. Meanwhile, "The New York Central & Hudson River Railroad top management had been keeping an eye on this somewhat remarkable young civil engineer. They needed a man to become Division Engineer with headquarters in New York City. William J. Wilgus accepted this position. He also had ideas of his own, knew exactly what he wanted to say and do, and conducted the office with marked success."1

           In 1897 William J. Wilgus became Resident Engineer of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad and rose rapidly to Chief Assistant Engineer, then Engineer of Maintenance-of-Way. In 1903 he was elected a Vice-President. A position which he held until 1907. Upon his retirement from the railroad business, he planned on doing only advisory work. One fellow civil engineer when asked best to describe Mr. Wilgus, stated; "He has a pleasing personality and made many friends years ago in Buffalo. They have remained loyal and watched his progress towards the top with gratification. I have never met a man who knew exactly what to do and say with so little consideration. He decides questions involving huge expenditures of dollars often in five minutes, and the remarkable thing about it is that he always seems to be right. I consider Mr. Wilgus one of the greatest construction men this country ever saw."2

           During his tenure as Vice-President Mr. Wilgus was given absolute supervision of all construction work and real estate, and kept in close touch with construction work on all parts of the railroad. He assisted in the rehabilitation, improvement and expansion of the railroad, including the 600 volt third-rail electrification of it's New York City Suburban zone (1906-1913). This was comprised of 65 route miles, with a total length of 378 miles serving suburban, marshalling yards and main line traffic.3

            William J. Wilgus oversaw the design and construction of Grand Central terminal during its earlier construction phase which was commenced in 1903 and completed in 1913. The 1871 above ground Grand Central Depot with its massive train shed had outgrown its usefulness. "Wilgus conceived brilliant innovations which were applied to the new facility-an all-electric, underground, doublelevel station (commuter trains on the lower level) with a terminal building above. This plan had added value-it would free up 30 blocks of Manhattan real estate for lucrative development, and restore the crosstown streets from 45th to 55th street.4

           Among his other accomplishments, he chaired the committee of thirteen railroads in Buffalo, to try and settle the Union Station problem. As an Advisory Engineer for the Michigan Central Railroad in 1905 he developed a method of "dry tunneling" in building the 8,390 foot long Detroit River Tunnel connecting Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario.

           This consisted of constructing a two-track tunnel of watertight caissons on dry land in sections, safe from the interruptions of the water. The sections were then taken out to the spot where they would stand in the Detroit River, sunk down in the water into pre-excavated trenches and hitched onto each other, while the partitions were withdrawn. The Institute of Civil Engineering of Great Britain awarded him the Telford Gold Medal for this achievement."5, 6

           Amidst all his wonderful accomplishments, including improvements to the Belt Line around the City of Buffalo, and construction of Gardenville Yard, the centerpiece of the Buffalo Terminal Railway Company, he was deeply saddened by the fact that his dream of wiping out the stockyards and having a hand in the construction of a Union Depot in a park-like setting in East Buffalo was met by resentment and derision! William John Wilgus resigned the Vice-Presidency of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad in 1907 at age 42 to pursue other non-railroad interests.

           The remaining 42 years of William J. Wilgus's life was filled with numerous accomplishments and accolades. In 1908 he teamed up with Henry J. Pierce, former President of the International Railway Company of Buffalo to form the Amsterdam Corporation in an unsuccessful venture to build a 4 track "freightonly" narrow gauge underground railroad Belt Line around the island of Manhattan with branches to the various buildings. The concept had the financial backing of the New Haven, New York Central, Pennsylvania, West Shore, Erie, Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Baltimore & Ohio, Central Railroad of New Jersey Railroads.

           During World War I, William J. Wilgus volunteered his services to oversee the movement of men and material. His exemplary service as a member of the Military Railway Commission to England and France and Deputy Director General of Transportation in the American Expeditionary Forces earned him the title of Colonel.

           His achievements in the in the field of railroad engineering won him honorary doctorates in engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1921, and the University of Vermont in 1927. He served on the Board of Consulting Engineers of the New York and New Jersey Bridge and Tunnel Commission which led to creation of the Port of New York Authority and the Holland Tunnel. In 1934 he served for one year as Director of the Works Division of the Emergency Relief Bureau finding work for the needy unemployed in New York City. Until retiring in 1942, Colonel Wilgus continued on as a free-lance consultant.

           Colonel William John Wilgus passed away after a brief illness in Claremonmt, New Hampshire on October 24, 1949 at age 83 just short of his 84th birthday. Truly he was a Civil Engineer genius well ahead of his time.


1. "Vice-President of NYC Railroad Company is Here" Buffalo & Erie County Library - Local Biographies, Series 1 Vol 37, p. 284-285
2. "A Handsome Loving Cup Presented to Mr. Wilgus," Buffalo & Erie County Public Library-Local Biographies, Series 1, Vol 37, p. 284.
3. World Railways, Chicago: Rand McNally & Company, 1950, p. 156.
4. Potter, Janet Greenstein, Great American Railroad Stations, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1996, p. 175.
5. "Engineer of World Fame Began Career in Buffalo," Buffalo & Erie County Public Library-Local Biographies, Series 1, Vol 37, p. 291.
6. "William J. Wilgus, Rail Expert, Dead," New York Times, 25 October, 1949, p. 27.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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By: Greg Jandura
           The Western New York Railway Historical Society is proud to induct Chauncey Mitchell Depew onto its "Special Roll of Honor" in July 2005, for his contribution to railroading on the Niagara-Frontier.

         Chauncey Mitchell Depew was born in Peekskill, New York on April 23, 1834 in a homestead in the family for over 200 years. The paternal side of the family were French Huguenots who came to America in the seventeenth century. His father Isaac was a was a merchant farmer, and a pioneer in Hudson River transportation between Peekskill and New York City. On the maternal side of the family, his mother Martha, was a descendent of Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. She had highly developed literary tastes, and was chiefly responsible for the thoroughness of her son's education. Chauncey had a solid church upbringing as well, in the Dutch Reformed Church, having been sent at age 5 to a school kept by the pastor, who was a man of letters.
         It was here that the pastor aroused in him an interest in Latin and Greek, in nature and culture which would remain with him for the rest of his life. Later, he attended the Peekskill Academy which prepared him for college. It was during these years that Chauncey revealed a talent for public speaking having given many a graduation day oration.

         At age 18 in 1852 he began his studies at Yale University in Latin, Greek, English Literature and Mathematics. He graduated in 1856. Now at age 22, Depew returned home and immediately began the study of law under the guidance of a Peekskill lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1858, and subsequently opened a law office. His first client paying him the lofty sum of $1.75. This was but the first stepping stone in an illustrious career spanning nearly seven decades.

         Chauncey M. Depew entered politics when asked to give a substitute speech for an absent speaker at a Republican rally. So impressive was his one-hour talk that he ran and was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1861 and 1862. He would serve as New York Secretary of State (1868-1864). Asked to be Ambassador to Japan in 1865, he refused due to his mother's failing health and his desire to return to a law practice. Other forays into political life included a defeated run for New York State Lt. Governor in 1872. He turned down the chance to become a U.S. Senator in both 1881 and 1885. In 1888 he was a candidate for the U.S. Presidency but declined. In 1882 he declined to be U.S. President Benjamin Harrison's Secretary of State.

         It was during this time that Chauncey M. Depew' s reputation as a sharp lawyer preceded him, and in 1866 he was asked by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, and accepted the position of Attorney for the New York & Harlem Railroad as well as the Hudson River Railroad, This was Vanderbilt's first venture into railroading. Vanderbilt would become the railroad's first President (1869-1877). Depew's legal advise was much sought after and respected by Commodore Vanderbilt. Depew was first appointed his General Counsel when the railroad was expanding and consolidating its many lines into the New York Central Railroad between New York City and Chicago. In 1874, Depew was next appointed Director of the railroad and in 1877, he subsequently became Director of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad which extended the Vanderbilt system to the Mississippi River. Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt died in 1877.

         William H. Vanderbilt, the Commodore's eldest son served as railroad President (1877-1888). In 1888, Depew became Second Vice President of all the Vanderbilt railroads merged into the New York Central. William H. Vanderbilt resigned from the presidency in 1883 due to ill health. He was succeeded by James H. Rutter (1883-1885). Depew acted far him for those two years, and upon Rutter's death in 1885, Depew succeeded him as President, a position he would hold for thirteen years until 1898.

         Chauncey M. Depew's local legacy while President of the New York Central Railroad was his active involvement with the establishment of the village of Depew, New York. It was a stretch of wide open farm fields with mud and dirt roads. Depew is "located partially in the Town of Lancaster and the Town of Cheektowaga. One of the major traffic hubs is the junction of Rt 78 and RT 20. with Transit Road serving as the boundary line. Unlike other villages in Erie County, Depew, located 5 miles east of Buffalo had no pioneer history. This changed on May 17, 1892 when the railroad broke ground for its New York Central Locomotive Works."1

         It would employ 1,500 men in the repair and manufacture of locomotives for all the Vanderbilt controlled railroads. Capacity would be 48 locomotives under construction at one time. That same year, a syndicate was formed by a group of Buffalo and New York City financiers known as the Depew Improvement Company. Shares were sold at $100 each and when incorporation papers were signed, $1,500,00 in capital was raised. The major stockholders included Chauncey M. Depew, Charles A. Gould, and John Jacob Astor.

         "The purpose of the Syndicate was to sell industrial sites, home sites, and homes for workers near their jobs. One industry after another moved into Depew and clusters of homes were built around each. This is the reason that Depew, New York, developed in scattered communities, rather then being centralized around a shopping section. To provide necessary services, the village was incorporated on July 23, 1894."1

         "The New City of Depew," New York was envisioned as out rivaling Pullman, Illinois; Altoona, Pennsylvania; or Sayre, Pennsylvania in the manufacture and repair of railroad related items. Land surveys were conducted by Ricker & Wing of Buffalo who hired the world renowned city planner and landscaper Frederick Law Olmstead as consulting architect. Depew, New York would be completed within three years with 25,000 inhabitants. Other railroad related industries to locate there included: Union Car Shops, Gould Coupler Company, Buffalo Brass Company, and the National Car Wheel Company.

         Depew, New York would have its own water supply by pipeline from Lake Erie, paved roads and electric lighting would be exclusively used instead of gas. There would be a post office, hotel, banks, churches, schools, and business establishments. The New York Central Railroad "ran special trains between Depew and Buffalo for the convenience of those employed in the shops and the army of workmen engaged in the erection of new buildings and houses. A branch of the Buffalo, Bellevue & Lancaster Electric Railway, known as the Depew Branch ran along Transit Road then east through the lands of the Depew Improvement Company and the Sawyer/Laverack tract to the Village of Lancaster."2

         Four major railroads crossed a portion of the land tract owned by the Depew Improvement Company insuring its success as a railroad equipment manufacturer. Those being the New York Central Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, Erie Railroad, and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.

         The Village of Depew, New York grew and prospered until 1931 when the railroad, during the Great Depression decided to close the locomotive shops after 38 years (1893-1931) sending the work to Albany, New York and Avis, Pennsylvania. Bigger steam locomotives were being built and it was too costly to re-tool the old machinery. Many of the men were offered jobs at these locations and they would commute back to Depew each weekend. In time, the other railroad related industries closed and the Village of Depew would no longer be the "Railroad Town" that it once was. Other types of businesses took their place over time and this village is today 111 years young. Chauncey M. Depew's name lives on. Amtrak trains crossing the Empire State stop at Depew, New York which is the suburban passenger station east of Exchange Street in Buffalo. 84 Lumber Company located on Walden Avenue is the site of the old locomotive works.

         Chauncey M. Depew's retirement as railroad president didn't mean his public service career was finished. It was quite the contrary. He was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the New York Central Railroad which he held until his death. He went on to be elected to two terms as U.S. Senator from New York State in 1899 and 1905. For many years he became a noted after-dinner speaker. No New York City dinner or Yale occasion was complete without his presence and speech. He could tell a story in such an amusing way as to win the attention of the most restless audience. By 1910, eight large volumes were required to contain a lifetime of speeches. His recipe for longevity was: Work, temperance, and fun!

         Chauncey M. Depew had been married twice, first to Elise Hageman in 1871, and by whom he had one son, Chauncey M. Depew, Jr. She died in 1893. His second wife, was May Palmer whom he married in 1901.

         In robust health at age 93 in 1928, just shy of his 94th birthday, he caught a chill on the train returning from Florida to New York. A bronchial pneumonia infection followed. Chauncey M. Depew died in New York City after a one week illness on April 5, 1928. Funeral services were held in New York City at St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Afterwards his body was taken by hearse to a mausoleum at Peekskill's Hillside Cemetery.


1. Fess, Margaret. "Depew Has Expansion Room." Buffalo Courier Express 16 September, 1960. Erie county History Scrapbook, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, Vol 4, p.94.
2. "What They're Doing At Depew," Buffalo Morning Express 16 April, 1893, p. 12.


"The New City Of "Depew,""Buffalo Morning Express 17 April, 1892.
"Chauncey M. Depew Dies Of Pneumonia In His 94th Year." New York Times 5 April, 1928, pp. 1 & 27.
"Chauncey Depew Dies At Age 94, 1928," p.1. Buffalo Courier Express 5 April, 1928.
"Notables Of Nation Pay Tribute To Noted Orator." Buffalo Courier Express 6 April, 1928, p. 5.
"Citizens Hold Depew's Industrial Death Watch." Buffalo Times 1 March, 1931, p. 1-B.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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By: Rick Henn
         In July 2004, the Western New York Railway Historical Society is once again proud to induct another native-born Western New Yorker into the "Roll of Honor-Hall of Fame. New Yorker, a "cinder railroader" who rose through the ranks from telegrapher on the Erie Railroad to the Presidency of the New York Central Railroad in a career spanning 53 years into the Roll of Honor "Hall of Fame" for 2004.

         The son of Dennis Crowley, an Erie Railroad Station Agent in Cattaraugus, New York, Patrick Edward was born on August 25, 1864. While still attending public school, Patrick at the age of 14 in 1878 helped out in his spare time selling fruit and candy to passengers in the train aisles. It was the telegraph machine however, which caught his interest. After completion of grammar school he helped out his father as a telegraph messenger earning about $5.00 a month. Young Patrick studied the unique language of dots and dashes intently and eventually became a telegraph operator in his own right for the Erie Railroad. He was determined to do his job better than anyone else before him. In 1882 at age 18, he was appointed Station Agent at Custer City, Pennsylvania. Subsequently in August, 1885 he took the position of Train Dispatcher in Buffalo until February, 1889 when seeking further career advancement he left the employment of the Erie Railroad taking a job that would lead to his 42 year association with the New York Central System.

         He became a dispatcher at Oswego, New York on the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad which was later leased to the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad in 1893. Promotions followed rapidly thereafter. In August, 1891, two months after his marriage to Miss Catherine Nichols in Attica, New York, he was made Train Master. In September, 1900 he was made Chief Train Master.

         Patrick E. Crowley began his career through the executive ranks in August, 1901 at the age of 37 when he became Superintendent of the Central's Pennsylvania Division. "It was in this first executive position that he established his reputation for operating efficiency. Workers in the division gave a new definition to his initials P. E. C. They declared that they stood for "Pull Eighty Cars," referring to his insistence that the division put the maximum number of eighty cars in a train. (This at a time when locomotives where much smaller and less powerful and trains were on average made up of a little over 30 cars). This became a nickname that persisted throughout his career with the Central."1

         In December, 1904, Patrick E. Crowley was appointed Assistant General Superintendent in Syracuse, New York. Further promotions made him Assistant General Manager in March, 1907 at Albany, New York, followed by General Manager of the "Lines East" in April, 1907 headquartered in New York City. Still ascending the corporate ladder he was in December, 1914 appointed Assistant Vice-President of Operations; President in charge of Transportation and Equipment in January, 1915 and then Vice-President of Operations in September, 1916.

         During World War I when the U.S. Government through the United States Railway Administration took control of the railroads to ensure adequate transportation for the war effort, Patrick E. Crowley was appointed Federal Manager of the New York Central Railroad and several of the companies subsidiaries from June 10th, 1918 until March 1st, 1920. After which time when the railroads returned to private control he was elected Vice-President in charge of operations.

         Alfred H, Smith, President of the New York Central Railroad from 1919 until 1924 was killed in a horse riding mishap in New York City's Central Park. Patrick E. Crowley was chosen by the Board of Directors as his successor in April, 1924 a position which he held through 1931.

         "The reputation of Patrick E. Crowley as a railroad man among railroad men suffered no loss when he became executive head of the lines. In his numerous inspection trips to various parts of the huge network of lines, he frequently traveled in the regular trains of the company, leaving his private car in the shed. Losing none of his old friends and supporters, he even gained new ones and drew his co-workers closer to him, securing their utmost cooperation in his plans for development of the great railroad system."

         He was a temperate man in speech and habit who didn't smoke or swear. In his youth he maintained that a man could be a Train Dispatcher without swearing, and when he became President of the Central, he reiterated this principle. He stated that his success has been due to hard work and constant study."2

         During his entire railroad career he still kept his membership card in the order of Railroad Telegraphers which he received many years ago. His many notable accomplishments while President of the New York Central Railroad included; the Castleton Bridge, the 34-story New York Central Building in New York City, Cleveland Union Station, Cincinnati Union Station, Berkshire and Hudson class locomotives for hauling heavy tonnage freight and fast passenger trains and President of the Rutland Railroad. In June 1926 the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was bestowed on him at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York.

         Buffalo Central Terminal was however his crowning achievement. An avid advocate and backer of this project from its inception hemade sure that this station would compare with any in the world. In late November, 1931 Patrick Edward Crowley announced his formal resignation as President of the New York Central Railroad effective after December 31, 1931. After 53 years of railroad service and at age 68 he asked the New York Central Railroad Executive Committee to be relieved of the duties and burdens of the Presidency. His successor would be Frederic E. Williamson. Patrick E. Crowley continued to serve on the Board of Directors in an advisory capacity until December, 1940.

         A resident of Mount Vernon, New York in Westchester County for forty years, Patrick Edward Crowley passed away on October 1, 1953 at age 89 after a long illness. He was survived by his wife and four children: Charles E., Norman L., Mrs. Robert J. Burke Jr. and Mrs. Elbert L. Rhoads. Internment is in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Valhalla, New York near Tarrytown.


1. "P. E. Crowley, Led New York Central," New York Times, October 2, 1953, p. 21.
2. "New Terminal Is Monument To P. E. Crowley," Buffalo Courier Express, June 23, 1929, Sec 9, p. 12.
3. "P. E. Crowley To Head New York Central," Railway Age, April 12, 1924, Volume 78 (Issue 19), pp. 942-943.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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JOHN J. BERNET - 7/2003

By: Rick Henn
         In July 2003, the Western New York Railway Historical Society is once again proud to induct another native-born Western New Yorker into the "Roll of Honor-Hall of Fame. He left behind a legacy of transforming several financially troubled railroads on the verge of bankruptcy back to robust health, earning the title "Doctor of Sick Railroads."

         Orris P. and Mantis J. Van Sweringen who had built a railroad empire out of the Nickel Plate Road, Erie Railroad and Chesapeake & Ohio Railroads personally knew John J. Bernet for nearly twenty years and remarked upon his passing, "We have lost our friend, the business world has lost one of its outstanding figures, and the railroad industry has lost a genius." 1

         John J. Bernet was born on February 9, 1868 in Erie County at Brant, New York the son of Bernard and Emma Greene Bernet. His father, an immigrant from Switzerland, was a blacksmith.

         "Like most boys he had to be content with a public school education. When the son was ready to go to work, he went into his father's blacksmith shop, which had been set up at a country crossroads. One day as they worked at the forge, the elder Bernet paused as he lowered his hammer to come to rest on the anvil. Looking at his son, and if with a tinge of regret, he said: "'It's no use, John, you'll never make a blacksmith. Your close eyesight isn't good enough to finish your iron properly. Go try something else.'" 2

         "The boy wandered over to a railroad switch shanty on the old Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad and became fascinated by the ticking of the telegraph instrument. He was given an opportunity to learn it and when he had mastered the art of sending and receiving by code he launched himself upon his railroad career."2 When the telegrapher was promoted in 1889, John was hired by the railroad as his replacement.

         "From that point, Mr. Bernet's progress was rapid. In succession, he became a telegraph operator, train dispatcher, trainmaster, assistant superintendent, division superintendent, assistant general superintendent, general superintendent, and VicePresident of the New York Central Lines west of Buffalo, that system, having acquired the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern in 1914." 2

"The New York Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (more familiarly known as the Nickel Plate Road) with a single main line running between Buffalo and Chicago was incorporated in 1881 and finally completed in August, 1882. "Between 1879-1880 a syndicate headed by George I. Seney, a New York City banker assembled the Lake Erie & Western Railway, a line from Freemont, Ohio to Bloomington, Indiana. There was a dispute with the New York Central over the routing of freight. "William H. Vanderbilt had offered to buy out Seney during construction and then threatened to starve it from traffic-from Buffalo to Cleveland where it was parallel to the Vanderbilt's LS&MS. Jay Gould began to negotiate to purchase the railroad; to block Gould, Vanderbilt purchased it instead and installed his son William K. Vanderbilt as president in 1883. Then he wondered what to do with it-benign neglect is what happened. Even though it was no more then a secondary line in the Vanderbilt system, it gained a reputation for fast movement of perishables, particularly meat.

         In 1916, Cleveland, Ohio real estate developers Orris Paxton Van Sweringen and Mantis James Van Sweringen bought New York Central's interest in the Nickel Plate Road. ($2 million in cash and an obligation to pay $650,000 each of the next ten years.) The New York Central recognized that the Clayton Antitrust Act would require selling the Nickel Plate Road; selling it to the Van Sweringen's would keep it out of the clutches of the rival Delaware, Lackawanna & Western and the Pennsylvania railroads." 3

         John J. Bernet was asked by the Van Sweringens in 1916 to leave the New York Central and take over the helm of the Nickel Plate Road a position he gladly accepted. "His prominence in the railroad industry parallels the rise of the Van Sweringen brothers. He is credited with being the guiding power of the Nickel Plate systems growth and development. In a ten year period under his direction the Nickel Plate grew from an antiquated and financially defunct railroad to a road whose stock sold for over $250 a share and paid 11 percent dividends." 1

         "Bernet worked a thorough upgrading of Nickel Plate's locomotives and track, with the result that by 1925 the railroad had doubled its freight tonnage and average speed, halved its fuel consumption per ton mile, and led all U.S. railroads in car miles per day." 3

         To accomplish this, "one of the Nickel Plate's first purchases was a dynamometer car, an expensive device for measuring everything the railroad used. When he took over, the operating revenue was $23,969 a mile. Four years later it was $44,867. The average revenue trainload jumped from 355 tons to 771. The earnings per freight mile went up from $1.82 in 1915 to $6.32 in 1919 and were to go higher.

         He persuaded factories to locate along the railroad. He laid double track and replaced broken rails. He speeded up freight service until he got 47 miles a day a car, as compared with a general national average of 22.4 miles. He went out and called in person on shippers whose business he thought the railroad should have." 4 "In 1926, Mr. Bernet became president of another Van Sweringen railroad, the Erie, and temporarily left the Nickel Plate. The same furious energy and the same passion for good equipment were manifested here. He spent $85 million on improvement, scrapping 400 old locomotives, and purchasing 115 new ones. When he first arrived, the Erie had 83 different types of steam locomotives on it's s roster. It's estimated that the savings ran to $3,100,000 a year on operating costs." 4

         "In 1923 the Van Sweringen brothers, purchased 30 percent of Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad stock. The principal item in the Van Sweringens' empire was the Nickel Plate Road and they drafted proposals to merge C&O, NKP, Erie, Hocking Valley and Pere Marquette to form a fourth eastern system of the magnitude of New York Central, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore & Ohio. By 1929 the Van Sweringens also hoped to include the Wheeling & Lake Erie, the DL&W, and Chicago & Eastern Illinois, the last to furnish a connection with the Missouri Pacific, in which they held a sizeable interest. Later that year the Van Sweringens withdrew their application as their financial empire began to collapse.

         In 1928, the C&O had received permission to control the Pere Marquette. In 1930 C&O and PM unified their operations." 3

         It was during this time, 1929, that the Van Sweringen's appointed John J. Bernet President of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad and its then subsidiary the Pere Marquette.

         "His tenure was brief, but under his direction the C&O was one of the very few prosperous railroads in the country in the depression years, even including 1932, when it not only paid a dividend but earned it. Like most famous railroad men, he was a legend among his men. The day he was elected C&O president he departed for Chicago with a stub pencil in his pocket, to spend approximately twenty-four hours a day in a car, riding his new rails, meeting his men, making notes, seeing for himself." 4

         "Railroad workers throughout the Nickel Plate system were elated when the announcement was made that Mr. Bernet would again head the road in 1933. He was known by the workers as a "regular guy" While performing his executive duties, Mr. Bernet always found time to talk to employees, including laborers." 2

         John J. Bernet passed away on July 5, 1935 at the age of 67 a few days after being struck down by a sudden brief intestinal illness at his home in Cleveland, Ohio. He left behind a wife and five children.

         In summing up his career as a railroad man, it can be said that, "While it was his lot in recent years to be identified with the rail interests of the Van Sweringens brothers, he was little interested in the ramifications of the great fiscal empire which they tried to put together. To Bernet railroading was a matter of moving passengers and freight economically and expeditiously. He was one of the first of the railroad executives to grasp the competitive advantage of fast freight, and he delighted shippers when he cut hours from the running time of Nickel Plate freight trains and put them on schedules comparable to those of passenger trains.

         He was a hustler for business. Many a small shipper has been surprised to have Bernet ushered into his office and to hear a better sales talk than any of the Nickel Plate salesmen could give. In his death, railroading had lost a shrewd and forceful executive who knew railroading from the flagman's shanty up." 5


1. "John J. Bernet Funeral to be Held Monday." Buffalo Courier Express 6 July, 1935, p. 10.
2. "Death Takes John J. Bernet, President of Two Railroads." Buffalo Evening News 5 July, 1935, p. 1, 8.
3. Druhy, George H. "The Historic Guide to North American Railroads." Milwaukee, Kalmbach Pub. 1988.
4. "Bernet Rites To Be Held Monday." Cleveland-Plain Dealer 6 July, 1935
5. "Bernet - Railroader" Buffalo Times, 5 July, 1935 p.10.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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By: Rick Henn
         William H. Board, the newest member of our "Roll of Honor," came from a railroad family. Both his father and his older brother were railroaders. William's boyhood dream was to sit in the right hand seat of a locomotive on the "Empire State Express." He hired on the New York Central in 1917 and his "work number" was well into the 400's. Before he could become an engineer, he spent many years as a fireman, sometimes hand firing steam locomotives up to sixteen hours a day. But, in time, his seniority allowed him to move into the position of engineer and eventually he realized his boyhood dream and took over "the run" from Buffalo, New York to Syracuse, New York and back, from his older brother. He held that run, eastbound on "The Cayuga" and westbound on "The Empire State Express," until his retirement, when the number on his badge was #1. He especially enjoyed the last sixteen years of his career as chief engineer, when his locomotive was a beautiful diesel that responded with the flip of a switch.

       Mr. Board's last run fell on the same day as his 70th birthday, and when he stopped his train at the platform in Buffalo for the last time, he was greeted by his family for photographs to commemorate this special day and with plans for a big family party to celebrate his retirement. It was time for him to be able to spend more time with his family and to add more fun to his life.

       It was time to retire for William Board. Railroading was not what it used to be. People no longer flocked to the station to ride luxury trains and passenger service had taken second place to moving freight. But, Mr. Board did not leave his position feeling anymore like a "has been" than the great trains that he loved to run. It was just time to leave. It was time to enjoy the rest of his life with his grandchildren, going hunting and fishing.

       As we have so often seen, there are some people whose love of railroading is so great, that they spend fifty years working for the company. They are deserving of recognition for making the railroads what they are and for their dedication to their work.

       My thanks go out to Marian Gauthier of Fort Erie, Canada, for making Mr. Board's application to the "Roll of Honor" and for supplying an article written by Anne McIlhenney Mathews, for the Courier Express that provided the information for this article.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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W. CARYL ELY - 7/2002

International Traction & International Railway Company - 1899
Niagara Falls Electric Railway - 1899
Buffalo & Lockport Railway - 1899
By: Greg Jandura
         The Western New York Railway Historical Society is pleased to add the name of W (William) Caryl Ely onto our "Special Roll of Honor" for 2002.

        The 65 years of W. (William) Caryl Ely's life were one of achievement and accomplishment. Born in Middlefield, Otsego County, New York, February 25, 1856 the son of William H. and Ellen Caryl Ely. He was first educated in the common public school of Cooperstown, Otsego County, New York, continuing his education at the Girard Academy in Pennsylvania followed by further studies at Delaware Literary Institute and Cornell University.

        W.Caryl Ely, a member of the Democratic Party, was quite active in politics from his youth. He was clerk of the Otsego County Board of Supervisors from 1879-1880 and Supervisor for the Town of Worcester, New York 1881-1882. During this time he studied law in the office of John B. Holmes at East Worchester, New York being admitted to the New York State Bar at Ithaca, New York in 1882.

        Attaining a commanding rank in his profession, during the next three years, beginning in 1882, Mr. Ely served the First Otsego District. He was nominated, but unsuccessful as the Democratic Part's candidate for Assembly Speaker and Minority Leader in 1885.

        It was time for a change in his career path in 1885, W. Caryl Ely ventured westward coming to Niagara Falls, New York where since that time, his varied interests have linked him with Western New York. For his first two years, he practiced the legal profession alone until the law partnership of "Ely and Dudley" was formed with Frank A. Dudley. Subsequently, in 1893, Morris Cohn, Jr. joined the firm thus changing its name to "Ely, Dudley and Cohn". During this time, W. Caryl Ely also served for five years as Village Attorney of Niagara Falls, New York and in 1891 he was nominated for Supreme Court Justice in the Eighth Judicial District. From 1893 to 1896, Ely served as Treasurer of the Democratic State Committee.

        After some years of general practice as an Attorney, he became council to many manufacturing, railway, and other business interests. He was characteristically a man with the gift of visualizing and utilizing opportunities where ever they existed. Mr. Ely was an incorporator, trustee and council to the Niagara Falls Power Company until 1899. Between 1898-1899 the union of electric railroads connected Buffalo, Niagara Falls, the Tonawandas, Lockport and adjoining towns with the Niagara Falls Park & River Railway on the Canadian side by means of the Steel Arch and Suspension Bridges, This was a project which both by comprehensiveness and utility made a powerful appeal to Mr. Ely. It enlisted his utmost energies and because of his efforts, his achievements have assured for him a lasting name in history as a pioneer of electric and transportation development on the Niagara Frontier.

        The law partnership of "Ely, Dudley & Cohn" was subsequently dissolved in 1899. From that time to the close of his life, W. Carly Ely's experience and talents were identified with large enterprises either in high executive capacities or in directive and developmental fields. Amoung other accomplishments, he was the first President of the Niagara Falls Electric Railway, a leading factor in the construction of both the Buffalo & Lockport, and Lockport & Olcott Railways, serving as the first President of the former. He was also a founder and Trustee of the Niagara County Savings Bank.

        In 1899, W. Caryl Ely was chosen President of the newly formed International Traction and International Railway Companies. Taking up residence that same year in the city of Buffalo.

        A power for development and construction in every sphere, wherein he was placed. W. Caryl Ely was one of the early incorporators of the Pan-American Exposition, whose aims he efficiently furthered as a member of the Board of Directors and serving on the Executive and Transportation Committee's overseeing freight and passenger facilities at the 1901 Exposition.

        Mr. Ely was later Treasurer of an enterprise which constructed seventy miles of irrigation canals in the Yakima and Columbia River valleys in Washington, and for some years, a Vice President for New York in the National Irrigation Congress. He worked for legislation to give federal aid to irrigation of arid lands west of the Mississippi and was greatly interested in forestry and reclamation projects.

        W. Caryl Ely was elected President of the American Street and Interurban Railway Association in 1904, 1905, and 1906. He was also, for several years, President of the Ohio Valley Finance Company and took an active interest in electric railway properties in the Ohio Valley between Pittsburgh and Wheeling. These included the East Liverpool Traction & Light Company, Ohio River Passenger Railway, Steubenville & East Liverpool Railway & Light Companies. He was also Director in the Western New York Water and Fidelity Trust Companies and Manufactures & Traders Trust Company, as well as President of the Silent Writing Machine Company. His social and fraternal affiliations were numerous.

        W. Caryl Ely was now living in New York City, and in his later years, made frequent trips between there and Buffalo having just returned and seemingly in good health, when suddenly and unexpectedly, he died from heart failure the morning of December 14th, 1921 at age 65. At the same time he was associated with the Street Railway Advertising Company of New York, the American Sales Company and F.N. Burt Company. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Grace Keller Ely and a daughter, Marian (Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Spaulding). W. Caryl Ely is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.


1"W. Caryl Ely Dies Suddenly in N.Y. City," Buffalo Evening News. 14 December, 1921, p.1, p. 14.
"W. Caryl Ely Dead," Buffalo Times. 14 December, 1921, p.1
"W. C. Ely Victim of Heart Disease," Buffalo Daily Courier. 15 December, 1921, p.8.
"W. Caryl Ely," Buffalo Morning Express. 15 December, 1921, 1921, p.4.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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By: Rick Henn
         The Western New York Railway Historical Society is pleased to be able to add the name of Joseph F. Hempling to our "Roll of Honor". The current "Roll of Honor" Board is located in the Societies restored Orchard Park Depot and is the Societies way of making it possible for family, friends and coworkers to acknowledge and remember the important people who made the railroads run.

        Mr. Hempling was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 15th, 1901. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Lackawanna, New York, where Joseph was rasied. He hired on with the New York Central Railroad at the age of 19 and became a locomotive fireman. He was very proud to call himself a "railroad man". As were many people, Mr. Hempling was laid off during slow economic times and he was off the railroad for a number of years. He was called back in 1939 and returned to his position as a fireman. He later was promoted to locomotive engineer and would eventually run the "Twentieth Century Limited" and the "Empire State Express". His family reports that at the throttle he "felt like a king". Failing health forced Joseph to retire and he passed away in 1966.

        I wish to thank Mr. Hempling's family, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hempling and Regena Driscoll, for making Mr. Hemplings application to the "Roll of Honor" and for providing the information for this article.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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CARL "Charles" MEYERS - 7/2001

By: Rick Henn
         As we celebrate the Centennial of the Pan-American Exposition 1901-2001 held in Buffalo, New York from May 1st, 1901 to November 2nd, 1901, the Western New York Railway Historical Society is proud to induct Carl "Charles" Meyers also known as "Pan-American Charlie" onto the Roll of Honor, Wall of Fame for his contribution to our regions railroad history and heritage.

        Carl "Charles" Meyers, more commonly know as Charles Meyers was born in Tonawanda, New York in 1860. He began his railroad career a few months before he turned 15 in 1875, working under his father, a section foreman for the New York Central Railroad. Young Charles must have been bitten by the railroad bug as he followed in his father's footsteps with a career spanning 51 years. The elder Mr. Meyers was with the railroad for 48 years retiring at age 70.

        In 1878 Charles married Emma Jane Ball of Lockport and they subsequently settled in the City of Buffalo. Their marriage was blessed with three daughters and four sons, and like their father and grandfather, three of the sons also had careers with the New York Central Railroad

        Charles Meyers advanced to the position of passenger brakeman in 1879. When he started "Braking" there was no such thing as "air brakes" and all braking was done by hand, a very hazardous and dangerous job. His first run was to Lockport, New York out of the Erie Street Station in Buffalo. That same year he had the honor to be part of the crew on the first train train to come out of the Exchange Street Depot onto newly laid track across the Terrace providing a direct connection to the Niagara Falls line which formerly terminated at the Erie Street Depot. Engineer Frank Hammond was at the throttle of old NYC #151.

        While officially employed as a brakeman, he would get into the cab and learn about the job of fireman. In 1889 Charles became and engineer running trains between Buffalo and Suspension Bridge and also to East Buffalo and Black Rock, New York. For 12 years he was an obscure figure doing what he loved to do, that being a railroad engineer.

        Thje Pan-American Exposition opened in Buffalo, New York in May of 1901. Charles Meyers earned the nickname "Pan-American Charlie" from the many special excursion trains and private cars which he broght to the Exposition Depot over the Belt Line of the New York Central.

        President McKinley was shot on September 6th, 1901 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Suddenly, an obscure New York Central Railroad engineer was swept into the limelight. President McKinley was placed on a stretcher and taken by electric ambulance from the Temple of Music to the Elmwood Avenue gate where the tiny PanAmerican Exposition Hospital stood. Staffed by interns, senior medical students, and a half a dozen nurses on rotation, its meager equipment was not designed for major abdominal surgery. The President had a strong pulse and could have been taken to Buffalo General Hospital, but a surgeon had to be found to perform the operation. The first choice was Dr. Roswell Park, one of the worlds eminent surgeon's at the time and also the Chief Medical Director of the Exposition. But, he was in Niagara Falls, New York, performing surgery on another patient. He tried to get back to Buffalo as soon as the surgery was completed.

        When he arrived at the Falls Railroad station, he was disappointed to find no special train ready for him and he was forced to wait until the next Michigan Central train pulled in from Detroit, Michigan.

        He boarded it, alighting at Black Rock (in northwest Buffalo) where, a special engine (with Charles Meyers at the throttle) took him directly to the Exposition grounds in the locomotive cab.1

        As they could not wait, the operation on President McKinley had been performed by Dr. Matthew D. Mann assisted by Dr. Herman Mynter.  Dr. Park arrived just before the conclusion of the operation. Other physicians in attendance were Drs. P.M. Rixey (the Presidents personal physician), Eugene Wasdin, and E.W. Lee. You know the rest of the story regarding the President!

        For an extensive look at how the railroads of Western New York played a vital role in the 1901 PanAmerican Exposition, please vist our  WNY History Pages - The PanAmerican Expo 1901-2001.

        Charles Meyers continued in his employment as a New York Central engineer for another twenty-five years retiring in April, 1926 operating express and passenger trains, mostly in the Buffalo region. During the 51 years of service, Mr. Meyer's had kept his record clean of accidents, and in that time he had never hurt or killed anyone!2

        After his retirement, he and his wife took up residence in Olcott, New York, and when his wife died, he made his home with one of his daughters. Carl "Charles" Meyers, "Pan-American Charlie" passed away on July 19th, 1937 from heart disease and is interned at Lakeview Cemetery in Olcott, New York.3


1. Alder, Selig. "For the First Time - All the Facts in Effort to Save McKinley's Life" Buffalo Evening News, March, 1963
2. "Pan-American Charlie" Quits Locomotive After 51 Years!" Buffalo Evening News, April 1926, pg.20
3. ""Pan-American Charlie" Dies", Buffalo Courier-Express, 19 July 1937.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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By: Rick Henn
         Edward John Haley was born in Niagara Falls, New York on March 26, 1852 to Edward Haley and Sarah Haney. Both of his parents had come to the United States from Ireland between 1847 and 1850. Edward John Haley was the oldest of five children, the others being Michael, Mary, Peter and David. Mr. Haley married Mary Anne Harringer in Buffalo and they also had five children, Edward Leo, Sarah R., Frances M., Agnes M. and Dorothy E.

        Edward John Haley began his railroading career in 1869 as an engine wiper in the New York Central's Niagara Falls roundhouse. After nine months he was moved to the machine shop where he worked for the next two years. He started in engine service as a fireman in 1872 and was promoted to engineer in 1879. For eleven years he ran a local freight on the Falls road out of Niagara Falls to Rochester. The newspaper article in The Post-Standard of Syracuse notes that the Falls road was only a single track railroad at that time. We know that it was later double tracked for many years before being reduced to a single track again. In 1895 Mr. Haley was promoted to a passenger engineer by Charles Hogan of #999 speed record fame. At this time Charles Hogan was a master mechanic. Before his career ended Mr. Haley would also sit at the throttle of #999. For more than fourteen years he handled the Empire State Express between Buffalo and Syracuse and he had the honor of taking the first eastbound Twentieth Century Limited from Buffalo to Syracuse.

        On March 30, 1922 Mr. Haley made his last run. He brought the Empire State Express from Syracuse to an on time arrival in Buffalo. Throngs of coworkers and officials turned out in both Syracuse and Buffalo to celebrate his last run and wish Mr. Haley well on his retirement. Charles Hogan was present when Mr. Haley arrived in Buffalo. Mr. Haley was also congratulated by men who had been regular passengers on the Empire State Express for many of the years he was at the throttle. A surprise party and supper was held for Mr. Haley at Bick's Hall at Eagle and Hickory streets where there were speeches and gifts from local New York Central officials. Mr. Haley retired to his home and family at 122 Russell Avenue in Buffalo after 52 years of service and a clean record. He was 70 years old.

        An interesting side note to this was the fact that the engineer who brought Mr. Haley's last train into Syracuse from Albany, Mr. James Lock, was also making his last run on the same day. They had time to wish each other well before they headed off to retirement.

        Mr. Haley's only son, Edward Leo Haley, also worked for the railroads, was a chief civil engineer for the Burlington at the time of his death and may have worked for the New York Central in his youth. His son, Edward John Haley, was a noted rail historian, author and photographer in Colorado.

        Maybe the next time we run an excursion over the Falls Road RR we should look and listen to see if Mr. Haley and his local are waiting in the hole for us to pass. However, I think it is more likely that we would find him by standing along the mainline between Buffalo and Syracuse in the wee hours of the morning to see him go by at the throttle of that first Twentieth Century Limited. Be sure to wave.

        I wish to thank Mr. Edward R. Haley for making Mr. Haley's application to the Roll of Honor and for the family information, newspaper articles and photographs that were used in writing this article. Edward R. Haley is the great grandson of Edward John Haley.

         If you would like to honor one of your friends or relatives who work or have worked on a railroad, or even for any of the industries that supplied the railroads, please print out this Roll of Honor Application.  It's a great way to remember and distinguish their part of railway history!

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