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Transportation

Traveling on roads in Oneida County 200 years ago was an adventure to be undertaken by only the strongest and sturdiest of pioneer, wagon and beast. The few roads that did exist in the 1780s were narrow trails filled with deep holes and ruts and made impassable by the slightest rainfall. As a result, by the time Oneida County was formed March 15, 1798, more than 90 percent of its inhabitants used rivers and other waterways, not roads, to move people and goods.

  • History of Transportation
  • Auto Industry
  • Erie Canal
  • Black River Canal
  • Riding the Rails
  • O&W Railrod
  • Trolleys

The History of Transportation in OneidaCounty


Tally Ho Coach in front of Bagg's Hotel, Utica


Erie Canal from Hotel Street, Utica

Black River Canal

Train Station, Bridgewater

Traveling on roads in Oneida County 200 years ago was an adventure to be undertaken by only the strongest and sturdiest of pioneer, wagon and beast. The few roads that did exist in the 1780s were narrow trails filled with deep holes and ruts and made impassable by the slightest rainfall. As a result, by the time Oneida County was formed March 15, 1798, more than 90 percent of its inhabitants used rivers and other waterways, not roads, to move people and goods.

New England families journeying to settle in Oneida County usually chose the Mohawk River and traveled in small boats ... heavier cargoes went by flat-bottomed boats designed for shallow waters ... until they reached Old Fort Schuyler (Utica) or “The Great Carry” near Fort Stanwix (Rome). Those who wanted to head west beyond Ft. Stanwix carried their boats from the river for a mile to Wood Creek and proceeded to Oneida Lake and from there to Lake Ontario and the other Great Lakes.

In 1800 New York State chartered the Seneca Turnpike Co. to build an improved road from Utica's Bagg's Square south to New Hartford and then west to Vernon and Oneida Castle ... along the course of today's Route 5. The turnpike made Utica the fastest-growing community in the region as it began to attract not only westbound travelers, but also permanent settlers who ran stagecoach companies and entrepreneurs eager to build hotels, taverns, blacksmith shops and wagon repair shops. The business of accommodating travelers became Utica's first major industry.

The county got its second turnpike in the early 1800s when the Great Western Turnpike was built through the towns of Sangerfield and Bridgewater along a path that Route 20 follows today. Turnpikes made traveling a bit more comfortable, but transporting heavy freight to and from the county was expensive and made the prices of goods produced in the region prohibitive in Eastern markets. That problem was solved by the Erie Canal.

When talk of building a canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie via the Mohawk Valley began in earnest, in about 1810, many powerful politicians opposed the project. Thomas Jefferson said, “Making a canal 350 miles through wilderness ... it is a little short of madness. Perhaps in 100 years.” But in 1815, the state Legislature prodded by political leader DeWitt Clinton voted to survey the route an Erie Canal would follow. Two years later, the survey concluded that the 363-mile canal could be built for $6 million. It eventually cost $7 million.

Clinton ... by then governor of the state ... decided that work on the 94-mile middle section of the canal from Utica west to the Seneca River would be completed first since the terrain was flat and the earth soft. That meant the greatest progress could be made in the shortest time thus silencing opponents.

A crowd gathered in the early morning of July 4, 1817 near Rome as ground was broken to signal the beginning of construction of the canal. Two years later, Oct. 22, 1819, the section between Utica and Rome was opened. Thousands cheered as the first boat to travel on the Erie ... the 60-foot “Chief Engineer of Rome” named for Benjamin Wright of Rome, who was the middle section's civil engineer ... left Rome for Utica towed by one horse.

When the canal was completed in 1825, it became an immediate success. Revenues poured in as 218,000 tons of freight were carried the first year. The cost of shipping cargo from Albany to Buffalo dropped from $100 to $7. The value of land along the canal increased greatly. And Utica and Rome became boom towns with Utica's population exploding in 1820-30 from 2,972 to 8,323 and Rome's from 3,569 to 4,360.

The county's population grew in that decade, too, from 50,997 to 71,326. Many of its new residents were Irish immigrants who helped to build the Erie. The success of the Erie prompted the building of two lateral canals in Oneida County: the Chenango in 1836 and the Black River, begun the same year. The Chenango ... from Binghamton to Utica ... came at an opportune time for Utica. It was converting its textile mills to steam power and needed coal from Pennsylvania to produce that steam. The Black River began in Rome and proceeded north to the Black River in Carthage.

The Erie was ideal for hauling freight, but hauling passengers was another matter. Packet boats were small and usually over­crowded. It's not surprising then that the Erie lost most of its passenger business in the early 1840s when the railroads came to town. The first railroad in the state was the Mohawk and Hudson between Albany and Schenectady. It opened in 1831. Five years later, the Utica and Schenectady began operations with six locomotives and 50 cars each with a 24-passenger capacity.

In 1839, the Utica and Syracuse was completed as were other short lines to the west. In 1853, Albany merchant Erastus Corning consolidated all the small rail­roads into the New York Central. Between 1850 and 1895, nearly a dozen smaller railroads originated in the county or passed through it ... including the West Shore. Farmers in Oneida County benefited greatly from the railroad, though, as they began to grow more and more crops for far­away markets.

Railroads weren't the only modes of transportation to use tracks. Since 1860, horse-drawn trolleys had been used throughout the county. In 1890, the Utica Belt Line began to use electric trolleys from the city to places like Clinton, Deerfield and Oriskany. Many thought: “Travel between communities can't get much better than trolleys.”

They were wrong, for at the turn of the century the automobile came to town. In April 1900, the Saturday Globe ran a photo of Dr. Willey L. Kingsley of Rome in his Locomobile runabout and identified him as the first Oneida County resident to own a horseless carriage. By 1901, so many others did that they formed the Automobile Club of Utica only one of nine such clubs in the United States. In 1902, representatives from Utica and the other eight clubs met in Chicago and formed the American Automobile Association.

The first half of the 20th century saw many changes in transportation in Oneida County. In 1914 New York Central opened its magnificent Union Station in Utica and made the city one of the largest freight centers in the country. The Erie Canal was closed and the larger Barge Canal was opened in 1918. In the second half of the century, the Oneida County Airport opened with Robinson Airlines inaugurating scheduled passenger service in 1950. And in 1954, the Thruway opened.

 

Automobiles the "Almost" Industry

Mott
Charles S. Mott at the wheel of his Utica-built Remington automobile, circa 1901
Francis Miller, center, and Harry Mundy, Utica's first car dealers, sit in a new Winton in front of their garage on Oneida Square in 1903.

When a small but enthusiastic group of Uticans, all owners of the then-new "horseless carriages," gathered together in 1898 to form a socially oriented motoring club, little did they envision that their early efforts would, at a later date, contribute so substantially to the founding and growth of the world's largest and most effective motoring organization, the American Automobile Association.

Naming their group the Automobile Club of Utica, they sought, and obtained, their corporate charter in 1901. Elected to the club's presidency that same year was Charles S. Mott, a local industrialist and owner of Weston-Mott Wheel Works. Invited to Chicago in 1902, Mott joined with the representatives of eight other regional motoring associations in a meeting following which the now universally recognized American Automobile Association (AAA), was founded.

In the years between 1909 and 1943, the local club established its headquarters at the Hotel Martin. Under the able management of Edward O'Mally, the club joined with the Automobile Club of Central New York in 1924, thereby expanding its area of services to include the already-growing number of motorists residing within the greater Mohawk Valley.

In the early 1900s, Oneida County was on its way to becoming a giant in the burgeoning automobile industry. Company owners, however, received little encouragement from area leaders in the textile industry who were wary of competition from automakers because they paid workers more than knitting mills did.

Charles S. Mott, who manufactured bicycle wheels and rims in Utica from 1900 - 1905, later began to make wheels and axles for "horseless carriages" and produced the Remington automobile. In 1901, the Remington Automobile and Motor Company moved into a 3-story building on First Street in Utica and began to make the Remington automobile. Subsequently Mott moved his company to Michigan and sold it to a young company called General Motors in exchange for stock. He continued to reinvest the stock and soon owned the largest number of shares in the firm and became its richest stockholder. He was a billionare when he died in 1973 at age 97.

Also in 1901,, W.H. Birdsall designed the Buckmobile and A. Vedder Brower and a group organized a company to manufacture the 2-cylinder car. The factory was at John and Catherine streets and later moved to Shepherd Place

Both the Remington and the Buckmobile did not last long, but one Utica company in the automobile business did. Edward A. Willoughby was a carriage-maker in Rome. When fire destroyed his factory, he moved to Utica and purchased the old Utica Carriage Company. Soon, the company was making bodies for automobiles. The Willoughby Company remained in business until 1936. It built bodies for Packard, Cadillac, Rolls Royce and Lincoln.

Francis P. Miller and Harry Mundy established Utica's first automobile dealership, the Miller-Mundy Motor Carriage Company, in 1901. They began by selling White Steamers and Pierce-Stanhopes and later added other makes.

In 1906, the Utica Motor Car Company was locted on Bleecker Street, across from Chancellor Park. Tony Ledermann, one of the top mechanics in the area and the man in charge of Utica Motor Car Company's repair department, later opened a Pierce-Arrow dealership at Plant and Hart streets in Utica.


Erie Canal

When talk of building a canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie via the Mohawk Valley began in earnest, in about 1810, many powerful politicians opposed the project.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Making a canal 350 miles through wilderness ... it is a little short of madness. Perhaps in 100 years.”

But in 1815, the state Legislature prodded by political leader DeWitt Clinton voted to survey the route an Erie Canal would follow. Two years later, the survey concluded that the 363-mile canal could be built for $6 million. It eventually cost $7 million.

Clinton ... by then governor of the state ... decided that work on the 94-mile middle section of the canal from Utica west to the Seneca River would be completed first since the terrain was flat and the earth soft. That meant the greatest progress could be made in the shortest time thus silencing opponents.

A crowd gathered in the early morning of July 4, 1817 near Rome as ground was broken to signal the beginning of construction of the canal.

Two years later, Oct. 22, 1819, the section between Utica and Rome was opened. Thousands cheered as the first boat to travel on the Erie ... the 60-foot “Chief Engineer of Rome” named for Benjamin Wright of Rome, who was the middle section’s civil engineer ... left Rome for Utica towed by one horse.

When the canal was completed in 1825, it became an immediate success. Revenues poured in as 218,000 tons of freight were carried the first year. The cost of shipping cargo from Albany to Buffalo dropped from $100 to $7. The value of land along the canal increased greatly. And Utica and Rome became boom towns with Utica’s population exploding in 1820-30 from 2,972 to 8,323 and Rome’s from 3,569 to 4,360.

The county’s population grew in that decade, too, from 50,997 to 71,326. Many of its new residents were Irish immigrants who helped to build the Erie and most were Catholic. This led to the organization of the first Catholic parish west of Albany. It was called St. John’s and still exists today in downtown Utica.

The Erie was ideal for hauling freight, but hauling passengers was another matter. Packet boats were small and usually overcrowded. Travelers complained about long delays as captains and crews frequented the many saloons that lined the canal. Women passengers often were accosted by “canawlers” ... violent men who drank hard, fought hard and, when in need of money, would board a boat, knock a passenger on the head, rob him and then throw him overboard.

Important local figures in the Canal's construction
Canvas White
Civil engineer from Whitestown who was a grandson of Hugh White, founder of Whitestown in 1784. He invented a hydraulic cement (hardens under water) in the early 1820s for builders of the Erie Canal. He also was the canal's chief lock designer.
Benjamin Wright
Civil engineer from Rome who in 1817, was picked to build the middle section of the Erie Canal between Utica and the Seneca River area to the west.
John R. Jervis
Engineer from Rome who became superintendent of of construction of a large of the Erie Canal from 1819 to 1825. He later became chief engineer for the construction of the Chenango Canal from Utica to Binghamton.

Black River Canal


Building the five combines

The historically famed five combines as they were in 1920.

A Sunday cruise

Time was when the State of New York was mostly wilderness and when Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson River were the only north and south means of travel in the state. Before there was anything faintly resembling today's network of highways, travel by water routes was by far the easiest and cheapest. For this reason the Erie and the Black River Canals were born and made possible, to a large degree, by the geographical fact that Northern Oneida County sits astride the divide separating two principal river systems, the Mohawk and the Black. Canals operated with water. Here were the headwaters and the man-made waterways were off and building.

The Black River canal was fed with water from the Black River taken at Forestport. It flowed through a canal feeder into what was known as a basin at Boonville. From here the waters operated the canal both north and south. North to High Falls and the Black River and south through the Lansing Kill Gorge to Rome and the Erie Canal. Boonville was the summit level.

The lore and legend of the Black River Canal lingers on in memory, in literature, and in photographic history. Many are often trying to ascertain data regarding the waterway. Here are a few facts:

Fifteen years before the Erie (then known as "Clinton's Ditch") was opened in 1825 people had started talking about building a canal from Rome to Boonville and High Falls, later to be known as Lyons Falls. In fact, the politicians tossed the canal talk around for 29 years. In 1839 construction actually started. Started with pick and shovel and with horsepower and ingenuity.

Not until 1848 was the first "testing" water let into the feeder at Forest Port, later known as Forestport. In 1850 it was partially completed. One boat made it from Rome to Boonville. In 1851 the first boat made it to High Falls. Five years later, 1856, it was officially completed and connected with the Erie at Rome.

For those statistically minded, the canal was 35 miles in length. From Rome to Boonville the lockage elevation was 693 feet. From Boonville to High Falls the lockage descent was 386 feet. Constructed were 109 locks which measured 90 feet in length by 15 feet in width. Also constructed were 5 aqueducts, 11 waste-weirs, 4 dams, 33 road bridges, 36 farm bridges, 2 guard locks, 6 stop gates, 2 drawbridges, and 33 lock houses. The ditch measured 42 feet in width at the top and 26 feet in width at the bottom and the average depth was four feet. It could take boats of 70 tons. Adding together the navigable feeder, the canal, the Black River and two miles of navigation on the reservoir above the State dam, it amounted to 90 miles of navigation.

Depending on the weather, opening dates for navigation varied from April 1 to May 2. From 1875 through the late 1880's the canal was enjoying its best days. In 1890 it was abandoned from Boonville to Lyons Falls. In 1897 and 1898 many bad breaks occurred, most of which were maliciously caused and most of which were on the feeder. Not only did these often halt traffic on the canal but they were costly to repair.

In 1910 construction was started on the Lake Delta dam, near Rome, to be used as an Erie (and later Barge Canal) feeder. By 1915 business on the ditch was not good. The Utica and Black River Railroad held the death warrant of the Black River Canal. Nineteen twenty saw the end of the venture and the boatmen. It had been a noble undertaking promoted for the general good. It had been an engineering marvel. For those times it had cost a lot of money - $3,581,954.

But the death of the Black River Canal seems to have been greatly exaggerated. It won't completely die. The ghosts still linger on - along the lines of the canal. It's a fine part of the North Country heritage.

 


Transportation was the region's first large industry. Pioneers from New England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries often stopped in the village of Utica on their way to the western territories. Utica not only was on the Mohawk river, but the main road heading west started at Bagg's Square in Utica and proceeded south to New Hartford and then west. The pioneers would stop in Utica overnight or longer to have wagons repaired, provide horses with new pairs of shoes and buy supplies for their journey.

Between 1819 and 1840, the region became the home of the Erie Canal and the Utica & Schenectady Railroad. That contributed to the rapid growth of population in the region.

Railroads and the age of steam dealt a deathblow to the Erie and the Black River Canals and others like them. The Erie Canal lost most of its passenger business in the early 1840s when the railroads came to town.

The rails went everywhere and wherever they went they brought good times. People could now go places and the train was a wonderful, romantic way to get there. In their prime the rail lines owned the country. Their executives were rich and swaggered around in private cars. Casey Jones and the iron horse will always be remembered. Fortunate are those who have heard the train whistle blow.


Empire State Express circa 1891

The depot was the focal and social center of the community. Here you not only took the trains but you sent telegrams; picked up your baggage and express; watched the mails come and go; watched the milk and freight trains arrive and depart. Many often went to the depot just to see all the excitement. It was the best place in town to meet your friends and to pick up the latest news and gossip.

The first railroad in the state was the Mohawk and Hudson between Albany and Schenectady. It opened in 1831. Five years later, the Utica and Schenectady began operations with six locomotives and 50 cars each with a 24-passenger capacity.

In 1839, the Utica and Syracuse was completed as were other short lines to the west. In 1853, Albany merchant Erastus Corning consolidated all the small railroads into the New York Central.

Although the railroad passed through Utica, it did the city more harm than good. The city’s lucrative stagecoach business slowed to a standstill. When westbound passenger trains began to pass through the city instead of stopping as had the stages, many of Utica’s hotels, taverns and stores closed their doors for good.


DL&W train & staff at Richfield Springs

Farmers in Oneida County benefited greatly from the railroad, though, as they began to grow more and more crops for faraway markets.

Between 1850 and 1895, nearly a dozen smaller railroads originated in the county or passed through it ... including the West Shore. Many of the workers who built the West Shore in 1883 were Italian immigrants who liked what they saw in Utica and ... like the Irish who had built the Erie Canal 65 years earlier ... decided to settle in the city.

Through the years, the railroads played an important role in the growth and prosperity of the Mohawk Valley Region. Utica and Rome became main stops on the New York Central Railroad. In 1914 New York Central opened its magnificent Union Station in Utica and made the city one of the largest freight centers in the country.

The Ontario and Western in Oneida County

The Ontario and Western was not the most important railroad to serve Oneida County, but its story is an interesting and integral part of the transportation history of the area. The demise of the O&W in Oneida County can be traced to the same factors that plagued the entire line throughout its history. In the larger communities it faced competition from larger and better financed railroads and in the smaller communities where there was no competition there was not enough business to maintain the road.

The Utica Division service and the Rome-Clinton branch represented the O&W in Oneida County. The track to Rome began at Clinton. There is a long and complicated story behind this line; it was built in anticipation that the O&W would not be allowed to enter Utica. In the end the O&W and what became the Lackawanna both served the city of Utica. O&W brochures proclaimed Utica as the largest point served by the line outside of the New York City area.

The Sylvan Beach shuttle, which became famous, accounted for much passenger traffic. This convenient shuttle received passengers from trolleys coming from either Utica or Syracuse. In the pre-automobile, pre-radio, pre-television days, Sylvan Beach was a popular vacation spot; a day at the Beach meant recreation, renewal, and strength for the challenges of every day life. Eddie’s Restaurant in Sylvan Beach is said to be on the site of the station. Pictures show great crowds of people waiting in the covered structure for the shuttle that would take them to Oneida Castle and the trolley home to Utica or Syracuse.

The road was always diligent in its search for business. Another example was the transporting of a circus train from Utica to Norwich. After a show in Utica, other railroad lines would not transport the circus cars unless certain stiff conditions were met. The Utica branch of O&W accepted the circus and made the trip safely and in good order.

There were also stations in Oneida County north of Sylvan Beach – North Bay and Jewell; beyond Jewell, the tracks entered Oswego County. Actually, the Utica section and the Rome-Clinton branch accounted for as much business for the company as did Oswego County with the cities of Fulton and Oswego.

The O&W left its main line at Randallsville, formerly known as Smith Valley. It then went to Hamilton, Pecksport, Bouckville, Solsville, Oriskany Falls, Franklin Springs, Clinton, New Hartford, West Utica, and finally to Union Station in Utica. When Union Station was completed, the passenger office was moved to it. There was also a station at Columbia and Fay Streets known as West Utica.

The Rome-Clinton Branch was built because the promoters thought they would be unable to build into Utica and therefore Rome would be the connection with the New York Central Railroad. Clinton was important and at one time had an engine stationed there as well as spur lines to iron mines near Clinton and Franklin Springs. This route went from Clinton to Kirkland, Clark Mills, Westmoreland, Bartlett, Dix and Rome where there was also an engine house. In the days when rail was the chief form of transportation, this line was a way to Rome with its industry and shops.

In 1931 the milk station at Pennellville, New York was closed. This meant that thirty five people were out of work and that passenger service between Oswego and Oneida would end shortly. In mid December, notices were posted that the train would be discontinued as of December 31. This came as a shock to communities along the line who had taken the train for granted. Headlines appeared in the local papers O&W DISCONTINUES TRAINS WITHOUT NOTICE and SERVICE DISCONTINUED BETWEEN OSWEGO AND ONEIDA. In February 1932 the Public Service Commission ordered a hearing which attracted more attention than expected because the railroad had acted hastily and the public thought that the end of passenger service was the end of the railroad. Freight was important to these communities even though passenger service was seldom used.

Those testifying for continuance weakened their case by stating that they used the train in winter, but in good weather preferred to travel by auto. President Nuelle produced figures on auto registration in the area served and also showed that, in December, 1931, passenger revenues on Trains 9 and 10 was less than $10 while the cost of operating the trains was $100. It goes without saying that no order to restore passenger service was ever issued, and all communities accepted the fact that their railroad would provide freight service only.

Trains 9 and 10 continued running as milk trains to Sidney until the 1950s. In the years after World War II this train was discovered by rail fans and a coach attached to the train was filled with passengers. One such trip was in June, 1946, sponsored by the Rochester and Syracuse chapters of the National Railway Historical Society, with many people from Oneida County on board. The Utica paper sent photographer Dante Tranquille on the trip; many of his pictures appeared in the paper, along with a story by David H. Beetle. Excitement was provided when the crew had to fight a minor fire in one of the milk cars,

Frederic Lyford came to the O&W in 1937, the year it went into bankruptcy. He had made heroic efforts to increase business for the line, including "The Mountaineer", in a valiant effort to retain the passenger business to the Catskills being taken over by bus and auto. "The Mountaineer" was streamlined, powered by steam engine 405 and was luxurious in every way except for lack of air conditioning, which the railroad could not afford. Also, special trains were run for sporting events at Hamilton and Colgate, all to no avail.

Railway Historical Societies will preserve the memory, especially the groups in Middletown, Utica and Syracuse. The story of this line should encourage us all to some of the values of a generation past. Oneida County is richer because it was served by the New York, Ontario and Western.

Trolleys


Genesee Street Horse-Drawn Trolley Late 1800s

First Trolley to travel from Utica to New York Mills. Circa 1890

Trolley operators - Utica circa 1900

Through the years, transportation played an important rule in the growth and prosperity of the Mohawk Valley. Between 1819 and 1840, the region became the home of the Erie Canal and the Utica & Schenectady Railroad.

While the railroads were joining larger communities, horse-drawn cars on rails were helping people travel within the cities. Beginning in the 1860s there were horsecar lines in Utica. These lines ran on tracks from Utica to New Hartford, Whitesboro and Deerfield. Each car was drawn by a team of horses. In the summertime, open cars were used. This was a pleasant way to travel on a sunny day.

In March 1890, most of these routes were changed so they could be powered by electricity. A pole on the roof of the car had a wheel at its end. This wheel or pulley was connected to electric wires overhead. The wheel drew electricity to the car so it could run. Another method of running the electric car was by a third rail. This was an extra rail laid alongside the regular track. A shoe or metal contact on the lower part of the car touched the third rail and drew electric power to run the car. This was called a trolley.

The trolley was the forerunner of the bus and like buses, and was primarily engaged in the passenger business. The interurban electric lines provided rapid transit both between and within Oneida County communities. The two major electric railways in the county were the Utica and Mohawk Valley, which ran between Rome and Little Falls in Herkimer County, and the Oneida Railway connecting Utica and Syracuse. The trip from Rome to Little Falls could be made in just under two hours, allowing for nine stops along the way. It took the same amount of time to travel from Utica to Syracuse if all 14 stops on that route were made.

One of the first routes was to Summit Park in Oriskany in 1897. This became one of the most popular recreation spots in central New York. Utica Park, later called Forest Park and located at the end of Bleecker Street, was a favorite picnic place. The open trolley made it possible to visit these parks.

The electric cars helped the suburbs to grow. These areas became "bedrooms" for the people who worked in cities. They didn't need to walk to work anymore. The electric cars and trolleys made travel time very short.

Soon electric railways were linking Utica with Deerfield, Frankfort, Ilion, Mohawk and Herkimer. The Clinton line brought Hamilton College close to Uticans. It ran from 1901 to 1936. The line from Rome to Little Falls ran from 1903 to 1933. In 1907 the Oneida Railway opened a route to Syracuse. This route, however, used the third rail instead of the overhead electric trolley wire. It operated until the end of 1930.

These lines were especially important during World War I. Often an electric train of six cars brought workers to Remington Arms in Ilion, to the Savage Arms in Utica and to other war plants. The third rail system to Syracuse was often faster than the steam trains of the New York Central. Traveling on these cars with their big arched windows and plush seats was like "riding on a feather."

Fares, or the cost of traveling on the city lines, began at a nickel. Gradually they got higher, a penny at a time. The fare reached a dime before the popularity of trolleys fell. Transfers, which were tickets permitting a rider to change from one bus, train, etc. to another were usually free.

For fifty years, from 1890 to 1941, electric cars served passengers in this area. The electric lines dominated the rapid transit scene until the improvement of highways during the 1920s and 1930s. Then the buses came. The first regular city bus line traveled over Utica's Parkway in 1923. The Oneida Street line in Utica began in 1925. One by one the trolley routes were converted to bus routes. The last trolleys ran on Genesee Street in Utica on May 12, 1941.


New York Mills Sauquoit Creek Bridge

Main Street Whitesboro

Columbia Street Utica - Plowing Snow
 
 
© 2014 Oneida County Historical Society
1608 Genesee Street, Utica, New York 13502-5425
315-735-3642, e-mail: ochs@oneidacountyhistory.org
Research Requests: historyinquiries@oneidacountyhistory.org