The Fall Brook Railway was the culmination of a series of acquisitions, leases and mergers begun by John Magee in the mid-1800s. The initial rail line from Blossburg to Corning, to transfer coal shipments to the canals, gave way to what was ultimately a 257 mile system stretching from Lyons, NY, to Williamsport, PA, handling both freight and passengers.
(Hovering over each paragraph below will illuminate the various entities which ultimately made up the Fall Brook System.)
1851 - John Magee obtains lease to coal mines at Blossburg, PA. Tioga Railroad (built to carry coal from Blossburg to the NY state line), connects there to Corning & Blossburg, affording a line from Blossburg to Corning. John Magee purchases controlling interest in Corning & Blossburg RR. He helps rebuild the line from Lawrenceville to Corning. In 1853, following a bankruptcy, changed name to Blossburg & Corning (B&C).
1859 - Fall Brook Coal Co (FBCC) is chartered in PA. John Magee builds 7 mi branch to carry coal from Fall Brook to Blossburg & Corning RR tracks at Blossburg. Named Fall Brook Branch.
1872 - Wellsboro & Lawrenceville RR (Chartered 1867) completed Lawrenceville to Wellsboro; continuing on to Antrim via two switchbacks, total 37.5 mi. Leased to FBCC in 1872
1873 - Blossburg & Corning, and Wellsboro & Lawrenceville consolidated as Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim (CC&A); this is leased to FBCC.
1874 - Cowanesque Valley RR, 12-mile link from Lawrenceville to Ekland purchased by John Magee at mortgage sale; it is run as part of CC&A. Later expanded to Harrison Valley and Ulysses.
1877 - Syracuse, Geneva & Corning RR (SG&C) completed from Corning to Geneva with connection to Lehigh Valley and New York Central R.R.
1878 - Geneva and Lyons Railroad (G&L) is completed. SG&C arranged to lease G&L so that FBCC would have a direct route from Corning to the New York Central mainline at Lyons, NY. This effectively shut down shipping on the Chemung Canal.
1883 - The Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railway (JSPC&B) was completed, adding a link from Stokesdale Jct to Jersey Shore, with connection to the Reading RR and the Beech Creek Railway . It is leased to FBCC. JSPC&B changed its name to Pine Creek Railway in 1884.
1885 - The Penn Yan & New York Railway (P&NY), completed a 7 mi link from Dresden to Penn Yan. SG&C and P&NY consolidated under SG&C which is leased to FBCC.
1892 - The Fall Brook Companies separate their coal and rail interests. The newly formed Fall Brook Railway Company becomes successor to the CC&A, and leases the Pine Creek, Syracuse Geneva & Corning, and Geneva & Lyons Railroads. Total track approximately 257 mi. from the NYC&H main line at Lyons, NY, to the Philadelphia & Reading tracks at Williamsport, PA.
On May 1, 1899, the Fall Brook Railway is leased to the New York Central & Hudson River (NYC&HR) for 999 years, and becomes their "Pennsylvania Division", providing needed access from the NYC mainline to the coal fields of PA. In 1909, all assets are sold to the NYC&H and the consolidated lines named the Geneva, Corning and Southern Railroad (GC&S). In 1914 the GC&S became a part of the massively reorganized New York Central Lines.