The Trolley

“The Auburn Inter-Urban Electric RR was opened on January 1, 1901, to Skaneateles, a distance of 6.7 miles. On September 30, 1902, this company was consolidated with the Auburn City Ry. to form the Auburn and Syracuse Electric RR. The line thru to Syracuse was completed and opened on June 23, 1903… A second track from Syracuse to Skaneateles was completed in 1906… West of Skaneateles the old line followed the highway, and a number of sharp dips and rises made the trip seem like a ride on a roller coaster, particularly when the cars were making high speed at night.”

— From Interurbans of the Empire State (1949) by Felix E. Reifschneider.


The trolley trip from Syracuse to Auburn took one hour and 25 minutes. The founder of the inter-urban rail syndicate was Clifford D. Beebe, whose group controlled hundreds of miles of rail transportation in several cities. Beebe built “Lone Oak,” an estate on West Lake Street, most recently known as the Ruston House or “Lakelawn;” it was torn down in 2004. He also owned the land today occupied by the Skaneateles Country Club.

Beebe RR

Building a line between Auburn and Syracuse was not without its challenges. When all that remained was to link the line through Skaneateles — the Syracuse line ended at the eastern Village line and the Auburn line began at the corner of Jordan and Genesee Streets — Frederick Roosevelt hired lawyer George Barrow to halt the construction. Roosevelt’s closest friend was the personal secretary to the head of the New York Central Railroad, which didn’t want the competition. The suit, though, based on technicalities, was thrown out of court.

Main St LWH

The Interurban office in Auburn

* * *

“Injunction Vacated. Inter-Urban May Build Through Skaneateles,” Marcellus Weekly Observer, June 7, 1901


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