CHAPTER XX.

NEW YORK AND OSWEGO MIDLAND RAILROAD.

    The magnitude of this enterprise---its connection with the interests of Sullivan, and the fact that some of our prominent citizens have been identified with its origin and progress, warrant us in devoting a chapter to its history.
    In 1853, a party of engineers came into the county, and spent several weeks in making explorations. It was reported that they were searching for a new railroad-route across the county, and that they succeeded in finding one which was considered feasible. But little interest was taken in their work, and soon after they disappeared, the memory of their labors almost faded from the minds of our citizens. These surveys were made under the direction of Colonel Edward W. Serrell, a distinguished engineer. They led to no substantial result at that time, because the project was based on a flimsy financial basis. Tradition says that the failure of an unimportant moneyed institution made the project an abortion.
    In the summer and fall of 1865, when the reverberations of our great civil war were yet "booming through the land," a correspondence sprang up between leading citizens of Norwich, Delhi and Monticello, setting forth the advantages and necessity to their secluded inland-counties of better means of intercommunication, and urging early co-operation to attain the desired object. This correspondence led to a call for a meeting of persons interested at Delhi, on Wednesday, October 4th, in that year. This was the first concerted gathering in behalf of the proposed enterprise, and the self-appointed delegates from the county of Sullivan were Henry Reynolds Low, Hezekiah Watkins, Samuel G. Thompson, William D. Stratton, and William A. Rice.
    The 3d day of October was dull and uninviting. It ushered in the first snow-storm of the season, and if anything had been needed to bring vividly to mind the advantages of railway communication, it was supplied to these gentlemen on their journey, by the sharp winds, the driving snow-storm, and the Brock mountain highway.
    The assembly came together about noon the next day, in the court-house of Delhi. Charles Hathaway of Delaware county was chosen chairman, and Robert H. Atwater of Ulster, and James Appleton of Onondaga, secretaries. Besides delegations from the counties along the line from Oswego to Middletown, there was an influential representation on behalf of Rondout, and it soon became manifest that the harmony of the meeting would be disturbed by the discordant elements of conflicting and rival routes.
    On behalf of Rondout or Newburgh it was urged that the proposed road should seek the Hudson river at the nearest practicable point, and thus secure for its freights easy and cheap water communication to the city of New York; that a line through Sullivan was not feasible; that the engineering obstacles in that direction were insurmountable---the grades impossible, and the series of tunnels endless---the population sparse and poor; and that, while such a route would furnish neither business nor subscriptions, Rondout, on the other hand, through Major Cornell, one of its wealthiest citizens, stood ready to pledge itself for $500,000 of the stock of the new company.
    The friends of Sullivan combated these statements as well as they were able, by declaring that a diversion of the road to the Hudson at any point above the city of New York would prevent its becoming a trunk-line, and cripple its usefulness during the suspension of river-navigation; that a river-terminus would have to be abandoned as the Erie company had abandoned Piermont; that the county of Sullivan was not a wilderness, but was rich in agriculture, lumber and manufactures; that its people were not paupers, but would contribute liberally to the new enterprise; that a railroad could be built through the county; that surveys had been made and routes found which were entirely practicable; that there was no such obstacle from one end of the line to the other as would be met in undertaking to go over or under Pine Hill; and that all they asked was a fair hearing and time for consideration---the appointment of a committee to make surveys and procure subscriptions; and they pledged themselves "to accept the result of an honest and thorough investigation.
    The discussion waxed warm. The friends of the Pine Hill route had rallied in large force from the adjoining country, and were somewhat in the majority. Led by their earnest champion---a wealthy butter-dealer of Andes named Dowey---they were anxious to press to a decision the determination of a route, and commit the new project to the interests of Rondout. Through the skillful engineering, however, of Samuel Gordon---from the first a firm advocate for the line through our county---a recess for dinner was carried, and the day, as events proved, was thus lost to Pine Hill; for, upon the re-assembling at four o'clock in the afternoon, it was found that the "Dowey" party had been largely depleted by loss of many whose farm-duties had called them home, and that it was now in the minority. Great battles are sometimes lost, and the status of an entire people reduced, because a military leader has "dined and wined" too freely. Here, it seems, empty stomachs and a few barnyard-chores led to results which will forever add to the wealth and importance of Sullivan.
    On motion of Mr. Gordon, the following resolutions were readily adopted by the meeting:

    "Resolved, That a railway from Oswego, through the counties of Onondaga, Madison, Chenango, Otsego, Delaware, Ulster or Sullivan, and Orange, on or near the surveys made some twelve years ago, to some point on the Hudson river, is a State and local necessity, for the transportation of merchandise, manufactures, agricultural and mineral productions-and must be made.
    "Resolved, That the said surveys and the topography of the country demonstrate it to be the most direct, cheaply constructed and easily graded road of its length and importance in the State; while the resources of the country through which it passes, and the great need of more railroad-facilities for transportation from the West to the East, and from the sea-bord to the Lakes, through the State of New York, offer unsurpassed inducements to capitalists and the people along its route for investment in the proposed great internal improvement.
    "Resolved, That we, in common and in co-operation with the people of the territory between Oswego and the Hudson river at the point of intersection, and all others who may choose to join in the enterprise, will do our utmost to accomplish the great object in view, and that we will not cease our efforts until it be done."

    The resolutions were characterized by the energy and determination of their earnest and eloquent author. Long may he live to hear the shrill whistle of the locomotive at his beautiful home among the mountains of Delaware.
    On motion of Judge Low, the following resolution was also adopted:

    "Resolved, That a committee of one from each county interested, be appointed by this meeting, to make the necessary examinations, and report to an adjourned meeting, to be held at this place, on the 4th day of January, 1866, a route through the counties of Oswego, Onondaga, Madison, Chenango, Otsego, Delaware, Sullivan or Ulster, and Orange, to the city of New York, for the proposed railroad, and a plan for the organization of a company to construct the same, for the consideration and approval of said meeting; such road to commence at Oswego, and terminate at some point on the Hudson river; and also to report the amount of stock which can be subscribed, and the advantages of the several routes. Said Committee is also empowered to call meetings in the different counties along the route, solicit subscriptions and make necessary surveys, with full powers to fill vacancies in this Committee, and do such other acts as may be necessary to facilitate the work for which they are appointed."

    The following committee was accordingly appointed by the meeting:

ForDelaware, Samuel Gordon, of Delhi;
"Sullivan, Henry R. Low, of Monticello;
"Onondaga, J. V. H. Clark, of -------;
"Madison, L. B. Kern, of De Ruyter;
"Chenango, B. B. Andrews, of Norwich;
"Oswego, D. C. Littlejohn, of Oswego;
"The city of New York, Samuel B. Ruggles.

    The meeting then adjourned, to meet again at Delhi, on the 4th of January, 1866.
    It will be observed that no appointments were made upon this committee for the counties of Ulster and Orange. The county of Orange was not represented at the meeting, and the Ulster delegation, failing to secure the adoption of the route to Rondout, withdrew and went home, determined to build a railroad for themselves. It is believed that the inception of the Rondout and Oswego Railroad dates from this convention at Delhi.
    The delegation from Sullivan returned home high in spirits, firm in faith, and full of hope. Had they foreseen, as some of them saw afterwards, how little they had accomplished---how long and toilsome was the way before them to the consummation of their enterprise---how few such eggs as had been just laid are ever hatched---and how few of the hatchlings do not sicken and die before their tail-feathers appear, perhaps the firmest and most hopeful among them would have shrunk disheartened from the labors and struggles of the future. Fortunately for the Midland project, their confidence was unbounded; for there was at least one among their number who was destined to be of vital importance to the new enterprise.
    Immediately upon their return, and under date of October 5th, 1865, the following notice was published through the county-papers:

    "SHALL WE HAVE A RAILROAD?---The undersigned having attended the railroad-meeting at Delhi on the 4th instant, and learned somewhat of the arguments used against the line through Sullivan county, as well as those in its favor, and the objections made against its feasibility, deem it proper, in answer to numerous inquiries, to say to the people of Sullivan county, that it is now in their power to have a railroad through their county, if they will go to work immediately, and display the same industry, perseverance and public spirit that the people of other counties are exhibiting. That a railroad will be built is more than probable---nay, almost certain; but whether on the route through Ulster county by the way of Pine mountain, or through Sullivan, will depend upon ourselves.
    "What is now urgently needed is that the routes through Sullivan county be immediately and carefully surveyed; that the necessary funds be raised to accomplish this; and that the right of way be secured, and such inducements be offered as may be in our power.
    "Sullivan lies immediately in the route of a great central railroad from the Lakes to New York. Parties hostile to us charge that our route is not feasible, nor practicable. This is. not so, and we need the surveys at once to demonstrate it. Our route has better grades than any road except the Central, and is shorter than any other route, and capital can be easily interested at this time in our favor.
    " To facilitate these objects, a meeting has been called to be held at Monticello, on Tuesday evening, the 17th of October instant, at 7 o'clock r. M., when it is earnestly hoped that all of our citizens interested will be present. It should be remembered that with us, it is now or never.
    "If we, by our neglect, lose this opportunity, we shall hardly have another very soon. This fact should be heeded by our business-men, especially as they are perhaps most interested, and can soonest combine for action.

SAMUEL G. THOMPSON,
"WILLIAM D. STRATTON,
HEZEKIAH WATKINS,
HENRY K. LOW."

    The situation called for prompt and liberal action. The convention at Delhi had adjourned to meet again at that place on the 4th day of January, when the surveys through Sullivan and her promised subscriptions were to be submitted. What was to be done needed to be done at once. The fall weather was rapidly passing away; scarcely a month suitable for field-operations could be counted on; engineering-parties were to be engaged and organized; several and remote routes to be surveyed and mapped; and, above all, money must be obtained; for the new enterprise was destitute of credit. In this emergency, one or two of the more sanguine adherents of the cause became personally responsible for the expenses of the survey, and the work went forward. Meanwhile, public meetings were held in various towns of the county--committees appointed--routes discussed, and personal subscriptions solicited.
    At this time, the new scheme was regarded with indifference and disfavor by many. Some in our own county even assailed it with derision and ridicule. A few words will show why this was so.
    Judge Low, its Sullivan champion, was known mainly as a rising young lawyer and a successful politician. He had repeatedly been a candidate for office, and had manipulated the cards of partisanship in a way which secured for himself and his friends all the honors and profits at stake. This greatly exasperated his political opponents, who, smarting under defeat, placed a low estimate on his motives in bringing forward this railroad project.
    It was believed that he was a candidate for re-election to the Senate, and that the proposed road would temporarily add to his popularity.
    He owned a large tract of wild land in the northern section of the county, which he had bought for speculative purposes, and which he was anxious to sell. The new project would increase the value of these lands, as well as the number of buyers.
    A large majority of the projectors were young men, who had never been identified with railroad-interests. The magnitude of the work, and their apparent ability to command capital sufficient to build the road within two or three decades, were absurdly disproportionate.
    Thus far there had been no braying of orators and but few sensational newspaper-paragraphs on the subject. The idea that a great trunk-line could be built without the preliminary expenditure of a vast amount of "fuss and feathers," had never entered the public mind.
    As was anticipated, Judge Low sought and received the nomination for Senator of the political party to which ho was attached. The election took place about four weeks after the railroad-meeting at Delhi, previous to which the Midland road was a dormant embryo in the womb of time, with which the fructifying element of life had never come in contact. Therefore it was not strange that the friends of the opposing candidate regarded the project as a sort of moon-calf, and that they derided it as "Low's railroad;" nor that, when the election had taken place, and Low was successful, it was declared that the road was engineered and operated for the sole purpose of carrying him to the Senate-chamber, and that his opponent was the only individual who had been or ever would be killed by the road. We believe that these and other jibes greatly annoyed Judge Low at the time; but it is not probable that they would disturb his equanimity now.
    In view of the inaccessibility of Delhi during the winter-months, and the advantages of having the new enterprise regularly and legally organized prior to the approaching session of the Legislature, it was deemed wise to change the time and place of the adjourned meeting, which was accordingly called by Mr. Gordon, the chairman of the General Committee, to meet at the St. Nicholas Hotel, in the city of New York, on Wednesday, December 13tli, at 12 M. Large delegations were present from the localities interested, and the doings and deliberations of the convention occupied two full days.
    The importance of the subject justifies us in giving a full report of the proceedings of this meeting:

"IMPORTANT RAILROAD CONVENTION.

    "Pursuant to the call of the chairman of the General Committee appointed at Delhi, October 4:, 1865, a convention of delegates from the various counties interested in the proposed railroad from New York to Oswego over the midland route, assembled at the St. Nicholas Hotel, in the city of New York, on Wednesday, December 13, 1865, at 12 m.
    "Samuel B. Ruggles, of New York city, was appointed chairman, and B. Gage Berry, of Chenango county, secretary. The following delegates were admitted :
    "Oswego County---DeWitt C. Littlejohn, A. P. Grant, G. Mullison, E. P. Burt, A. P. Wright, R. K. Sanford, W. Johnson, S. Avery, Joseph Gilberts.
    "Onondaga County---A. C. Powell, G. P. Kenyon, George Burns, D. P. Phelps, E. B. Judson, O. Vandenburgh, D. H. Eaton, Anson Bangs, James Appleton.
    "Madison County---L. B. Kern, Joseph W. Merchant, A. F. Smith, Erastus Abbott, H. P. Hart, E. C. Litchfield, B. F. Ferris, O. W. Sage, C. L. Chappell, S. W. Ledyard, Charles Crandall, Alpheus Morse, G. B. Mowry, A. N. Wood, A. M. Holmes.
    "Cortland County---N. Randall.
    "Chenango County---B. Gage Berry, George Rider, Warren Newton, John Shattuck, John A. Randall, A. J. Carpenter.
    "Delaware County---Samuel Gordon; C. S. Johnson, Samuel Gordon, jr.
    "Sullivan County---Henry E. Low, Edward Palen, W. Kiersted, Samuel G. Thompson, William Gillespie, Chester Darbee, Horace Utter, John H. Divine, David Clements, Nathan S. Hamilton.
    "Orange County---Homer Ramsdell, K. A. Forsyth, A. M. Sherman, W. L. F. Warren, James Bigler, Enoch Carter, E. P, Gumaer.
    "Otsego County---James H. Gilbert, D. G. Hayes.
    "Ulster County---Thomas Cornell.
    "New York City---Samuel B. Ruggles.
    "On invitation of the chairman, Henry R. Low, of Sullivan, addressed the convention at length, giving a history of the origin of the enterprise, and of what had been thus far accomplished. He also read a carefully prepared paper, embracing much valuable statistical information, and showing that the proposed railroad was a great necessity to the people of the midland-counties, as well as to the cities of New York and Oswego, and the State at large.
    "Colonel Edward W. Serrell exhibited to the convention the maps and profiles of the proposed route as surveyed in 1853, with new preliminary surveys recently made by him upon the eastern part of the route. He stated that the grade would not exceed fifty feet to the mile; that the topography of the country was favorable; and that along the entire route material for the construction of the road was abundant, except iron.
    "A. C. Powell, of Syracuse, who surveyed the western portion of the road, made an equally favorable report.
    "The convention was addressed by Messrs. N. Randall, Samuel Gordon, Homer Ramsdell, D. C. Littlejohn, A. P. Grant, and the chairman, after which Messrs. Littlejohn, Powell, Gordon, N. Randall, Low, Ramsdell and Buggies were appointed a committee to report articles of association, and nominate directors.
    "After a recess, Mr. Littlejohn reported the articles of association organizing the 'New York and Oswego Midland Railroad Company,' with a capital of ten millions of dollars, which were unanimously adopted. The committee also nominated the following gentlemen as directors : DeWitt C. Littlejohn, Oswego; John Crouse, Syracuse; Elisha C. Litchfield, Cazenovia; Joseph W. Merchant, DeBuyter; Edward I. Hayes, Norwich; John A. Randall, Norwich; A. C. Edgerton, Delhi; Samuel Gordon, Delhi; Henry E. Low, Monticello; Edward Palen, Fallsburgh; Homer Ramsdell, Newburgh; Nathan Randall, Homer; G. P. Kenyon, Syracuse.
    "On motion of Mr. Low, the directors and delegates present were appointed a committee to secure the necessary subscriptions and report at a subsequent meeting.
    "On motion of Mr. Shattuck, a copy of the paper read by Mr. Low was requested for publication, and the secretary was directed to have the same, together with the proceedings of the convention, printed in pamphlet form for general circulation, and that an abstract of the same be furnished to the city papers for general circulation.
    "On motion, Messrs. Randall, Low and Kenyon were appointed a committee to confer with other railroad companies in relation to the business of this organization.
    "On motion of Mr. Randall, the convention requested the Legislature of the State to enact a law enabling the towns on the route to raise funds upon bonds or otherwise, to aid in the construction of the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad, and that a copy of these proceedings be forwarded to the members in either House from the counties interested.
    "The books were then opened for subscriptions, and several delegates and others who were present subscribed for the stock of the company, after which the convention adjourned." 1

    The location of the route---whether by the way of Pine Hill, or through the county of Sullivan---was yet undetermined; and at this convention, Cornell still advocated the claims of Rondout, and Messrs. Sherman and Ramsdell those of Newburgh. Some acerbity in discussion was displayed, and Gordon, always the unflinching friend of the line through Delhi and our county, commented sharply on the good faith of the adherents of the river line. He said: "It was never intended by the Hudson river friends of a road that it should reach Delhi; they meant to survey and squint around Pine Hill, Palmer Hill", Peach Pond and Andes, and then shoot off to Moorsville---head of the Delaware---and God knows where---and finally land in John Brown's wilderness among the bears ! The right men had got hold of it now---men who would not sell out to the Central, or any other road; an air-line can be built without reference to intermediate location; no dodging to hit this or that locality; and no right angles to strike the Hudson, or please anybody, or aid any interest. What was wanted was an independent, and the straightest line between the two cardinal points named, (Oswego and New York)."
    The paper read before the convention by Judge Low was printed, extensively circulated, and eagerly read. It not only established beyond cavil the superior advantages of the direct route from Oswego to New York as to grades, distance and cheapness of construction, as well as the importance of the local or way-business it would secure; but that a diversion of the line to Rondout or Newburgh would destroy the distinctive character of the project, and crush in the bud every advantage which was anticipated from the construction of the road. His facts and figures outweighed the golden arguments of such capitalists as Cornell and Ramsdell, who promised the greatest amount of material aid, but failed to show that their favorite routes were better than the line through Sullivan. Thenceforward the Rondout people expended their capital and vexation in pushing forward their "branch" through the mountains of Shandaken, and in publishing absurd reports in regard to the work in Sullivan.
    No legal organization of the company had as yet been perfected. True, the articles of incorporation had been formally drawn up and subscribed; but they had not been filed with the Secretary of State, and the ten per cent, of the amount of subscriptions, required by law to be paid in in cash, had not been raised. The convention separated, and the directors returned to their towns to supply this need.
    On the evening of Tuesday, December 26th, a spirited and enthusiastic meeting assembled at the court-house in Monticello, of which Austin Strong was chairman and Thomas Crary secretary. Stirring addresses were made by John H. Divine and others, and a committee appointed to apportion among the several towns the amounts of stock necessary to be taken to secure and complete the organization of the new company. The apportionment was as follows: Thompson, S18,000; Fallsburgh, $12,000; Liberty, S12,000; Rockland, $6,000; Neversink, $4,000; Bethel, $5,000; Forestburgh, $2,000; Mamakating, $2,000; Callicoon, $2,000. Committees were appointed to secure these subscriptions, collect the ten per cent., and pay it to Edward Palen, who was to be ready with our quota at a meeting of the directors in Albany, on the 10th of January, 1866.
    At this meeting in Albany, the details of organization were carefully carried out, and Dewitt C. Littlejohn was thereupon unanimously chosen president of the company. This selection was auspicious for the new enterprise. Long one of the leading men of the State---for successive terms Speaker of the Assembly, and familiar with the details of legislation---of polished and winning address---with wonderful readiness and skill in debate---with a capacity for continuous labor and despatch of business, and a comprehensive business-knowledge and experience, he was able to guide the company through the financial struggles and embarrassments which were to surround its future.
    "And now that the Company has been incorporated and has chosen its President, let us look at what its organizers proposed to do, and at their means in hand. They are to build four hundred miles of railroad across the States of Now York and New Jersey---to cut through hills, cross valleys, bridge rivers, tunnel mountains, and lay down forty thousand tons of iron rails. Surely they have adequate means at their disposal? "Give me where to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." The gift was not bestowed, and therefore the order of Providence was not disturbed. The president and directors, with apparent Archimedean hopelessness, were seeking "where to stand." Forty millions of dollars were needed to complete their work, and their sum total of money was not as many thousands! It is mild to say, that they were rushing in where archangels of finance would have feared to tread. A standing-place must be found, or the work would end in failure, and be remembered as a prematurely exploded bubble.
    Mr. Littlejohn was then a Member of Assembly and Judge Low a Senator. They were authorized by the board of directors to devise a plan of operations, and procure needed legislation.
    A bill which was afterwards known as the "town-bonding law," was prepared by Senator Low, and introduced at an early day. It provided for the apportionment, on application of twelve or more freeholders, of three commissioners for each town to be traversed by the new road, who were authorized, on obtaining the written consent of tax-payers who were assessed for a majority of the taxable property of such town, to issue its bonds to an amount to be specified, and not to exceed thirty per cent, of the assessed value of the property of the town, and to dispose of them at not less than par, and invest the proceeds in the stock of the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad Company---the money, thus realized to the company, to be used in the construction of the road, and for no other purpose. The bill also provided for the exemption from taxation for ten years of the property of the company.
    It is not to be supposed that such important legislation and such privileges were to be granted without opposition. The bill was bitterly contested at every stage of its progress. It was urged that it proposed to confer extraordinary powers and privileges; that the policy of permitting localities to burden themselves with taxation for such enterprises was novel and dangerous; and that it was unjust to other companies to exempt from taxation the property of this corporation.
    The influence of rich and powerful railroad companies, so potent in our halls of legislation, was arrayed against the proposed measure, and it was only after great strife, untiring perseverance and energy, with unceasing vigilance, that the friends of the bill, by a bare majority, secured its passage, and it became a law on the 5th of April, 1836. Its importance to the undertaking cannot be over-estimated. It secured the needed fulcrum, and the world was now to be moved---literally to be moved---for the new law merely gave the towns authority to bond; the promoters of the project had yet to persuade them to do so.

    The field of active operations was then transferred from the Legislature to the towns to be traversed by the Midland road. The proper information was collected from the various assessment-rolls---apportionments made of their quota to the respective towns and villages, and measures set on foot for an active canvass of the Midland counties from Oswego to the State line of New Jersey.
    The amounts for which it was proposed to ask the towns to bond were as follows:

City ofOswego,$600,000 | TownPittsfield,40,000
VillageNorwich,75,000 | "Sidney,50,000
"De Ruyter,20,000 | "Walton,165,000
"Oneida,40,000 | "Hamden,100,000
TownVolney,300,000 | "Delhi,250,000
"Hastings,80,000 | "Liberty,108,500
"West Monroe,40,000 | "Rockland,34,200
"Constantia,87,500 | "Mamakating,175,000
"Scriba,20,000 | "Fallsburgh,99,500
"Vienna,68,500 | "Wawarsing,250,000
"Stockbridge,143,000 | "Wallkill,300,000
"Eaton,150,000 | "Plymouth,100,000
"Lebanon,125,000 | "Otselic,83,700
"Smyrna,120,000 | "Lincklaen,20,000
"North Norwich100,000 | "DeRuyter,102,300
"Norwich,371,600 | "Minisink,75,000
"Oxford,200,000 | "Cuyler,64,000
"Guilford,180,000 | "Buxton,124,000
"McDonough,20,000 | "Hancock,100,000
"Pharsalia,25,000 | "Lansing,100,000
"New Berlin,150,000 | "Genoa,75,000
"Brewton,20,000 | "Venice,75,000
"Columbus,40,000 | "Scipio,100,000
"Edmonton,40,000 | ----------
Total, $5,606,800

    Public meetings and discussions were held from one end of the line to the other, and railway information was diffused through every school-district from Oswego to Middletown. The powerful influence of the local press, almost without an exception, was enlisted in behalf of the project. The benefits to accrue from the building of the road were depicted, and arguments of such force brought to bear on the minds of the tax-payers, that within a few months from the passage of the law, every town except Colchester determined to avail itself of the provisions of the law. Town-bonds amounting to $5,606,800 were thus placed in the hands of the town-commissioners.
    During the summer, of 1866, preliminary surveys were made along the entire line; but the final location was not definitely determined.
    To secure the several towns against a diversion of their contributions, a provision had been inserted in the bonding-law, that the proceeds from no portion of the bonds of a town should be expended outside of the county in which it was situated, until at least ten thousand dollars had been paid for each mile of road within such county.
    The bonds were still in the hands of the towns, and capitalists and moneyed men were holding large amounts of Government-securities upon which no income-tax was assessed. It was foreseen that, without the aid of additional legislation, it would be difficult to convert these town-bonds into cash without loss. The company was not yet ready to commence the work of actual construction, and wisely determined to defer the effort to convert its securities until it should be seen whether further advantages could not be secured through law.
    A provision to exempt from taxation the town-bonds, to be issued in aid of the road, had been prepared by Senator Low in, his original bill, and reported favorably from the railroad-committee of the Senate; but such a storm was raised in committee of the whole, that its friends were forced to allow this provision to be thrown overboard, lest the whole bill should founder. The effort to secure this desired exemption was renewed during the session of 1866-7, and on the 15th of May, 1867, a law was passed exempting the bonds from taxation for county, town or municipal purposes, while in the hands of corporations of, or persons resident in any county along the road, and authorizing the banks of the State to invest in them. The town-commissioners were also authorized by this act to exchange their bonds for the stock of the company at par. The power to negotiate the bonds being thus given to the company, they were mostly placed, during the succeeding year, through the agency of its able and experienced treasurer and financial manager, Walter M. Conkey, of Norwich, in the hands of investors of the Midland counties, so as to net the company their par value. It is believed that a negotiation of equal magnitude and success cannot be instanced in the history of any other railway-enterprise.
    In the beginning of 1868, the Midland company, after more than two years of comprehensive and persistent labor; of "harmonious counsel in the management, and cordial support and assistance from the commissioners and stockholders," stood fairly upon its feet. Besides its resources from town-bonds, a considerable amount of personal subscriptions had been secured; and with over six millions of dollars at command, the directors looked hopefully forward to the day---not far distant---when they might wisely put the road under contract, and enter upon its actual construction. Final surveys having been made, and the road located on the Northern Division from Oswego to Sidney Plains, the contracts for that work were accordingly awarded on the 2d day of June, 1868.
    On the 21st day of June, 1868, at Norwich, in Chenango county, amid public rejoicings, and the firing of cannon, earth was first broken, and from September following the work went vigorously forward.
    At a meeting of the Board, held at Oswego, in July, 1868, the location of the line was fixed as far north as Centerville, and in November following to Liberty.
    Other portions of the line were placed under contract as follows: New Berlin Branch, September 7th, 1868; Middletown to Centerville, September 28th, 1868; Ellenville Branch, September 28th, 1868; Shawangunk Tunnel, October 1st, 1868; Delhi Branch, February 3d, 1869; Centerville to Westfield Flats, February ^d, 1869; Norwich to De Ruyter (Auburn Branch), June 4th, 1869; Sidney to Walton, September 10th, 1869; De Ruyter to Truxton (Auburn Branch), July 21st, 1870; and actual construction speedily followed.
    The contract for the making of the Shawangunk tunnel was awarded to Stephens, Bennet & Co., of Oneida. Work upon the approaches was begun in November of 1868. The heading of the tunnel proper was not reached on the east side until the 15th of February following; and at the west end, owing to the unfavorable character of the quicksand encountered, it was the middle of the following summer before the same advance had been attained. "Nothing connected with the enterprise," says President Littlejohn in his report of 1871, to the stockholders of the company, "has been so persistently used by our opponents to discourage subscriptions and throw discredit on the management as this tunnel."
    There were many people at Monticello who naturally desired that the road should pass through that place; or, if it failed to do so, that it should follow down the Neversink river by way of Bridgeville to Port Jervis. Considerations of cost, grade, direction and subscriptions determined the selection of the line by the way of the Sandburgh and the Shawangunk tunnel to Middletown. This led to dissatisfaction, defection and hostility on the part of some of the residents of Thompson, Forestburgh and Deerpark. The inhabitants of Monticello believed that the location of the road would result in disaster to their beautiful village, unless they secured the construction of a railway from that place to Port Jervis. This led to the organization of the Monticello and Port Jervis Company. They had no expectation of making the latter a rival of the Midland; but, believing that the latter would not be completed in many years, they hoped, by promptly connecting Monticello with the Erie Railway, to make it a center of travel and traffic for a time, and thus give it an impetus which would avert the consequences which otherwise would result to Monticello from the location of the Midland. It is not our purpose to discuss the wisdom of their conduct, or to consider here the strife and litigation which followed; but it is not foreign to our purpose to say that some converted the Shawangunk tunnel into a bug-bear. The tunnel could never be completed---the resources of the company would be exhausted before the great bore was fairly begun--the directors were making merely a pretense of progress--scarcely more than a dozen man were employed--and after more than six months of boasted blasting and boring, the work was visited by a party of scientific gentlemen, who reported that they had found a hole in the mountain of not to exceed six feet!
    Considering the interests at stake, the stupendous magnitude of the undertaking, and the imperfections which are inseparable from humanity, the exaggerations and distrust which were exhibited were natural.
    A passage-way twenty-two feet wide and twenty-two feet in height was to be hewn for nearly five thousand feet through the solid rock. Two million cubic feet of rock was to be dislodged from its primeval bed, and carried forth from the bowels of the mountain. Making no account for interruption from cases not to be foreseen, it would require one thousand days to complete the work.
    The tunnel went steadily forward. Far from the sunlight and from the din and turmoil of unceasing travel overhead---through the night-watches and the glaring day, which were alike to the smeared and grimy toilers by the lamp---the drill and the blast were ceaselessly and with tireless pace approaching the heart of the mountain from either side, and remorselessly carrying forward the great work to its consummation.
    The work for the tunnel was laid out under the supervision of Anthony Jones, an accurate and careful engineer who is now employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. As the work progressed simultaneously on both sides of the mountain, it was a matter of some moment to the reputation of Mr. Jones, as well as to the interest of the company, that the two advancing lines should not miss each other in the dark recesses of the mountain, and wander on indefinitely. The difficulties---not great in a tangent line and horizontal tunnel---were here increased from the circumstance of a curve extending into the tunnel from the east a distance of six hundred feet, and a double incline. The ends might therefore in the dark run over and under, and pass each other, and lead thus to infinite disappointment and embarrassment. The result, however, proved that no error was made by Mr. Jones. 2
    Besides the Shawangunk tunnel, the Neversink tunnel, the bridge at Liberty Falls, the trestle-work near the village of Liberty, etc., deserve especial notice; but the limits of our work warn us that we have already devoted as much space as we have to spare for the New York and Oswego Midland Railroad. We will therefore close this chapter with the statement, that, on the 9th of July, 1873, near Westfield Flats, the last rail was laid and the last spike driven, by E. P. Wheeler, of Middletown, a former vice-president of the company, amid a salvo of cannon, music and the cheers of a multitude of people.


1 - New York World, December 15, 1805.
2 - The first thing which passed through the tunnel was a drill, which James V. Morrison secured by stratagem. As Judge Low was more identified with the "great bore" than any other individual, he was awarded the honor of being the first man who traveled from one approach to the other. Mrs. James V. Morrison was the first lady who performed the same feat.
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