Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad

The Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad was formed in 1867 as a steam railroad. The first train ran in 1870 from Fonda to Gloversville. Gloversville, named after the many glove companies in the area (237 in 1905), was at the northern end of the FJ&G for a few years before the railroad was pushed north by business owners. The Gloversville and Northville Railroad went from northern Gloversville through Mayfield and Cranberry Creek to Northville which became its permanent terminus. In the later 19th century Broadalbin made a connection with the FJ&G at Broadalbin Junction where trains could head east to Vail Mills and Broadalbin. The Gloversville and Broadalbin as well as the Gloversville and Northville railroads were eventually acquired by the Fonda Johnstown and Gloversville. The Fonda Johnstown and Gloversville was itself acquired by the Cayadutta Electric Railroad and both of these lines assumed the name of the FJ&G for the remainder of their lives.

Across the Sacandaga River from Northville was the village of Sacandaga Park, which had become a favorite place for vacationers. The area offered a variety of accommodations, including the then-elegant Adirondack Inn, cabins and tent sites. There were beaches on the nearby Sacandaga River, and numerous amusements and rides, including a miniature train ride. Numerous FJ&G passengers detrained at Northville and continued on by horsedrawn hack or stage to Adirondack destinations to the north, including Wells, Lake Pleasant and Pesico. It was truly the "Gateway to the Adirondacks." By 1930, the State of New York had completed construction of a dam in the Sacandaga River at Conklingville, "to regulate the waters of the river", creating the Great Sacandaga Lake. The regulation was said to be needed to aid the water volume of the Hudson River to help ocean-going freighters use the Port of Albany. This flooded a large area, displacing many residents and covering many of the tracks of the FJ&G RR. A priceless photo of the era shows engine number 8 pulling a work crew, riding on top of the rising water as it covered the rails, on the last train out of Cranberry Creek. After the cutoff of the rail lines to Northville, (there were paved roads and lots of automobiles by that point), the bulk of the FJ&G's passenger service was solely by trolley on the interurban lines connecting with Fonda, Amsterdam and Schenectady.

Acquisition of Bullet Cars

After World War I, ridership started to decline on both the steam and electric divisions. The steam line acquired gas powered cars to take patrons to the Sacandaga Park in the early 1920s and FJ&G management concluded by 1932 that reequipping the passenger car fleet on the electric line would reverse matters even though the Depression had been underway since 1930. In 1932 at considerable expense, five lightweight, fast, comfortable, and power efficient Brill Bullet interurban cars were purchased from J. G. Brill and Company of Philadelphia. The bright orange FJ&G interurbans ran hourly into Schenectady where they looped around Crescent Park. 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. The first sale of the unique Bullet cars by Brill had been to the Philadelphia and Western Railroad. The second and last sale was to the FJ&G. One of the FJ&G's five Bullet cars has made its way (via Salt Lake City's Bamberger Railway) to the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California, where it is being restored. It still has its bright orange FJ&G paint. As late as the 1950s, FJ&G RR still made a daily passenger run to the village of Broadalbin, a single wood-clad 1880s vintage coach—usually with zero to two passengers—pushed or dragged by a Diesel switching locomotive. It was said that this was done to maintain the railroad's charter.

Passenger Service Abandonment

The Great Depression deepened and glove and fine leather manufacturing in Gloversville and Johnstown declined. The FJ&G's Mohawk River bridge had been damaged ten years earlier by river ice and was finally condemned by New York State in 1935 as too dangerous for any public transport. It had carried pedestrians and cars as well as the FJ&G trolleys. The interurban cars now no longer ran into Schenectady and looped to reverse direction at Crescent Park. The FJ&G was forced to go back to using older interurbans that could reverse operating direction without having to turn around. In 1938, the FJ&G decided to abandon the entire electric car service and shut the line down. The Bullet cars eventually went to the Bamberger Railroad interurban in Utah. What had once been a 45-minute trolley ride from Schenectady to Gloversville now took 90 minutes or longer by motorbus.

Freight Business, Purchase by Delaware Otsego, and Decline

As the next few decades passed following the abandonment of passenger service, freight business continued. With the collapse of the leather business and other industry leaving, traffic declined to the point of the FJ&G closing down after 104 years of private ownership in January 1974. The Delaware Otsego Corporation acquired the line in 1974, but after only a decade of ownership the Delaware Otsego System abandoned the line in 1984.

Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad

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