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Friendship's Locomotive - The Day the Engine Came to Town

The following article was researched & submitted by Richard Palmer

(From: "Light Iron and Short Ties," Official Publication of the Three Rivers Narrow Gauge Historical Society (now defunct) Vol. XI No. 3, September 1993) P. 3

Friendship's Locomotive - The Day the Engine Came to Town

 

Contributed by Bill Reddy

   The late Walter F. Stiles, who spent his last years in Orlando, Florida, was on hand the day when the Friendship Railroad got its first locomotive, and the memory stayed with him for a lifetime. Let him tell it -

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   One day which I recall as in June, 1881, my father took me up to the Erie station, where we joined about a hundred other "sidewalk superintendents" to see them unload the first narrow gauge engine from an Erie flat car. At that time the Erie had a side track on the south side of the main track and the car in question was parked just west of Depot Street.

   A track of light rails was laid up to the level of the car floor with an easy grade down to the ground level, then more track was laid over to a side track of the new railroad line. People referred to this road as the Friendship Railroad, but the first corporate name that I remember for it was the Allegany Central Railroad.

     There are several sizes of narrow gauge railroad, but this on was of three feet gauge-that is, it was three feet between the rails, whereas a standard gauge like the Erie is four feet eight and one half inches between the rails.

   The new engine was real fancy in finish. It had a lot of polished brass on it, and under the cab windows, a name: A.W. Miner. Being a small boy at that time, the name did little to impress me, but any boy who grew up in Friendship in those days and kept his eyes open soon learned that Asher W. Miner, who was president of the First National Bank, and his son-in-law, Colonel Abijah J. Wellman, the cashier of the bank, were the spark-plugs about all the first class activities in the community.

   The terminal for the narrow gauge was rather congested, as the Erie held fast to land on one side and on the over side was the large brick house occupied by Wesley Lambert, his wife, and good-looking daughter, Jennie. Like many other dead-end terminals, the Grand Central Station for instance, there was no handy place to turn the little "choo-choo" around. The company built a small car and repair shop, with a wye up in Dogtown, and that is where the engine had to go for a turnaround.

   The road was of quick and hasty construction, the track was not ballasted and much of it was not properly drained, with the result that the frost in winter and thaws in spring worked havic with its alignment. Business was good and the road with all its defects, served its primary purpose of furnishing much needed transportation to the new oil fields and the thousands of people who had congregated there.

   The railway had little by way of the equipment at the start. Narrow gauge cars were hard to come by on short notice, although they did, after awhile, get some fine cars and plenty of people rode in them just for the novelty of riding on a different kind of road. One car I remember, was a flat car with a canopy top and wooden benches running alongside.

   Business was so good and money so plentiful that the Allegany Central was reorganized as the Lackawanna and Pittsburg and extended first to Angelica, where the people are hot to have a railroad, and then extended up in the sticks in a northerly direction.

(P. 4)

   The colorful and memorable 'Little' railroad was junked in 1890 and a return to the stagecoach lines was the sole connection between the above mentioned points and the outside world.*

 

*[From In Memory of Abijah Joslyn Wellman: 1836 to 1889 (Friendship. NY: May 22, 1974), pp 35-36, quoting the Friendship Register, Aug. 18, 1955].

   Trains stopped running on the Lackawanna & Pittsburg on October 12, 1890. Narrow gauge service between Bolivar and Olean resumed and continued to be profitable, but the line between Bolivar and Angelica lay abandoned until May, 1892 when the raise between Friendship and Bolivar and were removed. The Miner seems to have left the Lackawanna & Pittsburgh at the end of 1884, but its subsequent destination is unknown. [Howard Appell, "Lackawanna & Pittsburgh Locomotives," LI&ST Vol. III No. 2 (April 1985), pp 11-2.]

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  Scan 756 AWMiner Loco byRogers

(Above drawing credited to Col. Clare R. Rogers 1931-1994, born in Perry NY & died in Rockville MD; Researched many Allegany County - and other- Narrow Gauge Railorads)

No photo of the Miner (Mason builders number 652) is known to have survived. This drawing tries to show what the A. W. Miner probably looked like upon arrival at Friendship, without the magnilicient gold leaf scrolls which adorned Mason locomotives. The Miner seems to have had Stephenson valve gear; the Mason construction records record Walschaerts valve gear when applied, and this note is missing from the Miner specifications. Mason apparently charged extra for this on 4-drivered engines.

The engine was both named and numbered. Mason called it a "Bogie with leading pony truck," which translates into the Whyte classification 2-4-4T. Cylinders were 10x16", horizontal, with an iron jacket. Driving wheel diameter was 42" with steel tires; truck and tender wheels were 27" inches in diameter. The main rod was 4' 11"; distance from center cylinder to the center of the main axle, 8' 11%". Total wheelbase was 27' 8“. The boiler was 33" in diameter, with the crown raised 3 1/2" and a 24" diameter steam dome.   It came with two No. 5 Sellers injectors and roller slat grates in the firebox. The tank was 10' 6' long, 79' wide, 36" high, with a capacity of 1,100 gallons. The Miner was equipped with a diamond stack, which probably indicated a short smoke box as drawn, and a wooden pilot. One of the chief selling points of the Mason Bogie type of engine was its supposed adaptability to rough and sharply curved track.

   As William Mason explained his completed design, 'The engines are also easy on the track. They seem to humor themselves to the track all through. If it has a depression here and an elevation somewhere else, they split the difference. They get all the weight of the boiler on the driving wheels, although I now put a leading truck in front which takes a little of the weight off the driving wheels. I use the Walschaert valve gear on engines with six driving wheels, of which the axles are close together, and it is then difficult to get an ordinary link notion in. You are obliged to put in two or three levers and go over the axles with the eccentric rods.

   l made four such engines for the Calumet & Hecla mines. Afterwards l put on the Walschaert valve gear and told them I wished they would take that kind, and they did and have ordered several since. I now put a pair of leading wheels in front af the driving wheel truck. lt protects the tires on roads where there are many curves. [Railroad Gazette, 1 Jun 1883, pp. 341-2.] The design, however, was not a success [Hilton, George W., American Narrow Gauge Railroads (Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 1990] , and the L&P was probably not sorry to see the Miner go.

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