The Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad
Note: Some of this information was drawn from the Western New York Railroad Archive website.
This line, last known as the Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern Railroad, can trace its roots back to 1881, when the Mayville Extension Railroad built a line between Mayville and Chautauqua in New York, on the north side of Chautauqua Lake. The line was subsequently extended as its owners underwent various purchases and reorganizations up until 1913, when the JW&NW purchased the entire line and operated it up until its abandonment. During its time under the JW&NW, it was electrified for both passenger and freight service. However, passenger operations ended on November 30, 1947, after which the line became diesel- and freight-only until its abandonment in 1950.
A rough timeline of the the JW&NW between Jamestown and Westfield:
Jamestown Mayville Chautauqua Westfield
1881 |----- MERR -----|
1887 |----- CLRy -----|-Purchased CLRy-|
1894 |----- Reorganized as J&LE -------|
1899 |------ Reorganized as J&C -------|
1902 |--Leased JC&LE--|---- JC&LE ----|
1907 |---- Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company -------|
1913 |---- Jamestown, Westfield & Northwestern --------|
1950 |-------------- Abandoned ------------------------|
Today, most of the original right-of-way can be traced, except for in a few areas, as noted on the map below. The very southern end of the line, in Jamestown, was used most recently to serve a few scrap dealers; this last remaining segment was most likely abandoned when Conrail placed its mainline through Jamestown on "out of service" status. That mainline has since been reopened as the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, but the JW&NW was not included in that reopening and remains unused.
I was very pleased to find this website and amazed that the various pieces of track I remember seeing in my youth actually connected and had a heyday long before my time. I'd love to try and walk the line someday. Any chance of rails to trails?
My Dad worked on the JW for yeas.He was there when it was abondoned........ this was neat to read the web site about it......
Wasn't there an interurbans that ran through the Jamestown region due to vacationing regions? I believe a line connected Jamestown to Westfield back around 1900 and might have shared the right of way. These interurbans prospered well into the 1920s and were gone by the Great Depression.
In the late 1930's we would slip into the cars at "The Landing" and ride up to either Driftwood or Greenhurst -- get off and borrow boats at the local cottages and go fishing. We would often borrow a boat from the cottage of Cliff and Loretta Ash. At this pint we could almost row across to Lakewood.
I spent many day with my parents between JAMESTOWN, NY and HAMBURG,NY 1967- 1995 and with my dad 2001-2005, My First Aunt (on my mothers side) once owned the WHITESIDE HOTEL on Chautauqua Lake. Actually the hotel faced the Lake. I was given the drawings and operators manual for J.W.& NW RR's GE 70 ton locomotives they're somewhere, they survived 6 different moves.
I was looking at the photos, and wondering, if the railroad was abandon in 1950, the crossings's crossbucks and poles look kind of modern ad should had deteriorated somewhat by the time the pics were taken in 2008.
The line was abandoned but the portion in Jamestown was used up to 2008 to a scrapper. The section showing the crossbuck is on the used portion. Being painted metal it would have rust. Had it been left from some bygone era the sign would be completely gone to some collector. These modern cross bucks are modern--had it been on some long abandon section it would be the crossbuck on a stick.
I was going through some old things of mine and came across a Quarterly ticket dated December 31, 1937 for the Jamestown, Westfield and Northwestern R.B. I grew in Jamestown, although I have be gone from there for 18 years. I was not born yet when this was a part of Jamestown, so it was nice to be able to read about where the ticket came from. I still have the ticket, I think it came in a box I bought at an auction one time.
It is amazing the things found in boxes. I have 3 tech manuals from the Erie that belonged to my grandfather. He worked on the Erie until his death in 1956.
Has anyone ever road four wheelers on the old tracks from Mayville to westfield?
I know of some ROWs that are accessible, sometimes the bridges are blocked to prevent access. That was the case of the old LV ROW that ran parallel to the NYS thruway in West Seneca. The ROW you inquired about may not be accessible, I might suggest explore first.
I'm Westfield Town and Village Historians... this is an excellent post... highly recommended!
For those who commented on Rails to Trails, parts of this actually are Rails to Trails... there are a few holdouts who don't want Rails to Trails to use the portions that cross their lands...
Regarding the section in Westfield, the Chautauqua Traction and the JW & NW actually had completely separate rights of way, they did not combine. The JW & NW paralleled Portage Street but down the embankment closer to Chautauqua Creek, behind the houses and businesses... the Chautauqua Traction tracks actually came down the middle of Portage Street, and eventually extended to Barcelona (called the Hop Toad)...
I walked the ROW in Westfield with my father often up until 1965. Several of the old bridges were still standing in part then. I heard a few stories about passengers riding the JW&NW which led to a nickname: Jesus Walked & No Wonder.