Tag Archives: Ogdensburg

All About the Ogdensburg – Prescott Ferry

I am researching the international rail-marine service that operated between Ogdensburg NY and Prescott ON from about 1858 to 1970.

The service from Ogdensburg involved at various time the following railroads: Northern, Ogdensburg, Ogdensburg & Lake Champlain, Vermont Central, Central Vermont, and Rutland to about 1908. From 1908 through 1970 the New York Central was the railroad involved.

The vessels involved included Boston 1858-63, St; Lawrence 1873-73, Transit 1874-1910, Armstrong 1875-1910, Southeaster, renamed International 1890-1910, Charles Lyon 1908-1930 and tug Prescotont with car float Ogdensburg 1930-1970. The last pair after 1970 worked on the Detroit Windsor service during the 1970s.

In addition to the vessels, several car floats were used in the era 1876-1908: Annex Jumbo, Caribou (or Cariboo)

Canadian Pacific Car and Passenger Transfer Company

Incorporated March 17, 1888 by Captain David H. Lyon to operate a car ferry between Brockville, Ontario and Morristown, New York where it would connect with new Utica & Black River. The use of Canadian Pacific in the name had no connection to the CPR except for the CPR’s upcoming importance in handling freight across the river to/from the USA. In 1896 Lyon moved his operation to Prescott, Ontario. Increased traffic called for more ferries including a new one built in 1907 which began service in the spring of 1908. This new ferry was named after Lyon’s father, Charles Lyon. Lyon died in 1929 and on September 1, 1929 the CPR bought his company. The CPR then managed to get the New York Central to buy 50% interest in the enterprise since most of the traffic was handled for the NYC. Eventually, it all came to an end when on September 25, 1970 a fire destroyed the slip in Ogdensburg and the decision was made to close down.

 
Car Ferries Index to car ferries operated by various railways including CPR. Added Canadian Pacific Car and Passenger Transfer which operated between Prescott, Ontario and Ogdensburg, New York.
 
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More About Ogdensburg NY ….. New Pictures Too

Ogdensburg has always  fascinated me.

First we wrote about the three railroads and the car ferry in Ogdensburg.

Then we  wrote about the bridge that killed the car ferry.

Then we wrote about the fabled “Rutland Milk” that started in Ogdensburg on it’s long journey to New York City.

Along the way, we built a WebSite about the route from Ogdensburg to Dekalb Junction.

Ogdensburg car ferry
Ogdensburg car ferry
Lots of locomotives in Ogdensberg
Lots of locomotives in Ogdensberg
Lots of rail cars too.
Lots of rail cars too.
Lots of switching
Lots of switching
Even more switching
Even more switching
Yes, they have Winter there!
Yes, they have Winter there!
Even a D&H coal car
Even a D&H coal car
Lot of Canadian cars going home
Lot of Canadian cars going home

Yes, quite a collection for a place that today only has a short line operated by the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority.

 

Railroads in Ogdensburg, New York

I read on a railroad forum that the steel for the Ogdensburg-Prescott bridge across the St. Lawrence River was shipped on the New York Central Railroad. Instead of continuing on the Central’s branch from DeKalk Junction to Ogdensburg, it instead went to Norwood and did the last few miles to Ogdensburg on the Rutland Railroad. Another member surmised that the bridge was being built on the east side of the river in Ogdensburg while the NY Central line terminated on the west side.

Now a more knowledgeable person on the forum responded.

Partly.

At the time, there were only two bridges across the Oswegatchie River, Lafayette St and Lake St. Lafayette at the time could not support heavy loads. Lake Street could support traffic as State Route 37 used this bridge. But… people in Ogdensburg weren’t very pro-New York Central.

Ogdensburg is where the Northern Railroad, which became the Ogdensburg Railroad, then Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain, was founded. It was financed mostly by businesses from the Ogdensburg area. Even in the

1950’s, many were pro-Rutland and the town administration would not allow the bridge pieces to cross the Lake Street Bridge. So they had to be routed through Norwood and over to the port.

Now the “wanne be expert” and the “real expert” got into a great discussion:

WANNABE: Thanks for correcting me on why the movement was over the Rutland. I was never clear on how Rutland and NY Central connected/interchanged. Have a picture of NY Central station and I think that was on the West side of the river. Did it serve both the line from Watertown and the line from DeKalk?

EXPERT: The NYC Station in Ogdensburg was located south of the ferry dock on the west side of the Oswegatchie River where it joins the St. Lawrence. The NYC Line from Dekalb Jct to Ogdensburg then continued west along the St. Lawrence River to Morristown, across from Brockville Ontario. The station was torn down in the early 1990’s I believe, while the freight house is still there, it is now a restaurant. Good food there too. All of this a block or two north of Claxton-Hepburn Hospital.

WANNABE: Where was the Rutland station?

EXPERT: The Rutland station was at the end of the yard, Patterson Street. This is now the main entrance of the OBPA Port Facilities.

WANNABE: I was relying on a memory from 50 years ago. Besides, in those days, my trips to Ogdensburg (from Canton) were primarily seeing student nurses from the State Hospital.

EXPERT: The State Hospital still exists.

WANNABE: So who owned what in “The Berg”? Who owned the bridges? How much interchange was there?

EXPERT: The road bridges? The bridge across the Oswegatchie called Lake Street was owned by the City. That was until it was demolished and replaced this summer. As for interchange, there was coal interchange between CP and the NYC via the ferry. I believe that the old Silk trains used to ferry cars across the St. Lawrence too. The Rutland had many shippers that dealt with at the port, however there was no direct interchange between the

NYC and the Rutland. There may have been passenger interchange when passenger service was still there as I believe the street car that was in Ogdensburg did serve both stations.

WANNABE: I got hung up looking for a Rutland Route 67 grade crossing (road from Canton), but realize the crossing was on route 37.

EXPERT: Route 37 crossed the Rutland’s spur to the State Mental Hospital east of Ogdensburg. Before the Route 37 bypass opened, Route 37 (Proctor Ave) crossed over the Rutland. After the bypass opened, the Rutland line has a crossing just west of the 37/812 junction. The NYC line crossed Route 37 near the station before all of the downtown “renewal” that occurred, and went under the Route 37 where the road crossed both the NYC line and the Oswegatchie River a mile south of the station area.

The former NYC line from Lake Street south to Heuvelton is now called the Maple City Trail and is a nice walking trail until you are south of the Route 37 bridge. Concrete mile post markers and whistle posts are still in place. The area is “rough” so I wouldn’t walk it in the evenings.

DeKalb to Ogdensburg branch: By 1956, there was only one passenger run a day left. It was gone by 1961.The paper mill at Ogdensburg struggled on until about 1985, when it closed for good. The road shut down operations, since there was no other business. After about a year, the track was removed. March 1987 seems about right as the date of abandonment. So what does USA do for paper these days? Import paper from China?

DeKalb to Ogdensburg branch started on the West side of the river in Ogdensburg. It went South through Heuvelton and Rensselaer Falls to DeKalb Junction. At DeKalb Junction, it met the old New York Central (now CSX) rail line from Watertown to Massena. In Ogdensburg, a former New York Central branch ran Southwest along the St Lawrence River to Watertown. This branch crossed the river and met the Rutland rail line that ran to Rouses Point. Now this line goes to Norwood where it meets CSX. It is owned by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority that also owns the international bridge that replaced the car ferries.

Prescott – Ogdensburg car ferry: It was first started by the Grand Trunk Railway, then the St. Lawrence & Ottawa Railway took it over, then CPR got a hold of it and created a subsidiary company to operate it until it was discontinued. With predecessors it operated to Prescott, Ontario, from the mid 1860s through Sept 1970. In conjunction with the Canadian Pacific Railway from 1930-1970 the joint operation used the tug ‘Prescotont’ and the car barge, ‘Ogdensburg.’ It should be noted that the company also operated the car ferry between Brockville and Morristown.

See some maps of the Ogdensburg area

Picture below was the New York Central Railroad station in Ogdensburg