Syracuse Post-Standard, Oct. 12, 1947
Ah, but there's bad news in the North Country!
Through the outer fastness of Daysville, in the farm-homes of New Haven; among the denizens of the pretty village of Mexico, and deep in the hearts of North Scriba's strawberry growers there's a pulsing sadness and a feeling of bitter anguish.
Fate, in the form of an official order, approved by governmental sanction, has struck at last...And there will be no more passenger trains on the Hojack between Pulaski and Oswego. October 1. was the fatal day - a day which may be appropriately draped in somber black on future Oswego calendars.
Old-timers, who have been watching developments were not too much surprised at the culmination of this tragedy - they had seen it coming - but when, at last, the blow fell, they were none the less saddened and disgruntled.
For many years there have been no passenger trains on the west end of the Hojack from Oswego to Suspension Bridge - a mighty long stretch of rails. More and more curtailed has become the service on other Hojack divisions - and now this, the latest and saddest blow of all!
Why, I can recall when there were eight passenger trains puffing daily between these two points - and they carried a lot of passengers, too.
In the early 90's, you could stand in the window of Trainmaster Jimmy Halleran's Oswego office and see a whole lot of railroad activity To the west were the big railroad yards, the roundhouse and the shops, presided over by Pete Lonergan, and to the east you could watch the trains rolling in over the bridge - practically one right behind the other!
That, folks, was long before they started to grow greensward between the rails for decorative purposes. That was the day when railroaders were salty and sassy, locomotive smokestacks long and bell-crowned; and every other brakeman you met was short his right thumb as the result of a losing battle with a recalcitrant coupling pin. Badges of honor we deemed these foreshortened digits - symbols of service and guardians of grim accomplishment.
At the turn of the century you could leave Pulaski by train for Oswego
at 7:30 a.m., 11:20 a.m., 3:15 p.m., or 7:05 p.m., as your fancy might dictate - and there were four other trains leaving Oswego, eastbound, at appropriate intervals. In those days, Pulaski depot was a busy place.
Agent Austin was in charge, with a telegrapher, a clerk and a baggage man to assist him. Later, Harry Franklin took over the agency, to be succeeded by Earl Benson, who in turn gave way to John Benedict.
On your way to Oswego in those days, your first stop was Daysville - there's not even a depot there now - where you would see Agent Marty Sampson (or, perhaps, Bert Shear) hustling out to the baggage car. After no undue hesitation here, you chugged on to Mexico, where presided the veteran Matthewson, who adorned that one depot for more than 50 years.
Then on to New Haven, whose station agent was another old-timer, even then, Ed Prior, who still lives there, was in charge of the New Haven depot from 1895 until 1941 - and I have never heard of his growing old!
The last stop, east of Oswego, was North Scriba (Lycoming), where the big strawberries came from. Here labored George Murphy as the Hojack representative. In the same capacity, George went later to Parish, and still later to Phoenix, where he continued as agent until his retirement, some three years ago. He still dwells in Phoenix and he'll feel sorry, too, about those ghost trains that no longer haunt the rails.
There are still three veteran station agents left on the Pulaski-Oswego line: Ray Geer at Pulaski, Ed Dayton at Mexico and Charlie Lodge at Lycoming - but any one of these will freely admit that "she ain't what she used to be" - and they won't be referring to the "old grey mare," either!
Well, the fast trains are going faster and faster - and the slow trains are going fast, too. The sturdy hands that gripped the throttles of the big, old steam hogs are, one by one, growing pulseless and cold; the keen eyes that peered ahead from the cab windows have closed in their last long sleep, and the rusty, grass-grown rails vibrate no more to the impact of the big drive wheels - except when the tri-weekly local freight goes plodding by!
In the old days, railroading was a rugged job and railroaders were a rugged company. They were rough, they were ready,. And not so very steady - But they got there just the same.
I recall a favorite story that Barney Fidler, Hojack fireman for many years, used to tell with great glee. Barney claimed his uncle Mort was the best locomotive engineer that every yanked a throttle on the Hojack or any other road. He sat on the right side of the cab for more than 40 years - and then, all of a sudden-like, he took sick, and died at the age of 71.
There was a big funeral. Everybody for miles around came to pay their respects to the memory of the old man; for he had been a friend to everybody and everybody's friend. After the services, they loaded uncle Mort into the open hearse and started for Little France burying ground. Everybody went along in their buggies and their "democrat” wagons. Barney claimed it was the longest funeral procession ever seen in Oswego County. As the cortege approached the cemetery gate, the deceased pushed up the casket-lid with a powerful hand, and leaned on one elbow, gazed back at the long, apparently interminable string of carriages.
"By Jumpin' Jickety," shouted the old hogger, "She's sure a mighty long drag - betcha the drinks we have to double into the graveyard."
Anyway - that's how Barney used to tell it.
The demise of the New York Central Railroad operating daily between Oswego and Utica through Mexico
Mexico Independent, June 12, 1947
C of C Protests Removal of Train
In Letter to PSC
The Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Inc., is joining forces with the Oswego Chamber in removal of the passenger train through Mexico, to take effect Monday, June 16.
The following motion was passed unanimously act the regular June meeting: “The secretary of this Chamber shall be instructed to direct a letter to the Public Service Commission protesting the removal of trains 47-472 and 483-48 of the New York Central Railroad operating daily between Oswego and Utica through Mexico.”
The railroad has announced its intention of removing the passenger service effective June 16. However, the action cannot be taken without consent of the P. S. C. as long as a protest has been lodged with the Commission. It is expected that a hearing will be scheduled in the near future in Oswego in order that the affected persons may have an opportunity to express their opinions.
Mexico Independent, September 11, 1947
Train Discontinued to Utica September 26.
Discontinuance by the New York Central of its train service between Oswego and Utica, authorized by a ruling of the Public Service Commission, will become effective on Sunday, Sept. 28, it was announced Thursday by W. A. Hamler of the St. Lawrence & Adirondack division of the railroad. Mr. Hamler said that officials of the road had decided suspend the train on that date, which marks the end of daylight saving for the year and concedes with the issuance of new timetables by the road.
Suspension of operations will mark the severance of Mexico’s last rail line with Northern New York and Utica. For several years the New York Central has endeavored to eliminate the Oswego-Utica passenger service, which the road contends is a losing proposition.
Action of the Public Service Commission in granting the New York Central’s petition for discontinuance of service followed s public hearing held in Oswego on July 1, at which a number of witnesses appeared, most of them protesting the removal of service. A later hearing took place in Utica on July 24. The local Chamber of Commerce was represented in opposition by John Mowry, president..
Just Around the Corner by Bertrande Snell