In 1902 a merger of the Cayadutta Electric, FJ&G, and
Amsterdam Street Railroad took place using the Fonda, Johnstown and
Gloversville Railroad name. The latter road tied in to the Cayadutta
Electric at Sulphur Springs Junction (near Johnstown) and continued
southeastward along the Mohawk River to Schenectady
roughly paralleling the New York Central & Hudson River (NYC) main
line. The final growth of the FJ&G occurred a year later when it
took over the bankrupt Mountain Lake Electric Railroad, which connected
Gloversville with a nearby resort at Mountain Lake. While all of the
interurban lines added substantial mileage to the FJ&G system they
were not particularly profitable, as was so often the case with such
operations (the FJ&G did, however, use its electrified lines for
freight service, operating General Electric-built 35-ton steeple-cabs).
Still, the interurbans provided the FJ&G with a through route from the large industrial city of Schenectady to the resorts north of Gloversville, which continued to bring in decent revenues through the early 1920s when automobiles finally began to make their presence known. The cutbacks of the FJ&G started early, when it abandoned its former Mountain Lake Electric Railroad in 1916 due to lack of ridership. In 1928 the state of New York began damming the Sacandaga River to help control flooding along the Hudson River valley. This resulted in the Sacandaga Reservoir forming south of Northville that inundated the FJ&G right-of-way and the road elected to abandon the branch instead of rebuilding it due to declining ridership. The company made an effort to save remaining interurban operations between Gloversville and Schenectady in 1931 by purchasing five high-speed, lightweight interurban cars from the J.G. Brill Company, which could operate up to 65 mph.
The cars, numbered 125-129, were very well built albeit extremely expensive at $25,000 each. However, they helped sustain ridership if only for a brief time. On April 5, 1938 the New York Public Service Commission condemned the FJ&G's bridge over the Mohawk River into Schenectady and since the cars could not be operated bi-directionally they had no way of being turned. As a result, the railroad elected to sell the cars to Utah's Bamberger Railroad (another interurban) and abandoned their route to Schenectady on June 24th that same year. Soon after the road followed through with this by ending all interurban operations, including both streetcar lines and the former Cayadutta Electric parallel route between Fonda and Gloversville. What remained was the original FJ&G with the company continued to employ a gas-electric "Doodlebug", #340, for passenger services until July 12, 1956 when the final mixed train ran from Gloversville to Broadalbin. For more reading about the FJ&G please click here.
The FJ&G's freight traffic
at this time still relied heavily on its tanneries, which produced
primarily gloves but also other leather products (hence how Gloversville
got its name). During the World War II time period its traffic
consisted of hides, skins, salt, steel, gluestock, rags, chemicals,
grain, agriculture, timber, and even automobiles. In September of 1945
the company transitioned from steam to diesel power when it purchased a
brand new Alco S2 switcher, #20 and picked up another a year later, #21.
It would later acquire an RS2, RS3, and a GE 44-tonner all of which
sported a orange and black livery with yellow trim. For the next 30
years freight ho-hummed along between Fonda and Broadalbin (a distance
of 19.7 miles) until the local tannery business played out, forcing the
FJ&G into bankruptcy and suspending operations in January, 1974
after 107 years of service.
(Thanks to "Case Of The Ambidextrous Short Line" by author Jim Shaughnessy from the March, 1959 issue of Trains as a primary reference for this article.)
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Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville