Waterport Trestle Carried Railroad Traffic for Over 100 Years

Volume 2, Issue 11

Constructed in 1876, the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg trestle over Oak Orchard Creek provided a crossing point for the rail system in its earliest years. This particular image shows the first trestle constructed on that site in Waterport using lightweight iron trusses and planks. As the railroad grew, a new bridge was constructed in 1892 to facilitate increased traffic.

The RW&O Railroad was first established in 1842 with the purpose of linking Watertown and Rome. As the years progressed, the rail system merged with various lines throughout New York to produce a somewhat successful system of transportation along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Although the line was popular amongst excursionists the railroad developed a reputation as a poorly maintained rail system, earning the eloquent nickname “Rotten Wood & Old Rusty Rails.” The railroad later earned the nickname “Hojack.”

The source of the name “Hojack” is unknown, but the most common origin story describes a farmer riding in a buckboard drawn by a stubborn, bulky mule.… More

Superintendent Dedicated Life to Growth of Albion Schools

Volume 2, Issue 10

In the earliest years of settlement in Orleans County, the establishment of religious and educational institutions was of the upmost importance. Pioneers cleared their land of trees, constructed cabins, planted crops, and once all other necessities were met, established rural schools to educate their children. In Albion, Caroline Phipps Achilles became a driving force behind the creation of female-only institutions for education when she constructed her seminary in 1840.

It was soon after that other academies developed throughout the region including the Albion Academy and Yates Academy, which would produce highly successful and industrious graduates. These tuition-driven institutes provided a valuable service to the community, although limited to those families who could afford it. The concept of using taxation to support the common school system allowed for the creation of the union school, providing education beyond the rural one-room schoolhouse.

Freeman Abram Greene was a product of the early academy system.… More

Albion Catholics Established New Cemetery in 1920

Volume 2, Issue 9

Located just east of the Village of Albion, St. Joseph’s Cemetery was established in 1920 under the pastorate and direction of Msgr. Francis Sullivan. Notice the paving stones covering East Avenue and the extensive landscaping of the property along the road. The center driveway runs north towards a circle containing four statues depicting the crucifixion of Christ and the chapel behind it. A larger pathway surrounded the chapel creating a section for burials within that loop.

St. Joseph’s Church celebrated its first Mass as a parish in 1852. For over twelve years prior, the Irish Catholic community relied on itinerant priests from Lockport to provide the sacraments throughout the year. This often meant that baptisms, marriages, and the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist would occur in bunches as a priest was made available by the Diocese of Buffalo.

The earliest Irish Catholics engaged in manual labor often in the sandstone quarries scattered along the Erie Canal, which led to accidental deaths and the contraction of tuberculosis.… More

Workers Lay Tracks for Medina Trolley

Volume 2, Issue 8

This image shows the construction of the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway through Medina in 1908. Looking north, workers are in the process of laying tracks on Main Street towards Commercial Street where the rail line would turn west and run to Salt Works Road. The iconic clock tower of White’s Hotel can be seen in the background as well as a large advertisement for Daniel D. Holdredge’s crockery and undertaking business.

The earliest efforts to construct an electric interurban railway through this area started around the turn of the century. Discussion of forming a railway that ran from Batavia to Olcott through Medina were amongst the very first plans for a trolley system. However, the 1.7 mile Albion Electric Railway was the only successful line in these early years.

Chartered in 1905, the Buffalo, Lockport & Rochester Railway was a combination of the Albion & Lockport Railway, the Albion & Rochester Railway, and the Albion Electric Railway.… More

A Sheriff of Astronomical Proportions

Volume 2, Issue 7

This picture, taken sometime around 1920, shows Weston Wetherbee standing with his homemade telescope behind his home on Ingersoll Street in Albion. Also pictured is Wilbur Phillips (left) and John Gilmore (center).

Weston Wetherbee was born January 24, 1857 at Barre, NY to Weston and Mary Ann Wetherbee. In his earliest years, Weston was employed as a carpenter and became proficient in the construction of windmills. During the later portion of the 19th century, Wetherbee continued his work as a windmill salesman and mechanic.

It was during this period of time that he served as a Justice of the Peace and Barre Town Supervisor. During his time in Barre politics he served as Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. He was elected to the position of Orleans County Sheriff in 1904, a position which he held for three terms. It was around this time that Weston and his wife, Julia Goff, moved to the Village of Albion to their home on Ingersoll Street.… More

Albion Attorney Left Legacy of Service to Community

Volume 2, Issue 6

I received a few calls and inquiries about Thomas A. Kirby following the recent news article highlighting newly established scholarships through the Albion Central School District – who was he and why a scholarship in his name? Albion Council #1330 Knights of Columbus developed an annual memorial award for a deserving graduating senior who showed commitment and service to the community. This image shows Thomas A. Kirby as a young man, a freshly minted lawyer eager to establish a local partnership in Albion. The photograph is paired in the collection with that of Thomas L. Hughes.

Thomas Kirby was born on March 22, 1869 in Albion to John and Catherine Hayes Kirby. As a young man, he was no stranger to patriotic duty and service to the community. Undoubtedly a young Thomas would have heard the stories told by his father, who served with the 8th New York Cavalry during the Civil War, was taken prisoner at Gettysburg, and sent to Andersonville Prison Camp.… More

Prominent Village President was Center of Marital Scandal

Volume 2, Issue 5

George W. Ough, pronounced “Uff”, was born on February 12, 1827 at Cherry Valley, New York. As a child, he worked on the family farm in Otsego County until he reached the age of fourteen, when he moved north to Fort Plain, New York to work as a store clerk. Following a short stay in Lockport, Ough later moved to Albion where he operated a crockery store, which he later sold to purchase the furniture business formerly owned by George M. Pullman. His eldest daughter, Jennie, later married Cassius M. C. Reynolds who would eventually take over the business located in the Ough Block on North Main Street.

By the late 1890s, Ough had the distinction of being one of the longest tenured members of the Albion Board of Education, of which he was a founding member. After he was elected to his first term as President of the Village of Albion, he resigned his position on the Board of Education.… More

Noted Civil War Surgeon was Cousin of Georgia Governor

Image courtesy of The Fort Dalles Museum in Oregon

Volume 2, Issue 4

Born July 26, 1822 at Albany, New York to Rufus and Margaret Bullock Brown, Joseph Lee Bullock Brown received his early education in the Albany area. He later attended the Albany Medical College where he graduated from that institution, likely in the early 1840s and shortly after the establishment of the school in 1839.

Appointed physician at Clinton Prison in 1845, the year after the institution was established, Dr. Brown remained in that position for nearly three years before he removed to Detroit, Michigan to practice surgery.

In 1849, he received an appointment as a surgeon with the U.S. Regular Army and received a commission as Assistant Surgeon from Zachary Taylor the following year. Stationed at Ft. Dalles in the Oregon Territory, Dr. Brown also served in Texas and the Washington Territory up until the start of the Civil War.… More

Carlyon Railroad Accident Possible Result of Malicious Activity

Volume 2, Issue 3

This image, taken the morning after the accident occurred, shows the crowds gathered at the wreckage of the Steamboat Express. Nearby residents assisted in pulling corpses and wounded passengers from the wreckage into the early morning.

At 9:48p.m. July 27, 1883, Orleans County experienced one of the most devastating disasters in local history. The excursion train “Steamboat Express” was traveling eastbound on the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg Railroad with a load of passengers bound for the Thousand Islands. On this particular evening a terrible storm had developed in the region bringing rain, lightening, and terrible gusts of wind.

The train departed the Lewiston station approximately 20 minutes behind schedule, departed Lyndonville’s station nearly 30 minutes behind schedule, and then proceeded on the four mile journey to Carlyon’s station. The train reached speeds of 25 miles per hour, normal pace for fair weather travels, and progress was on schedule despite the delay in departures from the previous two stops.… More

Albion Entrepreneur Partnered with George Pullman

Volume 2, Issue 2

Last week’s article on Noah Davis sparked a few questions from the community regarding some of the other men in the photograph. Joseph Cornell, Julius Royce, Charles H. Moore, and Norman Field were all active members of the Albion community, involved in local politics, and respected businessmen in their professions.

This image is of Charles Henry Moore, a native of Manlius, New York who moved to Albion in 1843 at the age of 25. Initially he engaged in the mercantile business for approximately two years before he decided to pursue a career in engineering related endeavors. Moore was responsible for building the central road through Orleans County and was responsible for widening the Erie Canal in the Albion area.

Moore’s activities with the Erie Canal involved a partnership with George Pullman that allowed the men to profit from the relocation of roughly 20 buildings, all moved to make way for a wider canal prism.… More