Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | January 22, 2014

Artifact of the Week. Ottawa and New York Central Railway, hammer and oil tin.

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A hammer from the Cornwall station of the New York Central and Ottawa Railway.

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Tin oil can found near the site of the north pier of the New York Central Railway Bridge, Cornwall.  The can was found laying on the ground on the north shore of the St. Lawrence in 2000 by Roger Lalonde, who donated it to the Museum.

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Detail of the above oil tin showing the raised letters, NYCRR.

How lucky can you get?  The line closed in 1957, meaning that this oil tin was laying on the ground for 43 years before it was found.

scan0060Route Map for the line, 1900.

New York Central & Ottawa Railway, Cornwall – 1897 – 1957.

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At 6:45 p.m. on Feb. 14, 1957, engineer William Sweeney of Massena, brakeman William Carson, fireman Tom Leonard, conductor L.H. Phillips and second brakeman William Forsyth of Finch, boarded diesel 8304 heading south, pulling the last freight train of the New York Central Railway out of Cornwall Station, bringing 60 years of service to an end.

When the last train left the station, located just north of 2nd St. W., and east of Hoople Ave., 24 railworkers retired and the stations at Cornwall, Finch, Embrun, Russell, and Ottawa closed.

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The Cornwall Station.

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In the line’s heyday, there were additional stops at Black River, Northfield, Newington, Berwick, Crysler, Cambridge, Edwards, Ramsey and Hawthorne.  Linking Cornwall to Ottawa to the north and Tupper Lake and then New England to the south, before World War II, it was said that the 129 mile long “New York and Ottawa Railway was…one of Cornwall and Stormont’s institutions and many residents of the town and country…wonder how they got along before the line was opened to traffic.”

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The end, according to Charlie Thompson, the station’s 48-year veteran  “…began with the motor age, the coming of the transport truck and the four-wheeled-powered family car.  (In 1933), the line did a business in ticket sales to a tune of between $1,800 and $2,000 a month. ..The first of a series of booms fell on August 16, 1951 when passenger service was temporarily stopped.  It was resumed in Nov. The Company then decided to keep the passenger service operating on a six month basis.”

“But what was slowly becoming a toy died as far as passenger service was concerned on April 24, 1954.  Its passing raised only slight protest.”

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The crew of the last train.  Top to bottom:  William Sweeney, Tom Leonard, William Carson and an unidentified man.

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The station was closed in 1957 and a work crew of 100 men started tearing up the tracks.

©Cornwall Community Museum

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