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Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad: Wikis

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The Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad (FJ&G) was a thirty five mile steam and electric interurban railroad that connected its namesake towns in east central New York State to Schenectady, New York. It had a successful and profitable transportation business from 1905 until the late 1920s carrying workers, salesmen, and executives of the very large number of glove manufacturing companies in the area to the New York Central (NYC) station at Schenectady. From here they could catch trains south to New York City or west to Chicago. It also handled freight and had freight interchange with both the NYC and the Delaware and Hudson railroads. Passenger buiness declined starting before the Depression and particularly during it. Following a determined and expensive effort to recapture passenger business by acquiring five ultra modern new interurban cars in 1932, the FJ&G abandoned passenger service in 1936. Freight business continued under Delaware-Otsego Railroad management.

Contents

History and Route

The FJ&G was formed in 1890 as a steam railroad. Much, but not all, of its route was electrified in 1910. Branch lines remained in steam. Gloversville, named after the many glove companies in the area (237 in 1905), was at the northern end of the electrified FJ&G. A steam branch continued north from Gloversville to Lake Sacandaga and had good tourism business in the summer. The FJ&G ran south from Gloversville to Johnstown, then eastward along the Mohawk River to Amsterdam, then to Scioto on the west bank of the Hudson across from Schenectady, and then across its own bridge into downtown Schenectady where it terminated in front of the NYC station.

Acquisition of Bullet Cars

In the late 1920s, ridership was declining, and FJ&G management concluded by 1932 that reequipping the passenger car fleet would reverse matters even though the Depression had been underway since 1930. In 1932 at considerable expense, five lightweight, fast, comfortable, and power efficient Bullet interurban cars were purchased from J G Brill Co. of Philadelphia.[1][2] The bright orange FJ&G interurbans ran hourly into Schenectady where they terminated in front of the NYC station. Ridership did initially improve with operation of the new Bullet cars, but increased auto ownership, improved paved roads, the deepening of the Depression, and further decline in the glove business brought on another ridership reversal and eventual passenger service abandonment. The first sale of the unique Bullet cars by Brill had been to the Philadelphia and Western. The second and last sale was to the FJ&G. See the website below for excellent photographs of the unique Bullet cars.

Passenger Service Abandonment

The Great Depression deepened and glove and fine leather manufacturing in Gloversville and Johnstown declined. The FJ&G's Hudson River bridge, which once had carried pedestrians and cars as well as trolleys, had been damaged ten years earlier by river ice. It was finally condemned by New York State in 1935 as too dangerous for any public transport. With that, interurban service now had to terminate at Scioto across the Hudson from Schenectady. This led to a further decline in ridership. Passenger service was abandoned in 1936, and the successful Bullet cars eventually went to the Bamberger Railroad interurban in Utah.[1][3]

Freight Business and Purchase by Delaware Otsego

Following abandonment of passenger service by the Bullet cars, freight business continued, but it was not considerable. Declining traffic caused the line to close after 104 years of private ownership in January 1974. The Delaware Otsego Corporation acquired the line in 1974. After a decade of declining traffic, the last train is operated in May 1984. One last train traveled the line collecting any equipment left on the dormant line in 1988. The right of way was turned into a recreational trail soon after abandonment.

Notes

  1. ^ a b Middleton: Technology of Bullet and lightweight interurban cars, p419. Brill Bullet car purchase by little known interurban FJ&G, p94. Bullet cars sold to the Bamberger Railroad in Utah in 1938 where they operated successfully eighteen more years, p94; p246, text and photographs.
  2. ^ Hilton: Technology improvements in interurban cars, pp208–230.
  3. ^ Swett: Operation of former FJ&G Brill built Bullet cars on the Bamberger Railroad of Utah: entire publication.

References

  • Middleton, Wm. D. The Interurban Era, 432pp. Kalmbach Publishing, Milwaukee, WI, 1961, reissue 2000. (ISBN 0-8092-4003-5. Library of Congress 61-10728.)
  • Hilton, George, and Due, John. The Electric Interurban Railways in America, 408 pp, Stanford University Press, Pala Alto, CA. 1962, reissue 2008. (ISBN 0-8047-4014-3)
  • Swett, Ira. Interurbans of Utah, Special #4, Interurbans Press, Glendale, CA. 1944.
  • History of Jewett, Cincinnati Car Company, Wason, and J G Brill Company (Brill constructed the Bullet cars for FJ&G.) (add publisher information)
  • CERA: Bulletin #127. From Bullets to BART, 132pp. Central Electric Railfans Association, Chicago, Il. 1989.
  • Decker, Randy. The Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville: The Sacandaga Route to the Adirondacks 128pp. Arcadia Publishing, 2002. (ISBN 9780738556697)
  • Larner, Paul. Our Railroad: History of the Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville Railroad, St. Albans, VT.

External links

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