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, June 01, 2018

Sale of The Pelham Horse Railroad in 1900


It was a sleepy one-track horse railroad -- Pelham's first.  Beginning in the 1880s, it ran in two sections from Bartow Station on the New Haven Branch Line down City Island Road to Marshall's Corners near the beginning of City Island Bridge, then across the bridge to Belden's Point at the end of City Island.  Some called it a trolley.  It really was just a dilapidated trolley car pulled along on tracks by a pair of horses.  Yet, at the turn of the 20th century, the sleepy little horse railroad found itself in the eye of a business hurricane.

At the turn of the 20th century, two trolley companies were in a brutal corporate battle to be the first to acquire small trolley franchises throughout the region and connect their trolley tracks to permit travel by trolley from The Bronx to the Connecticut border roughly parallel to the New Haven railroad lines.  The New York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company (also known as the "Traction Company" and the "P. H. Flynn Syndicate") was in a race against the Union Railway (also known as the "Huckleberry Railway").

Both companies were taking over and consolidating small trolley franchises and horse-drawn railroads along the coast.  Early in 1900, the Union Railway reportedly paid half a million dollars for the Tarrytown and Mamaroneck trolley line only to discover that the P. H. Flynn Syndicate had made strategic acquisitions in Larchmont and "other points" to block the ability of the Union Railway to connect its main trolley lines along the coast with its new acquisition.

The P. H. Flynn Syndicate then made its next strategic move.  The Pelham Horse Railroad was the only railway line that ran within Pelham Bay Park.  Moreover, it was the only line in that region that ran all the way to Long Island Sound.  The line pre-dated the final assemblage of the parcels that comprised Pelham Bay Park (and the annexation of the park lands by New York City).  Thus, it was permitted to continue to operate, though no further railways were permitted within the park.  

In January, 1900, newspapers began reporting breathlessly that the owners of the Pelham Horse Railroad were in talks with the P. H. Flynn Syndicate to sell a majority of their stock in the sleepy little railroad to give the syndicate control of the only railway in The Bronx that ran all the way to Long Island Sound.

The Pelham Horse Railroad was controlled by majority owner Judge Henry DeWitt Carey of City Island.  He was a colorful entrepreneurial character and a long-time, respected resident of City Island.  I have written before about him and his son of the same name who became a famous actor in Cowboy Westerns.  See, e.g.:

Mon., May 28, 2007:  Brief Biography of Henry DeWitt Carey, 19th Century Pelham Justice of the Peace.

Mon., Jun. 02, 2014:  Henry DeWitt Carey Of City Island in the Town of Pelham.

Wed., Jul. 01, 2015:  Western Actor Harry Carey of Pelham, Born Henry DeWitt Carey, Recalls His Boyhood Days in Pelham.

Tue., Mar. 28, 2017:  More on Famed Western Film Actor Harry Carey, Who Grew Up in Pelham.  

Rumors began circulating in January, 1900 that Henry DeWitt Carey was negotiating with a Mount Vernon attorney named William J. Marshall who represented the P. H. Flynn Syndicate to sell his majority stake in the Pelham Horse Railroad for $140,000 (about $4.75 million in today's dollars).  Newspapers further reported that the Flynn Syndicate made a deposit of $10,000 with Carey (and other stockholders) "as an evidence of good faith" as the negotiations proceeded.  

According to news reports, the P. H. Flynn Syndicate planned to "equip the line with electricity at once, and then build lines on its other franchises in the Borough of The Bronx, Pelham, Mount Vernon and New-Rochelle" as part of its plan to cover the entire Westchester and Bronx coastal regions with a lattice-work of trolley lines to serve New Yorkers.  

Finally on February 15, 1900, a local newspaper reported that the sale had been completed.  It said:

"The Bartow and City Island horse car line, owned by ex Judge Carey and others, has been purchased by the Westchester and Connecticut Traction Co.  The price paid was $140,000.  This is considered a great defeat for the Union Company.  The horse cars will be supplanted by modern electrical equipment as soon as Contractor O'Rourk completes the new bridge, now building at City Island.  The line will be extended to Mount Vernon and New Rochelle."



1910 Postcard View of the "CITY ISLAND HORSE CAR.  CITY ISLAND,
N. Y."  Source:  From the Author's Collection.  NOTE:  Click on Image
to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

"AFTER CITY ISLAND FRANCHISE.
-----
THE FLYNN SYNDICATE ABOUT TO PURCHASE THE PELHAM RAILROAD.

Negotiations are pending and it is expected will be completed to-day for the purchase of the Pelham Railroad Company in the Borough of The Bronx by the New-York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, known as the P. H. Flynn syndicate.  The Pelham Railroad extends from the Bartow Station of the suburban branch of the New-Haven Railroad to Belden's Point, on the extreme end of City Island, a distance of about two miles.  Although it is only a single track horsecar line, with two antiquated cars which are run at irregular intervals, the franchise is regarded as one of the most valuable in The Bronx, as it is the only road which can run through Pelham Bay Park and thus reach City Island and Long Island Sound.

It is said that the traction company has arranged to purchase the majority of the stock, which is held by ex-Judge H. D. Carey, of City Island, at $140,000.  William J. Marshall, Corporation Counsel of Mount Vernon, who represents the Flynn syndicate in the transaction, is said to have made a deposit of $10,000 on Wednesday with Judge Carey and the stockholders, as an evidence of good faith.  Mr. Marshall was not at his office last night, and his assistant said that he had gone to New-York to complete the deal.  It is said that the traction company will equip the line with electricity at once, and then build lines on its other franchises in the Borough of The Bronx, Pelham, Mount Vernon and New-Rochelle.

By the acquisition of the City Island road the Flynn syndicate has stolen a march on its rival, the Union or 'Huckleberry' Railway, and the latter will not be able to reach Long Island Sound at any advantageous point in the Borough of The Bronx.

It is said that in some manner the New-Haven Railroad is interested in the New-York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, and also in the Port Chester Street Railroad and the Larchmont Horse Railroad.  These three companies now practically parallel the New-Haven lines from the Connecticut boundary line at Port Chester to the Harlem River."

Source:  AFTER CITY ISLAND FRANCHISE -- THE FLYNN SYNDICATE ABOUT TO PURCHASE THE PELHAM RAILROAD, New-York Tribune, Jan. 26, 1900, p. 12, col. 2 (Note:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).

"To Buy City Island Railroad.

Negotiations, it is expected, will be completed, to-day, for the purchase of the Pelham Railroad Company in the Borough of The Bronx, by the New York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, known as the P. H. Flynn Syndicate.

The Pelham Railroad extends from the Bartow Station of the suburban branch of the New Haven Railroad to Belden's Point, on the extreme end of City Island, a distance of about two miles.  Although it is only a single track horsecar line, with two antiquated cars which are fun at irregular intervals, the franchise is regarded as one of the most valuable in The Bronx, as it is the only road which can run through Pelham Bay Park and thus reach City Island and Long Island Sound.

By the acquisition of the City Island road the Flynn Syndicate, it is said, has stolen a march on its rival, the Union Railway."

Source:  To Buy City Island Railroad, The Yonkers Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Jan. 26, 1900, Vol. XVII, No. 4,967, p. 2, col. 3.  

"TROLLEY LINE NOW BETWEEN CITY ISLAND AND MOUNT VERNON
-----
Flynn Syndicate Steals March on Rival and Gets Line Through Pelham Bay Park.
-----
(BY TELEGRAPH TO THE EVENING TELEGRAM.)

MOUNT VERNON, N. Y., Friday. -- The New York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, better known as the P. H. Flynn syndicate, and which has been working to get a foothold in Westchester County, has stolen another march on its rival, the Union Railroad Company, and purchased the Pelham Railway, a horse car line two miles long, which operates between the Bartow station on the Harlem River branch of the New Haven Railroad, and Belden's Point on City Island.

For this franchise the Flynn syndicate is to pay $14,000 [sic].  The Pelham company held the only franchise through the Pelham Bay Park, and it is anticipated that the syndicate will immediately abolish the horse car line and replace it with a trolley line between City Island and Mount Vernon."

Source:  TROLLEY LINE NOW BETWEEN CITY ISLAND AND MOUNT VERNON -- Flynn Syndicate Steals March on Rival and Gets Line Through Pelham Bay Park, The Evening Telegram [NY, NY], Jan. 26, 1900, p. 6, col. 1.  

"REPORTED SALE CITY ISLAND RAILROAD.
-----
To Traction Company.
ADMITTED TO BE A VALUABLE PROPERTY.
-----
Flynn Syndicate Said to Have Acquired It -- It Holds a Valuable Franchise -- It is Within Park Territory -- No Similar Privilege to Others.
-----

It is reported that the New York, Westchester & Connecticut Traction Co., or P. H. Flynn syndicate, which is attempting to rival the 'Huckleberry' Railway in the Borough of the Bronx, has purchased the horse railway which runs from the Bartow Station of the New Haven Suburban Railroad to City Island on the Sound.  The price paid is said to have been about $150,000.  

The syndicate secures an outlet to the Sound for its lines in the Bronx, Mount Vernon, Pelham and New Rochelle, and also secures the privilege of running through Pelham Bay Park, which no other company can get without a special act of the Legislature.

If this sale proves to be true in every respect Mount Vernon is bound to have a most advantageous outlet to the southeast and through a territory sure to become as thickly populated as any part of Mount Vernon.

All shore property is destined to become more valuable both for resident and business purposes as the years go by and none more so than that lying and being on Eastchester Creek, which enters this city at the southeast, and all that territory in the vicinity of the great Pelham Park and City Island.

For many years the Hon. Henry D. Carey, at one time Justice of Sessions in this county, was President and principal owner of this line.  It is destined to be one of the most valued properties in any outlying section of Greater New York.  

With the granting of certain additional franchises to the Traction Company in this city direct connection could be made with this line and it is to be hoped such will be the early outcome.

The Pelham Railroad extends from the Bartow Station of the suburban branch of the New Haven Railroad to Belden's Point, on the extreme end of City Island, a distance of about two miles.  Although it is only a single track horsecar line, with two antiquated cars which are run at irregular intervals, the franchise is regarded as one of the most valuable in the Bronx, as it is the only road which can run through Pelham Bay Park and thus reach City Island and Long Island Sound.

It is said that the traction company has arranged to purchase the majority of the stock, which is held by ex-Judge H. D. Carey, of City Island, at $140,000.  William J. Marshall, Corporation Counsel of Mount Vernon, who represents the Flynn syndicate in the transaction, is said to have made a deposit of $10,000 with Judge Carey and the stockholders, as an evidence of good faith.

It is said that the traction company will equip the line with electricity t once, and then build lines on its other franchises in the Borough of the Bronx, Pelham, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle.

By the acquisition of the City Island road the Flynn syndicate has stolen a march on its rival, the Union or 'Huckleberry' Railway, and the latter will not be able to reach Long Island Sound at any advantageous point in the Borough of the Bronx.

It is said in some manner the New Haven Railroad is interested in the New York, Westchester & Connecticut Traction Co., and also in the Portchester Street Railroad and the Larchmont Horse Railroad.  These three companies now practically parallel the New Haven lines from the Connecticut boundary line at Port Chester to the Harlem River."

Source:  REPORTED SALE CITY ISLAND RAILROAD -- To Traction Company.
ADMITTED TO BE A VALUABLE PROPERTY -- Flynn Syndicate Said to Have Acquired It -- It Holds a Valuable Franchise -- It is Within Park Territory -- No Similar Privilege to Others, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 27, 1900, Vol. XXXII, No. 2,402, p. 1, col. 5.

"Its Outlet to the Sound.

It is reported that the New York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, or P. H. Flynn Syndicate, which is attempting to rival the 'Huckleberry' Railway in the borough of The Bronx, has bought the horse railroad which runs from the Bartow station of the New Haven road to City Island on the Sound.  The price paid is said to have been about $150,000.  The Flynn Syndicate thus secures an outlet to the Sound for its lines in the borough of The Bronx, Mount Vernon, Pelham and New Rochelle, and also the privilege of running through Pelham Bay Park, which no other company can get without a special act of the Legislature.  It is said to be the syndicate's intention to equip the line with electricity as early as possible. -- N. Y. Sun."

Source:  Its Outlet to the Sound, New Rochelle Pioneer, Jan. 27, 1900, p. 4, col. 2.  

"SUBURBAN NOTES.
-----

The New York Tribune says that the Union Trolley Company has recently paid $500,000 for the Tarrytown and Mamaroneck trolley line, and is now in a predicament.  Owing to the opposition of the Flynn syndicate, at Larchmont and other points, the company is unable to connect the main lines with this new and expensive purchase.
-----

The Bartow and City Island horse car line, owned by ex Judge Carey and others, has been purchased by the Westchester and Connecticut Traction Co.  The price paid was $140,000.  This is considered a great defeat for the Union Company.  The horse cars will be supplanted by modern electrical equipment as soon as Contractor O'Rourk completes the new bridge, now building at City Island.  The line will be extended to Mount Vernon and New Rochelle.
-----

It is reported that the extension of the Union Trolley line through Boston road, Eastchester, will be completed in time to allow the Crawford syndicate, Carroll and others to place their property on the market by Decoration Day, in which event one or more extensive auction sales will be the result. . . ."

Source:  SUBURBAN NOTES, Mount Vernon News [Mount Vernon, NY], Feb. 15, 1900, p. 7, col. 2.  

"-- Nine cars, containing 7,500 ties for the New York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, have arrived in Mt. Vernon.  They will be used to complete the line which will connect Mt. Vernon with New Rochelle, Bronxville, Pelham Manor, Pelham, City Island and the Borough of The Bronx.  The work of building the lines, it is said, will be pushed with all speed."

Source:  [Untitled], New Rochelle Pioneer, Aug. 4, 1900, Vol. 42, No. 20, p. 5, col. 3.

"THE FLYNN SYNDICATE TO BEGIN RAILWAY BUILDING.
-----

New Rochelle, Aug. 15. -- The New York, Westchester and Connecticut Traction Company, of Flynn syndicate, which is attempting to rival the Union Railway in Westchester County, has announced that it will begin building lines over the routes upon which it has received franchises before next Monday.  The first tracks will be laid in Firth avenue, in Upper New Rochelle, to connect with the Larchmont Horse Railway.  After this connection is made the company expects to push through Wingate avenue to North Pelham to connect with a line built there several years ago.

It will then cross the Hutchinson River to Mount Vernon, where it will form a junction with the North Mount Vernon road operated by it."

Source:  THE FLYNN SYNDICATE TO BEGIN RAILWAY BUILDING, Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Aug. 15, 1900, Vol. XXXIV, No. 2,570, p. 1, col. 5.  

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