Charles W. Goodyear
The lumberman who can bring to his business a special training in some other line that has relation to the industry is additionally equipped to achieve distinction in his chosen life work. Much of the success of the Goodyear brothers in Pennsylvania may be attributed to the legal learning and analytical mind of Charles W. Goodyear, one of the brothers. He has had the unusual honor of winning a high place for himself in a profession and then in a business; first as a lawyer and subsequently as a lumberman.
Charles W. Goodyear, of Buffalo, New York, was born at Cortland, Cortland county, New York, October 15, 1846, his ancestors transmitting to him a blending of English and Scotch blood. He received his schooling in the academies of Cortland, Wyoming and East Aurora. Adopting law as his profession, he studied in the office of Laning & Miller in Buffalo, was admitted to the bar in 1871 and practiced law in Buffalo until January 1, 1887, when he entered into partnership with his brother, F. H. Goodyear, under the firm style of F.H. & C.W. Goodyear, to engage in lumbering and railroading. This was the inauguration of the present business of the Goodyear Lumber Company, the Buffalo & Susquehanna Railway Company, the Buffalo & Susquehanna Coal & Coke Company and the Great Southern Lumber Company.
Although Mr. Goodyear is now best known as a lumberman, he won distinguished success as an attorney before entering the lumber business. His legal training has also been of value to him and to the lumber trade of the entire country since he transferred his activities from the law to lumber. While engaged in the active practice of law he was a prominent member of the bar of Erie county for a number of years. He was district attorney of Erie county for a time and was a law partner of former President Grover Cleveland.
His varied abilities made him prominent in the movement by lumbermen to prevent the removal or reduction of the import duty on lumber, whether by direct legislation or by means of reciprocity treaties, at a time when the industry felt that such change would result to its serious detriment. His legal, oratorical and parliamentary talents, as well as his high standing as a lumberman, were recognized by the convention of lumbermen that met to consider this problem, and he was made president of the body.
The operations of no single company engaged in the lumber business in the United States make a story more fascinating than those of the Goodyear brothers. Their enterprises have been almost dramatic at times, for they have quietly stolen a march on business rivals and made many bold strikes which have been actually sensational. "Find a way or make one" has been a rule with them. By the building of important railroads they have divorced themselves from dependence on fickle logging streams, and challenged the respect of the railroads of the country. They have shown that their abilities lie not only in the selection of timber and the manufacture of lumber, by engaging in coal, iron and other enterprises with equal success.
The operations of this concern in Potter county, Pennsylvania, have been enormous. They have hauled away millions of dollars' worth of lumber from the splendid forests of that county. More recently they have gone into Elk, Lycoming and Sullivan counties and acquired 600,000,000 feet of hemlock, pine and hardwood, meaning a cut of ten years in duration, which should yield them a fortune in profits. The Buffalo & Susquehanna railway, which they own, makes access to the new timber easily possible, and the timber will enhance the value of a railroad which is already one of the best paying short lines in the state.
It was shortly after Charles W. Goodyear became identified with his brother that the Goodyears began their remarkable campaign in Pennsylvania. They went into the Austin-Galeton region and purchased many miles of hemlock and hardwood which were then practically inaccessible. This timber stretched along Pine, Kettle, Sinnemahoning and Young Woman's creeks, and was cut off from ordinary lumber centers by high mountains. Much of it was indeed miles from a stream that would float logs. The presence of this timber was not unknown to lumbermen of Williamsport and other West Branch lumber towns, but the apparent expense of bringing the logs to a town for manufacture seemed to make prohibitory any investment. It would have been such had the Goodyears been content to follow an ordinary scheme of operations.
Their plan, however, did not contemplate bringing these logs to some point of manufacture lower down. Having acquired thousands of acres of highly valuable timber difficult of access, they built saw mills at the edge of the forest at which to turn the timber into lumber. They also built a steam railroad of standard gage which was designed not only to get this lumber to market but to make a railroad property of permanent value. Thus, while the lumber mills were being built at Austin and Galeton, the Buffalo & Susquehanna road was laid from Ansonia, on the Fall Brook road, to connect with the Philadelphia & Erie railroad at Keating Summit, near Emporium. The road was fifty miles long and between Corbett and Wharton traversed a range of mountains surmounted by the switchback plan. Another wise move was in making all the connecting feeders of standard gage, so that the cog gear engines and the log cars could run on either the main road or its branches.
The Goodyears were thus made independent of uncertain mountain streams and their engines and cars were moving logs twelve hours a day all the year around. The log ponds were kept free of ice with steam. The mills were equipped with electric lights to permit of night operation. All these preparations required years of time and immense sums of borrowed capital; but the saws had scarcely begun to eat their way into the Pennsylvania hemlock when the Goodyears began to pay back and today they are multimillionaires.
They have since pushed on to wider fields. They built their railroad northward to Buffalo. They bought the railroad from Gaines Junction to Wellsville, New York, giving them another market connection with the Erie. The Buffalo & Susquehanna was advertised as the scenic road of northern Pennsylvania and well equipped passenger trains did a big business, showing the wisdom of constructing the original road in a substantial manner. Huge tanneries were erected at Galeton, Manhattan and Costello and the bark from the Goodyear hemlock was thus utilized. The brothers have interested themselves in another great Pennsylvania product, for they have bought coal lands which their road makes accessible.
Since Charles W. Goodyear and his brother, Frank H., joined interests their operations have been little short of colossal, but Charles W. Goodyear has other interests. His greatest good fortune, however, is the result of a partnership into which he entered March 23, 1876, when he married Miss Ella Conger. They have four children Anson Conger, Miss Esther, Charles W., junior, and Bradley Goodyear.
Mr. Goodyear is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo and of the Buffalo Club, Saturn Club, Country Club, Ellicott Club and Falconewood Club and also the Lawyers' Club of New York. He was formerly a Democrat but, like many another, was forced to become an independent in politics.