|Certificate Type||Gold Bond
New York Central Railroad Company
|Date Issued||August 1, 1853
|Notable||Signed by Erastus Corning
||12" (w) by 8" (h)|
|Product Images||Show the exact certificate you will receive
|The New York Central Railroad was headquartered in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts and much of New England and in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec. Its primary connections included Chicago and Boston. Grand Central Terminal in New York City is one of its best known extant landmarks.
In 1968 the NYC merged with its former rival, the Pennsylvania Railroad, to form Penn Central (the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad joined in 1969). That company soon went bankrupt and was taken over by the federal government and merged into Conrail in 1976. Conrail was broken up in 1998, and much of its system was transferred to the newly-formed New York Central Lines LLC, a subsidiary of CSX. That company's lines include the original New York Central main line, but outside that area it includes lines that were never part of the NYC system. The famous Water Level Route of the NYC, from New York City to upstate New York, was the first four-track long-distance railroad in the world.
Pre-New York Central: 1826-1853
The oldest part of the NYC was the first permanent railroad in the state of New York and one of the first railroads in the United States. The Mohawk and Hudson Railroad was chartered in 1826 to connect the Mohawk River at Schenectady to the Hudson River at Albany, providing a way for cargo on steamboats to avoid the Erie Canal. The Mohawk and Hudson opened on September 24, 1831, and changed its name to the Albany and Schenectady Railroad on April 19, 1847.
The Utica and Schenectady Railroad was chartered April 29, 1833; as the railroad paralleled the Erie Canal it was prohibited from carrying freight. Revenue service began August 2, 1836, extending the line of the Albany and Schenectady Railroad west from Schenectady along the north side of the Mohawk River, opposite the Erie Canal, to Utica. On May 7, 1844 the railroad was authorized to carry freight with some restrictions, and on May 12, 1847 the ban was fully dropped, but the company still had to pay the equivalent in canal tolls to the state.
The Syracuse and Utica Railroad was chartered May 1, 1836 and similarly had to pay the state for any freight displaced from the canal. The full line opened July 3, 1839, extending the line further to Syracuse via Rome (and further to Auburn via the already-opened Auburn and Syracuse Railroad). This line was not direct, going out of its way to stay near the Erie Canal and serve Rome, and so the Syracuse and Utica Direct Railroad was chartered January 26, 1853. Nothing of that line was ever built, though the later West Shore Railroad, acquired by the NYC in 1885, served the same purpose.
The Auburn and Syracuse Railroad was chartered May 1, 1834 and opened mostly in 1838, the remaining 4 miles opening on June 4, 1839. A month later, with the opening of the Syracuse and Utica Railroad, this formed a complete line from Albany west via Syracuse to Auburn, about halfway to Geneva. The Auburn and Rochester Railroad was chartered May 13, 1836 as a further extension via Geneva and Canandaigua to Rochester, opening on November 4, 1841. The two lines later merged to form the rather indirect Rochester and Syracuse Railroad (known later as the Auburn Road). To fix this, the Rochester and Syracuse Direct Railroad was chartered and immediately merged into the Rochester and Syracuse. That line opened June 1, 1853, running much more directly between those two cities, roughly parallel to the Erie Canal.
To the west of Rochester, the Tonawanda Railroad was chartered April 24, 1832 to build from Rochester to Attica. The first section, from Rochester southwest to Batavia, opened May 5, 1837, and the rest of the line to Attica opened on January 8, 1843. The Attica and Buffalo Railroad was chartered in 1836 and opened on November 24, 1842, running from Buffalo east to Attica. When the Auburn and Rochester Railroad opened in 1841, there was no connection at Rochester to the Tonawanda Railroad, but with that exception there was now an all-rail line between Buffalo and Albany. On March 19, 1844 the Tonawanda Railroad was authorized to build the connection, and it opened later that year. The Albany and Schenectady Railroad bought all the baggage, mail and emigrant cars of the other railroads between Albany and Buffalo on February 17, 1848 and began operating through cars.
Two years later, the Tonawanda Railroad and Attica and Buffalo Railroad merged to form the Buffalo and Rochester Railroad. A new direct line opened from Buffalo east to Batavia on April 26, 1852, and the old line between Depew (east of Buffalo) and Attica was sold to the Buffalo and New York City Railroad on November 1. The line was added to the New York and Erie Railroad system and converted to the Erie's 6 foot broad gauge.
The Schenectady and Troy Railroad was chartered in 1836 and opened in 1842, providing another route between the Hudson River and Schenectady, with its Hudson River terminal at Troy.
The Lockport and Niagara Falls Railroad was chartered in 1834 to build from Lockport on the Erie Canal west to Niagara Falls; it opened in 1838. Later, it was reorganized as the Rochester, Lockport and Niagara Falls Railroad, and an extension east to Rochester opened on July 1, 1852.
The Buffalo and Lockport Railroad was chartered April 27, 1852 to build a branch of the Rochester, Lockport and Niagara Falls from Lockport towards Buffalo. It opened in 1854, running from Lockport to Tonawanda, where it joined the Buffalo and Niagara Falls Railroad, opened 1837, for the rest of the way to Buffalo.
In addition to the Syracuse and Utica Direct, another never-built company, the Mohawk Valley Railroad, was chartered January 21, 1851 and reorganized December 28, 1852, to build a railroad on the south side of the Mohawk River from Schenectady to Utica, next to the Erie Canal and opposite the Utica and Schenectady. The West Shore Railroad was later built on that location.
Albany industrialist and Mohawk Valley Railroad owner Erastus Corning got the above railroads together into one system, and on March 17, 1853 they agreed to merge. The merger was approved by the state legislature on April 2, and ten of the remaining companies merged to form the New York Central Railroad on May 17, 1853. The following companies were consolidated into this system, including the main line from Albany to Buffalo:
The Rochester and Syracuse also owned the old alignment via Auburn, Geneva and Canandaigua, known as the "Auburn Road". The Buffalo and Rochester included a branch from Batavia to Attica, part of the main line until 1852. Also included in the merger were three other railroads:
|Erastus Corning, businessman and politician, was born in Norwich, Connecticut. Corning moved to Troy, New York at the age of 13 to clerk in the hardware store of an uncle; six years later he moved to Albany, New York, where he joined the mercantile business under James Spencer. After some time at Spencer's firm, Corning became a partner, and eventually the senior partner upon Spencer's death in 1824. Corning combined the Spencer firm with holdings he inherited from his uncle to form Erastus Corning & Company.
Erastus Corning & Company
Erastus Corning & Co. was much more than what modern readers think of as a hardware store. Corning bought and sold all manner of iron products, not merely tools and nails as one would expect but also stoves, farming equipment, and, eventually, rails and railroad iron parts and products. The company had a wharf and warehouse on the Hudson River in Albany, and the store itself served not only Albany and the surrounding towns, but hundreds of large customers from the west who visited Albany only two or three times a year to buy and sell products, restock their own supplies, and see what new was for sale. Corning's hardware store soon became one of the most significant businesses in Albany.
Corning was not content to run a hardware store, however, no matter how big the store might be. About the time he was consolidating his holdings into Erastus Corning & Co., he was also investing in banks and insurance companies. He purchased the Albany Rolling and Slitting Mill, renamed it the Albany Nail Factory, and used it to corner the market on numerous of the iron products he sold at his store. The Albany Nail Factory eventually became the Rensselaer Iron Works, which, under Corning's guidance, installed the first Bessemer converter in the United States.
By the time he was 40, Corning had helped found the Albany State Bank (he would serve as president until his death), been named to the board of the University of the State of New York, begun speculating on land in western New York (including the townsite that bears his name), and had gotten himself elected mayor of Albany. Corning served a single term as mayor, from 1834 until 1837, having been elected as a Democrat.
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