The Ogdensburg-Prescott carferry is a New York Central “unremarked operation”. The tug and barge used at the end were built as a pair in 1930. There are photos available from 1948 that show mostly coal being moved. However there is a photo in George Hilton’s book “Great Lakes Carferries” which shows a more mixed load. The 1955 traffic figures were: from CP 3030 loads, 2625 empties and to the CP 3150 loads and 503 empties. Apparently this traffic was un-balanced and used more by the CP. From the CP was very likely paper products and perhaps some lumber and a bit of oil product in addition to the empties being returned to the Central “at the nearest junction point”. CP received coal, but also chemicals, produce, and a variety of manufactured goods in box cars. The completion of the bridge over the St. Lawrence pretty much killed it off. A railroad receives no revenue for switching operations of which this could have been considered one, and an expensive one at that, so the PC together with the CP no doubt killed this operation off as fast as they could once an alternative was available to justify its termination.
Now that we know the car ferry carried mostly coal traffic, the next question is: which route into Ogdensburg did the NYC use to get to and from the ferry? Was it the line from DeKalb Jct or the line up from Philadelphia? I know there was a local which served the line from Philadephia, but what about the line from DeKalb Jct? Did the yard switcher in Ogdensburg also go to DeKalb Jct to bring back cars?
This is only a guess, but if the DeKalb – Ogdensburg track was kept in longer, could it have been the primary track used and the one out of Philadelphia was the track that was for local traffic? Especially since after the abandonment along the river, a small spur was maintained. It was a shorter route as well.
At one point freight between Watertown and Ogdensburg was sent via DeKalb Jct. Any freight service at that time for the line to Phila. was handled by a mixed train. In 1956 the pattern had been changed. A freight ran on the former U&BR line between Philadelphia and Ogdensburg. A local ran from Ogdensburg to DeKalb Jct and back. The St. Lawrence Division was partly abandoned on October 28, 1956, when the New York Central Railroad abandoned the original St. Lawrence Division from Ogdensburg to Redwood, leaving a short spur in Ogdensburg attached to the Ogdensburg Branch.
Summary of the Ogdensburg/Dekalb Line:
1862 – opened by Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg RR
1891, Mar. 14 – leased by NYC
1913, Apr. 16 – becomes NYC
1968, Feb. 1 – becomes PNYC
1969, Oct. 1 – becomes PC
1976, Apr. 1 – becomes Conrail, but is operated by Ogdensburg & Norwood Ry
1977, Apr. 1 – operated by St. Lawrence RR
1978 – back to Conrail
1980, March – operated by North Country Ry
1981, March – back to Conrail
1981, Dec. 10 – sold to Ontario Eastern RR
1985 – abandoned
1986(7) – rails removed