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October 2, 2013

Oneonta inched closer to becoming a railroad town in 1863

When the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad finally reached Oneonta in 1865, signs seen at the celebration in August read, “Isolation Obliterated,” among others. This area wasn’t actually too far removed from civilization, if what was seen in The Oneonta Herald editions in the autumn of 1863 was any indication. One form of transportation, the stagecoach, was entering its final months of prosperity at the time.

The travel was pretty slow by today’s standards and the ride probably wasn’t especially smooth for the passengers on some of the roads and turnpikes, but the Herald of Oct. 7, 1863 showed there were six stage lines, centered in Oneonta, to take passengers to as many destinations.

Two destinations, Fort Plain and Deposit, made it possible for passengers to connect with the Central Railroad and Erie Railway, respectively. Stages also traveled to and from Hancock, Catskill, Utica and Albany. Depending on the destination, some stages provided daily service while others were two- or three-day-per-week operations.

Utica, for example, was accessible on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Departure time oddly enough was 3 a.m. and the coaches traveled via Morris, New Berlin and Clayville. The stage returned to Oneonta at 9 p.m. the same day.

The stage to Albany was likely the first to go by the wayside in the mid-1860s, due to the progress on the construction of the A&S Railroad.

The Herald on Oct. 7 had a repeating news article that autumn, stating, “On and after September 16, 1863, trains will leave Albany at 7:30 a.m., stopping at Slingerlands, New Scotland, Guilderland, Knowersville, Knox, Quaker Street and Esperance, arriving at Schoharie at 10 a.m. where Stages will be in readiness to convey all passengers to all points in Schoharie and Otsego counties. Trains leave Schoharie at 3 p.m., arriving in Albany at 5:15 p.m.

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