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The following article was researched & submitted by Richard Palmer

from: Cuba Evening Review newspaper

 

Thursday, September 22, 1881

 

THE FIRST RIDE BY RAIL TO BOLIVAR

 

    A party of about thirty, by invitation of Mr. E. A. Drake, the agent of the contractors, who are building the road, Thursday of last week took the first through trip from Wellsville to Bolivar, all the way by rail, even the last few rods of the road being laid after the arrival of the train which was transporting the excursion party.

   The train as made consisted of two flat cars loaded with ties, the car temporarily used for a passenger car and the sturdy little puffer of an engine on behind, pushing us along.

  The track leaving the Erie station runs parallel with the Erie for about half a mile, when a curve takes us through Mr. Hill's estate, across the Riverside road, over the trestle work approach to the Genesee River.  The workmen are seen lustily working at the timbers of the bridge, that is soon to take the place of the temporary trestle work, that for the present supplies its place.

  The train stops exactly in the spot of the late disaster, when the engine was so nearly engulfed by the raging river, which had undermined one of the supporting piles down in the stream.  We stop, till the thirsty iron horse drinks all he wants, and then go on through the fields to the familiar gateway of the Brimmer Brook valley.  Up, up, up, an average grade of some sixty or seventy feet to the mile, we fly through the well known valley, up which so often we have slowly climbed, with muscle and nerve of horse flesh, and not those of steel and steam.

    This portion of our trip is enlivened by some disputes as to right-of-way with sundry former horned possessors thereof, without serious results to either party of the dispute.

     About four miles up the valley we come to the grand curve, where our train doubles about itself, faces right about, and goes North instead of South.  Right at the center of this semi-circle is the station of Petrolia, at present without depot, and almost without platform.  Here are buildings belonging to the Pipe Line.  The present village is in sight, a few rods to the south.  The heaviest grade in the whole ascent to the top of Norton's Hill, is in the approach to this curve in the Brimmer Brook valley, the grade being a hundred feet to the mile.

   From Petrolia up the hill, the sturdy little engine puffs and pushes, and soon we are on the summit.  At the summit is another grand semi-circle, where the northbound train thinks better of its intention to reach the North Pole, and turns itself southward once more, and downward now, down the hill to Allentown.

    The views as we are climbing this hill are fine and the picture that lies spread out before us is simply grand, looking down into the Knight's Creek valley, and southward across the divide to the depression where lies Allentown and over the billowing hills to the location of Richburg and Bolivar.

    We make a stop at the summit, long enough to run our two tie-laden freight cars onto a side switch.  Some of the passengers, who had bestowed themselves, on these cars have to make a sudden change of quarters, lest they should be left high, stranded.  Henceforward to the southern terminus the iron slave has a sinecure.  The force of gravity pulls us swiftly down hill.

  Without any very decided curves we slide down the hill, through the woods a good part of the way, till we come to the first sign of the approaching oil field's deserted well in the forest the Nameless well which was a very small oil producer.  When we are nearly come to Allentown we pass a huge iron tank of the Pipe Line.  Strangely enough, the first building we see of the busy and thriving oil town known as Allentown is, not a beer saloon, but a church.  It was explained, however, that the church was already there before the oil and the town were thought of in that neighborhood.

   At Allentown, one or two of our party stop, but the most are eager to go on to the end of the track.  Presently we are playing hide and seek down hill, and in and out around the windings and curves of the little brook that enters the Little Genesee at Bolivar.  As we approach the town we see the men distributed along the track in companies ballasting the road, and on in front rapidly laying the track advancing the rail along the graded bed.  We halt a few minutes, and as the last rail the workmen have at hand is laid, we push the construction car on the track before us till we are a rod or two from the main street in Bolivar.  Very near is the new hotel approaching completion, of which Col. Lewis, lately of the Fassett House, is to be "Mine host".  Most of the party take a little excursion up the dusty street, but soon are recalled by warning shrieks from the "Little Giant" that stands ready to pull us up the hill once more.

  The home journey is the repetition in reverse order of the outward bound trip, save the exciting episode of a collision with a meat wagon, just below Petrolia, that might easily have worked a hundred fold more destructive to life and limb than it did.  No lives were lost.  The train was not thrown from the track.  Besides the fact that horse, driver, wagon and contents were pretty badly shaken up and demoralized, no harm was done.  At about five o'clock we reach home, and after hearty thanks to Messrs. Rafferty and Drake in a little speech by the solid man of our party, we disperse.

   All agree in expressing surprise to find the track of the new road in such excellent condition, level, solid, carefully and thoroughly constructed.  The connection with the other end of the road will be made to-day, and in a day or two through trains will run over the road from Bradford to Wellsville without change of cars.

  The party are indebted to the train managers for every courtesy and attention.  Engineer W. G. Reed pulled the throttle and Conductor H. A. Parsons "bossed" the train. 

            An unexpected treat of buttermilk made quite an excitement.  Yes, it was buttermilk, and no mistake.  It wasn't in bottles.  It was white, and in a tin pail, and with a tin dipper to drink from. 

            Take it all in all this first ride by rail to Bolivar is one long to be happily remembered by those who had the pleasure to be among the first to hear the call: All aboard for Bolivar!"

 

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