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Submitted by Richard Palmer - from Belfast Blaze,  May 22, 1952

 

If You Look  Younger With Your Hat  On, You May Remember Some of These Old-Timers

1882-1890

 

By J. L. Murphy

 

    

      The Rochester Branch of the  Pennsylvania Railroad (old Buffalo, 

New York  & Philadelphia Railroad) was built on the towpath of the 

Genesee Valley Canal wherever possible. Much of the ballast taken 

from the gravel pit on the old Doherty farm at the west end of the 

Erie Railroad's bridge north of Belfast and stone for culverts and 

bridges was obtained from the old canal locks; the canal was 

abandoned in 1878.

 

      Main track was built through Belfast in the summer of 1882. 

First locomotive to reach Belfast was on the construction train No. 

46, with diamond smokestack, red stripes on the drivers and shiny 

brass bands around the boiler - she sure was a beauty. Engineer had a 

large St. Bernard dog that used to carry a big dinner pail to and 

from the job, for his master, passed where I lived, and the dog rode 

in the engine cab most of the time.

 

      The steam shovel in the Doherty gravel pit was operated by John 

Fitzgibbons. his regular job was freight conductor on the River 

Division, Olean to Oil City.

 

      Division offices were at Olean and the following are the names 

of some of the old-timers -pioneers on the Rochester Branch:

 

J.W. Watson, Division Superintendent.

Frank J. Martin, chief  dispatcher and trainmaster

A.D. Peck, chief dispatcher and trainmaster

M.A. Miller, dispatcher

George P. Jackson, dispatcher

J.F. Grant, dispatcher

W. A. Gessee, extra dispatcher

E. A. Fisher, division engineer, Rochester

Charles Ellis, master carpenter, Rochester

Robert Wright, yardmaster, Rochester

Bill Passmore, lineman, Olean

Matt Hart, yardmaster, Olean

Cooney Derx, fence gang foreman, Olean

Jim Lang, mason foreman, Belfast

Rob Lang, mason foreman, Belfast

Pat Bracker, division superintendent, Cuba

Passenger conductors - William Byers, - VanSickle, Pete Keefe, 

William Godfrey

Passenger engineers - John Hamilton, Ed Clark, Al Goold.

Freight conductors - Dan Shafer, Pat Savage, Pat Devitt, Tom Devitt, 

Mike McGannon, Bill Troan, *Frank Ingram, Pete Hotchkiss, Jack 

Kingman, Charle Coilegrove, L.M. "Lett" Forrest,  Big Joh Andrews,  

and"Moxie" Mauch.

Firemen- Archie Battles, Gus  Marth*, Bill Collopy.

Sectionforemen - John McGraw, Cuba; Tom  McCarthy, Black  Creek; Jack 

Williams, Belfast;  Martin McMahon, Belfast; Bill Sherman, Caneadea; 

John Burgie, Fillmore; Tom McNulty, floating  gang; John O'Leary, Mt. 

Morris.

Freight engineers - *Jim Warner, *W.D. Penny, Ed Simmons, 

JohnStimlinger, Fred Battles, Billy Breckle, *Johnnie Stout, Pat 

O'Brien, Charlie Anderson, Charlie Miller, Charlie Quinlan, *Lee 

Ingram, Frank "Pie" Steels, Gus Frey,  Billy Gannon, Bill Jacquett.

      *Mr. Fisher was made division superintendent at Oil City in 

1892, and about two years later returned to Rochester and was city 

engineer there until he died a few years ago at the age of 100 years.

Passenger brakemen- Bernie May, Fred Dempsey

Freight brakemen - Ed Lapp, Billy Weldy, bob Milliken, Tom Milliken  

Jr., *John Murphy, *Pete Murphy, John Loftus, Clarence Gilman and 

Frank Burleson.

 

Station Agents

 

W. A. Rapp, Olean

W.G. Conschafter, Hinsdale

P.N. Mallison, Cuba

W.A. Gere, Black Creek

C.M. Stedwell, Belfast

T. F. "Tom" Downs, Belfast

Mort Brooks, Oramel,

Mont Bartlett, Caneadea

Flatch Thompson, Houghton

Jim Waldorf, Fillmore

Charley Keenan, Portageville

L.P. Higgins, West Nunda

W. A. Gessee, Scottsville

W. B. Tracey, Genesee  Junction

 

Telegraph Operators

 

*R,E. Wright, Olean

Shorty Prior, Olean

Pete Small, Olean

Billy Bowen, Hinsdale

John M. Lynch, Hinsdale

Mike Conners, Cuba

"Kern" Conners, L&P Jct.

Tom O'Neil, L&P Jct.

"Yank" Stewart, L&PJct.

'Sandy" Bremer, Belfast

Wesley Hauenstein, Balfast

Will Murphy, Belfast

Dell Dye, Belfast

Martin Dwyer, Belfast

Jim Lane, Belfast

Pat O'Gorman, Genesee Jct.

Bill Metcalf, Terminal

Jay Eastland, Rochester freighthouse

*Charles N. Poulson, Rossburg

 

Notes

 

*Charles "Pickey" Poulson became nationally known as a cornet player 

and in the early 1900s he played both the 65th and 74th Regiment 

bands in Buffalo at their summer concerts as soloist.

 

*Operator R. E. Enright  became police commissioner in New York City.

 

*Brakeman John Murphy was killed in a wreck at Scottsville in 1887, 

and his brother Pete was killed in Belfast, switching cars on the local freight in 1894. William, who  worked as  operator at Belfast for a short  time, was killed in 18th Street  yard in Pittsburgh in February, 1889 while dropping cars.

 

*L & P Junction was located one mile south of Belfast;  rails taken 

up for scrap about 1891.

 

*Engineer Jim  Warner often gave me a lecture about the use of 

tobacco and its evil effects, one of which was:

 

"Tobacco is a filthy weed,

And from the devil it doth  proceed.

It lightens your pocketbook,

burdens your clothes,

And makes a chimney

out of your nose."

 

      However I failed to heed his good advice, for I still smoke and 

fear I will - hereafter.

 

     *Hogeye W. D. Penney (on local freight) southbound, chased a 

bunch of Jim Fox's horses up the track from Oramel  one day, trying  to get by them, but he caught them all at the  bottleneck on the town line crossing killing four of the five.

 

      Penney layed off about 60 days - afraid to  go through Oramel. 

Fox was looking  for him with a gun.

 

      *Johnnie Stout and Fireman Gun Marth were killed in a 

derailment at Tuscarora.

 

      * Conductor Frank Ingram, a brother Engineer Lee Ingram, was 

killed in a rear-end collision here, just about in front of the present steel mill office.

        The first section of No. 288 had stopped to take water at 

the tank across the canal from the Chet Greene  bungalow.  The 

flagman  failed in his duty and Engineer Pat O'Brien of the second 

section said he "saw him  jump off, wade the canal, and take  to the 

tall timbers just before he hit the rear end." He never was heard 

from since.  Probably he joined up with the BR&P under another name.

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