The Owasco River Railway

The Owasco River Railway in Auburn, NY was purchased 50/50 by the Lehigh Valley and New York Central in the early 1930s. Two shays were brought in to operate the line. The NYC operated the line while the LVRR maintained the locos. One of the shays was kept at the LVRR facilities in Auburn on standby. About the mid-1940s both shays went to the Marcellus & Otisco Lake where they were utilized for a time.

NYC’s Shays apparently built in 1923. Alco-GE-IR demonstrator #8835’s first demonstration was on the New York Central’s west side terminal, starting in June 1924. So, the NYC bought Shays, and then, while they were still new, leapt at the chance to see if there was something better.

The Owasco River Railway was a switching railroad that provided rail service to several industries on the Owasco River in Auburn, New York, interchanging with the NY Central and Lehigh Valley via trackage rights on the New York Central. Incorporated on June 2, 1881 and opened by 1886, it was initially owned by the International Harvester Company, but the New York Central gained control of the company and sold half of the stock to the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1931.

The company was eventually acquired by the Penn Central Transportation Company, successor to the New York Central, and was abandoned in 1976 when Conrail was formed. Penn Central later used the company to own real estate from abandoned rail lines, and it remains as a subsidiary of American Premier Underwriters, successor to Penn Central.

The New York Central Railroad and the Lehigh Valley Railroad bought the ORRy 50/50 in the early 1930s. At the time a 0-4-0 saddeltanker No. 3 was being utilized on the line which was shortly thereafter replaced by a pair of Shay locomotives. NYC crews were called for the ORRy jobs and the Shays were maintained and hostled by the LVRR at the Auburn roundhouse. The Shays were replaced by NYC No. 506, a Cummings centercab circa the mid 1940s. This unit in turn was replaced by an Alco DRS of 600 or 900 hp.

Owasco River Railway
4 miles. Auburn, NY Locomotives, 2
Several box cars, gondolas and flat cars


Map of where the Owasco River Railway went


Shay Locomotive Picture (from KC Jones) on the West Side Freight Line. Some of these went to the Owasco River Railway.