H I S T O R I C   S T E A M

The Coudersport & Port Allegany Railroad - Background

In the mid 1800's the state of Pennsylvania lead the nation in lumber production and Potter County, Pennsylvania contained some of the nations prime potential logging territory. But in order to reap the economic benefit from the lumber and related products there needed to be an economical method of transporting the goods to where potential customers could use them. Indeed, the rugged terrain of the area made this difficult. The towns of Port Allegany and Coudersport both served as stops for the stagecoach, but like so many rural communities of the time, the people of Potter county realized that the future growth of the area would be greatly hampered without the services of one of the railroads that were beginning to dot the country.

Port Allegany residents were elated in 1872 when the Buffalo & Washington Railroad reached Port Allegany and provided the community with railroad connections up to Buffalo, New York and beyond. Business men and residents in neighboring Potter county were concerned that they would be left out. Throughout the country many railroads were being proposed, several paper companies were created, but getting financial backing was difficult and relatively few made it all the way to the point of actually moving dirt to build roadbeds and laying track, and fewer still to the point of running trains.

Good fortune seemed to be shining on the area and in 1874 grading had begun for a railroad entitled The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek & Buffalo Railroad, which would run from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, through much of Potter county, including the town of Coudersport, and connect with the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad in Port Allegany. (The new name for the Buffalo & Washington) Financial issues with the parent company of the JSPC&B Railroad, however, caused the effort to be abandoned later that same year.

Although the discontinued effort of the building of the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek & Buffalo railroad may have initially seemed to be just another dead end disappointment, it proved to be the working beginning of the railroad that the communities had desired. Not wanting to leave the fate of the area up to just the possibility of attracting a railroad to pass through the area, a meeting of area businessmen was held in 1882 for the purpose of building a specific railroad between Coudersport, Pennsylvania and Port Allegany. The idea was well received, financing through the sale of stock was secured, and on May 16th, 1882 the new Railroad was incorporated. The first step was to acquire the right of way that had been secured for the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek & Buffalo Railroad.

Coudersport & Port Allegany Narrow Gauge Engine #1Construction of the new Coudersport & Port Allegany Railroad began almost immediately, and on October 1st, 1882 the narrow gauge railroad began operating between Coudersport and Port Allegany and provided the residents of western Potter County easy access to Port Allegany and beyond, thanks to the ability to transfer to the Western New York and Philadelphia Railroad at Port Allegany.

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