Finger Lakes History

Freeville Train Station

On New Year’s Day, 1870, the first train of the Southern Central Railroad came through Freeville. Its little depot was the first building in the new, upper Freeville. Shortly after that came the Ithaca & Cortland Railroad. The two crossed near the Ithaca and Cortland’s station, and thus by 1871 Freeville found itself a half mile from a railroad junction. Nine years later, the Midland Railroad Company began to run its trains from Freeville to West Dryden, Lansing, and Geneo, with the plan to continue to Auburn. Historian Albert Genung, in his “Historical Sketch of the Village of Freeville, Tompkins County, New York,” edited by R.D. Savage, 1987, wrote that the Midland used the Utica, Ithaca, & Elmira (later the E.C. & N.) station in Freeville, located a little west of Union Street. A cinder walk beside the track led from the depot to the vicinity of the old Lyceum Hall (later the Honey Butter Factory and today the site of Freeville Architectural Millwork). The station’s roundhouse and turntable were located behind the present site of the United Methodist Church. The railroad bed ran westward, a little south of the present Main Street, and crossed Route 366 at the western Village limits.

An interesting aspect of the railroads in those days was their local, almost neighborhood character. They were always ready to give a special train to any group who wanted to go somewhere for a day’s outing. Freeville people took advantage of such excursions and took trips to New York City and Coney Island, Niagara Falls, and Sylvan Beach on Oneida Lake, where a rail line was extended so that the glass factory in Freeville could obtain white sand from the beach there. The Lehigh Valley Railroad Company bought out the various local train companies in 1890. It eventually replaced the two little Freeville stations with a larger station built within the southwest angle of the junction. A broad wooden platform extended along the tracks and all around the station. In 1910 Lehigh built a stucco station in the northeast angle of the junction, which they tore down in mid-century.

By Joan Manning
Freeville Village Historian  (Excerpt from freevilleny.org)
 
Photo Submitted by William Hecht
Courtesy of the Frontenac Historical Society and Museum, Union Springs, NY

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