from the Dunkirk [Chautauqua Co., NY] Evening Observer index 27 Aug 1890 Observer
Lytle, Captain Jamesd. last week at Middletown, NYwas conductor on first train into Dunkirk, 14 May 1851
from the Dunkirk Historical Society online chronology: 1851 (4) The New York & Erie Railroad was completed, the last tie being laid in April. The railroad was opened on May 14, when a train made half of the journey from the Hudson River to Dunkirk. Continuing the next day, the train arrived in Dunkirk with Charles Sherman, a Dunkirk resident, as engineer for the second half of the trip. The railroad was 445 ½ miles long, with wide gauge tracks 6’ in width. This was the longest railroad then in existence, and the first from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Many notables made the trip, including President Fillmore and his Cabinet, Daniel Webster, Seward, and Douglas, etc. There were festivities for three days, with crowds estimated at fifteen to twenty thousand gathered for the event. Many detailed accounts of the coming of the railroad are extant. President Fillmore purchased a copy of the Dunkirk Journal, buying it from the owner’s young son, E.K. Thompson, Jr. and giving him $.25. The President and other important guests were entertained at Loder House, recently completed and named for the railroad’s president. It was a four-story brick building with a portico of granite columns and a central air-well which provided light for the inside rooms. The entire railroad project had cost $23,500,000 and great predictions were made for the development of the country along its route. Passenger and freight service on a regular basis started May 19. Later in the year, the telegraphic system of dispatching trains was adopted. The train was in two sections with a total of a dozen cars. Fireworks and bonfires added to the festivities. President Fillmore and Daniel Webster were also guests at the home of Hanson Risley at 411 Center Street. Several railroads were in existence; namely, the Baltimore & Ohio, the Camden & Amboy, the Mohawk & Hudson, a branch of the Delaware & Hudson, and others; all of them much shorter than the new New York & Erie.