The Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad Company also known as the "Shawmut Line" was a Class 1 Railroad Company that operated freight and passenger service from Wayland, New York to Brockway (nee Brockwayville), Pennsylvania from 1899 to 1947 a total of approximately 190 miles. The standard gauge railroad operated with branches to Olean and Hornell, New York and to Hazelhurst, Cardiff, Drummond and others to coal mines in Pennsylvania.
The purpose of this railroad was to haul coal from the coal mines of Pennsylvania to the Buffalo Rochester and New York City area. The Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad started its life as the combination of five small financially troubled Railroads in New York and Pennsylvania on August 2, 1899. The PS&N inherited these problems and went into bankruptcy in 1905, which lasted the next 42 years of its existence – one of the longest bankruptcy proceedings in American railroading history.
The principal shops were divided between Angelica, New York and St. Marys, Pennsylvania. The Angelica Shops were used mostly as car repairs, painting and maintenance of way work with some repairs on motive power. Locomotives were maintained and repaired in St. Marys. Both shops burned over the years and were replaced. The Angelica Shops burned on May 23, 1918 and the St. Marys shops burned on March 20, 1941.
In 1899 most of the tracks of the railroads that made up the Shawmut, were narrow gauge and the company put together an ambitious and costly plan to completely convert the line to standard gauge which was done by 1903. The financial burden of conversion to standard gauge combined with lackluster freight business forced the company into receivership that lasted until 1947.
The same officers that put together the PS&N started building a route toward Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was to operate from Brockway to Freeport and was first known as the Brookville and Mahoning but confusion with the Boston & Maine caused the name to be changed to the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad. It was under lease to the PS&N from 1906 to 1916. After 1916, the lease was terminated and the two companies operated separately.
The separation of the two railroads was caused by the fact that the southern end, that is the P&S Railroad was making money and the northern end, the PS&N was not. Also, the PS&N was under receivership at the time and was under the appointed receiver Frank Sullivan Smith. His home is now a bread and breakfast.
The loss of the traffic from the P&S was a blow to the financial condition of the PS&N and it was never able to recover. The result was that out of 70 cars of coal on the P&S only 10 went to the PS&N and the other 60 cars to the Erie Railroad. The PS&N could deliver the cars a day earlier but the P&S still gave the larger percentage of coal to the Erie. Although the Shawmut was not prosperous, it had its halcyon days, and despite bankruptcy, new tracks were laid to handle increasing mountains of coal, and a fleet of modern steam locomotives with the Shawmut trademark burnished the rails for nearly 50 years.
The PS&N had two major wrecks in the New York area of the railroad within a year during its history. One wreck known as the "Nile's Wreck" was on September 12, 1912. This wreck was between engine No. 11 pulling an excursion train from Stony Brook Glen near Wayland, New York and a freight train pulled by engine No. 68. Two passengers and one crew member were killed. The other wreck was a head end collusion on May 26, 1913 near County House about 2 Miles north of Angelica. A work train being pulled by Engine No. 226 that met head on with a coal train being pulled by engine No. 55. The engineer on the freight train was killed when Engine No. 226 was derailed and overturned.
The Clarion River Railroad operated from Croyland to Halton, Pennsylvania and was leased by the PS&N on August 2, 1899. It continued to lease the line until July 31, 1926 when it was sold. There were plans to physically connect the Shawmut with the Clarion River but it was never constructed. The line was abandoned in 1948.
The PS&N was a Railroad that started no place and ended no place with a lot of nothing in between. It connected the mines with markets to the north yet it did not touch upon any major industrial cities. Nearly 1300 men and women labored for the Shawmut. After World War II, the demand for coal was beginning to decrease, in part because of the labor movement in the mines (many disruptive strikes). Nothing was done to improve living conditions in the mining towns since they were built. The Shawmut Mining Company had strikes and labor problems.
The "Company Doctor" by the name of Betty Hayes investigated the sanitary conditions at the company owned mining villages of Force, Byrnedale, and Hollywood. The conditions were so bad that the water had to be boiled to drink and sewage overflowed into the streets causing mud bogs. The doctor confronted the Shawmut Mining Company officials with these deplorable conditions. The mining company officials said that there was nothing they could do especially since there were only 5 or 6 years before the mines would be worked out and abandoned.
With the help of Dr. Hayes the issue came to the office of Judge Guy K. Bard, who had jurisdiction over the receiver. He ordered an investigation. The then receiver John D. Dickson was removed and the courts appointed new receivers who were to study what to do with the railroad.
In Late November of 1945, Thomas C. Buchanan and Robert C. Sproul, Jr. were appointed by the courts to be the new receivers whose job it was to decide what to do with the Railroad. They found the Shawmut about 30 million dollars in the red. On March 4, 1947, The PS&N Railroad, The Kersey Railroad Company, The Shawmut Mining Company, and the Kersey Mining Company were sold to Harry W. Findley of Carnegie Pennsylvania for $1,505,000. The last train of the Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad ran on April 1, 1947.