A. Fell is the best-posted freight man in Buffalo, for two reasons - he wields the most authority, and he has seen more service than his contemporaries, having served continuously in the business for fifty years, so that he is ready to declare himself fairly immersed in freight matters, and thinks on those lines from force of habit.
Mr. Fell was born in Yorkshire, England, October 10, 1832, and early commenced railroad service. In 1846 he was connected with the London & Northwestern, and was sent to Liverpool in its interests in 1852. In 1858 he accepted a position from the Buffalo & Lake Huron railroad (formerly known as the Buffalo, Brantford & Goderich), and on arriving here found the headquarters at Brantford, Canada. His experience, however, pointed to Buffalo as the more desirable place, and accordingly he removed the headquarters to the Erie Street depot, in that city. The Buffalo & Lake Huron road appeared not to have flourished at first, but Mr. Fell soon gave it new life. The road put a lake line on from Goderich to Chicago, and covered Lake Ontario in the same way from Port Dalhousie to Kingston and Oswego. Some exchange of freight was made with the Erie & Buffalo, but the business was not large by that route. All the Buffalo elevators were without anything except canal connection, but Mr. Fell accomplished something by inducing David S. Bennett to connect the old Dart elevator with the road, and this appears to be the first move made toward shipping grain in bulk to and from elevators by rail, as up to that time the trade was monopolized by lake and canal. Mr. Fell lived at Buffalo and maintained his headquarters there, but the official headquarters were at Brantford, where he spent an hour or two every week. In 1864 the road was leased for ninety-nine years to Grand Trunk. Mr. Fell thought seriously of going out of the railroad business, but he was invited back to London and asked to go first to Demerara and then to the East Indies in the interest of English capital invested in railroads. He declined all these offers, however, and returned to America. In Buffalo he met William G. Fargo, and was soon in charge of the Merchants Despatch Freight line (then owned by the American Express Company), which he built up, and continued it after changing it into a stock company. Afterward he went to New York and arranged for the shipment of imported goods west, in bond, which greatly facilitated business. Later he went to Detroit as agent for the Detroit & Milwaukee road, and in 1873 was made general agent for the Michigan Central and Great Western railroads at Rochester, where he remained until he took hold of the Blue line, and built it up, going to Philadelphia in 1878 to do the work. From there he moved to Scranton in 1879, and was there until the Lackawanna road was extended to Buffalo in 1882, when he was made Western freight manager of the D.L. & W. railroad, with headquarters at Buffalo, in which position he remains at the present time.
Though Buffalo is the western terminus of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western, its influence extends directly to the other side of Lake Michigan. Mr. Fell was the pioneer of the car-ferry plan of carrying freight across Lake Michigan, and the two big Ann Arbor boats were built on his recommendation. Together with President Sloan, of the Lackawanna, and Mr. Cargill, of Green Bay, Mr. Fell was instrumental in building the road from Green Bay to Kewaunee, on Lake Michigan, whence a line was run across to Frankfort, and a strong competition was set up with all routes via Chicago. The Lackawanna is interested in several cross-lake lines that run all winter. The car ferry is a popular institution and the winter route a fixture, though the Kewaunee- Frankfort line was not set up until about 1890. It would be a long story to give everything but the nearest outline of these forty years of acquiring such an intimate and far-reaching knowledge of the freight business. That the Lackawanna authorities give Mr. Fell free rein in all freight matters, and place him at the head of all such business, is shown by his being made general manager of the Lackawanna Transportation Company, the lake line of the road, when it was organized in 1889. He is also manager of the Wabash fast freight line. No man stands higher than he in any matters pertaining to the intricacies of the transportation business.
"Mr. A. Fell, one of the oldest and ablest traffic managers in the country, owing to ill health, has resigned as Western freight traffic manager of the Lackawanna lines. He began his railroad career in 1846, and since 1879 has been on the Lackawanna road."
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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.