The present-day competition to have a resort casino built in a community near our region is fierce. Broome and Tioga counties are in the running. Howes Cave is competing against Amsterdam, Albany and East Greenbush — all for the lucrative prize of jobs and tax revenues. Today’s casino fervor is much like another kind 125 years ago, when nearly every local community wanted to have a new railroad “trunk line” pass through it.
Meetings were frequent, fundraising efforts were vigorous, but in the end of the “race,” the result was what many called “paper railroads” — those that never got off the drawing boards. Usually the only work completed were the land surveys for the proposed rights of way.
Two major railroads were thriving in our region in 1889: the Delaware & Hudson and the New York, Ontario & Western. At least two other railroads were being planned that year and both were intended to link the Kingston area near the Hudson River, with Lake Ontario at Oswego.
Some sections of these proposed trunk lines did get built, one linking Oswego with Syracuse. Another began in Kingston and headed northwest to the resort community of Stamford. This line finally connected with Oneonta in 1900 and was known then as the Ulster & Delaware railroad.
So in 1889, prior to the completion to Oneonta, the area in question were the miles between Stamford and Syracuse, and which railroad might connect the two general areas in a northwest/southeast direction.
Two such “paper railroads” were making local news in May of 1889.
From The Oneonta Daily News of May 14 came word that, “The survey for the Oneida & Oneonta railroad was commenced on Tuesday last at a point just east of the brick yard crossing on the D. & H. road from which point to the depot track of the latter road will be used, under an arrangement already perfected.” The route planned went to Otego Creek, West Oneonta, West Laurens, Morris, Knoxboro, Waterville and Oneida.