Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS

Trolley tracks dominated center of Main Street

Dibble’s Dabbles

May 9, 2012
By Billie Dibble - Westfield Historian, 1976-2006 , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

This article first published May 3, 1984

It was more than half a century ago when the last Buffalo and Lake Erie trolley car passed through Westfield. Main Street looked quite different when the pavement was of brick and the double trolley tracks took a large chunk of the road right out of the middle. The headlines of The Westfield Republican of Feb. 1, 1933 announced "B. & E. CARS STOP Another Trolley Line Goes Out of Existence as B. & E. Corporation Starts its Busses. The Buffalo and Erie Coach Corporation has won the approval of the Public Service Commission for operation of bus service between Buffalo and the Pennsylvania-New York State Line.

"The decision of the commission in approving the Buffalo & Erie application brings to a close a contest with the Eastern Greyhound Lines that has raged for months up and down the Lake Shore in Erie and Chautauqua Counties. As a result of the decision, trolleys, which have been operating between Buffalo and Erie, Pa. for 25 years, will be withdrawn from service and buses used exclusively thereafter."

Article Photos

The JW & NW trolley car number 302 at the Glen Ewen switch, or stop on the line from Mayville to Westfield. Glen Ewen was very near the Big Fill bridge/tunnel across Little Chautauqua Creek, just above Fitch’s Falls. Sightseers, hikers, and picnickers would often get off at this stop and hike down into the gorge to view Fitch’s Falls, eat lunch, and hike on down to Buttermilk Falls and Glen Mills Falls, coming up out of the gorge near South Gale and South Portage Streets.

The Chautauqua Traction trolleys which had travelled up and down Portage Street had been replaced by buses in 1926 but the old Jamestown, Westfield & North Western, known as the scenic route, hung in there until 1947.

Cars had been running over the J.W. tracks since 1887. In 1914 the line was taken over by William Broadhead of Jamestown who had been successfully operating the Chautauqua Traction Company. He immediately electrified the line which was considered a progressive move. Leonard Tripp, whose great interest in trolley cars stemmed from the fact that his father, John M. Tripp, had been associated with the B. & L.E. Traction Company from its beginning until its end, wrote that the new cars ordered for the JW & NW failed to arrive when the wires all were readied and the Chautauqua Traction Company put some of its cars on the run. They were the open, sight-seeing type of cars. However, shortly afterward the cars arrived from Cincinnati. They were all steel with double ends and with plush and leather upholstered seats for the passengers and featured cane seats in the smokers. The new cars were the talk of Western New York and people rushed to the stations to their first ride on those plush electric cars.

The depression years were difficult times for the interurbans. The once glittering cars of the old JW line were wearing out and, as better highways were built and automobiles became the means of travel, business for the trolleys declined and on Nov. 30, 1947 the last interurban passenger service in the entire state of New York ended when the JW's 312 made its final run and rode off into memory. It was the end of an era that left many people in this section very sad.

Mr. Tripp wrote that all the area newspapers had for days been running articles about the last journey of the trolley. Enthusiastic crowds awaited anxiously the day the last run would be made. They had hoped that the old 301 could be the car to make the journey, but two days before the historical event she had broken down. Mechanics tried desperately to make her run again, but failed. Thus car 312 was placed in service for the momentous event.

On that cold November day in 1947 the trolley left the Westfield Station. There were many people abroad. Among these was Herb Thompson, editor of The Westfield Republican. The unique feature with him was that 33 years earlier he and his father had ridden the first car over the track on its maiden voyage. Members of the Jamestown press were aboard, including a Jamestown photographer who made a graphic record of that last run. Railroad officials, village officers and many others were along.

Of course Leonard Tripp was aboard for that last run. He summed it up, "Long will be the recollections of the flashy 'juice' buggies streaking through the wooded area along the lake and down to the grape belt. Sentimental thought will be frequently revived by going thru the collections of trolleyana zealously gathered by rail fans."

During the last years of the JW & NW Railroad operation, nearly 50 Railroad Clubs visited this area to take a "special" ride from Jamestown to Westfield so that they would be numbered among those who traveled over the last electric railroad in the state, the line that at one time was considered one of America's fastest and most thrilling short lines.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web