Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | April 30, 2015

Artifact of the Week. New York Central (Rail) Line hammer, found next to the Cornwall station.


This New York Central (Rail) Line hammer was found next to the Line’s Cornwall Station.

The New York Central & Ottawa Railway, Cornwall, Ontario, 1897 to 1957.


1901 schematic map for the New York & Ottawa Railroad.


A steam engine at the Cornwall New York & Ottawa Railway station, 1913.

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

When the last train left the station, located across from Howard Smith Paper (Domtar) in Cornwall, 24 railworkers were retired and the stations at Cornwall, Finch, Embrun, Russell and Ottawa closed.  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.  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.”


Cornwall railman Charlie Thompson, reminisced that when he arrived here in 1933, the line boasted two freight trains a day and four passenger trains.  in August passengers lined up an hour to get tickets for the Ottawa Ex and that was even with two extra trains a day running during the fair.

Thompson related the end “….began with the motor age, the coming of the transport truck and the four wheeled powered family car.  Twenty years ago, the line did a business in ticket sales to a tune of between $1,800 and $2,000 a month/  Eight years ago if its passenger service brought in $500 a month the railway was lucky.  The first of a series of booms fell on August 16, 1951 when passenger service was temporarily stopped.  It was resumed in November.  The company decided to keep the passenger service operating on a six month basis.


Cornwall Station, 1927.

“The smoke belching engine would pull its coaches, sparsely filled with travelers, over the track at 30 miles an hour limit, imposed because of the line’ slowly deteriorating condition.”

“It was said by many that you could jump out and run along beside the coach, sometimes even walk.  On a hot summer day, one could even jump from the train, snatch a handful of pretty flowers and reboard without difficulty.”

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

In 1957, a work crew of 100 men started tearing up the tracks, a year later the south span of the Roosevelt Bridge (crossing the St. Lawrence) was removed and the north span was taken down in 1965.

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