Category Archives: Passenger Cars

Talky Tuesday #95

“WW #137” of a week ago shows us high-stepping #119 rolling a mixed freight along at track speed. The plume of steam above the boiler could be from the safety valves lifting, or from the whistle blasting for a grade crossing near the photographer. Combination car #206 carries the markers at the rear. Location is not known to me.

Talky Tuesday #61

S&NY wooden open-platform passenger car #205 is caught in repose on last week’s “WW #89”. I believe the location is Newberry with the enginehouse in the background. Unsure of the date, but 205 still looks to be in pretty good shape, with a nice glossy coat of varnish. #205 is listed in my ORER’s as a PO-class car, which is a coach-observation type . Maybe 205 was kept in good shape for use by company officers? Unfortunately, per Kaseman, the car was burned in the yard at West Williamsport, presumably to make easier recovery of the scrap metal for the war effort.

Wordless Wednesday #89

Author's Collection

Author’s Collection

Talky Tuesday #35

S&NY #119 is again the subject in last week’s “WW #62”. In this view, the 119 leads a very short mixed train at North Towanda, with combine 204 bringing up the markers.

Wordless Wednesday #62

Bill Caloroso - Cal's Classics

Bill Caloroso – Cal’s Classics

Talky Tuesday #34

In “WW #61”, S&NY 4-6-0 #119 takes coal at Marsh Hill, prior to leading a very short mixed train eastward (railroad north) over the mountains to Towanda. Per a 1934 S&NY employee timetable, this is likely train 5, carded to depart Marsh Hill at 9:10 AM and slated to arrive in Towanda at 11:06 AM.

The lone C&EI boxcar appears to be a relatively new 1937 AAR type. Carrying the markers on the rear is coach #206, converted from a motorcar in the late 1920’s. See this prior post for more details.

Talky Tuesday #16

A nearly panoramic view of the Lehigh Valley’s station in the north end of Towanda is the subject of last week’s “Wordless Wednesday #44”. To the left is SNY engine #119 with converted motor combination car #206. Behind #119 is the old Lehigh Valley stone enginehouse. In the background behind the station is the LV’s mainline coaling tower built ca. 1940, and to the viewer’s right is a Lehigh Valley freight train curving toward the mainline bridge over the Susquehanna River, just out of the frame to the right.

An interesting detail is the (presumed) line of taxis waiting behind the station. This suggests a Lehigh Valley passenger train (perhaps the Black Diamond?) is soon due.

Wordless Wednesday #26

Bill Caloroso - Cal's Classics

Bill Caloroso – Cal’s Classics

Combination Car #206

Part of the fascination of shortline railroads is that they often rostered “unique” one-off or homebuilt equipment. The Susquehanna & New York Railroad was no different in this regard. Among the SNY’s unique equipment is baggage-passenger car #206, a car with a very singular, and tragic, history.

In 1925-26, the SNY was the testing ground for an experimental type of gas-powered mechanically-driven passenger and baggage motor-car built by the Smalley Rail Car Company, of Davenport Iowa. By the early 1920’s, railroads were already losing passengers, and money, to new-fangled automobiles like the Model-T Ford. Railroads sought to save money by using motor-cars, rather than dedicated steam locomotive powered trains, on lightly-patronized branchlines. Motor cars could be run with just 2 or 3 crew members, rather than a complete crew of 5 that a regular train would require; and gasoline engines had improved to the point where operating and maintenance savings could be realized over the operational costs of labor- and maintenance-intensive steam engines.

The SNY, probably hoping such savings could be applied to their bottom line, took delivery of the Smalley car in 1925:

"New Gasoline Rail Car Developed", Railway Age Vol. 79, No. 26. Dec 26, 1925. pp.1181-1185

“New Gasoline Rail Car Developed”, Railway Age Vol. 79, No. 26. Dec 26, 1925. pp.1181-1185

Smalley Rail Car article PDF

(Article PDF courtesy Charlie Marvin)

The motor-car was tested for a time on the SNY, with adjustments being made as necessary by the inventor, a Mr. Smalley. One day, while awaiting orders at Marsh Hill, Mr. Smalley climbed onto the roof of the car to make some inspection or adjustment to the exhaust. Unfortunately, he was subsequently knocked or fell from the car, and died of his injuries.

The SNY was later given the car, sans motors, as compensation for removing and shipping the gasoline engines back to Davenport. The SNY then numbered the car as combination baggage and passenger car 206, and used it as a standard car in regular service. The (former) motor-car is not listed on the 1926 ORER, but is listed on the 1938 and 1940 ORER with that number.

Bill Caloroso - Cal's Classics

Bill Caloroso – Cal’s Classics

Here is the car in regular passenger/baggage service at the Lehigh Valley station in Towanda. Note the front of the car when it was motorized is now the rear, with marker lights hung.

Bill Caloroso - Cal's Classics

Bill Caloroso – Cal’s Classics

This is a view of the interior of the car, occupied by (presumably) a crew member who does seem to appreciate being photographed. The car had a capacity of 50 passengers and a 19’8″ long baggage compartment. The region served by the SNY being so sparsely populated, I doubt the car ever carried more than a handful of passengers at any one time during its entire career.

Photo Courtesy of Charlie Marvin

Photo Courtesy of Charlie Marvin

Above is an excellent view of #206 provided by Charlie Marvin, taken at Newberry, PA July 5th, 1941. The large building in the distance (which still exists) is a portion of the Armour Leather Company complex in West Williamsport, PA.

Bill Caloroso - Cal's Classics

Bill Caloroso – Cal’s Classics

Finally, another photo of #206 in service, here trailing ten-wheeler 119 at Towanda. The Lehigh Valley station is in the background, and to the left is the stone former LV enginehouse.

After the demise of the SNY in 1942, #206 was sold to the Live Oak, Perry & Gulf, a shortline railroad in Florida. I have no information as to the car’s disposition after that.

Update 11/22/2016: Link to an excellent description of #206 during it’s time of service on the LOP&G, including a couple of photos (scroll down a bit on the page): LOP&G #206.