Niagara By Rail Volume 1 By Peter Jehrio 24 Pages FIRST edition 1991
Niagara By Rail Volume 1 By Peter Jehrio 24 Pages FIRST edition 1991

Niagara By Rail Volume 1 By Peter Jehrio 24 Pages FIRST edition 1991

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Niagara By Rail Volume 1 By Peter Jehrio 24 Pages FIRST edition 1991
 
Niagara By Rail Volume 1 By Peter Jehrio 24 Pages FIRST EDITION 1991
For a while, Buffalo, New York, was the second-largest railroad center in the United States, with several thousand miles of track running through the city and the Niagara Frontier region.
As significant as Buffalo was to the nation as a railroad center, so too were the area railroads significant to the geography of the region. Indeed, there was never anything passive about the way railroad lines entered and criss-crossed the area. They impacted the city and surrounding communities, as well as the countryside, becoming a prominent part of the local geography.
The railroads located their huge passenger terminals right in downtown Buffalo and placed smaller stations in the heart of cities like Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Salamanca. They also built giant freight yards as well as belt and branch lines right alongside local businesses and neighborhoods.
The countryside was affected as well, as railroad lines divided farm tracts, ran parallel to highways and river beds, cut across orchards and woods, snaked over the tops and around the sides of hills, and ran through the center of such places as Atlanta, Eden and LaSalle; even the Niagara University campus.
The railroads were thus always a very important part of the lives of people in the Niagara Frontier, and residents were provided with a continuing and dramatic display of passing trains. People driving along Niagara Street in Buffalo saw trains coming over the International Railway Bridge from Canada, while those driving on Tif ft Street had to cross - at grade, unlike the convenient overpasses of today - the mainline tracks of some of the busiest railroad lines in town. Pity the poor motorist in a hurry!
In downtown Buffalo, people saw and heard passenger trains coming and going from the Lackawanna and Lehigh Valley terminals. In East Buffalo, residents, living near West Shore Avenue and the giant New York Central roundhouse and engine-servicing facilities, either had a field day as they watched the more-than-a-hundred steam engines go through the complex each day, or a nightmare if they tried to hang out wash or leave their windows open to catch a cool breeze coming off Lake Erie.
Smaller cities were not left out. In the steam and early diesel years, North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls residents faced trains of the New York Central, Erie, Lehigh Valley, and Chesapeake & Ohio, as they ran right through the cities, going between Buffalo and both Detroit and Toronto. Today, the number of trains is greatly reduced. Still, residents, especially of the high-rise Carousel Park Apartments on famed Oliver Street in the former lumber capital, have a bird's eye view of Amtrak, Conrail, and other contemporary railroads.
Another aspect of the railroad's impact was the visual presence of its buildings and facilities. People in East Buffalo continue to marvel at the once proud and still stately Central Terminal, while Niagara Falls residents have their famous Suspension Bridge, and Lockport residents have both their classic passenger station and a rather unusual - at least to them - "upside down" bridge over the New York State Barge Canal.
What remains around the Niagara Frontier today of the formerly vast network of tracks is but a mild reflection of what once was. Most of the old railroad line names are gone, and even some right-of-ways-which were virtually wiped out. Witness the hints and shadows of the once-great Lackawanna, Erie, and Lehigh Valley railroads running through Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Depew, Lancaster, and the Tonawandas.
This selection of photographs from the great years of railroading in the Niagara Frontier, as well as today, celebrates not only the wonderful tradition of steam, diesel, and electric operations that once were and still are, in part, but also recognizes the many ways in which the railroads impacted the local geography.

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