A Rural Hamlet
with a City's Boom
The Friendship Railroad
to Richburg, The New Oil Capital
— A Town Set to Music On the Erie Track Line
Friendship Weekly Register, Sept. 1, 1881
The following article from the Titusville Morning Herald of Monday,
August 29, will give an idea of what outsiders think of Friendship—the future "hub" of
the county, and the great center of the new oil fields: We call attention to
the timetable of the Friendship Railroad in another column. Passengers bound
for Richburg and the Allegany oil fields will leave the Erie Road at Friendship,
a station between Cuba on the west, and Wellsville on the east, and take the
narrow gauge road, just completed.
The distance to Richburg is only nine miles. This new railroad is highly creditable to the public spirit and enterprise of the capitalists of Friendship, which is a smart and growing town, with a fine agricultural country to back it up, and with the great trunk line, the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad passing through it.
The town has had a slow, healthy growth, and has that air of solidity and perseverance which is justified by its history. It is said that the financial crisis which passed over the country in 1873 was not felt at Friendship, so conservative had been its business methods and operations.
The late oil developments in Allegany County, N.Y. found the business
classes of Friendship ready to improve the advantages of their position,
and its solid men were the first to invest and to operate in the adjacent
territory. Among the first things which they had the sagacity to see the
importance was a railroad starting from their town on the Erie Road, as
a point of departure, and extending to the new seat of oil development—Richburg.
Mr. A. W. Miner, one of the headier spirits of the place, in the early
summer called a conference of the live men, and laid the subject
before then, urging that Friendship propose to build this road and compete
for the travel and transportation that must speedily follow.
He led off with a liberal subscription himself, and his example was quickly
followed, and half the amount was taken. Mr. Miner then proposed to double
his subscription and this gave a new impulse to the feeling, and before
the first meeting was over the whole amount was secured. An organization
was then effected with A. W. Miner as President, A. J. Wellman as Treasurer,
W. O. Chapman as Superintendent. The engineers were R. B. and J. S. Peters.
Grading was commenced on the 17th of June. Five miles were finished by the 6th of August, and the trains are now running to Richburg, and the road open for business. The terminus at Friendship is adjacent to the Erie station or depot, so that the transfer of passengers and freight is done with the greatest facility. The grade of the road is light, and the bridges inconsiderable. The stage lines will probably haul off, and livery rigs would probably be at a discount were it not that many parties wish to explore the neighboring districts and see for themselves what there is in it.
The country has those marks of thrift and of content that are pleasing to see. The pioneer has done his work, and the forest has bowed to the axe and the fruitful field now rewards the labor of the husbandman. The cozy farm house and the plethoric barn, and the orchard drooping with fruit, and the herds in the pastures, the golden grain standing in shock, and the sheep on the hillside, tell the story of abundance and the fullness of God's bounty to patient men.
Scarcely a farm house is passed but the milk can is seen glittering in
the sun, to be carried to the creameries and cheese factories which abound.
The latter have a system, a Dutch or Quaker-like cleanliness about them
that should command a premium for their product in the markets. There may
be blue clay and hard pan, but this brings into relief rich streaks of
meadow like the gilt of atonement. If to this land of milk and honey, and
the fatness of rich dainties is to be poured in oil, that last birth of
mystery of commerce and civilization, Allegany County, N.Y. will be doubly
blessed and prosperous. Nor will she grow giddy or intoxicated.
Friendship has a pride in things of culture; boasting of an Academy, and
Baxter's Musical Institute, which makes this one of the haunts of the muses.
Dark-eyed girls, with rich olive complexions, children of the Sunny South,
are here to breathe this atmosphere of song and music, as well as the youth
from other parts of the country who have felt the touch of melody.
The most striking piece of architecture is a grand church edifice which reminds one in its lofty proportions and graceful lines of the English Cathedral at Toronto. One citizen made a donation of one-half its cost to the society, they furnishing the other half. The merchants quarters of Friendship are first class in their size and wealth of stock, showing the country trade to be brisk and generous.
The dwellings on some of the streets are shut in by lofty evergreens, and screened with hedges with an English like seclusion which tells of the sacredness of the home circle, while others have the French openness and familiarity with the street and hospitality to the passer-by, as much to say, "We fear no guile." They look like play houses, or the cottages at the sea side with their chat and music floating into the street, in the evening, a sort of lawn picnic going on.
There is no doubt a fine future for Friendship, and she is on the high
road to prosperity, sitting at the gateway and collecting toll of the pilgrim
to the Oil Mecca beyond, many of whom will tarry there coming and going,
and perhaps conclude to abide.