Albany and Susquehanna Railroad

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Albany and Susquehanna Railroad
Locale New York
Dates of operation 1851 – 1870
Track gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm) (standard gauge)
Headquarters

The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad was a railroad running from Albany to Binghamton, operating 1851 to 1870

History

Construction began on April 19, 1851 from Albany to Schoharie Junction, New York, a distance of 35 miles (56 km). This phase was completed in 1863. The railroad was extended to Binghamton in 1869, increasing the railroad's total mileage to 143 miles (230 km).

J. P. Morgan

In 1869, the railroad, now running between Albany and Binghamton, was at the centre of a bitter struggle. Although only a relatively small road, it connected with four larger ones heading south to the Pennsylvania coal mines; one of these roads was the Erie, owned by Jay Gould. When completed in 1868, Gould realised its potential for access to both the New England markets and Pennsylvania's coal, and wanted to add the A&S line to the Erie.

In the summer of 1869, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk began to buy up shares in A&S, aiming to accumulate a controlling interest and install their own people to the board and take over. The A&S president at the time, Joseph H. Ramsey, reacted to Gould and Fisk by issuing thousands of shares that had been sitting on the company's books to his supporters; Ramsey then had the books spirited from his office and buried in the Albany Cemetery. Gould and Fisk, incensed by his actions, had him suspended as president of the A&S by a judge they controlled on the New York State Supreme Court, George G. Barnard. Ramsey responded and applied to Albany judge Rufus W. Peckham, both sides trying to force the A&S into the control of a partisan recipient. Peckham succeeded, getting his order in first by a matter of minutes.

Subsequently, Fisk stormed the office of the A&S in Albany with hired thugs; he was then taken to a police station by an A&S employee masquerading as a policeman. As soon as he was free from jail, Fisk returned to the A&S headquarters with a restraining order signed by Judge Barnard and a new set of thugs. They took over the A&S station at Binghamton, stealing a train, and set off down the line to Albany, seizing stations as they went; A&S men flipped a switch to derail the cars. Fisk and his recruits met their adversaries, the men of the A&S, in a tunnel near Harpursville, proceeding to attack each other with all manner of weapons until the governor ordered state militia to take charge of the road.

Morgan, who had arranged a $500,000 mortgage for the road and been appointed a trustee, arrived in New York on 1 September and was recruited by Ramsey’s supporters. In the name of Dabney, Morgan he bought six hundred shares of A&S and made contact with all the shareholders loyal to Ramsey, ensuring that they or their proxies would be present at the annual meeting held in Albany on 7 September. Personally supervising the voting, Morgan was elected a vice-president and director of the road. Gould and Fisk counteracted by voting in their own men in separate elections. The case reached the New York State Supreme Court which ruled in favour of the Ramsey group’s elections. Morgan subsequently leased the A&S to the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company on 24 February 1870 for ninety nine years, taking the company out of play.

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