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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Historian who 'couldn't say no' dies at 91

  • Clinton H. Leet, the founder of the Stourbridge Line Rail Excursions and whose inspiration led to the creation of the D&H Lock 31 Canal Park in Palmyra Township (Wayne County), died November 17th. He was 91.
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  • Clinton H. Leet, the founder of the Stourbridge Line Rail Excursions and whose inspiration led to the creation of the D&H Lock 31 Canal Park in Palmyra Township (Wayne County), died November 17th. He was 91.
    Leet, born in 1922 in Starrucca, northern Wayne County, was a resident of Honesdale. He had just been feted by his peers from the Wayne County Historical Society at their autumn awards banquet November 2nd at Lukan's Farm Resort.
    Lewis Lee, Society Trustee, introduced Leet at the presentation, and recited several of Leet's accomplishments. After having taught agriculture at schools in Lakewood and Preston, Leet established an insurance business. He was also a licensed pilot. Leet was actively involved in the community, including through WEDCO, the Boy Scouts and Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
    With a profound sense of place and time, Leet pursued topics related to local history and sought to instill an appreciation for heritage in the hearts and minds of the public. Well aware of the historic link in the Honesdale area to the first commercial locomotive to operate in America, Leet was instrumental in starting the popular Stourbridge Line train in 1979. Hosted by the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, this excursion had its inaugural run during the 150th anniversary celebration of the Stourbridge Lion.
    He served as a conductor aboard the excursions, which has taken multiple thousands of people to Hawley or to Lackawaxen and back, spanning over 30 years. The excursions are currently on hold pending resumption of rail operations.
    The Society honors him at their main museum with a life-size photograph of Leet in his conductor uniform, cut out of cardboard. Leet served many years as a trustee of the Society.
    On August 24, 2013, under sunny blue skies, the Society dedicated the D&H Lock 31 Canal Park a mile west of Hawley. Although interior renovations are pending future funding, after many years of toil and perseverance, the 19th Century canal-era inn, with its lock, a mile of canal and towpath and canal boat basin, was presented to the public. Available at any time for walking and reflecting on the canal heritage that helped build Honesdale, Hawley and many communities along its route, the goal remains to create a living history museum, including special events.
    Leet was honored at this occasion, for it was his vision that started the process in the mid-1990's when he suggested acquisition of the property for historic preservation.
    "It's a great feeling," Leet commented that day, as he walked in the canal basin, cane in hand"... to reopen the canal so people can understand what it is all about and how it works. They did a tremendous job." He commended the Society's leaders for not giving up.
    In an interview last August, Leet recommended that one day a canal boat be built and actually floated in the Canal Park's basin. He said this would help bring in a great many people and educate them about what the D&H Canal was all about.
    Page 2 of 2 - On November 2nd Leet was presented with the Richard L. Kreitner Lifetime Achievement Award.
    At the banquet, Trustee Lewis Lee commended Leet for being farsighted, positive and adventurous. "He wouldn't take no for an answer," Lee said, as Leet stood by, smiling.
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