• BR&P in Warsaw, NY

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Otto Vondrak
Riding home from Buffalo the other day, took the scenic route home on Route 20A. Stopped off to investigate the stations in Warsaw, since I've never stopped to look. Was pleasantly surprised to find the Warsaw passenger station largely intact, with a new roof, and used for storage by R&S. Aside from some scrawls of graffitti, it didn't look too much different from the B&O days. According to "Existing Stations" web site, it was built in 1904. The site also listed a freight house located on Main Street, so we went looking for it. Found it on the corner of Washington and Main Street, a large brick building with a Spanish tile roof. Built 1912 according to "ES." I was puzzled since the freight house was located "down in the valley" along Main Street while the main line was high up above. It was hard to pick out any evidence of tracks leading to the freight house, but I imagined that with the later build date, the freight house was built along Main Street so that you wouldn't have to haul your wagon/truck up a steep hill to meet the trains. I imagined they built a branch, but I was hard pressed to see where the tracks would have come in. Consulting some old topo maps, I see that not only was it a branch, but it was a switchback! The branch also served a couple of customers near the Washington Street freight house as well. So my questions:

1) Am I correct about the branch down to Main St. being built after the fact to better serve the town?

2) When was the branch pulled up?

  by Otto Vondrak
Photos of the structures in question. They are in relatively good shape for being 100 years old! The freight house has an office section facing Washington Street end, and it looked darn near original inside (peeking through the windows).

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  by thebigham
I walked the switchback circa 1986-1988. The tracks were still in place. I'm not sure why I didn't take any pics.
  by Otto Vondrak
thebigham wrote:I walked the switchback circa 1986-1988. The tracks were still in place. I'm not sure why I didn't take any pics.
Wow, so that would mean the tracks remained in place right up to the G&W era! Thanks for that bit of info!

  by BR&P
Same story as everywhere else - years ago there used to be a lot of traffic there. :(

There were enough customers to warrant the track down there. Mike Z's BR&P Volume I lists Warsaw Elevator Co, a knitting mill, a pipe organ outfit, a manufacturer of concrete pipe, and several salt companies. The branch was 1.1 miles long. There were also 2 industries up along the main, W.M. Moody coal, and Roberts Brothers Flouring Mill (again quoting Mike's fine reference).

Warsaw was the scene of a nasty wreck in March 1932, when a Rochester-bound passenger train ate up the rear of a freight in a heavy snowstorm. The passenger engineer was killed, the caboose was demolished as were several cars.
  by Old & Weary
I believe actual service on the branch ended sometime in the late Fifties. The knitting mill was on the opposite side of town and didn't have a siding. Warsaw elevator quit using rail service and the salt mines were north and south of the village from a very early time. One was located up on the Erie. There was not much left in town needing rail. The branch leading up to the mainline connection south of town is visible among the trees but is difficult to see from Route 19 unless there is some snow.
  by jr
My late Dad (from nearby Perry) rode the switcher down the switchbacks several times. He said that on one occasion (at least), the train got away from them, and they put the locomotive's tender up on an earthen "bumper". They had to get an engine off of a road freight to pull the tender back onto track.

Dad was an eyewitness to the immediate aftermath of the wreck described by BR&P (above). I have audio recording of him describing what happened - he knew most of the crewmembers that were involved, so he was able to get a lot of details. This recording, by the way, was due, in part, to encouragement / inspiration by Mr. BR&P to make audio recordings like this (Thank you again).

I believe that there was also a rather successful lantern manufacturer (Embury, I think?) located right near the freight house. A larger manufacturer (possibly Dietz?) bought them out and later closed the plant.

  by BR&P
JR, glad you were able to record your Dad's stories. I certainly wish I had done so with more of the old-timers I knew. And while there IS an ICC wreck report on that Warsaw crash, it does not give crew names. The passenger engineer who was killed was Joe Wolfe but I never did know who the conductor of the freight was. If you have a name I'd be interested in learning it. And that wreck destroyed caboose BR&P 271 which was a sister to the one at Industry.

As long as we're talking about Warsaw, here's an excerpt from my interview with Stephen Gilboy:
But there was a lot of things happened, in those days. I know one night when I was in the dispatchers' office; the local was switching in Warsaw. The operator called in all excited to the dispatcher, I was working there, and said Jerry Doody, the conductor, just had both legs cut off. The dispatcher immediately cleared the track of all trains, they hooked an engine onto a caboose, and I suppose all records from Warsaw to St. Mary's Hospital (Rocheser) were broken getting him in. A doctor came along, and he was cut right off short. By golly they saved his life and he lived to be an old man. He had two sons, and they bought a milk route. The boys run it, and Jerry lived to be well up in old age. That was about 1910 or 1911. [NOTE: According to May 1914 issue of BR&P Employees Magazine, the incident happened May 9th, 1913, and Doody was a flagman]
  by jr
BR&P wrote:I never did know who the conductor of the freight was. If you have a name I'd be interested in learning it.
Dad did not give the conductor's name, unfortunately. However, he did say that John Breen was the engineer on the freight. He said that after the wreck, they held the Perry crew on duty, and sent them back out to put steam heat on the passenger cars. After they coupled on, they stalled in the snow, and were unable to move the cars back from the wreck. Later the wrecker from Salamanca arrived with two more engines. They chose to couple-on hard, thinking that if they didn't, they would also be stuck. They did break everything loose from the snow. While backing away from the wreck, the snow was rolling back over the top of the tender of the wrecker engine.

Your story from Steve Gilboy was very similar to one that I heard Sam Stewart (BR&P engineer) tell to my Dad and me. There was a guy from Salamanca who was badly injured somewhere up North (not sure whether it was Buffalo or Rochester side). They knew the guy was in bad shape, so they put together an engine and coach in Salamanca to take the guy's wife to be with him. They apparently did succeed in getting them together before he died. Those guys seemed hold the BR&P in very high regard, particularly in comparison to the B&O.

  by AbandonedRailroader
Hope this can help. You can see the siding south of 20A then dropping down the hill to the industrial siding and then over Oatka Creek to the frieght house. Very cool
  by RussNelson
Pretty much every railroad bed that was ever built, and a few that were never operated, is in OpenStreetMap (because I put them there. Don't have the same expectation for any other state). Here is the lower leg of the switchback: http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/146061579" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by charlie6017
I was out the last couple days chasing 28N from Attica to Silver Springs with the LV heritage
unit, so I made a side stop in Warsaw to check out the depot -- which I had never seen in person
before. Depot basically looks the same as Otto's shots three years previous. There was a car there,
I hope whoever owns it has plans to maintain or improve. Still has a lot of potential!

There are three ex-Erie boxcars sitting on side-tracks, anyone know what the story is with those? Looks
like they have been sitting there for many years. Sorry for the dark pics, it was pretty late in the day
by the time I arrived at the depot.

  by thebigham
^Probably just used for storage.
  by mkirsch
Whatever's in those cars has probably been in there a long long time. They were there 35 years ago.
  by 1Loran
I believe that the Warsaw Depot at the top or Rochester St is still owned and used by R&S. Just recently the old wooden freight ramp was removed from het SW side of the building. That building has great memories for me, as my Grandfather worked out of that station from 1912 to 1953. He lived halfway down Rochester St and would walk to work each day. He used to take me as a child to the station and tell me stories about the big derailments there and in Rock Glen. His name was Joseph Saggese and he lived in Warsaw until 1965.