GREATER ROCHESTER SHORTLINE RAILROADS
MOHAWK ADIRONDACK & NORTHERN
ADDRESS & PHONE:
Northern Division - North Mechanic, Carthage, NY 13619 - 315-493-6755
Southern Division - 601 Main St, Utica, NY 13501 - 315-733-2231
LBR - 5515 Shady Ave, Lowville, NY 13367 - 315-376-2021 & 315-376-7799
OWNERSHIP: Genesee Valley Transportation, 8364 Lewiston Road, Batavia, NY 14020-1245 - 716-343-5398
REPORTING MARK: MHWA
161.460 - repeater
160.470 - repeater input / PBX
160.920 - repeater input / PBX
161.280 - Lowville (used to talk to ADCX)
160.440 - ADCXs other freq is 160.440
ANNUAL TRAFFIC: 1,320 carloads
- Southern Division:
- Lyons Falls Line - 45 miles - MP U0.00 - U45.0 - Utica to Lyon's Fall timetable
- Rome Industrial Track - 7.06 miles - MP 0.00 - 7.06
- 13 miles of trackage rights on the CSX mainline between Utica & Rome (CP 235 - CP 248)
- Trackage rights on the ADCX
- Northern Division:
- Lowville Running Track - 80 lb rail - 15.6 miles - MP U58.70 - U74.30
- Newton Falls Line - 45.5 miles - MP SA29.70 - SH75.20
The Lowville Industrial Track (LIT) is 80# Dudley (NYCRR) a very rare rail these days! The NYC standard at the turn of the 20th Century was 105# Dudley ( Dudley, I believe was originally a Chief Engineer for the NYC), for the mains, secondary tracks were 90# and 80# Dudley. Later the NYC upgraded their mains with 127# Dudley. For some reason the LIT never got any rail up grades, the former through route from Lyons Falls south to Utica was up graded with 105#, and also has heavier sections of welded rail funded by NY State in 1978.
The LIT was upgraded with a Federal grant in 1996, with new ties and ballast, but there was not enough funding or traffic to warrant the replacement of the rail so the 80# Dudley remains. Occasionally the 80# Dudley is found in old sidings, along the former NYC trackage. We removed some for spares in Rome, NY, and we are planning replacing some in "Lowertown Batavia" on the DLWR which will provide some rare spare rail for the replacement of broken rails on the LIT. Because of the lite rail we prefer to use the 44 Tonners, but during the winter pushing snow and hauling cars up a grade is not their forte, so we use either the M420 or C425, and yes,the big units do waddle down the LIT. When they were the L&BR's only power, they usually ran with their wooden plow and cars downhill out of Lowville to the mills at Beaver Falls. (courtesy David Monte Verde)
- Northern Division:
- Slack Chemical, Carthage
- Climax Paper, West Carthage
- Agway, Castorland
- Lowville Feed & Grain, Lowville
- Lowville Co-op, Lowville
- Appleton Paper Mill, Newton Falls (closed)
- Southern Division:
- Adirondack Scenic Railroad
- Bailey's Feed Mill, Boonton
- Log and utility pole shipper, Boonton
- Junkyard, Utica
- International Paper, Utica Yard
- Brown's Feed, Utica
- Empire Recycling, Utica
- Universal Waste, Utica
- ECO, Utica
- Lyons Falls Paper Mill, Lyons Falls (closed)
- ??? Paper Mill, Lyons Falls
- Revere Copper & Brass, Rome
- Rome Strip Steel, Rome (coil steel)
- Griffiss Industrial Park (former Air Force Base), Rome
SCHEDULE OF OPERATIONS:
INTERCHANGE POINT & RAILROAD: Carthage and Utica with CSX; Lowville with the LBR
LOCOMOTIVE ROSTER: Enginehouses located Utica, Carthage and Lowville. See the GVT roster for engine assignments, notes, heritage and pictures.
11/18/01 - Some good news for GVT's Mohawk Adirondack & Northern Railroad:
After last month hearing that the International Paper log lot in Utica Yard would be closing, coinciding with the closure & dismantlement of IP's Erie PA plant [where the logs had been shipped to], IP was intending to clean out the lot by years end and close it, bringing a fifth paper mill closing related traffic loss to the MA&N.
After searching for destinations for the remaining logs at Utica, a 39 car log train was sent via CSXT/ICG-CN to Alabama, making it there in four days, better than some of the run times from Utica to Erie. IP has found that there is a need for the shorter fiber wood in the south and have begun to explore ways to open this market to Adirondack logs, and now they have begun receiving new logs into the Utica Log Lot, originally scheduled to be closed by year end.
11/28/02 - From the NY Times
Down by Town's Old Mill, Hopes of a Revival Surge
By DAN BARRY
NEWTON FALLS, N.Y., Nov. 25 Nearly two months have passed since the people of this remote hamlet, in a remote town in a remote county in the northern Adirondacks, gathered to do something they had not done in a very long time. They flexed some emotional muscles that had gone slack, and they cheered. Noise of any kind is rare these days in Newton Falls. For a century, life was lived to the welcome sounds that more affluent communities might rail against: machine groans and truck whines and train clatters, the cacophony of commerce. But the paper mill shut down two years ago, ending its status as the area's largest employer and provoking the resounding silence.
Until those cheers, that is, which rang through the pines one late September day, when dignitaries announced in the mill's parking lot that a Canadian company had bought the plant and expected to hire as many as 129 people here roughly the number of those who had lost their jobs when the mill shut down. Finally, it seemed, one of the rare rumors of hope being whispered by men hunched at the bar of the Newton Falls Hotel was coming true. Just when upstate factory shutdowns had become almost a cliché, here was a startling news flash:
Upstate Mill to Reopen.
The announcement did not include an opening date, highlighting the gap between words and action. But another upstate mill bought by the same owner has already opened, giving people here more reason to assume that the good news is real. "It's a huge deal for us," said Christopher Westbrook, the president of the economic development committee for the towns of Clifton and Fine, whose combined population of 2,400 includes the few dozen residents of Newton Falls. The news quickly made its way 200 miles to Tom Manchester, one of the area's many sons and daughters to leave home for a far-away job. He has asked economic development officials in St. Lawrence County to include his name on the list of former mill employees interested in coming back.
For him and his wife, Jackie, the reasons cannot be more basic. "Pretty much our whole families are up there," he said. But for now, at least, he is staying put. Like all mill veterans, he has not forgotten how brutal the paper business can be.
Stuart Belkin, the president of Belkorp Industries, the company that now owns the mill, has bought four other mills in the Northeast over the last year or so, including one in nearby Deferiet. The plants will work together to produce high-quality recycled paper, he said, but many things must fall into place, particularly a greater demand for recycled goods.
That was why his comments on that gleeful September day in Newton Falls were so tempered.
"These people have been through a hard time," he said later, "so their optimism and expectations have definitely been kindled. It's a serious responsibility, because people are certainly counting on a turn for the better."
Two of Mr. Belkin's five plants are operating including the one in Deferiet and company officials are not yet sure which one to open next. Maybe it will be the one in Newton Falls, maybe by July; maybe. Until that decision is made, far from Newton Falls, people around here look and listen for signs.
"There are more lights at the mill now," said Anne Hynes, a Newton Falls resident whose father worked in the mill and whose uncle once served as its president. "It's not a lot; it's not like it used to be. But there's activity."
More lights would be nice for the towns of Clifton and Fine. They have taken their fair share of upstate's economic blows a steel mill's shutdown in the 1970's cost several hundred jobs but the last two years have tested the community's emotional infrastructure more than any storm of winter.
There was the closing of the paper mill in late 2000; 125 people out of a job and a smokestack gone cold. There was the fire that destroyed another source of local pride, the firehouse. And there was the death of Shannon Adams, a graduate of the small Clifton-Fine school district and just 25 years old. He had been so proud of the address on his business card: Tower One, 101st Floor, World Trade Center.
But the people of Clifton-Fine have uncommon spirit, local and state officials say; they refuse to submit. They formed task forces to foster economic development and local pride, and now the community's center, Star Lake, has a new bakery, a new pharmacy, a new bed-and-breakfast.
They also helped to court prospective buyers for the closed mill, a process that reached its nadir when a would-be mill owner wanted to get a sense of his potential work force. More than 100 people showed up for the meeting he called in December 2001, but he was out of the picture before the thaw.
"There were several other people who were interested, and we tried to stay in real close contact," said Mr. Westbrook, who is also the director of the state ranger school in Wanakena. "But they faded."
Then, in May, Mr. Westbrook traveled to Watertown to join representatives of St. Lawrence County and the Empire State Development Corporation in trying to charm a new suitor, this one a businessman from western Canada. Rumors swept through town that the meeting had been positive; that this Stuart Belkin was smitten. It was a long summer. Jean Burrows, the owner of the Newton Falls Hotel, said that every time she went to the bank in Star Lake, she was asked the same thing: "What are you hearing? What are you hearing?"
The usual snags developed during negotiations, and the usual sweeteners were thrown in by the county and the Pataki administration: $500,000 in state transportation funds here, a $500,000 capital grant there, some bureaucratic sleight-of-hand that allowed the new owners to receive significant tax breaks. Finally, they had a deal. Mr. Belkin bought the mill from a company in Atlanta that never intended to get into the paper business. He declined to reveal the sales price, but said that the Newton Falls and Deferiet plants were bought "for a fraction of their conventionally ascribed value."
Next came the celebration. Gov. George E. Pataki arrived in a motorcade that followed the tree-lined road to the mill, not the one that wends past the remnants of the old steel plant. He was in the midst of a re-election campaign, of course, but no other governor in memory had ever been to Newton Falls. Signs that thanked Belkorp and the governor for saving the mill hung from tree trunks and store windows. Two schoolchildren sang a song that one of their teachers had written called "Possibilities." There were homemade cakes to eat, and speeches to hear, and rounds of drinks to buy at the hotel, and people, so many people.
"It's one of the most remarkable days I've spent in public service," said Raymond Meier, the area's state senator. "When you hear someone say the whole town turned out, well the whole town turned out."
Great as it was, that day had to end. Mr. Pataki went back to Albany, Mr. Belkin back to Vancouver. Now it is late November, the pine branches are sagging with snow, and the hamlet of Newton Falls waits for its quiet to end.
What a wonderful day that was when the governor came to town, Ms. Hynes said.
"But the happiest day will be when the smoke comes out of the stack."
New life in the North Country
Alco-powered MA&N keeps ex-Conrail routes in the Adirondacks busy
By Douglas J. Fear
This article originally appeared in the November 1997 TRAINS
22 September 1997
SINCE THE EARLY SETTLEMENT of northern New York State, the territory around Watertown east to Massena, near the Quebec border, has been called the "North Country" by locals. Remote, rugged, and beautiful, it is the home of the Adirondack Mountains and still a sportsman's paradise. The woods and rocky outcroppings of the North Country provide a backdrop for the operations of the Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern. Its aging but well-maintained Alco diesels continue to pay their way, hauling materials for the manufacture of paper on a line first constructed with maple rails.
The remnants of the railroads that today constitute the north end of the MA&N have roots in the 1860's. Plans for the first railroad to serve the burgeoning paper industry along the Black River took shape when a charter was granted to the Carthage, Watertown & Sackets Harbor Railroad in the late 1860's. Financed locally, construction began in 1870 west from Watertown. The first complete section reached Sackets Harbor on the shore of Lake Ontario in 1871. By 1874 the section from Carthage to Watertown was also complete.
While local interests were busy building the CW&SH, a second railroad on a much grander scale was being built into the North Country. Begun in the 1850's, the Utica & Black River pushed into Carthage in 1872 on what is now the MA&N's Lowville Industrial Track (LIT). Following the path of the Black River Canal and the the Black River toward Carthage, the U&BR linked the central and northern portions of the state along the western edge of the Adirondacks. The U&BR crossed the thriving Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg at Philadelphia, N.Y., and pushed on to Clayton by 1873. Then as now, Clayton was known as a gateway to the summer resorts of the Thousand Islands and Alexandria Bay. The southern shore of the St. Lawrence River was a popular vacation destination, and the railroads endeavored to make the most of it.
In 1883, the Carthage & Adirondack Railroad was chartered to finish a line begun in 1869 as the Black River & St. Lawrence Railway, originally laid with maple wood rails as far as Natural Bridge. Relaid with iron rails by the C&A, it connected with the U&BR and the CW&SH at Carthage. The line was opened to a remote mining community known as Jayville by 1887; pushed on to Little River (Benson Mines) by 1889; and extended to Newton Falls (its current terminus) in 1896.
After a highly competitive and particularly thorny battle for control of the North Country's rail transportation network, the RW&O in April 1886 purchased the majority of the U&BR, linking the two largest railroads in the North Country. Yet the flourishing 600-mile RW&O property was not to control its own destiny. The RW&O, the C&A, and the CW&SH ceased to be when, in 1891, William K. Vanderbilt extended his railroad empire by bringing all three roads into the fold of the mighty New York Central & Hudson River.
For years, these railroads survived as branches of the NYC, but in 1949, the North Country's rail operations began their decline. Service between Sackets Harbor and Watertown was discontinued. Even today, aging mileposts with the letters "SH" dot MA&N's line to Newton Falls denoting the distance from Sackets Harbor, a community no longer served by rail. By the late 1960's, former CW&SH trackage between Watertown and Carthage was abandoned, leaving the 45.5-mile Carthage-Newton Falls line to soldier on through the dark days of Penn Central and into the 1980's under Conrail.
Enter Genesee Valley Transportation
Founded in 1983 by entrepreneur David J. Monte Verde, Genesee Valley Transportation Company Inc. initially was established to market and broker railway rolling stock. Acquiring motive power (much of it Alco) for prospective leasing arrangements, Monte Verde, along with associates Charles Reidmiller and Michael Thomas, expanded the company's leasing services from its home base in Batavia, N.Y. Start-up of a shortline railroad became the long-term goal, and on August 1, 1989, GVT began operations of the Depew, Lancaster & Western Railroad with ex-Central Vermont RS11 3600 and ex-D&H RS3 4085.
With the success of the DL&W, GVT began shopping for other viable rail properties. After targeting the Lowville & Beaver River, a 10.4-mile upstate New York carrier incorporated in 1903, GVT worked with the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency and local businessman Livingston Lansing to arrange purchase of the L&BR from Specialty Paperboard in Beaver Falls. Lansing was the proud owner of a two-truck Shay steam locomotive under restoration at Rome Locomotive in Rome, N.Y. Pete Gores, general manager of MA&N/L&BR, affectionately remembers "Liv" as a well-heeled gentleman who wanted to "...build a railroad around his house for a couple of miles or so." Today, Pete refers half jokingly to Lansing's locomotive as "the Shay that helped start a railroad empire."
Out of service since January 1990, the Lowville & Beaver River resumed operations in February 1991 under GVT control. L&BR is the sole rail outlet for Specialty Paperboard and Armstrong Gasket in Beaver Falls, and it gets additional business from a small agricultural supply business in Croghan.
Noting the successes of GVT, Conrail approached Monte Verde to operate the Newton Falls Secondary and the Lowville Industrial Track, and in December 1990 GVT was tapped to buy and operate them. By June 1991, Mohawk, Adirondack & Northern, a newly formed GVT subsidiary, began operations.
A busy week
As with many short lines, MA&N operates only Monday through Friday. MA&N's north-end operation usually sees the M420 or a C425 working the Conrail yard at the north end of Carthage in the morning, starting about 9.
Usually on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, standard operation requires the MA&N to run to Newton Falls, located about 23 miles inside Adirondack Park. On Tuesdays and Thursdays it may run down the LIT to Lowville. Traffic on the LIT is limited to four industries: Climax Paper across the Black River in West Carthage, Agway at Castorland, Lowville Feed & Grain, and Lowville Co-Op. While the Alcos do see service as far as Lowville, General Manager Pete Gores prefers the L&BR's 44-tonners. "It's 80-pound rail between Carthage and Lowville, and the GE's are much easier on the rail ... the big Alcos have tendency to 'waddle.'"
Traffic on MA&N's Newton Falls Sub consists primarily of loads for Appleton Papers at Newton Falls, which accounts for 36 percent of MA&N's business. Since there are virtually no other customers between Carthage and the end of the line, changes in ownership of the Newton Falls mill have brought dry spells to MA&N. Pete explains, "The mill just had its 100th anniversary in the summer of '95 and by the fall it was sold to Appleton. They stopped production, wanting to see what the plant could produce. It put us in our worst economic period we've had on the railroad; ... our business died for about three months."
Despite such difficulties, MA&N continues to seek out new business. As an example of its determined outlook, the railroad recently helped Slack Chemical's Carthage operation in building a siding and providing additional service for inbound tank cars. A supplier to the paper industry, Slack custom blends chemicals used in the manufacture of wood pulp and paper products. Since MA&N prides itself on customer service, the short line will do what it takes when requested, all part of what GVT calls "Friendly, customized rail service."
Nightly, Conrail swaps cars with MA&N as well as the Champion Paper mill farther north in Deferiet. Daily except Saturday, Conrail's wayfreight, symbol WAWT-11, is ordered at Watertown around 7 p.m. At Carthage, WAWT-11 sets out cars for MA&N and picks up traffic destined for Syracuse, where it's re-marshaled in Conrail's Dewitt Yard.
Gores gives Conrail fairly high marks on service. "They're pretty good. We work really well with them. There were some original stumbling blocks ... comments about taking away jobs. But since then, it's been a pretty good relationship."
MA&N's south-end operations are based out of Utica. Mornings usually see a C425 switching the yard. On Tuesdays and Fridays, the crew ventures 45 miles up the old U&BR line to Lyons Falls Pulp & Paper, the end-of-track in its namesake town. Lyons Falls has been the stub end of this former branch since February 1964, when the NYC abandoned and took out 12.8 miles of track from Lyons Falls to Lowville, for reasons which, even now, remain unclear.
The balance of the week, MA&N's south-end Alcos switch the International Paper Plant and go west to Revere Copper and Brass in Rome, utilizing trackage rights on a 17-mile section of Conrail's Water Level Route. During the summer months, MA&N occasionally delivers coal to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome for its winter stockpile.
With GVT's close links to Conrail, the future operations of "Big Blue's" lines will certainly affect the MA&N. Since taking control of the former Conrail trackage, GVT has seen business grow more than 32 percent. Reliable interchange and a good partnership with a responsive Class 1 road have been crucial to both MA&N and L&BR.
Obviously, GVT's biggest concern will be the ownership of the Montreal Secondary from Syracuse to Massena. Gores says, "That's the biggest 'if' going. They've had people from both Norfolk Southern and CSXT courting us. I don't think anyone can tell you answers. Nobody knows how this will end up." While it appears CSX will be the service provider on the Montreal line, nothing is etched in stone until the entire Conrail integration plan is settled. Of note is that Conrail had the Montreal Secondary on its "for sale" list, a process which was halted when CSX and NS agreed on the proposed Conrail breakup. Even Canadian National has entered the fray, concerned with maintaining its U.S. market links through upstate New York to points beyond. Potentially, MA&N could end up being served by the big Canadian road.
There are no unanswered questions, however, about GVT's motive-power fleet. Monte Verde says the firm is committed to keeping the dependable 251-engined Alcos running for as long as it can. Recent locomotive assignments have placed No. 806 in Utica along with the one GVT-painted C425, No. 2453 (its original Erie Lackawanna number). Carthage now is home for recently acquired ex-BC Rail M420 No. 645.
GVT officials expect that the two-tone green scheme inherited from BC Rail on the ex-EL C425's will gradually disappear, replaced by GVT's corporate scheme, a white and gray with gold and maroon striping invoking memories of EL and Lehigh Valley (GVT's diamond emblem is also LV-inspired). The livery, with the road name spelled out in Scotchlite reflective sheeting, also adorns caboose 4810. When will the rest of the fleet be painted? In keeping with MA&N's philosophy, Gores says, "As time between servicing our customers allows." He does concede, though, "I kind of like the green. That's a sharp-looking scheme."
As for traffic, Gores wants more. At one time Conrail brought in fuel oil for the Newton Falls paper plant. "It amounted to about 400 or 500 carloads annually," he says. "Now it's all trucked in. We'd like to get the fuel oil back. That would be a big shot in the arm for us."
Currently, MA&N is also working with Appleton Papers to reinstall its outbound shipping track, which would take a considerable amount of traffic away from trucks. In the process, it would save Appleton Papers hundreds of thousands of dollars and would generate another 400 to 500 cars annually.
Considering that 23 miles--nearly 50 percent--of the Newton Falls Sub traverses Adirondack Park, the MA&N is challenged by the limited number of industrial sites and freight transportation opportunities. But whatever industry opens up along the MA&N, you can bet that someone from GVT will be knocking the door down to get its business. Gores says it best: "How much it amounts to, I don't know. It could be a car a year, who knows? We're just like every short line; every car counts, that's the name of the game. You can't just wait for it, you have to go after everything." 2
DOUGLAS J. FEAR is an operations planner with Bombardier's Transportation Systems Division in Kingston, Ontario, where he lives with his wife, Diana. This is his second TRAINS byline. He thanks GVT Rail and all past and present personnel of the MA&N. Special thanks to Pete Gores and his wife, Pat, for their hospitality, generosity, and assistance.
This article originally appeared in the November 1997 TRAINS
22 September 1997
HISTORY: Former NYC/PC/Conrail trackage.
CREDITS: David Monte Verde, GVT Timetable
Hits since 2/27/00
UPDATED: February 20, 2005
Copyright 2002 by Les Wilson - all rights reserved