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Col. John Magee

Following the death of his father, General George Magee, in 1897, Col. John Magee took over the Fall Brook interests as well as many others, to become the youngest railroad president in the country at 29 years of age.

"The public, therefore, have reason to anticipate that the great mining and railway enterprises, founded by John Magee and amazingly extended and amplified by General G. J. Magee will, by Colonel John Magee and those associated with him, move onward through all the changes and vicissitudes of the unknown future. " (Elmira Daily Gazette - March 24, 1897)
spacerCol. John Magee
Col. John Magee
Photo: Railway Age - April 22, 1898

Born in 1867 to General George and Emma Stothoff Magee, Col. Magee studied at Lawrenceville (NJ) and in Europe with a private tutor. After returning to the US, he became involved in every facet of the Fall Brook business including working in the Fall Brook shops and the shops of Schenectady Locomotive Works, at the Antrim mines, and in each department of the organization. He was involved in the broad business interests of his father, including the railroad and the coal businesses, and had been secretary of the Fall Brook Railway until the time of his father's death.

In 1891 he was appointed state engineer for New York by Governor Flower, and later resigned that position to accept the position of aide de camp to Governor Flower, acting in that capacity for three years (and from which he got the appellation "Colonel.")

In 1897, at the death of his father, Gen. George J. Magee, he was chosen to the presidency of the Fall Brook Coal Company, the Morris Run Coal Company, the Chest Creek Land and Improvement Company and the Tioga Improvement Company of which he was also a director. He was also elected the president of the Syracuse, Geneva & Corning Railroad. He became immersed in the Magee interests and became a director of many institutions of the day including the Knickerbocker Trust Company, of New York City; the Albany Trust Company, of Albany, New York; the North River Coal & Wood Company; the Philadelphia Dock and Terminal Company; the Elmira Trust Company, of Elmira, New York; the Clark Hoisting & Barge Company; the Beech Creek Coal & Coke Company of New York; the Pocahontas Collieries Company of Pocahontas, Virginia; and is identified with many other business enterprises of broad scope and magnitude.

It fell to Col. Magee to finally succumb to the pressure from the Vanderbilt interests, culminating in the lease, in 1899, of the Fall Brook Railroad to the New York Central. He continued to direct the operations of the Fall Brook Coal Company.

In 1909, The New York Central interests purchased all the holdings of the Fall Brook Railway Co. (which had been leased since 1899) and created the Geneva, Corning and Southern Railroad Company, which was then itself leased back to the NYC. In 1914, the GC&S was folded into the newly reorganized New York Central System, and it became the "Pennsylvania Division" - though the New York State portion was known as "The Fall Brook Division" into the 1940s, as part of the New York Central System.

His final years were spent in Pebble Beach, California, where he died in 1942.

"Colonel Magee stands to-day as one of the best known men of New York and Pennsylvania, and his influence is felt in business relations throughout much of the east. His career has ever been such as to warrant the trust and confidence of the business world, for he has ever conducted all transactions on the strictest principles of honor and integrity. His devotion to the public good is unquestioned and arises from a sincere interest in his fellow men. He has a wonderful capacity for work and the supervision of the details as well as the principles in his extensive business affairs. What the world needs is such men—men capable of managing extensive concerns and conducting business on terms that are alike fair to the employer and to the employe. His personal characteristics are such as made him a social favorite and those who meet him in such relation are glad to number him as a friend." (Excerpted from A Biographical Record of Schuyler County, New York, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1903)

The present president of the Fall Brook Railway is probably the youngest railway president in the United States. He is also the third Magee in succession who has presided over the Fall Brook railway and the allied mining interests - being the son of the late Gen. Geo. J. Magee, who, when president of the companies, died unexpectedly in March 1897, and grandson [sic] of the original John Magee, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1794 and who had an adventurous life - in the course of which he served in the War of 1812 and was twice taken prisoner, was sent to Congress at the age of thirty and finally becoming interested in railways and mining, established the Fall Brook companies. The present president, his grandson, is 29 years of age and appears to inherit the business capacity of his father and grandfather.
RAILWAY AGE - January 1899

OBITUARY - Col. John Magee, 74, last president of the Fall Brook Railway, and last of his name in a family closely identified with Corning's early history, is dead at his Pebble Beach home, in Monterey, Cal. Col. Magee, formerly active in coal and railroad enterprises in the Pennsylvania coal fields, was also director and executive of many national and international corporations. He operated lake shipping enterprises on Seneca Lake years ago. Only surviving relatives are two sisters in Buffalo ... Upon the death of his father in 1897, Col. John Magee became president of the Fall Brook Railway. In 1899 the railroad was leased to the New York Central Railroad, and became the Pennsylvania Division of the Central. Col. Magee then left Corning to make his home in Mt. Kisco, and shorty afterwards also relinquished in the Fall Brook Coal Company. (Corning Evening Leader)