" The train that built Waverly"
It was a day of much excitement in the summer of 1849 when the first train of the New York and Erie R.R. arrived at " Loder's Summit " (the temporary station near the Waverly Hill narrows ) The event was a long time in the making since ground was first broken for the right of way near Deposit, N.Y. on Nov. 7, 1835.
The early days of the Erie had been fraught with financial and construction problems of great magnitude, but there was one man who deserves much of the credit for finally completing the railroad as visioned.
When Benjamin Loder became president of the Erie on August 15, 1845 the rails had been placed only as far as Middletown, N.Y. a distance of 56 miles from the railhead at Piermont on the Hudson River. He was a wealthy man of 43, and retired, after a successful career in the dry goods business. One would hardly believe this qualified him to build a railroad but the troubled road needed a fund raiser and he was just the man for the job.
By October of 1845, he had been able to obtain 3 million dollars in subscriptions - hopefully enough to complete the line through to Dunkirk, N.Y. on Lake Erie. He had so much faith in this enterprise that he subscribed a quarter million dollars of his own wealth.
The new president was continually on the move in the interests of the Erie - by rail as far as they went, then on horseback or foot over uncompleted portions of the right of way.
"Loder Summit" was the end of the line for a short time while a difficult rock cut was made into the side of Waverly Hill. The 100th Anniversary brochure published for Waverly's Centennial had a photo of the temporary station located here. It was near the Isaac Shepard House on River Road, now the residence of the Richard Coleman family ( By 2000 this home is destroyed in favor of a trailer home )
Nearby is the Indian Spring, the waters of which were piped along the rail line and Broad St. to a stone water tower near the permanent station at Fulton St. This 4" cast iron pipe was abandoned after the Village "water works" was completed in 1890. The Coleman Home is still supplied by water from this spring through a portion of the old main. "Ben" Loder and his men had a hand in all this work during their stay at the "Summit"
As the New York and Erie grew so did Waverly, and one can see the great change that took place there by comparing maps made in 1835 and 1869. The early map shows only 2 mainline tracks, but 16 years later there was a vast system of switching yards and the Lehigh Valley had a connection here with its line from Towanda. A count of the number of buildings in each of these years showed a growth hardly equaled in any other 16 year period.
Mail and passenger trains, coal and miscellaneous freight trains made the Erie Yards at Waverly a scene of unbelievable activity 100 years ago. Travelers could board fast and comfortable trains for New York City or to Chicago in the West ( the Erie had access to Chicago in 1880 ) The coal traffic from Pennsylvania mines over the Lehigh brought a large amount of revenue to the Erie.
For a number of years the Erie tracks were spaced wide gauge at 6 feet while that of other roads were standard at 4 feet 8 ½ inches. A third rail had to be installed eventually on the entire system to harmonize with connecting roads. This was expensive when the Erie finally converted to standard gauge in 1880.
Factoryville finally had a railroad and station when in 1871 the Ithaca and Athens line was completed. This road became a part of the Lehigh in 1899. South Waverly also had its railroad - the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western about 1882.
Today the D.L.& W. is gone and the Erie and Lehigh but a shadow of what they were in the past. Passenger service ended in November 1966.
The steam engine meant the downfall of the stage coach lines and probably the automobile, motor truck and super-highway caused the demise of the railroad. In any case we can reflect on what the Erie did for Waverly 125 years ago.
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Ernie Miles...... This page was updated Wednesday, 26-Mar-2008 06:53:10 PDT.