The FJ&G Railroad - history

Railroads in the Adirondacks
In the early 1900's there were many railroads in the Adirondacks. They served the mining and lumbering industries, transported goods and provided access to camps and resorts. Some lines existed for a very short time and were designed and built as such while others have survived till the present time. Several defunct lines have been revived recently in a different form - as tourist attractions. A great on-line source of information on existing stations and their present status as railroad hubs, can be found on the web. A comprehensive time-line and map of rail transport in the Adirondacks was assembled by Jane Mackintosh for the 2002 Adirondack Railroad Conference in Blue Mountain Lake.

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FJ&G Railroad
On June 16, 1867 the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville (FJ&G) railroad was incorporated with a capital stock of 300,000. Willard J. Heacock who had been a leader in promoting the railroad sentiment, was appointed president. On November 29, 1870 the first puffing, snorting wood-burning railroad engine pulling a train of passengers and freight rumbled into Gloversville. It was the beginning of a road system that had Fonda, Gloversville and Broadalbin as its terminals. The New York Central and Hudson Railroad already existed when the line from Fonda to Johnstown and Gloversville was completed in 1870. Business owners from the Northville and Mayfield area then initiated the financing and construction of the 16-mile track section from Gloversville into Northville. This line was completed in 1875. Depots were built in Mayfield, Cranberry Creek, Sacandaga Park and Northville. The entire operation was taken over by the FJ&G through bankruptcy in 1881 and called the "Northern Division". By the late 1880's , the FJ&G railroad owned 7 locomotives, 9 passenger coaches, 3 express & baggage cars, and 30 box and platform freight cars. In 1888, two large passenger stations were built in Gloversville and Johnstown. A number of freight and storage structures were built along the line, including a comprehensive locomotive repair shop in Gloversville. The addition of the section to Broadalbin, with a station in Vail Mills, completed a total of 32 miles for the FJ&G Steam Division. In 1894 the FJ&G merged with its regional competitor, the Cayadutta Electric Railroad. The latter then operated as the FJ&G's Electric Division. This division was powered from a large steam-powered electric generating plant in Tribes Hill. An "Amsterdam Division" was acquired in 1901. In 1903 FJ&G completed a double-track line from Johnstown to Amsterdam and on through the Mohawk Valley to Scotia, crossing the Mohawk River into Schenectady. After a disastrous accident that killed 14 people, the FJ&G acquired in 1904 the Mountain Lake electric railroad; it connected to a resort area north of Gloversville. This ended the railroad's expansion, with a combined Electric and Steam Division railroad bed of 132 miles. It was the height of the "short line" era and FJ&G set a standard for quality and luxury as it further expanded into the resort business through its Sacandaga Park amusement park and resort.

FJ&G's General Office Staff - early 1900's.
4th from right is J. Ledlie Hees, President

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How it ended
It was after the First World War that the railroads started to feel the competition from the automobile. Unlike the privately owned railroad beds, tax dollars were used to improve the roadways throughout the nation. Everyone was enjoying the new freedom - it was the end of the railroad monopoly. Steam power was costly and was gradually replaced by electric and also gasoline-powered trains. The highly profitable Northern Division to Northville and the Sacandaga Park Resort was lost when the lake was flooded in 1930; it was replaced by a bus service. The Electric Division to Broadalbin was abandoned in 1938. In 1945 the FJ&G became one of the first railroads to use diesel power; these engines continued to serve the dwindling rail transportation needs for 40 more years. The beautiful passenger station in Gloversville burned in 1969 and the remaining assets of the FJ&G were sold to the Delaware & Otsego (D&O) System in 1974. The D&O freight trains ran till 1984. The remaining rail bed was removed in 1990. Parts of the old right-of-way now enjoy a new interest from bikers, walkers and in-line skaters in the form of the Fulton County Rail Trail. For more details on the FJ&G, see Gino's RailPage.

© sacandaga station