Sunday, October 11, 2009

Peanut Line

Submitted by Dick Palmer

Peanut Line 'Gallop' Has Goober Flavor - Ambition Realized By Railroad Fans

(On Sunday, July 21, 1946, the Buffalo Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society sponsored a special excursion over the New York Central's "Peanut Line" from North Tonawanda to Caledonia and return. Following is an article published in the Buffalo Courier Express July 28, 1946).

Buffalo railroad fans have realized a life long ambition. They have eaten peanuts on The Peanut. It happened last Sunday when an "Iron Horse Gallop" was made over this historic one-track branch of the New York Central between North Tonawanda and Caledonia.

Russell H. Shapely, 178 Box Ave., president of the local chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, which sponsored the excursion, saw to it that there was plenty of peanuts aboard the train to commemorate the occasion. They were served unshelled in paper bags and in the form of peanut butter sandwiches.

It was the second such trip of the fans in the postwar period, the first having been made last month over the New York, Ontario & Western Railroad between Oneida and Sidney. Next on the agenda are tours over the Niagara, St. Catherines & Toronto and the Arcade and Attica, scheduled for early in September.

Got Name in 1855
An excursion over a little known or used line is considered a red letter day by the railroad fans and the Peanut Branch of the New York Central proved ideal. Originally known as the Canandaigua-Niagara Falls Railroad, the name Peanut has stuck since 1857 when the Central took it over and the late Dean Richmond of Batavia, then operating vice-president, reportedly referred to the acquisition as "only a peanut of a line."
Though still an important rail link, serving among other big customers as National Gypsum Co., in Clarence Center, the Peanut has seen its heyday as a railroad. No scheduled passenger trains have run on it in more than a decade. One freight makes a round trip daily on week days. On Sundays the Peanut is a "dead duck," or was until last week.
Looking from a window as the special nosed out of North Tonawanda at the beginning of the run, one of the fans saw an elderly man apparently sunning himself in the backyard. He was sitting in an arm chair, a pipe in his mouth, his eyes closed. Aroused by the train he awakened with a start and when he saw it was not only a train, but a passenger train as well, a look of surprise spread over his face and his pipe fell to the ground.

Even Cows Surprised
Further on, the train surprised a housewife at her Sunday morning toilet. She had rushed to the doorway to see what was happening and it was apparently not until the last coach had passed and she saw herself in the exposure of several pairs of male eyes on the observation platform that she realized she was standing there in her scanties.

Elsewhere along the line, cows came up to the fence to see the excitement. On the return trip, some fishermen on a small lake near Akron Junction nearly capsized their boat when one of their number stood up to point to the train.

Usually on their "Iron Horse Gallops," the railroad fans are all over the train, in the cab of the locomotive, hanging out of the windows,etc. The older the coaches, the bumpier the roadbed and the more smoke they inhale, the better they like it. In this respect their style was somewhat cramped last Sunday as the Central gave them some of its air-conditioned coaches and you don't open the windows on them.

Ticket Dated 1853
At LeRoy, Earl E. Bloss, a carpenter of that village as well as a railroad fan, boarded the special and presented to President Shapley an unused excursion ticket on the Canandaigua-Niagara Falls Railroad from LeRoy to the Falls, dated August 24, 1853.

Among railroad fans who made last Sunday's "Iron Horse Gallop" were Edward G. Hooper of Baltimore Md., assistant secretary of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and president of the national society; L. Newton Wylder of Lima, Peru, who happened to be in Buffalo on business at the time, and Rogers E. M. Whitaker of the magazine New Yorker's staff, who came from New York City to make the trip.

Whitaker has travelled an estimated 500,000 miles on railroad fan trips, 375,000 miles since in 1936 when he started to keep a tab on mileage. It is not unusual for him to hop a plane to some distant part of the country just for the privilege of riding a few miles on some antiquated railroad.

No comments: