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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The History of Dallas (1973)

The Trolley

The wooden trolley station [at Dallas] had two floors, but the upper one was seldom used.  The ground floor was equipped with benches along the walls, backed by electric heaters.  Boys, or others, frequently stuck something into the heating units making a short.  After various methods to protect them, heaters were taken out. The building was shaped to conform to the adjoining tracks with full length platform.

Most of the track to Harveys Lake was single, with passing sidings.  Starting just above Main Street, double track was installed most of the way to Luzerne.  The service was frequent and dependable.  Express service, with few stops, arrived from Public Square, Wilkes-Barre, in 28 minutes, regular service a little longer.  The period before the War was probably the best in the history of the company, with constant improvement in equipment and other facilities, including the Union-Division Street line to by-pass central Luzerne.  Regular and excursion schedules were run to Harveys Lake, the best day July 4, 1923.

The Railroad

Parallel to the trolley tracks through the center of Dallas ran the Lehigh Valley Railroad, Bowmans Creek Branch, about fifty miles from Wilkes-Barre to Bernice, with connections at Bernice to the main line at Towanda.  It was a common saying that the railroad had built Dallas, causing it to pass several nearby villages in activity and size.

It was single track, including several branches, with over eighty sidings at one time or another.  Although the big virgin forest to the north, to cut which the branch was built, had been lumbered over before the last century ended, it was still a busy facility in the period before World War I.

Beginning at the southern end of the Township, westward, there was a siding at Leonards Clearing (Fernbrook), later extended across Demunds Road to serve Glenview Co.   Much later another one was put in for the feed business of Brown and Fassett, later Huston.  Below the Ryman and Shave sawmill was a connection with the Wilkes-Barre and Northern, later the trolley line.  Opposite the mill there was another siding called Rymans.

A teamtrack siding was located back of the station.  On the flat, opposite the foot of Baldwin Street, there was a passing siding called Kirkdale (probably from Kirdendall), and three sidings to serve the Albert Lewis sawmill.  A temporary siding was put in at Center Hill to unload steel for College Misercordia.  There was a long passing siding on top of Chestnut Ridge, and a whole complex of railroad facilities at Alderson, some of which may have been in Dallas Township.  A private branch owned by Albert Lewis ran from a point east of Alderson to Ruggles and Noxen.  The railroad owned track ran via the Picnic Ground.

Although the writer worked as a trackman in the summer of 1912, during which the top of Trucksville trestle was renewed, his full time railroad career started in 1919, after World War I.  In the 1920s he rode a track motor car over the entire Wyoming Division of the railroad, including this branch.

Facilities at Dallas included passenger and freight stations, a wagon scale, a stock pen to handle live stock, a flat unloading dock with ramp for machinery, automobiles, etc., and a supply building for trackmen.

For decades, everything locally was in charge of the Agent, Louis L. Horning, called Louie by everyone.  He was one of the busiest men in town.  Dallas was a block station with semaphore and lantern signal system, and train operation and covered by train orders.  He sold passenger tickets, and received and forwarded express.  His office had telegraph service, both railroad and Western Union.  He was ambidextrous.  He could answer his telegraph key with either hand, and write out a message or train order with the other.  He had the train dispatchers line with a separate telephone, plus the usual commercial telephone.  Luzerne and Alderson for block purposes.  He accepted and billed outbound and inbound freight.

Mr. and Mrs. Horning were Mennonites.  They lived in a railroad-owned house in the angle between the track and Lake Street.  Their oldest daughter, Mattie, became the second wife of Rev. W.S. Crandall.  Their other daughter, Bessie, married Dr. W.E. Strous, Kingston dentist.

A passenger train went west, weekdays, at 7:34 A.M. to Towanda, passing [Dallas, and] returning at 8:30 P.M., with locked mail east at 10:10 A.M., returning at 4.62 P.M. westbound, also having an P.P.O. mail car with clerks, giving Dallas the best mail service it ever had.

In ice harvesting season, a through freight went west, returning in the evening.  This writer personally weighed as many as sixty-five cars in a single night shift at Coxton.  Originally a through local freight to Towanda and return, and one in reverse direction, took two days, which was replaced by turn-around service daily from both ends as far as Bernice.  These stopped anywhere, being the only means of handling persons and merchandise for isolated North Mountain points.

Special excursion trains were run to Harveys Lake, in earlier days some also to Ganoga Lake.  Steam engines [pulled all] trains before World War I.  Freights sometimes had more than one engine [on] account [of the] heavy grade, and to assist in placing cars at facing point switches.  Polluting soft coal smoke soon blew away.  Later gasoline-electric motors were put on lighter passenger trains, and diesels on freights.  The new post office covers the former station area.  The last railroad facilities were removed in 1964-65.


Copyright 2006-2007 F. Charles Petrillo