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All about the Arcade & Attica Railroad

Moderator: Benjamin Maggi

  by jgallaway81
Well, since no one is talking, I thought I'd ask what everyone's favorite memory or story of the A&A is?

Mine? The day I was offered a job with the A&A that led to five official years with the company, and continued assistance with the official website.

  by Benjamin Maggi
I remember in the late 1980's, my family was riding the train on Father's Day (we went every year on that day) and during the trip a bee attacked my mother, she tried to swat it, and her glasses fell out of the window. They stopped the train to look for them, and even a conductor stayed behind to continue looking (and planned to board the later train) but the glasses were never found.

On a more personal note, after being engaged to a woman for over a year... and me being from Rochester and her from Mt. Morris... I found out that she grew up two houses down from the A&A Enginehouse and loved to play on the tracks as a child. I don't recommend allowing kids to play on the tracks, but...

It was then that I knew she was a keeper!
  by Aa3rt
My first trip to the A&A was way back in July of 1963-a special "treat" for my 10th birthday. I remember riding behind the 2-8-0 and that my younger brother and I got filthy climbing on the snowplow and caboose that were parked near the enginehouse.

I made numerous trips to the A&A over the years while still living in northwest PA. My wife and stepson both had their first train ride on the A&A in the early 1980's.
  by BSOR Patarak
This is a very interesting topic. I'm thinking of two moments. One of while I was growing up, and the other would be from my employment there.

First, I have family from Arcade and had visited the area every summer since I was born. We always rode the train several times a year...I haven't missed a season yet! I can remember as a boy of 4 or 5, I absolutely hated the steam whistle. The pitch just drove me wild. We still insisted that we go on the ride. I made many trips with my fingers in my ears! But my most memorable trip would have to be the Conroy Motors anniversary special. I don't recall now which year it was, 50 or 75, for them. The Conroy family is one of the original stock holder families! They still own some to this day. They chartered the steam train for trips from the Java Center depot to North Java and back, then Curriers and back.

Since we kept pretty close watch on what the A&A was doing during my summer times in Arcade, I thought it was unusual to have the steamer being prepped on a Thursday afternoon. I didn't think much of it, just that I'd get to see it leave town, cool. Little did I know, that my grandfather knew all about the trip, he just didn't tell me. An even bigger suprise was that being a Conroy customer, he had an invitation for the runs! It is the only trip I'd ever seen #14 past Curriers on the line. (Today I know that it had made other trips there on occasion). We made the trip both north and south out of Java Center.

After the runs were done, we figured we'd chase the empty train back to Arcade. Instead, I asked the conductor if he minded a couple extra people in the empty coaches on the return to Arcade. He said nope, if we didn't mind no conductor in the coaches. He had intended to ride the cab back to the shop. So it was, me, my brother, sister and father had our own private charter train back to Arcade on rare mileage! I have to say it was probably also one of the fastest trips I made over the line!

Pat Connors
Last edited by BSOR Patarak on Sun Mar 11, 2007 10:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
  by BSOR Patarak
Now for employment memories....

For me, the steam locomotive was the best part of working for the A&A. Though the railroad really got me hooked on railroading for a career. Every spring after spending the winter months clearing snow and preparing the steamer for another season, we always took the steamer out for a test run before the regular season. On that day we usually all got a short time in the engineer's seat to try her out. There is nothing quite like cracking the throttle and feeling the whole beast shutter and start to come to life. The hissing and moaning are incredible.

Now next to steam operations, I'd say snow plowing was my favorite thing. On my first trip in the plow, being the newbie, I got to ride in the plow with the "professional". Now, the plow doesn't have much of a suspension....and tends to "feel" every deviation in the track. So I rode near the back door, expecting to have to jump down to safety at any moment. Usually, the plow is pulled from the shop backward down to interchange and then the plowing begins. My partner/trainer was laughing at me for riding near the back door. Every bump and I'd keep looking out the door asking if we were still on. He was laughing by now and said, "don't worry, you'll know when we go on the ground!". Fortunately we didn't actually go on the ground that day. Though I think we did rerail that plow in almost every conceivable way during the rest of my career on the A&A!

One of the worst plowing days came some time later. It was a week of below freezing temperatures and pretty deep snow. It was decided to just go to the interchange on a Monday after fresh snow and worry about getting north later in the week. Sounded good, it was a bright sunny day. I don't remember why we only made it back to the shop that day....if it was too deep going backwards to the interchange, or if a wheel went on the ground or what. Over that night, the temperatures fell way below freezing...and that nice layer of thawing snow that the sun left froze solid. When we did try to head north the next day, everything had crusted over terrible. We barely made it past the bridge and went on the ground. The ice was too much for the plow. I don't know how many times we were on the ground, but many times! Sometimes we got lucky and just pulled backwards and it rerailed itself. Other times it was shovel to find the rail, block it up, rerailers or what ever else it took. By the end of that day, we barely passed Genesee Road.

At this point it was felt that more help was needed. Reisdorf mill was called to tell them that the cars wouldn't be there anytime soon and ask if they could spare some hands. They sent out one of their tractors with a snow blower. Starting from the mill, they headed south towards us. The worst derailment of the plow came just before entering the woods north of Arcade. I don't remember how far off we went but I sure wish I had the camera at that point. It seemed from the cupola of the plow that I could look straight out the window and see the side of the engine! I know it didn't go quite that far, but it sure seemed it. The plow was completly off the rail and headed away from the track. Luckily with the ice, it didn't take much more than just pulling it back through it's own path. That was the most memorable week of plowing...working pretty much sun up to sun down the whole week to push 15 miles. With out the help of the snow blowers from Reisdorf, lord knows how long it could have taken. Seems we met the snow blower somewhere just south of Curriers finally.

Pat Connors

  by mschnitzler
Well needless to say I am new to the board and am glad I found it.

I was born and raised in Arcade and walked the train tracks everyday to school for the better part of my adolescent years. (rang the bell a couple of times late at night in my teen years as well) My Grandfather owned the newstand and I am sure that many of you who know Arcade can remember him. I am now a father of two young boys and I am taking them to ride the A & A this summer for the first time. I remember my Grandfather getting me a ride in the engine on our trip to Curriers and it is still one of my most vivid memories. I think that my fondest memory will come in early August when my family holds its family reunion and once again we slip away on the A & A for an afternoon ride. However, this time it will be with my own family and if I am lucky I will be the one my sons will remember shoveling coal.

  by TB Diamond
Summer, 1968. Took my two daughters to Arcade for the steam excursion. Never will forget how the oldest shyed away from the open firebox door during the cab tour that was offered at the turnaround point.

  by admiralwolf
In summer of 2001, I took two trips on the A & A. One just a couple days before I went back to college, one about three weeks prior. Now the one right before going back to college was certainly a lot of fun - I took a small batch of friends with me for that one and everyone seemed to have a decent time on the ride.

But the prior time was especially wonderful; my parents went out of town that summer to visit my sister at her home in Florida, and so it was just me and Daisy, our dog (an Airedale Terrier). So I took her up to see the steam engine - mostly to see how she reacted to it.

For a year and a half (on breaks) I'd take her with me at night to the Depew, NY Amtrak station and she loved watching the trains go by. She even got to know a couple of the engineers running the Lake Shore Limited into Buffalo (at that time, they referred to it jokingly as the Late Shore Limited). So I got it into my head to see how she'd react to the steamer.

I got her down to the station in time for the 12:00 excursion returning, and after talking with the train crew, I decided I wanted to take a trip. So I bought a ticket, and got to take my dog with me. It was the most amazing thing - not sure they'll do it anymore, of course, but it was a lot of fun.

Daisy kept running out onto the gondola on the return trip, putting her paws on the yellow rail and wagging her tail. Apparently, she wasn't scared in the least.

Probably the best memory I had on that train involved taking her.

  by joesbag
New to the Forum and glad it's available! Keep up the good work.

First trip on the A&A was sometime in the mid-sixties when my dad would take my brother and I a couple of times each season growing up. The Grover Cleveland "Honeymoon" car was parked at the remnants of the former wye just north of the hardware store on Main Street where you could buy AHM HO scale models of a 10-wheeler and passenger cars in A&A colors during the 70's. I always liked going in to the newsstand which occupied the small rental space in the depot in Arcade too.

Most memoriable is a toss up between a cab ride in 112 on my 45th birthday and one that ended up being the last trip I took my dad on, one of the Santa Claus runs in 1999, with my family.

Had the opportunity to ride this summer on Wednesday July 25th and saw #18 in the enginehouse. Hope she is ready to roll soon and I look forward to seeing her in new paint. Work takes me to the area next weekend and hope to see/ride behind whatever is pulling the train during the blue and gray days.
  by khojnacki
Just found the new site and joined the Forum. Many years since I was in Arcade but have many fond memories which I will share if anyone is interested.

Hard to pick my best memory. My first was a Niagara Frontier Region, Natl Model RR Assn meeting and trip behind 18 in the mid-60s. This may have been my first steam excursion. 14 had just arrived and was parked at the enginehouse, still with the cover over the coal bunker and lettered for E&LS. Ahead of her sat the Warwick, still in the gray diesel scheme she wore when she left the O&W.

I never thought that another decade later, I would be firing 14. I fired nearly every weekend of the 1975 and 1976 seasons, and most weekends of 1977 until after Labor Day. Working 5 days a week in Rochester, then driving to Arcade early Saturday mornings, staying at Johnny"s Motel and cooking on the Coleman stove for meals made for no social life at all.

I'll relate my first official A&A memory here and if anyone really wants to hear more, I'll be happy to oblige.

I moved to Rochester in 1974 and contacted Ruth Tanner, the GM, about possible work the next year. She contacted me early in 1975 and suggested I come down for a Wednesday school trip to check it out. I had some experience running the engine at Rail City near Sandy Creek, so showed up to take a "student trip" on 14 one Wednesday in May, 1975.

Upon arriving at the enginehouse, 14 was simmering outside, so I climbed up to take a look. No sooner had I opened the firedoor than a voice yelled "What the hell are you doing up there?" I quickly explained my student status and received a diatribe from the wiry old man about his experience and what young kids knew about steam. I sheepishly climbed down and headed inside to meet with the Super and crew. I should mention that when I opened the firebox, there must have been 50 tons of coal in there. The heel of the fire was up to the door and all along the back and down the sides.

When I explained what happened, they all laughed out loud. They explained that "Windy" was an old PRR hostler who thought he knew everything about steam locomotives and was helping them out. I got the impression they were not impressed with him or his firing techniques. Apparently he thought he was firing a I-1 on a long coal drag up the Elmira Branch.

We climbed aboard--I don't remember if Manley was the engineer that day or not, and the Super, I forget his name, was firing. He explained where he fired going around the factory curve, uphill to Genesee Rd, and preparing the fire in the swamp before the pull for the hill below Curriers. We made one school trip that day, probably every car that would run was full.

When we got back, he asked what I thought and I said I thought I could handle it. I was hired, issued a switchkey and told to be there for Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend prepared to fire. I was a paid railroader! And------I never laid a hand on the scoop or pulled the injector that day. That was a hell of a lot of confidence in someone who just rode the seatbox, observing for one trip.

Interested more?

  by jgallaway81
You know, this would make a great chapter for a third edition of the A*A book.... a section of memories from those who have worked on the railroad through the years.
  by Mountcastle
I'm 38 years brilliant now, and my first ride on the Arcade & Attica excursion train was in 1976 (at age 6). I remember that I was at once thrilled by and terrified of the locomotive, which was No. 14. The thrill won over the terror, however, and my father would take me year after year, three or four times in a season.

At some point he approached the engineer, Manley Hakes (may God rest his soul) and asked if it would be possible to ride in the cab. Manley agreed, we rode in the cab on the way back from Curriers and I was ecstatic. That was the first of many, many cab rides in locomotive No. 14 with Manley. It wasn't until I began to volunteer at the railroad in the mid 1990s that I was able to ride in the cab of No. 18.

All of that having been said, I think my fondest memory of the Arcade & Attica will be of an early winter's evening in the Arcade Depot (1994 or so) where conductor Ben Higgins and I (both of us in our twenties then) were working on some project or other and both lamenting the layout of the museum area. Then, poking around in a crawl space off the staircase, we chanced upon dozens and dozens of old black and white photos of the railroad.

The next day, I returned with a ton of frames from AC Moore or Michael's or some such place and we worked into the wee hours of the morning, just the two of us, hanging the old pictures up for everyone to see and rearranging the museum section, completely. We didn't ask permission of Linda, the GM at the time, we just did it, acting on the philosophy that it's easier to receive forgiveness than it is to receive permission, I suppose.

As all parents believe they beget only swans, we were both delighted with the result of our labours. The manager just seemed bewildered that we would stay all night working on such a big project on a lark. On the other hand, she admired our enthusiasm and gave us kudos for our effort.
  by MarcMeoff
In November, 1964 I was still getting the hang of how to operate my newly aquired first 35mm camera, (an Argus C-3). The Buffalo Chpt. NRHS ran a charter trip where we took the PRR to Arcade Jct., rode the A&A all day, then returned to Arcade Jct to await the return PRR train to Buffalo.

As we waited for the PRR to arrive, a group of fans was firing off flashbulbs and using portable movie lights to illuminate #14. I waswatching in fascination and they invited me to join in, showing me how to set my camera, when to open the shutter, etc. I didn't have a tripod, so I just set the camera on a nearby pile of ties.

Voila! My fist night photo! It's still one of my favorites.
  by Mountcastle
What a terrific image, Marc; and from 1964, no less. Marvelous.

Look at the old lettering on the tender; it's so odd-looking. Almost like bones or something. Tres Hallowe'en. ;-)

Oh, that gorgeous locomotive. What a shame; what a waste.