Since the invention of the steam locomotive, America has had a love affair with trains.
In fact, the historic Sacandaga Park owes much of its nostalgic past not just to the attractions that made it a tourist gem in the 1800’s, but also to the railroads that united the communities across the Sacandaga Valley and the Adirondacks.
The FJ&G Railroad logo reads, “Sacandaga Route to the Adirondacks.” And so it was, the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad connected all these Sacandaga area communities together and made quick travel to New York’s larger cities possible. Built in 1867 as a steam railroad, from about 1870 until around 1938, the FJ&G carried passengers from all around the Sacandaga area to Schenectady’s New York Central Station. Passenger service was eventually discontinued however in favor of freight, which continued until the railroad was abandoned in the mid 1980s.
Showcasing an uncommon passion for this historic railroad is writer and train enthusiast Paul K. Larner, author of Our Railroad: The History of the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad (1867-1893) (2009, AuthorHouse Publishing).
“In the spring of 1958 came a defining moment, establishing my first love,” writes Larner. “She (the railroad) had earlier suitors and I adapted to sharing her with others throughout this affair. … My father bought me signed copy of the book (Steam and Trolley Days on the Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad), the bible for me, which took me beyond the moment, exposing the past of what to this point had existed only in the present.”
His own book is itself a celebration of the history of the FJ&G. In it, Larner takes a look at the crossroads, the people and the trains that helped build and service the communities of the Great Sacandaga Lake area.
“If after reading this you develop an intimacy with this railroad,” Larner writes, “gain an understanding of how this railroad fit with its communities and its employees, I will have fulfilled my purpose.”
The history of the FJ&G dates nearly as far back as the steam engine itself. Its impact is unmistakably intrinsic in our communities, in fact the footprint of the Railroad has been transformed into the FJ&G Rail Trail, where area residents can enjoy hiking and biking. We should count ourselves fortunate to have among us writers so eager to explore our region’s past!
Image courtesy of NYYSA