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Railroad Memories
P. E. Carney’s Memories of the Rome Watertown and Potsdam Railroad in the town of De Kalb New York, Central Lines Magazine, December 1926

In 1851 and 1852 the Watertown & Rome Railroad was completed only from Rome to Cape Vincent. I was born in the Town of De Kalb and my father helped build the road through De Kalb Junction. He was killed five miles east of De Kalb Junction Station, September 16, 1857, on the railroad opposite the Tabor Farm.

I went to work for the railroad at De Kalb Junction in 1872 and worked continuously for 21 years at odd jobs around the depot and yard and wherever I was needed or sent by the agent. I spent one year at that time firing the engine "Jefferson" on the work train. For two years I was night watchman at the engine house.

In the spring of 1893 1 was sent to Gouverneur and from there I went to Norwood Yard where I remained four years. From Norwood Yard I went to the Rutland Railroad and helped build the railroad across the islands from Alburgh to Burlington. Later I went to Malone yards where I remained for two years, then I returned to De Kalb Junction. It was in 1854 and 1855 that the railroad was built from Watertown to Norwood by a contractor named Phelps. This was called the Potsdam & Watertown Railroad and the name of Norwood was changed to Potsdam Junction, remaining so 15 years before being changed back to Norwood.

In 1861, the branch from De Kalb Junction to Ogdensburg was built and the name of the railroad was changed to the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg. The De Kalb Junction Station was located about three miles west of Red Rock and another station was located just east of the Forrest House crossing and was called Hermon Station. J. W. Moak and Addison Day were the two superintendents of the line with headquarters in Watertown.


About this time (1871) there was great rivalry between the R. W.&O. and the Utica & Black River as to which would carry the New York mail into the North Country tract. I have seen mail, express and passengers loaded onto the train at De Kalb Junction and delivered in Norwood, a distance of 25 miles, in 35 minutes and that included stops at Canton and Potsdam. (I don't think anyone could top that in a car today! ed.) .... Early in the 1870's a man named Warner was train dispatcher at Watertown Junction. A few years later N. B. Hine of De Kalb Junction took his place and William Lawrence was night dispatcher. Lawrence later went to work for the Rock Island Railroad. A. C. Hine was station agent at De Kalb Junction at this time.

On October 14, 1872, A. J. Penney became clerk and operator at the station. Later he was made agent and F. W. Thompson was clerk and operator. In 1880, A. J. Penney went to Potsdam, and Fred DeSalles took his place at De Kalb Junction with Frank L. Wilson as clerk. A year later Wilson was made agent. That was in the time when clerks and operators earned their money, as there were no night operators. The day clerk was called up to attend the midnight train and remained on duty until the train arrived in Ogdensburg because there were no night operators in Rensselaer Falls or Heuvelton.


NYC 1642 in De Kalb Junction

At this period (prior to 1880) all oil for station, section, and engine use was supplied from De Kalb Junction. The repair shop and tool and rail storehouses were located there also. Wood sheds with fuel supplies for the locomotives were located at Norwood, De Kalb Junction, Gouverneur, Philadelphia, and Watertown. The wood was racked in cords and half cords and the amount of wood each engine took was recorded in each wood shed. The record was turned over to the wood piler at the end of each month and he in turn turned it over to the station agent.

The coaches on the passenger trains were heated by means of common wood-burning box stoves in the end of each coach. They were lighted with one- candle-power sperm candles, four in each coach. Three snowplows, "Storm King", "Snow Bird", and "Pathfinder" were used to keep the track clear in winter.


H. S. Leach, Road Master, was located at De Kalb Junction for 17 years. Later he went to Malone on the Rutland Railroad and served there until his death. E.M. Moore, General Freight Agent, was located at Watertown, and Hiram Moore, his father, was Assistant Master mechanic.

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