George B. Walbridge worked in the wholesale grocery trade in Buffalo, N.Y., before 1835, operating alone or in the firm Walbridge & Harvey for over a decade. In about 1847 he began to diversify the scope of his enterprises, entering into partnership with his nephew, Wells D. Walbridge, to form a forwarding, shipping, and commercial mercantile firm, George B. Walbridge & Co.
For at least four years, Walbridge & Co. operated steamers (including the Albany , Diamond , and Fashion ) and propeller ships (including the Buffalo , Saginaw , Pocahontas , and Troy ) connecting the rail termini at Cleveland, Ashtabula, and Dunkirk, Ohio and Erie, Pa. with Buffalo, establishing a vital link for the transportation of freight between rail and shipping systems. The flush days of the firm, however, were quite brief. George Walbridge died in 1852 or 1853, and although Wells attempted to maintain the business for another two years, by 1856, he had accepted a position with the American Transport Company.