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Chapter 8

BNF timetable
An original timetable for the Buffalo and Niagara Falls railroad. Clearly this had become a serious railroad for passenger travel. It was no longer the novelty it once had been.
As the 1850's drew to a close for the Buffalo and Niagara Falls, it had proven its worth above and beyond the original design. Now there was a faster and more reliable way to travel north of the city of Buffalo to destinations that the Erie Canal never came near; places such as Lewiston, or Niagara Falls.

A passenger on the Buffalo and Niagara Falls recalls her journey on the railroad. "We proceeded westward to Batavia and Lockport. There we found a railroad which would carry us from the falls of Niagara, where we arrived on June 21, to Buffalo -- a majestic city on Lake Erie, I am told. On June 25, we left Niagara Falls at half past 2:00 PM and arrived in Buffalo at 4:00 PM. This railroad runs nearly along the right bank of the Niagara River the whole way to Buffalo, and affords admirable views of scenery."

"After a most pleasant stay in Buffalo, we departed on June 27 at 9:00 am for our return to Niagara Falls. It thundered and rained plentifully and the locomotive engine could not drag us forward. Its wheels continued revolving but slipped on the wet rails and we stood motionless. This railroad is twenty three miles in length, and after many stops, we obtained horses. At half past 2:00, we reached Niagara Falls."

Stage Coach
The stage coach, for all its discomforts, was a popular mode of transportation. Taking a lengthy trip on one, however, was not something that many people wanted to endure.

No matter what inconveniences this new contraption delivered, before the days of the railroad a trip to Niagara Falls involved taking a ferry boat from Tonawanda to LaSalle, and from there, passengers boarded a stage coach for a rough and tumble ride. It was truly and all day affair, and not very convenient. A person would have to change conveyances 3 or 4 different times. The railroad changed all of that. Regardless of the limitations the railroads were experiencing, the economic elite of Buffalo began to realize that the budding industry was one they had to buy into or else run the risk of the city being left behind as an industrial power.

They weren't very powerful. There wasn't much trackage. They weren't into hauling that much in serious commerce. But they did begin to show a decided effect on revenues on the canal and this reflected in the amount of materials that were being hauled on the old water route. The railroads could ship goods very quickly and in all types of weather. That fact became a very important consideration. The canal shut down in the winter, the railroad didn't.

On the railroad
This image, from "Marco Paul's Travels on the Erie Canal", shows the main character and his companion riding on a train and noticing a canal boat out the car window. It was amazing to see the canal go by with speeds that the public never thought possible.
"I think that it was only a matter of time before people began to realize that the railroad was a much more efficient way of transportation", Joseph Kocsis, President of the Western New York Railroad Historical Society, continues; "As it became more and more prevalent across the country, schedules increased and the railroad became a way of life. It was no longer "the big locomotive scaring the horses and children" anymore. The railroad was progress and people loved to see it. There was also the fact that the railroad could take you places that the canal just could not go to. It opened up new avenues to travel to -- places like New York City, Boston, and Niagara Falls. You could get to these places and more in a relatively short period of time and not take the entire day just to travel across the county."

Sadly, nothing is left of the old Buffalo and Niagara Falls railroad. It became part of the consolidation of 1853, but that is another chapter yet to unfold. If one looks carefully, the old route can still be envisioned. The road bed is still used today by Conrail as its right of way into and out of the city. The Erie Canal was filled in to make way for the New York State thruway, and all that can be found of the railroad's presence within the downtown area is a plaque mounted on the Marine Midland Center, the city's tallest building . However, not many realize that this historic marker is there. The Erie Street station was torn down in the 1930's.

The Buffalo and Niagara Falls existed for a relatively short period of time. However, it helped to establish Buffalo as the ideal place for a railroad to have a western or eastern terminus. It was the first railroad based solely in Buffalo, but it wasn't the first railroad to have its main line end in Buffalo. That distinction fell to the Attica and Buffalo Railroad.

The railroad scenery
The Buffalo and Niagara Falls, like the other railroads of New York State, was able to bridge the gap between Buffalo and outlying areas of Western New York. By going to places that the Erie Canal was unable to serve, the railroad "shrunk" the world for people who didn't know they had neighbors just a few short miles away.

Many more would follow, and with them would come problems, dangers, and triumphs. War would play a big part in continuing history of Buffalo's railroads also. The Buffalo and Niagara Falls was only the beginning.