Trolley and Railroad Notes of D.A. Waters



Trolley & Railroad Notes of D.A. Waters

Published in The Dallas Post, May 24, 1962 Used by permission


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Rambling Around, By The Old Timer

To secure the right of eminent domain, available to steam railroads in Pennsylvania under certain conditions, the local trolley road was incorporated as a steam railroad, The Wilkes-Barre and Northern.  Everyone knew that the steam part of it was only a subterfuge as the grades and curves laid out were not good for efficient steam operation.  However, the first cars into Dallas were actually pulled by steam engine, and such an engine was stored for many years in the car barn at the lower end of town near the present motel.  Electric power was soon substituted.

After a few years the controlling interest was sold and the new owners changed the name to Wilkes-Barre, Dallas and Harveys Lake Railway Co.  Under neither management was any attempt made to build the road into Wilkes-Barre.  Connection was made with the tracks of the Wilkes-Barre and Luzerne Street Railway where the turn was made at Courtdale Avenue.  About opposite the present Luzerne Lumber Co. the track swung to the left and followed the side of the mountain to Hillside, whence it ran fairly straight to the lower end of Trucksville hill.  Here it swung to the left and followed the fill on the opposite side of the creek nearly to Mt. Greenwood, where it crossed to the opposite side and followed the side of the hill to Shavertown.

Passing about where the main intersection is now, it followed the line where the highway cut off to Fernbrook as recently built, then ran roughly parallel with the Lehigh Valley to the center of Dallas and on to the Lake, to the left of the Lehigh Valley and not close to it beyond Dallas.

On November 7, 1899, as reported at the time in The Dallas Post , the first fatal accident under electric operation occurred.  Frank Kniffen, age about forty, who shortly before had purchased a farm near Ketcham, was returning home from the valley.  Near the stone crusher just below Ice Cave, now Hillside, he apparently lay down on the track to rest and was struck in the darkness by the car which had left Wilkes-Barre at 8:20 p.m.  Josiah Rood of Dallas was motorman and A.L. Snyder, the conductor.  This was entirely away from the usual path of travel and his presence was unexplained.  His skull was crushed, one arm torn off, and both legs nearly severed.  The crew put the body on the car and continued on to Dallas and turned it over to Undertaker B.W. Brickel.  The coroner authorized Esq. C.H. Cooke to select a jury and hold an inquest.  They rendered a verdict of accidental death.  The man had been addicted to occasional use of liquor.  A funeral was conducted in Dallas Church.

About the same time the same Mr. Snyder, acting as motorman, struck a colt that jumped in front of the car.  The brake having been applied, the blow was not too severe and the colt was not seriously hurt.

Car No. 2, the unlucky car of the road, ran away from Fernbrook to Luzerne one time, knocking another car into the side of a house and smashing a milk wagon.

About a week before Christmas in 1900, the same car No. 2, motorman Josiah Rood, Conductor M.D. Thomas, was completely demolished at the iron bridge in Luzerne.  The trolley was coming toward Dallas and tried to stop at the grade crossing with a Lehigh Valley mine branch which runs up through Luzerne along the creek.  The rail was frosty and somewhat greasy and the car did not stop quickly enough to clear the railroad.  A Lehigh Valley mine crew was pushing a train of coal up the creek and the leading car struck the trolley.  Dr. C.A. Spencer, as passenger, was bruised in the head and shoulders and one side of his body was partly paralyzed.  E.J. Newman, of Beaumont, fell through one of the car windows, sustaining a wrenched back and bruises and was taken to Wilkes-Barre Hospital.  Mrs. C.B. Barker and Mrs. Thomas Oldershaw of Dallas were slightly bruised and cut by flying glass.  Other passengers, all more or less shaken up and scared, were Mr. and Mrs. James Ely of Hillside, Leslie Bertram of Huntsville, Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Gandloff of Luzerne, later of Dallas, Joseph Hagen, A.L. Snyder and John Hildebrandt of Dallas.

With the coming of automobiles, minor crossing accidents were common for a while.  In our own time the most common cause of difficulty was falling ice and trees in the winter season.

Lowest-numbered car remembered by the writer was “Old No. 4,” a combination baggage and passenger car that was used sometimes on night trips.  No. 3 may have been around.  For summer service to Harveys Lake, cars open at the sides were used with seats across the cars and a running board along both sides for the conductor to pass along and also serve as a step entering or leaving the cars.

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Copyright 2006-2007 F. Charles Petrillo