New York Central

NYC 881The rail line from Tupper Lake to Ottawa under the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad became nothing more than a feeder, even less important than a secondary line. On July 20, 1914, the company reverted back to their original name of the New York Central Railroad. When the New York & Ottawa Railway was merged into the NYC, it was designated as the Ottawa Division and through the years, some significant changes worth noting occurred. As Tupper Lake grew in size, its boundary now encompassed Tupper Lake Junction, so the NYC stopped running their Ottawa Division passenger trains south of the Tupper Lake Junction station as of November 15, 1932. After just over ten years of debating and suggestions, the company planked the St. Lawrence River bridges at Cornwall to create a motor vehicle crossing which opened on May 17, 1934. This was the only automobile crossing between Niagara Falls and Montreal at that time.

In the late 1930s, the NYC reviewed the Ottawa Division’s worth. Service was slowly declining, specifically on the American portion. The logging railroads that had depended on the NYC between Tupper Lake and St. Regis Falls were disappearing quickly, one by one. Settlements like Brandon and Derrick were suddenly becoming ghost towns because of this or due to landownership changes (a story of its own to be covered). The NYC decided that they needed to abandon the portion of the Ottawa Division that was no longer making money. Originally there were suggestions to discontinue between Tupper Lake Junction and Moira, as the NYC was half owner of the Rutland Railroad at that time.  Because there was always a chance of selling off their interest in that company, which did eventually happen, they felt that they needed to find another “stable” connection.  At the end of their Watertown Branch in Massena, Canadian National Railways had a line that began there and ended on another CNR line south of Montreal.  The Massena Subdivision, as they called it, crossed the Ottawa Division at Helena. The two companies negotiated and when a deal was struck, NYC’s freight trains received running rights between Massena and Helena on the CNR line, but passenger trains could only run on that portion empty as CNR had a passenger service that NYC users could use to transfer at Helena.  On May 6, 1937, the NYC abandoned the Ottawa Division from Tupper Lake Junction to Helena, the original John Hurd line of 1883 was gone. The small portion from Tupper Lake Junction to Tupper Lake was added to the company’s Adirondack Division as a spur. The rest that went into Canada became an orphaned line, separate from the rest of the NYC system physically. Another big decision came on August 16, 1951 when the NYC stopped running regularly scheduled passenger trains on the Ottawa Division. This cancellation did not last for that November the service returned but only as a six-month per year status, from November to April.

Other changes would come about, most were out of the NYC’s control and would forever change the Ottawa Division’s life. To learn more on this continued history, please see the “Seaway Diversion” page.