|Locale||Buffalo and Niagara Frontier|
|Dates of operation||1902–1950|
|Successor||Niagara Frontier Transit System|
|Headquarters||Buffalo, New York|
The International Railway Company (IRC) was a transportation company formed in a 1902 merger between several Buffalo-area interurban and street railways. The city railways that merged were the West Side Street Railway, the Crosstown Street Railway and the Buffalo Traction Company. The suburban railroads that merged included the Buffalo & Niagara Electric Street Railway, and its subsidiary the Buffalo, Lockport & Olcott Beach Railway; the Buffalo, Depew & Lancaster Railway; and the Niagara Falls Park & River Railway. Later the IRC acquired the Niagara Gorge Railroad (NGRR) as a subsidiary, which was sold in 1924 to the Niagara Falls Power Company. The NGRR also leased the Lewiston & Youngstown Frontier Railroad.
In 1937 the IRC discontinued all interurban rail service, and replaced much of it with buses. On July 1, 1950, the remaining streetcar lines in both Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY, ended, also replaced by buses. Within the same year, the Niagara Frontier Transit (NFT) took over all remaining IRC operations. In 1974, NFT and Grand Island Rapid Transit were merged into a public Corporation, named the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).
The NFTA opened the subsidiary light rail rapid transit line known as Metro Rail along Main Street in Buffalo, from the Lackawanna Terminal to the University of Buffalo's South Campus. Much of this same route followed the previous 8-Main streetcar line only 35 years earlier.
see Routes of City of Buffalo Streetcars for more information
Buffalo was the city where a majority of the streetcar service by the IRC was offered. They IRC also offered service in a number of other localities in Western New York and Southern Ontario.
After the first decade of the 1900s, the International Railway Company began assigning numbers to their services, in addition to the naming of the route according to the primary street(s) the car travelled on. Many of the route numbers assigned the most historical routes continue to this day. There appears to be no logical numbering scheme for the routes.
Routes with shortened or abbreviated names in parentheses are the original assignment to the route that it served. These services were slowly changed to the numerical format used by the IRC after being taken over from other companies.
Although the terminal point for the majority of west side streetcars, the streetcars that used Main Street clearly made the street live up to its name.
In addition to Shelton Square being the origination point for the Grant, Niagara, and Elmwood streetcar lines, there were also a number of routes that passed through Shelton Square to continue either south towards the docks and harbor, or north toward the northeast sections of the city. The Main streetcar shared trackage with the Parkside-Zoo (or Kenmore) streetcar, the Kensington street car, the West Utica and East Utica streetcars. During the busy weekday, the four- to five-minute headways between cars on each line made it common to see streetcar after streetcar lining Main Street after departing Utica Street.
|Car Line||Route Numbers||Began Service||Ended Service||Car Type||Terminals||Streets Travelled|
The International Railway Company utilized many of the vehicles from the companies it had absorbed at the early 1900s, and by 1910 found itself looking for replacement vehicles.
Two major car types became the backbone of the IRC's equipment force.
The Nearside type streetcar was purchased from the J.G. Brill Company between the years of 1911-1913. The cars were manufactured, using the input of Mitten Management, the company that provided the management structure for the International Railway Company.
A notable feature this type of car was known for was the P.A.Y.E. (pay as you enter) entrance, starting the policy shift of Buffalo area streetcars to operate with a one-person crew. Using this type of boarding procedure the operator of the car also handled the responsibilities of the conductor, collecting fares in addition to his normal day-to-day operating of the streetcar.
The Peter Witt streetcars, long known to be in many major cities with streetcars, were purchased between 1917 and 1919 to supplement the service being primarily offered with the earlier purchased Nearside car. These cars were built by Kuhlman Car Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. The Peter Witts were delivered on their own wheels and under their own power. This was done over a series of interurban railways' trackage that connected Cleveland with Buffalo.
Two specific cars were available to those needing funeral cars. The Elmlawn and Greenwood were their names. Both burned in 1916, and were replaced with new cars of the same names - these were used until 1922, when they were converted to regular passenger use.
Limousine service had not quite become readily available when dignitaries came to visit the area, and the International Railway Company had cars specifically for that purpose.
The Ondiara car of the International Railway Company, and the Rapids car of the Niagara Gorge Railway were two cars that were used when the Prince of Wales visited the area on September 10, 1927, during the dedication of the Peace Bridge (between Buffalo and Fort Erie).
In 1902, when the International Railway Company began absorbing many of the responsibilities of the Buffalo streetcar system, they dealt with a number of varied color schemes that existed with the past companies.
Previously, one could look at many of the cars and immediately know which company was operating that service.
Toward the end, many of the streetcars left in service were painted an orange color as the primary color, with a darker green accenting the car. This color scheme existed until the end of streetcar service in 1950, although the buses operated by the IRC at the end were painted a bright red color with silver and black accents.
|Broadway Barns||Located on Broadway between Bailey Avenue and Greene Street on Buffalo's east side, this building continues to stand and is used as for an architecture/construction firm's offices and garage. The Broadway Barns housed the streetcars that serviced most of the city's east side car lines, notably the 4-Broadway car, which trundled by since its opening.|
|Forest Avenue Barns||Located on Forest Avenue and Tremont Avenue on the west side. This building was also utilized as a streetcar repair depot. However, by 1939 the old west side lines had pretty much ceased to exist. The building is currently used by the Buffalo History Museum as a storage facility with a special exhibit about the Pan-American Exposition.|
|Walden Avenue Barns||Located on Walden Avenue near Lathrop Street near the New York Central Belt Line. Building still standing, now used as an automotive repair shop.|
|Seneca Street near Babcock Street||Former IRC building with complete IRC markings. Abandoned, possibly old offices|
|Kenmore Extension at Seabrook||On the site of the past Seabrook Loop of the 3-Grant bus line sits a building that is now part of the Buffalo Public Schools. The previous use was as a power transformer for the IRC Streetcars electrical supply.|
|Virgil Avenue & St. Lawrence Avenue||There is an earthen embankment at the end of the dead-end street where the lower sections of the concrete supports for the old DL&W Belt Line are still visible.|
|Virgil Avenue (North Buffalo)||The streetcar tracks are still visible even after being buried under asphalt all these years. On rainy days the old tracks are most visible.|
|Fillmore Avenue (Seneca Street to Best Street)||The streetcar tracks on this old route are visible along this entire stretch of roadway.|
|New Flyer Industries bus 9318||This NFTA Metro bus was painted as an International Railway Company streetcar, some 50 years after the end of the International Railway Company. The bus is primarily a dark green color, with a cream and rust accents and imitation gold leaf for the crest, logo and "INTERNATIONAL" lettering.|
|Buffalo-Niagara Falls High Speed Line||Much of the original right-of-way and graded roadbed, including a second roadbed graded as a provision for never-built third and fourth tracks, exist in areas that were not overlaid by limited-access highways (Twin Cities Arterial/Colvin Avenue extension, LaSalle Expressway). The concrete bases of catenary support structures are still in place along much of the former right-of-way.|
|Buffalo-Depew Boulevard||This short street in the Town of Cheektowaga occupies a short section of the former Buffalo, Depew and Lancaster interurban right-of-way. Despite the grandiose name, Buffalo-Depew Boulevard is only about 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) long.|
|Parkside Avenue||Much of the right-of-way for the 9-Parkside line was incorporated into Delaware Park. The roadbed grade is evident along much of Parkside Avenue. Ruins of a large shelter south of Amherst Street, on the west side of the street, still remain, with the shelter being gradually dismantled since bus service on Parkside Avenue was withdrawn.|
|18 Mile Creek Bridge Lockport, New York |