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The Edwards nature trail was donated to the town of Edwards, by the Iroquois natural gas-line. It runs on the old New York central railroad bed. Interestingly enough, in the distance, the sound of the train whistle running through Richville and Bigelow could be heard today. Before I talk too much about the trail, here’s some history of the rail line. The railroad that ran to Edwards, was known as the“G &O”. This was short for the Gouverneur and Oswegatchie branch and ran for a little better than 14 miles. This was a part on the New York Central Railroad (NYCRR). A local man by the name of Thomas Todd, gave the NYCRR the needed one mile of the property, basically from where the railroad would cross the Oswegatchie River, requiring the building of a trestle (which still stands today)– to the banks of the Oswegatchie on the “Brooklyn” side of town.
He also agreed to give them seven additional acres for a stockyard, a depot and rail yard. This would allow freight to be shipped to and from the village, haul ore from Talcville and passengers as well. There would also be stops along the way in Dodgeville, Emeryville, and Hailesboro. It was completed at the beginning of August 1893. The train shipped out, among other things, cheese from the two local cheese factories, and livestock. Later a spur-line was built to accommodate ore from the local zinc mines. As time progressed, and automobiles became commonplace, passenger service was stopped and eventually the railroad came to an end. The zinc mines were closed in January 1981. At the time of closing, the depot was vacant, and an Agway feed store ran next to it. The last building on the line was then the Edwards Central school bus garage. As of now, that building is now owned by the Edwards fire department. The Agway store burned, and the depot was donated to the local Lions club by the owners of Jim’s Auto and moved to the end of Hall road. Jim’s Auto built a garage there, and still maintains a thriving auto repair and car sales in that location.
The trail starts at Town Barn drive and runs about 1.75 miles southwest to the Talcville road. In the opposite direction, the railroad ran to the sight of the former depot and rail yard. You can still find remnants of the railroad in the trees and brush between Town Barn drive and Hall road. Going back towards Tacville again, at about the 1/2 mile mark you cross the main branch of the Oswegatchie River on the old trestle.
As you continue along you will see the old mile marker sign on your left (around the .65 mile mark) and at around the 1-mile point, you can see the 765KV power line on your right, along with a cornfield food plot planted for wildlife. Obviously, it makes a positive impact on local wildlife, judging by the deer tracks and other wildlife signs. There were plenty of songbirds, mourning doves, and even a quick look at a beautiful cock ring-neck pheasant (too quick for a photo, unfortunately).
The Reynolds mine
When you get to the Talcville road, turning right will take you to the ruins of the old Reynolds mine on top of Newton hill. This was an independently owned talc mine that started in the mid-1950s and closed later due to some “romantic indiscretions” as local lore has it. From the road, you can see the sealed up shaft entrance, and the crumbling buildings.
Round trip back to the trailhead, including the side junket to the old mines, is about 3.25 miles. This is an easy hike with no grades and good footing. The Town highway department mows the trail to keep the weeds & brush down in the summer. If you are in the area, it’s an enjoyable hike and doesn’t take much imagination to picture it in its heyday.
Thank you to these sites for helping to fill in the blanks of information.
The Edwards History and Genealogy Center
St. Lawrence County Historical Association