• "Mrs. Smith is a railroad"

  • 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 rhallock
Reading the New York State annual report of the Public Service Commission for 1923 I found the following oddity on page 817 under Pittsburg Shawmut and Northern Railroad Company.
"Mrs. Clara A.H.H. SMith, (owner, Rochester, HOrnellsville and Lackawanna Railroad). The railroad known as the Rochester, Hornellsville and Lackawanna railroad consists of a piece of track about ten miles long, without equipment or terminals. The title to it rests with Mrs. Clara A.H.H. Smith as legatee of Frank Sullivan Smith, formerly receiver of the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern Railroad Company. Frank Sullivan Smith acquired title to the road about 1893. The road was up until 1921 operated by the Pittsburg Shawmut and Northern Railroad Company under an informal lease agreement between that company and Frank Sullivan Smith, under the terms of which no rental was ever paid Mr. Smith for the use of his property; and the ten miles of track was shown in the annual report of the Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern Railroad Company as "leased road", no report ever being made by Mr. Smith during the time he was sole owner of the property. Now that a formal lease has been entered into and approved by the Commission, it has been ruled that Mrs. Smith is a "railroad corporation" as defined under the Public Service Commission Law, and required to file annual reports, which have been agreed would take the form of a brief verified statement. The lease which was executed and approved in 1921 from Clara A.H.H. Smith to The Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern Railroad Company provides for the payment by the latter of a rental of $3000 per annum."
The gist of this is that since the RH&L RR, had no formal organization or officers, it was ruled that the railroad and Mrs. Smith, its sole owner, were one and the same for legal purposes.
  by CPSmith
My grandparents were named Frank and Clara Smith. I'm sure it's just a coincidence since the years noted don't really work for me, but hey! Maybe I'm a rail baron and don't know it.

Any idea where this stretch of track was (is) ?
  by BR&P
Pietrak, page 13:

"In June of 1886 a railroad by the name of the Rochester Hornellsville & Lackawanna constructed a line from a point east of Canaseraga on the Lackawanna & Pittsburgh called Hornellsville Junction to Hornellsville, a distance of a little over 10 miles.This company was built by many of the same individuals that operated the L&P. They had their own locomotives and rolling stock but both railroads operated as one unit"

P12/13 states that in 1886 the L&P leased 3 locomotives - 21, 32 and 43. "The 43 was said to be Frank S. Smith's private locomotive".
  by BR&P
Looks like it started about 3 miles east of Canaseraga and went through Arkport on its way to present-day Hornell. IIRC, not TOO many years ago a very small segment of the former PS&N was still in use in Hornell. So CPS, maybe you need to dig out the top hat and long coat, and pay a visit to your empire! :wink:
  by CPSmith
On my way!
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  by BR&P
Excellent! :-D :-D :-D

Sadly, I went on Google Maps aerial views, and can't locate the spur I mentioned in Hornell. I was there in about 2008 and I suspect it has been removed in the time since. IIRC it was somewhere near what is shown as "Shawmut Park" so that would fit. So CPS, you dreams of driving a Corvette all over the country with your vast railroad earnings may not work out after all! :wink:
  by rhallock
That spur crossed Seneca St. near Adsit street. There was a scrap yard there in the 1970s which loaded its scrap into gondolas. The spur continued along the bank of the Canisteo River toward downtown Hornell. I think it was taken out in the 1980s or perhaps the 90s. I rode a couple fantrips on the Buffalo line but could never spot any trace of the PS&N roadbed along it, except for the fill which carried it over the Erie at Swains.
  by BR&P
My notes from that project are long gone unless on a backup drive somewhere, so I can't offer any more detail. I THINK there was still track there but it's possible I was only seeing where it used to be. It was obvious there was no traffic goldmine to be had, so exact details didn't stick with me.
  by BR&P
After flatly stating in the previous post that my notes from that project are gone, guess what I just found? (and was not even looking for it). Here's the page from the Conrail ZTS Map or whatever they call it. It shows as the Hornell Industrial Track.

My memory was correct that it USED to be there, but incorrect in saying it was still there when I investigated - the green shows tracks already removed. I WILL say it's possible that some rails remained at that time but the connection was gone, but bottom line is the branch was no longer accessible and obviously officially dead. But this will show what was recently there, and we can only imagine what glory CPSmith might have restored if he had only realized the extent of his family legacy sooner! :wink:

NOTE - The map itself and the list of industries were nicely printed in 2 different orientations. And I can't seem to make it look right, the computer keeps turning it back. But when I click on it to full size - at least in "preview" - it comes out right! So there it is for better or worse! :P
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  by CPSmith
No "manly mile" on that stretch, that's for sure ...
  by lvrr325
Maybe this is easier.

FWIW, you can still make out where it went with Google's satellite images. In fact if you go back to 2008 with Street View NY-21/36 shows freshly patched where the crossing was, although the rest of the track is already long gone. Appears the very end close to the EL main has been built over. Vanity Lane is now "William K Jackson Lane". it's obvious right up to where it comes to the river, any bridge traces are wiped out by flood control construction, but if you follow along the river there is a large saw-tooth roofed building with an obvious notch where a siding once was. Below that, good luck.
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Last edited by lvrr325 on Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  by charlie6017
I saved the map and flipped it, it seemed to work. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Thanks for sharing, DRB!

(edit -- I was beat to the punch. Buy one get one free) 🤪
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  by jr
I believe that after Mrs. Smith died (1934?), title for the "railroad" (or branch) passed to The American Red Cross.

  by nydepot
That hasn't crossed the Canisteo River since at least when the PS&N went out and possibly before. Maybe 1935.

When it was EL and then CR, it ended here:


When GE closed down and they took all the unused donor engines from GE to the scrap yard, soon after is when it went unused. So 1983-ish. I used to walk our dog at the time from over near that sawtooth building up to the existing track and all the way to the mainline. The switch was gone. I have the EL no trespassing sign at the Rt 36 crossing. The pole was in the middle of the track and had a pile of dirt mound up around it.
  by rhallock
Looking at Pietrak's book again, I read that Frank Sullivan Smith was described as a prominent citizen of Angelica and had been closely affiliated with the railroad starting when it was the narrow gauge Allegheny Central in 1881, until Mr. Smith died in late 1920. It was his dream to have Angelica connected to the outside world by rail and probably his doing that the railroad shops were in Angelica. In Hornell a map in the book shows the track ending close to where Main St. crossed the Canisteo River.