The Auburn and Syracuse Railroad was incorporated on May 1, 1834, to provide easy access between Syracuse, New York, and the Erie Canal. Construction was begun in 1835, but was delayed during the Panic of 1837. Although the economic downturn lingered until 1843, the railroad was completed by January 1838.
Known as the Auburn Road (a nickname that later passed to the Rochester and Syracuse Railroad), the company erected a new depot between Salina and Clinton streets in late 1838. Work on the trestle was completed in early 1839, as well as construction of a new railroad station in Downtown Syracuse. While passenger service constituted the bulk of the company's revenue operations, an arrangement under the existing canal-protection laws allowed the Auburn and Syracuse Railroad (A&S) to carry freight as well. In this capacity, it served the Erie Canal rather than competing against it. On 1 August 1850, the Auburn and Syracuse Railroad joined the Auburn and Rochester Railroad to form the Rochester and Syracuse Railroad.