The Auburn Branch Of The New York & Oswego Midland
by Richard Palmer
One of the most interesting stretches of the New York & Oswego Midland Railroad was the Auburn Branch which meandered westward through the countryside through such places as Plymouth, Beaver Meadow, Otselic Center and DeRuyter. This line was originally intended to be built to Buffalo, but never got beyond a remote community in Cayuga County known as Scipio Summit or Merrifield. The Midland operated via trackage rights over the Utica, Ithaca & Elmira Railroad between Cortland and Freeville where it went back on to its own tracks to Scipio Summit.
Ultimately the NY&OM went into the hands of receivers on September 19, 1873 and a multitude of problems resulted in the entire line being shut down on February 27, 1875 for several months. The Auburn branch was also closed down until April 1, 1875 when the UI&E RR leased and operated it for a year, until May 1, 1876, when the Midland was able to resume operation on its own.
Since 1872, the UI&E had had trackage rights over the Midland between Cortland and DeRuyter and apparently saw an opportunity to extend its horizons to Norwich. It already had made an important connection with the New York Central at Canastota through acquisition of the Cazenovia, Canastota & DeRuyter Railroad. Some improvements were made between Norwich and DeRuyter and by early April, 1875, the UI&E was operating two daily eastbound passenger trains between Cortland and Norwich; one morning train between DeRuyter and Cortland and an evening westbound train from Norwich to Cortland. Since the UI&E only operated the line between DeRuyter and Norwich for a year, it does not appear it gave serious consideration to purchasing it. In fact, it was rumored they wanted to rip up the line east of DeRuyter and build a new line through Georgetown to Randallsville. This was never done, however, and the Midland continued sporadic service between Norwich and Cortland until 1880.
Norwich to DeRuyter was dismantled in 1882. The 19 1/2 miles from DeRuyter to Cortland was preserved through leases until it was purchased outright by the Elmira, Cortland & Northern Railroad which was the immediate antecedent of the Lehigh Valley. The so-called "western extension" between Freeville and Scipio Summit was operated under lease by the UI&E between 1873 and 1876 when it was sold to the newly-organized Ithaca, Auburn & Western. This line was extended to Auburn in 1889, but only lasted three years, and was abandoned in 1891.
An Old Time Excursion Over the Midland's Auburn Branch
How Beaver Meadow got it's name, and other sketches of the surrounding vicinity
Timeline of Newspaper Abstracts (Remote Link)