New York and Ottawa

NY&O cardCharles Hibbard’s northern extension of the Northern New York Railroad began with the creation of a new company on July 27, 1897 called the New York & Ottawa Railroad. The plan was for this line to build north from Moira to the Canadian border. Having a deal in place with the Adirondack Railway and their operators, the Delaware & Hudson, Hibbard ended running rights from Moira to Bombay and to Malone and awaited permission to build across State owned land between Tupper Lake and North Creek. The State Forest Preserve, supported by the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad, refused to allow the Hibbard line to build on their lands. It was a fight that took all parties through the various stages of court proceedings. Meanwhile the decision to merge the NNYRR into the NY&ORR was made and done on October 22, 1897. Hibbard then acquired the capital stock of The Ottawa & New York Railway, the Canadian portion of the route, on June 13, 1898 and merged the Raquette River Railroad into the parent company that November, making all lines that existed as well as planned to be under one company. Unfortunately the bridge disaster in the south channel of the St. Lawrence River on September 6th, 1898, was the first sign that Hibbard’s ambitions would not come to be. Until the bridge crossing was rebuilt and opened, the NY&ORR opened to a settlement just south of the St. Lawrence River, called Nyando (NY and O) on September 28, 1898 (this settlement would be renamed to Rooseveltown in 1934). The bridges were not completed yet when the company was put into receivership on April 25, 1900. The toll of the reconstruction of the crossing and the court costs from fighting the State Forest Preserve drained the NY&ORR financially.

Under an appointed manager, the NY&ORR opened the bridges at Cornwall on October 1, 1900, and the line on both sides began to face a new reality in their operations. The Black Rapids Branch was abandoned immediately and focus on the main line was made while all plans to expand past Ottawa and south of Tupper Lake were cancelled and forgotten. If the additional costs had not occurred, Hibbard’s company likely would have been a successful one. Before the bridges opened, the NY&ORR and O&NYR were making a profit, but because of the court proceedings and bridge accident, even after the two line joined physically, the route was falling into hard times. The line as of October 1, 1900 began in Ottawa and ended in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains at Tupper Lake, leaving cargo and passengers to rely on the New York Central at Tupper Lake Junction to continue on to New York City, a long trip compared to the original plan.

The NY&ORR dream nearly had a second coming in 1904. Knowing of its impending sale at an auction, the Delaware & Hudson Company had thoughts of making another Canadian line using the company to access Ottawa (they were already running into Montreal and were attempting to reach Quebec City). The company had owned a railroad that ran west out of Plattsburgh and eventually made its way to Lake Placid.  It would be simple to connect this branch to the NY&ORR and have a very lucrative scenic route. In 1903, they purchased a small logging railroad that ran west from Tekene Junction on the New York Central’s line to Malone. D&H then made a new junction to their Chateaugay Branch with a bridge over the NYC.  When the NY&ORR was sold on December 22, 1904, it was not the D&H that won the auction but instead a man named J. Cartensen, whom made his fellow businessman, W.H. Hewman, the manager. To Canadians, these two were just another line of owners to the NY&ORR, but the D&H and other American businessmen knew that these men were involved with the great NYC. The last gasp of being the short line between Ottawa and New York City was made as the railroad would never expand from its current state. The NY&ORR was renamed to the New York & Ottawa Railway on January 19, 1905 and on February 1st, it was leased to the NYC&HRRR. Operations of the line were handed over on December 12, 1906 and the company was purchased and merged into the NYC&HRRR on March 7, 1913 as its Ottawa Division, but maintained the Canadian portion’s O&NYR name and still under lease, even though technically the large company owned the entire route.

Source of clearance card – St. Regis Falls Historians Association