Flood On The Tracks

Last Days Of The Gloversville And Northville...

FJC SteamerIn 1870, the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville (FJ&G) railroad was built, connecting these three namesake growing towns to the New York Central mainline along the Mohawk River. In 1875—sponsored initially by business owners from the Northville and Mayfield area—the 16-mile track section from Gloversville into Northville was completed. By 1881, it was assimilated into the burgeoning FJ&G system and called the "Northern Division”.

Like many other railroads of the time, an amusement park was built across the river from Northville to boost business. In 1901, the Sacandaga Amusement Company built a huge midway, roller coaster, carousels and even a kinescope theatre in a railroad car. At its peak in 1905, the railroad carried over 4 million passengers and had over 118 lies of track. (see map >)

Unfortunately, the Sacandaga region was plagued with floods. Being a major tributary to the Hudson, the Sacandaga River would often flood in the spring when the extensive Adirondack snows would melt. As early as the 1800s officials were clamoring for a dam as periodic flooding in nearby areas devastated many businesses. In March 1913, when parts of Albany were inundated, a typhoid epidemic broke out. Soon after, a public-benefit corporation was chartered by the State to study the feasibility of the dam and passed a resolution to build a dam in 1924.

The Conklingville Dam construction subsequently was begun, surprisingly paid in full by local businesses benefiting from the flood protection. By 1930, the dam was completed and the intentional flooding of the Sacandaga River Valley began.

As the waters from the dam rose, parts or the complete areas of the hamlets of Osborne, Day, West Day, Sacandaga Park, Fish House, Cranberry Creek, Batcherlerville, Benedict, Conklinville, Mayfield and Northville were submerged.

Flooded Tracks - Sacandaga Flooded Tracks

Litigation and Final Days...

Although New York State planned relocation of the railroad years in advance of the dam construction, the FJ&G put up a fight. The court battles started in 1925 and after years of fighting, the FJ&G was awarded $1.7 million for their troubles. Sadly, due to declining business on the line, the railroad decided it wasn't worth moving the right of way around the new lake and buses and trucks were used instead for continued freight and passenger service.

Due to the inevitable rise of the automobile and despite a valiant effort to recapture passenger business by acquiring five ultra modern high-speed Bullet interurban cars in 1932, the FJ&G abandoned passenger service in 1938. Freight business continued on for a few more decades. The railroad was later taken over by the Delaware-Otsego Railroad management and then eventually abandoned.


Map Comparison of the Gloversville And Northville Route

  1. Drag a slider to compare an historical topo map to a current topo map >
  2. Maps featuring the approximate route of railroad right of way (ROW).
                       
1898 Historical Topo Current Topo Current Street Map
    Sacandaga Valley Map 

Aerial Close Ups

"Arm-chair" fly overs. Check out possible remnants of the old roads, foundations, the old ROW, etc.


Further Resources

There are quite a few sites devoted to the Sacandaga Valley's transformation from a flood prone river to a lake. Maps, photos, recollections from residents as well as poignant thoughts on the railroad's impact and legacy are listed below.

NOTE: For this section, all Links will open in the same window - just use the browser's back button to take you back to this page.
The FJ&G Railroad
http://www.sacandagastation.com/fjandg.html

Sacandaga Station
http://www.sacandagastation.com
- this is a wonderful site chock full of fascinating information

Last Days Of The Gloversville And Northville
http://ginosrailblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/last-days-of-gloversville-and-northville.html
- detailed info on the g&n branch, before and after historical photos of the flooding, railroad memorabilia, etc.

The Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad
http://gino.cdfw.net/_railpage/fjgrailroad/index.html
- gino's in-depth coverage of the fg&j railroad, a wealth of historical photos replete with maps, timelines and commentary

March 24, 1911 Preliminary Maps and Plans - Hudson River Improvement
PDF Download (Worth the wait!)
- intricately detailed maps of the area, a fascinating study of the before and after impact of the “river to lake” transformation

Sacandaga Lake History (a one page PDF)
- bittersweet account of the Valley’s transformation written by the Mayfield Town Historian

History of the Great Sacandaga Lake
http://www.visitsacandaga.com/history.htm
- a short overview (includes historical photos and info on early native americans...)

Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Rail Trail

FJ & G Rail Trail Info
http://www.traillink.com/trail/fonda-johnstown--gloversville-rail-trail-(fj--g-rail-trail).aspx
http://www.cnyhiking.com/Fonda-Johnstown-GloversvilleRailTrail.htm

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