Salamanca, New York

Salamanca is located on the banks of the Allegheny River and was a station on the original Erie Railroad line to Dunkirk. It was the eastern terminus for the Atlantic & Great Western Railway and also was served by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

This 1900 topographic map shows the primary railroads in Salamanca.

History

Salamanca is located within the land of the Seneca Indian Reservation and until the early 1860s its only inhabitants were Indians. When the Erie built its line though here, there was but a single water tank representing "civilization." Salamanca was originally named "Bucktooth", after the crooked teeth of an old Indian who provided fish to the early settlers. The names was changed to Salamanca in honor of the Sig. Don Jose de Salamanca, the Marquis of Salamanca Spain and an early investor in the Atlantic & Great Western Railway which had its eastern terminus in Salamanca.

A 1913 view looking north on Main Street where the street goes under the Erie Railroad tracks.

Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway

The bulk of the BR&P's facilities were in East Salamanca, but they did have a passenger station on Main Street just north of the Erie Railroad tracks.  This station still exists and is operated as the Salamanca Rail Museum.

A 1971 aerial photograph of the BR&P station by Jack Boucher
An undated postcard showing the street side of the BR&P depot.

Erie Railroad

Salamanca grew in large part due to the influence of the Erie Railroad. Salamanca was on the main line of the Erie Railroad and the first non-Indian buildings were related to the operation of the railroad. According to an 1866 book entitled "Over the Atlantic and Great Western Railway", Salamanca began to grow rapidly in 1863 when the Atlantic and Great Western Railway joined the Erie at Salamanca.. When the connection was initially made, three small wooden buildings were built at the junction; an Erie freight house and a depot and freight house for the A&GW. By 1866, the Erie had built brick shops, sheds and other buildings about a mile to the east of the junction. The A&GW had begun construction on an 11-stall roundhouse, a 250'x100' car shop, a blacksmith's shop, a fitting shop, a through freight house, a local freight house, and an enclosed water tank. As the years progressed, Salamanca emerged as a major city on the Erie Railroad. It boasted two roundhouses and a large yard.

The Erie Railroad had three passenger stations in Salamanca. The first was built about a mile west of the current Salamanca at the junction with the Atlantic & Great Western Railway. From the description of it, it was little more than a small wooden shack. When Salamanca grew rapidly in the mid 1860s, the company moved east and built a complex of shops, freight houses just west of Main Street in Salamanca. In 1872 the company built a substantial passenger depot, know as "The Windsplitter" for its shape, just west of Main Street. This station lasted until 1904 when a third station was built.

Today

From a railroad perspective, Salamanca is a shadow of its former self. The Erie passenger station, coaling tower and some miscellaneous buildings survive today. All are unused and in decaying shape. The BR&P (later B&O) station is restored and operated as the Salamanca Rail Museum. The BR&P East Salamanca station is used as a yard office by the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, but the huge yard, roundhouse and locomotive repair shops are all gone.

Maps

Photographs

Newspaper Articles

References