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."
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.
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.
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.