Bolivar Breeze

July 23, 1937

Recalls Early Days Working on Shawmut


   Memories of the "good old days" at Bolivar on the Shamut when he learned to be a telegraph operator under the late B.S. (Barney) Dunn were recalled by Gerald Hulbert of Bethlehem, Pa., during his visit here at the home of his father, Fred A. Hulbert last week.

   Mr. and Mrs. Hulbert and three children, Yale, Frederick and Virginia returned and Miss Lucille Bartholomew returned to their home in Bethlehem Tuesday after a two weeks' visit with her father, sister, Mrs. Leta Irwin and brother, Elva Hulbert.

   Mr. Hulbert is now a train dispatcher on the Lehigh and New England railroad at Bethlehem where he has lived for the past 19 years. Bethlehem is a city of 65,000, located about 50 miles from Philadelphia and is one of the great steel centers of the world. The huge plant of the Bethlehem Steel Company there employs 18,000 people, he said. It is at Bethlehem that armor plate for battleships is made and, in war time, huge cannon.

   A railroad man for 37 years, Mr. Hulbert learned to become a telegraph operator under Mr. Dunn, who was operator for the Shawmut here for many years. Recalling some of his fellow employees here at the time, Mr. Hulbert spoke of Charles Parker who was a brakeman, John McLaughlin, still a conductor on the Shawmut and the oldest man on the line in point of service, Billy Johnson, an engineer and Mitchell S. Blair, who was superintendent, to name a few.

   He remembers the famous trolley riot at Ceres in the 1890's when a pitched battle took place when the trolley men attempted to cross the Shawmut lines with their tracks. In those days, he explained, if a railroad succeeded in laying its crossing across another railroad track its right and privilege was thus established. The trolley line which always followed the highway, wanted to cross the Shawmut in two places at Ceres, Mr. Hulbert said. A pitched battle resulted between the crews of the two lines and the Shawmut won, so the old trolley one had to be laid across open fields.

   Mr. Hulbert left Bolivar in 1906 to work in Hornell. He went to St. Mary, Pa. in 1911, where he was promoted to train dispatcher; He worked there until August, 1918, when he went to Bethlehem, where he became train dispatcher for the Lehigh and New England.

   The Lehigh is entirely a freight carrying road, he said, doing a large business hauling steel, anthracite coal and cement. It is independently owned and has about 300 miles of track.