Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, January 22, 2010

1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a horse-drawn car line ran from the Bartow Station on the Branch Line to City Island.  An image of one of the horse-drawn cars taken from an early 20th century post card appears immediately below.

 Occasionally I have written about the "horse railroad" that once carried passengers between Bartow Station and City Island.  See, e.g.

Tue., September 1, 2009:  Pelham News on February 29, 1884 Including Talk of Constructing a New Horse Railroad from Bartow to City Island

Wed., December 2, 2009:  Accident on Horse-Car of the Pelham Park Railroad Line in 1889

 Thu., December 31, 2009:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company

Mon., January 4, 2010:  1888 Local News Account Describes Altercation on the Horse Railroad Running from Bartow Station to City Island

The horse-drawn trolley car system was so successful in its early years that the Town of Pelham even contemplated building another such line in early 1890 that would have run essentially along the route later taken by the electric trolley known as the Pelham Manor Trolley that inspired Fontaine Fox to create the Toonerville Trolley.  See Mon., February 6, 2006:  Plans to Create a Horse-Drawn Trolley Car System in Pelham in Early 1890.

Today's Historic Pelham blog posting transcribes a brief description of the early origins of the horse railroad that ran between Bartow Station and City Island.  The account appeared in an issue of the New-Rochelle Pioneer published in December 1884.

"--A short time ago the Pelham Park R. R. Co., and the City Island R. R. Co., was incorporated for the purpose of building a railroad from Bartow to City Island.  For the sake of greater convenience in legal matters the road was divided into two parts, the first named company agreeing to build the part on the main land, and the City Island Company the part on the Island, it being understood that the two roads should be consolidated after their completion.  Both companies readily obtained the consents of the Commissioners of Highways to the construction of their roads, and the City Island Company also obtained the consents of a large majority of the property owners along its line.  The Pelham Park Company was, however, unable to obtain the consents of the requisite number of the property owners along its division of the road, and it accordingly appealed on Monday last to the General Term of the Supreme Court, in Brooklyn, for the appointment of Commissioners to determine whether its road was necessary and should be built notwithstanding the objections of the property owners.  At the hearing the company was represented by W. R. Lamberton, of Pelham Manor, and the property owners by Chas. D. Burrill of Bartow, Miller, Peekhouse & Dixon, of New York and others.  The opposition to the motion was based upon alleged defects in the moving papers and in the incorporation of the company, on the unconstitutionality of the statute under which the company was incorporated, and on the law prohibiting the construction of a railroad in a public park.  Various other objections were also made.  The court reserved its decision at the time, but on the following day decided in favor of the company, and appointed Elisha Horton, Arthur J. Burns and Stephen D. Horton as Commissioners.  This decision, it would seem, finally settles the question of a railroad to City Island, as there appears to be no doubt in regards to its necessity.  City Island now contains over 1500 inhabitants, and has the distinction of being the only place of its size in the United States without the convenience of a railroad, and this fact is the more remarkable because of the close proximity of the Island to New York City.  With the completion of the new road it is expected that the Island will have a regular 'boom,' and will become within a few years the most popular summer resort in the neighborhood of New York.  It has every advantage in the way of location; and all it now needs is a convenient means of communication with the metropolis."

Source:  [Untitled], New-Rochelle Pioneer, Dec. ?, 1884, p. ?, col. 2 (newspaper page fragment contains no issue date or page number, but text references on the page make clear it was published between Dec. 1, 1884 and Dec. 14, 1884; digital copy of page fragment in files of the author).

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