The Anthracite Coal Association
The Anthracite Coal Association was formed in 1861 by the union of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Co., the Pittston & Elmira Coal Co. and J. Langdon & Co, and kept its organization until the withdrawal of the first-named in the spring of 1879, when J. J. McWilliams became the coal shipping agent of the company in the city of Buffalo.
Mr. McWilliams was appointed April 7, 1879, when the company was sending very little coal to Buffalo, or westward by any route, its line then being largely eastward of Syracuse, Binghamton and Oswego, though including these points. However, with the immense growth of the lake trade already beginning to be a fact, it soon threw a feeler to Buffalo, as a great tree throws a root to any deposit of rich soil within its reach. The road first entered the city in September, 1880, connecting at Black Rock with the Grand Trunk & Michigan Central railroad, and until the completion of its line through Ohio and Water streets in 1882, it sent all its coal consigned to its lake shipping trade via the New York Central, delivering it to that road at Syracuse. After this time the operations of the road became wonderfully active. The lake trestle had been built in 1880, and with an extensive system of receiving agencies at other lake ports, the shipments of the company were soon far in the lead of any other in the ports in the West. Being within a single day of its own mines, it was easy to keep up the supply for shipment or to meet an unlooked-for emergency in the way of demand. The western agents include The Rhodes & Beidler Coal Co. in Cleveland, S. C. Schenck in Toledo; also succeeding Robert Low in Chicago, and Hedstrom & Company in Chicago, also H. M. Benjamin Coal Company and the Northwestern Fuel Company in Milwaukee, which latter company also receives coal from the company in Green Bay, Duluth and Washburn, besides other alliances in the small ports, so that the concern is equipped for a trade that cannot very well be less than enormous. The company has made extensive improvements at its yard on lower Erie street, including the erection of a separate trestle specially adapted to the city trade that was opened for business on December 20, 1883, the same day of the opening of the Cantilever bridge across the Niagara River. There is a water frontage of 720 feet at its lake shipping trestle at the foot of Erie street. It has a pocket capacity of 4,500 tons, and though this is not large, the situation is so much the best in the harbor (at the mouth of the inner harbor) that it cannot be surpassed by any other.
Though the company handles no soft coal, it was early found that there was need of additional stocking room, and at an early date a great shed for storage of anthracite coal was built on the line of the road just beyond the city line beyond East Buffalo. It is the longest coal trestle in the world, 3,000 feet long, and has a capacity of 125,000 tons. From this trestle it is possible to load a whole train and send it down to the shipping yard at Erie street in a very short time, so that vessels need not be kept waiting for their cargoes. Soon after connecting it tracks to the Erie street yard the railroad company began to acquire water frontage by condemnation proceedings, and is now in possession of everything on the city side of the harbor from Commercial slip to the foot of Washington street. On a portion of this below Main street a continuous warehouse for the reception of lake freight has been built. This was the site of the old and much lamented Central wharf, which saw the early growth of the lake trade, and was practically the business home of the whole of that traffic, all lake traders occupying offices there. When the property passed into the railroad hands the marine interests scattered about the business part of the city. The Lackawanna Company also has an ore-receiving dock on the Erie basis side of the Erie street yard, where six Thornburg hoists transfer ore from vessels to cars direct. It also has a small iron dock on the upper Blackwell canal, but so little railroad iron now goes westward by lake that it is not much used. The company ships coal extensively by lake from Oswego, which, with the lake line of the company, is mentioned elsewhere.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.