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(erielack) Refinery at Wellsville


Ed Mines wrote:

>Was there ever a refinery at Wellsville? 
>Ed Mines

Will Schultz added:


>There was at least one, the Wellsville Refining
>Company. It was gone by 
>the end of the 1920's though as many of the small
>refineries in the 
>area. The refinery was across the river located on
the >Buffalo & 
>Susquehanna, not the Erie.

>There was a Standard Oil distribution facility
located >on the Erie on 
>Oak Street where it came to the Erie tracks. That
also >partially 
>you second question about how the gasoline was
>delivered in general 

>Will Shultz

Steve Timko also replied:

>The H C Sinclair Company had a refinery east of
>I am not certain if the switch to the plant was off
of >the EL or the  

Yes, there was a Wellsville refinery as Will
indicated.  It was served by the B&S and closed before
the B&O took over.  I'm not sure where it was located,
other than on the west side of the Genesee River
(where the B&S / WAG trackage is).  Also I should
point out, that prior to the abandonment of the B&S
line north of the old WAG passenger station on W.
State St., it could have been located north of State

The Sinclair Refinery complex was in the south west
corner of the Village of Wellsville and extended
southward into the Town of Wellsville.  It was bounded
on the east by the Genesee River and on the west by
Brooklyn Ave. / River Rd.  On the north is was bounded
by the WAG wye and the small yard the WAG maintained
there.  It was served by the B&O and the WAG.

Today, the location is home to the Wellsville campus
of SUNY Alfred Ag. and Tech. College and a few small
businesses (e.g. National Fuel technician dispatch
center, among others).  Many of the original brick
buildings are in place and a few are used at the SUNY

There was an accident at the plant that caused a
devastating fire in the late 50's and Sinclair chose
not to rebuild it.  

I don't know much, and most people in the Wellsville
area that I've talked to, do not remember much about
the rail traffic generated from the refinery.  I have
seen pictures of the refinery with coal (interestingly
enough!!) hoppers being emptied to be burned by the
power house.  One would think that Sinclair would have
used it own product (>>Oil<<) for this, but my guess
is after the technology was developed for the cracking
process, oil was more valuable to be sold as gasoline
or lubricating / fuel oil in the market than the cost
of coal.  The hoppers I've seen bear B&O reporting
marks.  My guess is that this traffic was based from
the B&O.  After the WAG takeover, I don't think the
WAG had an interchange with the B&O, I don't know if
B&O supplied coal was still used or not.  Not having
an interchange with the B&O wouldn't necessarily
prevent it from being supplied, as it could have been
supplied through Carrollton / Salamanca and shipped
via the Erie and interchanged at Wellsville.

As to oil shipments in or refined product out, I don't
know if this was handled on the B&O / WAG or
interchanged with the Erie.  I do know that at least a
portion of the crude supplied came via pipeline from
producing fields in the southern NY / northwestern PA
areas.  Some may have come by rail, I just don't know
if it did or not.  

At the time the refinery burned, the level of oil
production in the area was in steep decline from it's
peak levels through the 1930's.  This was likely one
of the significant reasons why Sinclair declined to
rebuild the plant.

Any listers who could shed some light on traffic
patterns / interchange would be most appreciated by
myself and I'm sure by others!

As to Will's comment on the Standard Oil distribution
facility on Oak St., I find this most intriguing.  As
a kid, there was a switch stand on the nw side of the
yard in Wellsville (next to Loder St., either where
Lombard Pl. or Grover St. ended), and you could see
where the old track had been to serve the two
buildings at the end of Oak St.  

What impressed me even more, was the grade this short
piece of trackage must have had.  It really must have
been something to see a loco pushing tank cars full of
gasoline and other refined oil products down this
steep of a slope (gee, was safety on the minds of the
civil engineer who designed this??).  If I had worked
/ or lived near there at the time, I would have gotten
far away from there while it was being switched out. 
If one of the cars would have gotten away or the
brakes failed, I could just imagine what would happen
with one  or more of these tank cars heading towards a
facility which must of had both storage tanks and
distributions pipes!  I'm amazed that nothing ever

As to Steve Timko's comment regarding the refinery
being east of Wellsville, I don't believe that's
correct.  I think he may be referring to a pumping
facility that was located there, just east of the Air
Preheater plant off of Rt. 417 (currently Otis Eastern
Corp occupies this area).  I think for a time in the
60's, raw crude was collected from the pipeline and
stored in tanks until it was loaded and shipped out in
tank cars (but I'm not 100% sure of this).  At this
location, they would have surely been handled by the
Erie / EL.

Anyway, there's my $0.02 and then some.


Chris Thurner

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