Lowville & Beaver River Railroad
The Lowville & Beaver River Railroad is a disused railroad between Lowville and Croghan, New York.
Few roads connected rural Lewis County because of its remote location far from any major city in the early 1800s, with the New York State Legislature approving construction of a crude road (today’s NY 26) in 1803 between Rome and Watertown. 5 After the Erie Canal opened in 1825, wheat from the Black River valley was transported by sleigh to Utica, Rome, and Albany. The Black River Canal, finished in 1855, made that trek far easier.
Railroads soon outcompeted canals but the topography in Lewis County was unforgiving. The Utica & Black River Railroad was eventually built between Utica and Ogdensburg between 1855 and 1878. 5 An 11-mile branch line from Lowville through Beaver Falls to Croghan was planned in late 1880 but it was not until 1903 that J.P. Lewis backed the short line to serve his mills in Beaver Falls. Construction of the Lowville & Beaver River Railroad (L&BR) began in mid-1904 and opened with an excursion train on January 13, 1906. 1
The J.P. Lewis Company paper mill was founded in Beaver Falls in 1836 after Jacob and Rudolf Rohr acquired land to build a sawmill. 5 A pulp mill was constructed soon after by Lewis, FeFevre, and Charles Nuffer. J.P. Lewis gained sole control of the pulp mill in 1883 and rebuilt it in 1887.
Negotiations began with J.P. Lewis for the purchase of all railroad stock in January 1960, 1 and in August, the company acquired L&BR which became a part of the Genesee Valley Transportation Company. 2 J.P. Lewis closed the Beaver Falls mill in 2007 and the L&BR was rendered out-of-service on January 24. 4
Not long after, the Black River-St. Lawrence Resource Conservation & Development Council proposed purchasing the L&BR for use as a rail-to-trail. 2 In response, Genesee Valley Transportation suggested that it would donate the L&BR to the Railway Historical Society of Northern New York (RHSNN) if it could form a scenic railroad operation over the line in conjunction with the 17-mile Lowville Industrial Track between Lowville and West Carthage being converted into a rail-to-trail. In October 2009, the county’s Economic Development Department submitted an application for a $600,000 grant from the state to aid in the acquisition of the L&BR and the Lowville Industrial Track. 2
A $450,000 state grant was awarded in 2010 towards the trail’s development, and the county planned to use the funding to purchase the L&BR for $425,000 and the Lowville Industrial Track for $1. 3 But the county abandoned the rail-to-trail and tourist railroad proposal in May 2012, forfeiting the grant.