When exactly where the Pagoda depots
glance, the answer seems obvious.."1881 and 1882"..
Since those are the years the DL&W mainline was built across New
York state to Buffalo.
But it might not be that simple!
As I mentioned
above, the New
Jersey depots have different details than their New York state
sisters..And there is some uncertainty concerning the build dates of
the NJ depots..the mere fact that they have different details than the
NY depots would suggest the NJ and NY depots were built at different
times..but which came first?? Was the Pagoda pattern first developed
for the New York state mainline extension to Buffalo, making the first
Pagoda depot perhaps Vestal, in 1883, then the PA and NJ depots came
later...or were the NJ depots built first? then the design was
"standardized" for the Buffalo extension? This is all currently unknown.
Vestal, Apalachin and Nichols, NY depots, the three easternmost depots
in NY, have some design features that are unique
to them! and appear on no other Pagoda depots..the main detail
being the shape of the roof brackets:
and Nichols depots:
Every other New York Pagoda depot has a second, different bracket style!
This suggests, to me, that perhaps
Vestal was the "prototype" pagoda depot, built first, with some details
that were not used on the "final" design for the rest of the depots.
Also Vestal, being the Easternmost Pagoda depot in NY state, would have
have had active rails earlier than any other New York state pagoda
location, and would have been "ready" for a depot first. DL&W rails
were in service to Vestal by the spring of 1881.
But were Pagoda depots being constructed as the mainline reached the
individual communities in 1881 and 1882? I would naturally assume
so..but perhaps not..
I found some details on the build dates for the DL&W across the
Southern Tier of New York,
and some interesting details concerning the Waverly, NY (non-pagoda)
This information is from the book "Twenty Five Years at the Junction,
by Frank Evans of Sayre, Pa. The book was published around the year
2000, and is a detailed account of the Erie, LV and DL&W activity
in and around Waverly NY and Sayre PA during those formative years.
September 1880 - DL&W surveying crews first reach Waverly.
July 29, 1881 - DL&W rails are active to Owego.
August 16, 1881 - DL&W rails reach Nichols.
October 14, 1881 - DL&W rails reach Waverly.
November 25, 1881 - a DL&W depot exists in Waverly. (this is the
April 7, 1882 - Trains are running to Elmira.
August 10, 1882 - DL&W is open to Bath.
September 14, 1882 - The DL&W mainline is complete to Buffalo,
trains are running over the whole
system. (freight only to
Buffalo, Passenger service as far as Mount Morris)
February 25, 1883 - Passenger service now also open to Buffalo.
So thats essentially two years of construction to build the DL&W
mainline between Binghamton
and Buffalo, 1881 and 1882.
The webpage for the museum in Painted Post says their depot was built
which seems perfectly logical given the dates the railroad was built!
and assuming the pagoda depots were built along with the railroad,
since the communities would have the need for a functioning depot as
soon as trains were running...but..
Looking through the book "Lackawanna Facilities in Color, Volume 3,
Scranton to Buffalo" by Chuck Yungkurth (Morning Sun Books, 2009)
throws a wrench in the 1881-1882 pagoda build date theory! ;)
Because Mr. Yungkurth has a source that indicates nearly all of the NY
Pagoda depots were built in..1883! One to two years after the railroad
What is the source?..its the DL&W railroad itself!
There is a "1918 Valuation Report" that lists details on several of the
pagoda depots..this report has the following information:
Vestal depot - built 1883, cost $6,198. station type W-102. (note
different catagory for Vestal!)
Big Flats - built 1883, cost $6,506,
station type W-102A.
Savona - built 1883, cost
$3,723, station type W-102A. (Savona is a "short" depot)
Yungkurth also says, presumably based on the same report:
Groveland - built 1883
Atlanta - built 1883
Hunlocks Creek PA - built 1883.
1883? that seems to make no sense..but it's highly likely the DL&W
would know when their own depots were built, and the report is from
only 35 years after the fact..
so its quite likely the 1883 date is correct. could it be a clerical
error? possibly! but for now, I have no reason to question the
DL&W's own information about their depots.
But the communities must have had an operating depot as soon as trains
were running in 1881 and 1882..they wouldnt wait a full two years to
build a depot! how to explain this?
By going back to Frank Evan's book "Twenty Five Years at the Junction",
this book contains details for depot construction at Waverly, NY.
The DL&W Waverly depot is well known:
This was a brick depot which stood until the end of the railroad in
1960, at the Fulton street crossing, the site of which is currently buried
under Route 17! But this is the third
DL&W depot for Waverly! (Technically the Waverly depots were
located in South Waverly, PA! not Waverly, NY..the DL&W mainline
made a short jog across the border into Pennsylvania at Waverly..but
the DL&W always referred to the station as "Waverly, NY"..even
though it was in reality a few hundred feet into Pennsylvania!)
Notice in the photo above there are Two depots..
The main passenger station in the foreground is the THIRD depot..
in the background is the second depot, built in..1883! This depot was
originally over at Pennsylvania avenue, near the John H. Murray &
Sons coal facility. The 1883 wood depot was moved over next to the
modern brick depot when it was built ..the wood depot then became the
What of the first Waverly depot then?
There are no known photos or descriptions of it..only some newspaper
records from Frank's book:
From the "Wavery Advocate"
October 14, 1881.
The double track of the new DL&W has been laid, ballasted and in
all respects prefected to this village. Everything is made complete as
soon as track is laid, including fences, telegraph poles and wires.
November 25, 1881.
The NYL&W (DL&W) started its trains on Monday last. Trains
leaves Waverly for the east as follows: 5:30am, 12:30 and 4pm. They
arrive in (South) Waverly at 11:15am, 5:30 and 10:25pm.
(this does not specifically mention a passenger
depot..but if trains are running in November, clearly they must have
had some kind of building in service)
August 31, 1883.
Plans for new DL&W South Waverty Depot.
The new, renamed DL&W RR will commence building a new depot in
South Waverly soon.
Three plans have been made and estimates and advantages of each are
It has not been deceided as of yet whether to build on Fulton street or
the site of the present station on Pennsylvania avenue. We hope that
the will settle on Fulton street as it is near the center of town and
only a few rods from the Erie depot. This would make the transfer of
freight and passengers much more adventageous for all.
(This is the
2nd DL&W Waverly depot..built only two years after the first, in
1883. This depot was in fact built at Pennsylvania ave, not Fulton
street, At the time, the DL&W had a bridge carrying Fulton street
over the tracks.
Clearly this is *not* a pagoda depot..photos of it are known. but it
was designed and built in 1883! the same year
as the Pagoda depots, based on
the dates given in the 1918 valuation report.)
December 14, 1883.
The new DL&W passenger depot was opened to the public last Monday.
A new freight depot is soon to be erected by them. Architects are now
at work on the plans.
January 14, 1884.
The new DL&W depot is finished and has been accepted by the company
and will be opened, as soon as the seats which are being made in the
Company's shops at Scranton arrive. Supt. Wm. F. Halstead and Division
engineer C.C. Rose have inspected it, marking that it was the best
piece of contract work that he ever had anything to do with. A decided
compliment to the builder, Mr. J. Secord. Mr. Rose being the architect
of the building, and it is very credible to him being a model of beauty
the 3rd and final depot, the brick passenger station that stood until
1960, was later built, and the 2nd passenger depot, the one discussed
above, was then moved over alongside of it and converted into the
So! three Waverly depots..
the first only existed for 2 years..built in the Autumn of 1881 as the
tracks were built through Waverly, and was an operating depot when
trains began to run.
Then! a second depot! built a very short time later, in 1883. this was
*not* a pagoda depot, and several photos of it are known..it later
stood next to the third, and final, Waverly depot until both depots
were demolished about 1960.
Why would the DL&W replace its original depot with a second depot
after only 2 years or less?
Probably not because it needed to be replaced..but because this was the
plan all along!
My working theory:
The first Waverly depot was probably a very basic, simple and temporary
structure, and it seems possible *all* the buffalo extension depots
were probably built this way in 1881 and 1882! simple temporary
structures meant only to get service up and running..then the railroad
had plans to build the "real" depots in 1883..this is where the Pagoda
depots come in, and it explains a second depot for Waverly in 1883 as
well..This Waverly information, plus the build dates of 1883 for the
Pagoda's listed in the 1918 report, all fit together nicely to explain
There is also a known newspaper
in the collection of the
Vestal, NY Town Historian office, from the "Broome
Republican" newspaper, dated September 1881, that states completion of
Vestal and Apalachin depots (first two depots on the Buffalo
extension) was being rushed to completion...but..it doesnt specifically
say these were the pagoda depots! could these have also been temporary
structures opened in 1881 just to get service up and running? based on
the 1883 build date from the DL&W's 1918 report, it seems likely
that is the case.
So now it seems all the New York state pagoda depots were likely built
in 1883, one to two years after the railroad was completed. And I think
I might be able to prove it! :)
at Syracuse University is the holy grail.
Incoming letters are all arranged chronologically during the period
1850-1876 and 1879-1889. While many files are continued on this
arrangement for the period 1890-1912, there are also many subject files
relating to individuals, company offices, paymasters, superintendents,
coal, lake freights, auditors, banks, company agents, express, counsel,
president's office, and stations.
Incoming Correspondence 1879-1912 (524 boxes)"
"F. Negative Photograph Files.
Included in the collection are some fifteen thousand Eastman
glass negatives of railroad scenes, especially roadway, rolling stock,
stations, locomotives, right of way, and other subjects. The inclusive
dates are 1865 to 1925. Only a small portion of this negative
photograph collection has been catalogued."
wow! I plan to visit Syracuse soon to research this further.
Perhaps this information will also shed some light on the theory that
the pagoda depots were all built
at a central location (Scranton?) and then shipped out by rail to their