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.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

City Island Horse Railroad Temporarily Shut Down in 1892 Over Cruelty Concerns

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I have been working on a history of the "horse railroad" that once ran in the Town of Pelham from Bartow Station to the end of City Island. Today's post adds additional research to the collection I have assembled so far. At the end of this post is a list of links to earlier postings on the topic.

Today's posting transcribes a newspaper article about the horse railroad that appeared in July 16, 1892 issue of The World. The article is transcribed in its entirety below.

The Twelve Horses of the Pelham Park Railroad Tied Up.
The Bergh Society Says the Animals Work Too Hard and, Like Them, the Road is Tied Up, Too -- The President of the Road Is Also Head of the Local Brnach of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Twenty fishermen sat on the platform at Bartow Station yesterday morning and whistled.  They had come out on the Harford and New Haven Railroad from New York for a day's sport on the Sound.  At Bartow Station the trains connect with a horse-car line running to City Island and Belden Point, the places nearest to the best fishing grounds on the Sound. 

The fishermen expected to find a car waiting as usual, but it was not there.  Half an hour passed and the whistle changed to a ragged chorus of profanity.  A bare-footed country boy came down the road, patting the dust with his feet.

He wore a torn straw hat, and had a stone bruise on his heel.  He looked about as if searching for something.  Seeing the crowd on the platform, he eyed them silently for a few moments and then yelled:

'I say, if you fellers is waiting for the cars yer might as well go back.  There won't be any cars.  The cops stopped them.'

He then went on his way, not replying to the questions hurled at him by the now thoroughly disgusted group. 

No car meant either to return to the city or to walk three miles under a broiling sun over a road on which the dust lay six inches deep.  Some concluded to have the fishing at all costs, and so trudged away to Belden Point.  The majority, however, concluded to return to town, and so, packing up their outfits, they took the next train to the city.

Inquiry at the offices of the company showed that the road was virtually tied up, the officers of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, this city, having suspended most of the company's horses from work. 

The car line is known as the Pelham Park Railroad.  It has about six miles of track and is operated by twelve horses, one horse to a car.  Twenty-three round trips are made daily from Bartow Station to Belden Point.  It is the line over which all the Sound fishermen who go to Belden Point or City Island must travel.  It does a large business and often, particularly on Sunday, the cars are crowded. 

The Superintendent, F. Underhill, is a very young man, and bears his youth with all the dignity of old age.  He wears a flowing red mustache on his upper lip and a pair of darkened glass spectacles on his eyes.

'Yes,' he said, heaving a sigh, 'the society has just about tied us up.  We cannot carry out our contract with the railroad and make regular trips.' 

Supt. Hankinson, of the society, was not at all pleased to learn that his operations in Westchester County had become public, for he did not intend to make it so for several days.

'We have been receiving complaints against this road for some time past,' he said, 'and after investigating found that the horses were greatly overworked.  One horse was supposed to make two continuous trips hauling a heavy car after him.  The road runs over several hills, and the traffic being heavy, we concluded to stop abuse.

'Mr. Underhill was in my office to-day and I thold him that he must put on more horses.  A number have been suspended and I do not see how he can run his road with those he has left.  He can not do it." 

A large squad of the officers will make a descent on the road to-morrow, and it they find that the company is using the horses agaisnt orders, every man, from driver to president, will be arrested. 

A curious fact in connection with the affair is that W. R. Lambertson, the President of the Pelham Park road, is also President of the branch of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals located at Bartow, which society has no official connection with Mr. Hankinson's society.  Thus the chief officer of a society formed for the one purpose of protecting animals may be prosecuted for cruelty to the very animals which he should protect under the laws of the State.  As to-morrow is the great day for Sound fishermen there will be hundreds going to Bartow Station expecting to be carried over to the Sound."

Source:  So the Fishermen Swore, The World, July 16, 1892, p. 9, col. 8.

Thu., May 13, 2010: More on the Early History of the Pelham and City Island Railroad.

Tue., May 4, 2010: Questions Regarding the Trolley Franchise from Bartow Station to the Tip of City Island Arose in 1915.

Mon., May 3, 2010: Efforts To Reorganize the Operators of the City Island Horse Railroad and Monorail in 1914.

Fri., April 30, 2010: "Truly, An Illuminating Little Passage in the History of New-York!" - Efforts to Develop Shore Road Trolley Line in 1897.

Thu., April 29, 2010: City Islanders Complain and Force the Operators of Their Horse Railroad to Agree to Replace Antiquated Cars in 1908.

Wed., April 28, 2010: Efforts by the Pelham Park Horse Railroad to Expand and Develop a Trolley Car Line on Shore Road in 1897.

Tue., April 27, 2010: New York City's Interborough Rapid Transit Company Sued to Foreclose a Mortgage on the Horse Railroad in 1911.

Mon., April 26, 2010: Public Service Commission Couldn't Find Marshall's Corners in 1909.

Fri., March 5, 2010: Construction of the City Island Horse Railroad in 1887.

Thu., March 4, 2010: Beginnings of Horse Railroad - News from Pelham and City Island Published in 1884.

Wed., March 3, 2010: 1879 Advertisement for Robert J. Vickery's City Island Stage Line, A Predecessor to the City Island Horse Railroad.

Tue., March 2, 2010: 1901 Report Indicated that The Flynn Syndicate Planned to Buy the Pelham Bay Park & City Island Horse Car Line.

Mon., March 1, 2010: Flynn Syndicate Buys the City Island Horse Car Line in 1907 to Incorporate It Into Electric Trolley Line.

Fri., February 26, 2010: 1913 Decision of Public Service Commission to Allow Reorganization of City Island Horse Railroad for Electrification.

Thu., February 25, 2010: Photograph of Patrick Byrnes and Article About His Retirement of the City Island Horse Car in 1914.

Wed., February 24, 2010: Attempted Suicide of City Island's Long-Time Horse Car Driver

Wed., February 3, 2010: Early Information Published in 1885 About the Organization of the "City Island Railroad", a Horse Railroad from Bartow Station to City Island

Tue., February 2, 2010: Information About the Pelham Park Railroad at its Outset

Fri., January 22, 2010: 1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island

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.
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