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  Railroads of Madison County
Jim Peters
Tales of the Rails

A Nocturnal Interlude
By Jim Peters

Feb 8, 2003
In the fall of '49 we bought a house trailer and set it up on the Sinclairville depot grounds. The Company leased the spot to us for a rental of $10 per year. One snow-covered evening we were, ah.... interrupted by a persistent rapping on the shed door. John Prybilski, No. 11's Brakeman, said the Dispatcher needed me to open the office. His engine, the 1106, had cut off north of there, limped into the siding with a busted air pump and was standing opposite the depot. A machinist was sent from Dunkirk to work on it.

The meeting point had to be changed, and when No. 14 arrived its engine was cut off to pull 11's train into the siding. Then they seesawed around the 1106, tied onto their own train and headed for Dunkirk. I closed up after a couple hours overtime and went back to bed. "Now, then, where were we?"

Diesels replaced the 1100s in 1950, but in my mind I can still hear those old Brooks engines hootin' and hollerin' up through the hills. They were homely as hell, but served faithfully for almost 50 years.

Fan trip
By Jim Peters

Feb 8, 2003
In the fall the National Railway Historical Society sponsored "Autumn Leaf" excursions over various freight-only branch lines. Shortly after the war one was proposed for the Valley Branch. One of its organizers was Charley Paul, who worked in the Dispatcher's office in Erie. Before the plans were finalized it was canceled. About five years later, when steam was gone from the branch, one did take place. The Special originated and terminated in Rochester, NY on Sunday, October 14, 1951. It was doubleheaded from Dunkirk and scheduled to pick up passengers at Falconer, where I got on. Ray Sittinger, the Agent-Op at Frewsburg, had advertised the event and an extra stop was made there to pick up about 20 more.

At Warren a stop was made for picture-taking at the adjacent PRR facilities (roundhouse, etc.). I stayed on the train and stood in the vestibule, looking out at the scene. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the scenery with the fall colors was magnificent. Due to a weight restriction at Irvineton the lead diesel was cut off and crossed the bridge first, then the rest of the train followed.

On the way back from Titusville the Conductor, Mike Henderscheid, suggested I visit the lounge car on the rear. Who was sitting there with drink in hand but the proprietor of the Sinclairville feed mill. He had always seemed like such a quiet, reserved kind of guy, not the sort to partake of potent libations. When I got back to Sinclairville I had beaten the train. When it showed I went outside our house trailer and "highballed" it with my electric lantern and felt pretty good about it. Next day there was a picture in the Jamestown Post Journal showing the train at Warren. And there was Ol' Jim, looking out from a coach vestibule.

Jim Peters


Jim Peters "Tales of the Rails" stories are Copyrighted by Jim Peters Ja76peters@aol.com and may not be used without his express permission.
"My Dad, Al Peters, was a Trainman and Conductor, starting with the NYC in 1916. Retired in 1968. I started in 1942 as Agent-Operator, and worked on the Erie Division until retiring on disability in 1981. Some of the positions I worked were Freight Agent, Ticket Agent, Teletype Operator, Dispatcher Report Clerk and Train Dispatcher in the Cleveland Union Terminal, when the Erie Division and Cleveland Divisions were consolidated in 1963. Altogether I worked at 20+ stations and offices in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Main Line and Valley Branch. - Jim Peters

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