Plank Road Toll Gate No. 1





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McGrath Genealogy  |  Upperchurch Connections  |       Old Mattydale          |  What's New  |  Contact

















Plank Road Toll Gate No. 1


In 1846 the first plank road in the United State was built between the Village of Salina and Central Square. Most often it was referred to as the Cicero Plank Road. This has been the best known plank road in Onondaga County but it was not the only such road. There were ten such roads operating in 1853. (1) Salina and Central Square, (2) Liverpool and Clay, (3) Syracuse and Tully, (4) Syracuse and Split Rock, (5) Fayetteville and Syracuse, (6) Syracuse and Elbridge, (7) Syracuse and Bridgeport, (8) Massena (East Syracuse), (9) Syracuse and Oswego and (10) Syracuse and Jamesville. [1925-04-14]


Users felt they were being charged too much money and the owners, facing repairs that were in excess of original estimates, felt they needed more money to recoup their investments. In 1893, a disagreement arose over charges on the Liverpool Plank Road between the plank road's William Gleason and several of the local businessmen who were his plank road customers. The businessmen built a short by-pass to avoid the tolls all together. "The trouble all grows out of the building of a little stretch of road just east of Mr. Gleason's toll gate, and only from four to five rods (66 to 83 feet) in length." [1893-06-02a], [1893-06-02b]


By 1900 the number of plank roads in the county had diminished and the old toll roads had fallen out of favor with the citizens. The animosity between owners and users grew and were punctuated with occasional confrontations. In 1905 the ambulance drivers of the city complained that the toll gate keepers were "holding up the city and private ambulances, in some cases exacting toll from the drivers." [1905-06-02]




The original picture of Tollgate No.1 at Mattydale was taken in 1912. It was located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Molloy Road and the Cicero Plank Road.


The Cadin Act

In December 1903 the Cicero Plank Road Company applied to the Board of Supervisors for an extension of the company’s charter for thirty years. This was not the Salina Central Square Plank Road Company’s road that was often referred to as the “Cicero Plank Road.” The Salina Central Square road was 14 miles in length and ran along Wolf Street, starting at 7th North Street, just outside the First Ward of the city of Syracuse, to Central Square. The road owned by the Cicero Plank Road Company was a shorter road that ran from the village of Cicero to Brewerton, it was only 4 miles in length and was actually a gravel road. That application was the beginning of the end for the remaining toll roads in Onondaga County. [1903-12-20]


That application caused Assemblyman Cadin to seek the passage of a law “abolishing toll gates on all highways in Onondaga county.” [1904-01-15] The editorial continued – “Few counties in New York State now retain these antique relics and Onondaga county can never pose as among those foremost in the matter of highway improvements as long as it tolerates roads that require a toll, no matter how small.”


The Cadin Act became law and it provided a means for the County to seek condemnation of the toll or plank roads and to purchase them from their owners. The problem that presented itself at that time was the cost of the construction of the new Court House that weighed heavy on the budget. The Board of Supervisors decided against the condemnation and purchase of these properties and instead decided to wait out the expiration of their charters. [1905-05-31]


And Then It Was Over

“The Cicero plank road, as a toll road passed out of existence about 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon (April 11, 1913), when the county paid to Attorney William P. Goodelle, representing the road company, $8,000. George A. Palmer, who has paid toll on the road thirty-five years, was the last man yesterday afternoon to pay toll and also the first to pass through the second gate toll free. He paid 5 cents toll, which he owed for a previous trip.” [1913-04-12]


“The purchase of this road marks the end of toll roads in the county. The Cicero road, as a toll-road has existed since 1847 (actually 1846). When the road was opened the event was celebrated in Cicero. In the last two years a movement to abolish the toll roads has been in progress.” [1913-04-12] The Salina Central Square Plank Road was the first plank road built in the U.S. and it was the last one to be shut down in Onondaga County.


And Now, The Crampton Brothers Were Out of Work

“B. W. Moyer had been directed to notify D. A. Crampton, keeper of the first gate, and Joseph A. Crampton, collector at the second gate, of the sale of the road. Joseph Crampton has collected tolls thirty-two years and D. A. Crampton, his brother, has been collector at the first gate eighteen years.” [1913-04-12]




This map is from a 1924 collection of maps of the Syracuse area showing the different residential subdivisions. This is centered on the intersection of Brewerton Road and West Molloy Road, the the left and East Molloy Road, to the right. The Tollgate house is the yellow square just to the upper left of the "S" in "Stop 3." Across Brewerton Road from the Tollgate house, in the northeast corner of the intersection is Frank Matty's house. To the northeast of Matty's house, in the upper right hand corner of the map, is Frank Matty's double barn, where many social events and political meetings were held. The north end of the barn housed the Mattydale Volunteer Fire Department in the early days, before they had a home of their own.


On the morning of April 30, 1932 the roof of the old tollgate house destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. At the time of the fire the old house had been used as a barn by Alvin C. Covey. [1932-04-30]




This picture was taken post 1932 and was borrowed from Helen Burnham's book, "Trolley Stops Two, Three and Four." The gas station is occupying the spot where the tollgate house had been located. The building on the left would later house the J& J Hardware store and the Town Tavern. Prior to the hardware store there was a Mrs. Murphy's Candy store at that location.




This is the same intersection as it looked in 2012. The southbound lanes of Brewerton Road are crossing the picture, left to right. Across the intersection, going slightly downhill, is West Molloy Road. On the left is the building housing The Town Tavern on the right and J&J Hardware on the left. The small building on the right side of Molloy Road replaced the old gas station that had replaced the tollgate house sometime after the 1932 fire.



[1893-06-02a] - "Five Hundred Defendants," The Evening Herald, Syracuse, NY, Friday, June 2, 1893, Part 1

[1893-06-02b] - "Five Hundred Defendants," The Evening Herald, Syracuse, NY, Friday, June 2, 1893, Part 2

[1903-12-20] - The Gazette, Baldwinsville, NY, December 20, 1903.

[1904-01-15] - "Toll Roads," The Post Standard, Syracuse, NY, Friday, January 15, 1904.

[1905-05-31] – “Supervisor’s Don’t Like It, They Say That Plank and Toll Road Won’t Be Purchased,” The Syracuse Journal, Syracuse, NY, Wednesday, May 31, 1905.

[1905-06-02] - "Ambulances Held Up At The Toll Gates," The Syracuse Post Standard, Syracuse, NY, June 2, 1905.

[1910-02-21] - "Toll Rate On Cicero Plank Takes A Drop," The Syracuse Post Standard, Syracuse, NY, February 21, 1910.

[1913-04-08] - "Plank Road Soon Open To Public," The Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, NY, Tuesday, April 8, 1913.

[1913-04-12] - "Cicero Toll Road No Longer Exists," The Syracuse Herald, Syracuse, Saturday, April 12, 1913.

[1914-04-23] - Onondaga County bought the Cicero Plank Road for $8,000. The DeRuyter Gleaner, DeRuyter, NY, Thursday, April 23, 1914.

[1925-04-14] - "Syracuse Once Boasted 144 Mi. Of Plank Road," The Herald-Journal, Syracuse, NY, Tuesday, April 14, 1925.

[1932-04-30] - "Flames Wreck Gate House At Mattydale," The Syracuse Journal, Syracuse, NY, Saturday, April 30, 1932.