Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad

Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad

2 products

    Dubbed the "Chautauqua Lake Route", the single track 32-mile electric interurban provided frequent passenger and freight trolley service in the northern part of New York. From Jamestown, the route was west along the north edge of Chautauqua Lake with stops at Greenhurst, Bemus Point, Dewittville, and Mayville. After crossing the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) Chautauqua Branch at Mayville, the line climbed steep hills and passed through scenic "Hogsback Ravine" at the grade's summit. It then dropped down a very curvy route to Westfield. At Westfield, the line crossed under the Nickel Plate Railroad to reach its depot which was the west end of the New York Central Railroad (NYC) station. This passenger and freight interchange with the New York Central was essential to the line's financial health.

    A Jamestown, Westfield &Northwestern schedule from 1941 shows six daily trips 6am to 9pm, each way, three hours apart, to meet NYC passenger trains that stopped at Westfield. The trip to Jamestown took one hour. The JW&NW and the NYC interchanged considerable freight traffic as well as exchanged passengers.

    The JW&NW operated bright red heavy steel passenger interurban cars (including one with an observation platform) and interurban freight motors capable of pulling two or three freight cars. The NYC would set out cars on the Westfield interchange tracks to be taken to Jamestown, and the JW&NW would set out cars for the NYC to pick up. Jamestown had a significant furniture manufacturing industry. Wood and other materials necessary for furniture production went to Jamestown. Finished furniture went to Westfield to be picked up by the New York Central.

    At Mayville, the JW&NW crossed a branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad where JW&NW-PRR interchange tracks allowed PRR lumber and coal setouts routed to Jamestown. The JW&NW tower and dispatcher were at this junction. PRR and JW&NW control and signaling to prevent collisions (called interlocking) was the responsibility of the JW&NW tower. Dispatching orders for the conductors of the interurban cars was by written order, and the interurbans stopped here to pick them up. Passenger and freight business for the line was at its greatest in the 1920s.

    In a 1941 ad, the line offered two-day LCL (Less-than-carload freight) shipping to New York City from Jamestown, and three days to Chicago.

    The grade out of Westfield into the hills to reach the Jamestown valley was quite scenic, passing through Hogsback Ravine. However, the grade was steep, and the interurbans worked hard making the climb, particularly the electric powered freights. The 32-mile JW&NW represented classic small town-to-rural electric interurban operation similar to interurbans all over the 1920s United States.

    The sight of the large red steel interurbans lumbering by at grade crossings was a familiar one for years. Most interurban lines were abandoned during the 1930s due to increased car ownership and improving highways plus the impact of the Great Depression. The JW&NW's survival to 1947 was due to the amount of freight that it hauled to the New York Central for the many Jamestown factories.

    After passenger abandonment in 1947, the JW&NW continued freight operation with diesels, but gradually freight business declined along with Jamestown's industrial activity which for years had been primarily the manufacture of furniture. Shipping business also was lost to trucks. Total abandonment occurred in 1950.

    2 products
    Jamestown, Chautauqua and Lake Erie Railway Company Bond Certificate
    Jamestown, Chautauqua and Lake Erie Railway Company
    Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad Company Stock Certificate
    Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad Company Stock Certificate
    Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad Company
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