Echoes of a Railroad

Deirdre Joyce - March 4th, 2016

A Special Guest Post

By Trish Battisti, Senior Library Clerk & Mary Donohue, Library Director 
Evans Library, Fulton-Montgomery Community College

  Everybody loves railroads, don’t they?  Listening to the “cha chunk-chunk, cha chunk-chunk” of the steel wheels running over the rails (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you grew up next to the tracks), waiting for the last “cha chunk…rattle, rattle, rattle”, and then hearing that unique sound drift on down the line. There’s nothing quite like it, is there? Here at the Fulton-Montgomery Community College Evans Library we just love the railroad and have quite an assortment of materials to prove it. We are pleased and proud to provide in-house and online access to the Nestle collection, an assortment of photographs, articles, and business records from one of the preeminent local railroad companies, the F, J & G. What was the F, J & G and who was David Nestle? The Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad (F, J & G) was a short-line railroad formed in 1867 by Willard Heacock and a group of local investors.  The first line was steam and the first run was in 1870 from Fonda to Gloversville. The line expanded and the company prospered through the end of the nineteenth century with the development of the Sacandaga Park, a resort area created in the northern portion of Fulton County which provided pavilions, ponds, and picnic areas for local and even New York City vacationers. The line prospered and continued to grow when an electric short line railroad formed in 1891 called the Cayadutta Electric Railroad was absorbed by the F, J & G in 1893. However, times changed and the business’s fortunes turned when the rise of automobile and truck use to carry people and freight negatively affected revenues in the periods between the world wars. In an effort to increase business, the F, J & G purchased gasoline-powered rail cards in 1922.  Sadly, this did little to stem the company’s growing and continuous losses.  The railroad company saw its end in 1974 when it was purchased by the Delaware and Otsego system, which ultimately abandoned the line in 1988. The records from the F, J & G came to the Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Evans Library Kenneth Dorn Regional History Studies Collection in 2001 through a donation by the estate of David Nestle.  Mr. Nestle was a biology teacher by profession and a life-long collector of railroad materials who worked for the F, J &G before attending college.  Sometime in the 1950s, Mr. Nestle acquired the company records when the Gloversville office was closed. These business records, which he added to the books, newspaper clippings and several photo albums and scrapbooks that he had collected, formed the core of his collection.  Other items he acquired over his lifetime that were part of the library donation included railroad ephemera such as baggage tags, fare envelopes, school coupon books, and ticket books. And so now let’s take a few minutes to go back to another time and experience a sampling of the F, J & G images and photographs that can be found in the David F. Nestle Memorial Collection: [tribulant_slideshow gallery_id="1"]