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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Local History: Honesdale-Hawley Trolley Line

  • Part 2 of 3 parts Part 2 of 3 parts[Editor's note: Part 1 discussed the dream of an electric trolley line connecting Honesdale and Hawley, utilizing the abandoned D&H Canal towpath. Discussion in the local newspapers began as early as 1898, just before the canal closed. There was hope the line would invigorate commerce, i...
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  • PART TWO
    [Editor's note: Part 1 discussed the dream of an electric trolley line connecting Honesdale and Hawley, utilizing the abandoned D&H Canal towpath. Discussion in the local newspapers began as early as 1898, just before the canal closed. There was hope the line would invigorate commerce, improve public transportation and aid both agriculture and manufacturing seeking freight opportunities. Tracks actually were being laid on Main Street, Honesdale, in 1906.]
    *** New company
    In January of 1909, Martin B. Allen approached Honesdale Council, introducing George L. McKay, representing a bond company in New York. McKay said that the Lackawanna Valley Railroad Company had succeeded the interests of the Honesdale and Hawley Railroad Company. He asked that the franchise granted the old company three years before be modified and transferred to the new company wanting to build the trolley line. Council planned a special meeting to pass an ordinance agreeing to the request.
    In June 1909, however, Lackawaxen Valley Railroad Company succeeded McKay, having purchased the rights. This company of "trolley railroad magnates" were hailed as highly experienced. They set up an office in the Farmers & Merchants Bank.
    McKay had been arrested that spring on allegations of mail fraud. A raid by law enforcement and his arrest had been scaring off investors, The Citizen reported. Assets of the street railway in Honesdale were expected to satisfy his creditors, McKay's attorney stated.
    That July, a contract was let to a firm in Reading. Work was expected to begin "in a few weeks", a refrain that would be heard again and again in various words.
    In July 1909, Edwin N. Hardenbergh was elected president of the trolley company, then known as the Wayne County Traction Company. Hardenbergh was a Hawley native who rose in political circles to become a PA Senator and then state Auditor General. He was living in Honesdale and served on Borough Council. H.H. Richards of Honesdale was the company's general manager.
    In January 1910, word was received that enough bonds had been disposed of to allow the company to start work.
    The original section of tracks had been dormant in Honesdale since 1906. The Citizen referred to them in July 1911 as "unsightly" to the passing public and creating a bad impression on the town.
    Erie Railroad made traffic arrangements In April 1910 with the company, to carry much of its passengers and freight between Honesdale and Hawley on the trolley.
    Wayne County Fair officials had asked in the spring of 1910 to consider running the trolley up to the fairgrounds.
    *** On to Lake Ariel, Waymart
    Meanwhile, the Scranton and Lake Ariel Railway Company planned to apply to the Governor for a charter in May 1910 to build and operate a trolley line. The route was planned from Scranton through Moscow, Hollisterville and Hamlin to Lake Ariel. Renewed activities by the Wayne County Railway Company had bearing on the decision.
    Page 2 of 4 - The proposal was to continue the Honesdale-Hawley trolley along the old Pennsylvania Coal Company gravity railroad bed to Lake Ariel. A survey had also been made to expand this route from Lake Ariel north through South Canaan to Lake Lodore Amusement Park and to Waymart. From there the trolley would extend east back to Honesdale.
    A report in April 1913 indicated that the Moosic Lake Trolley Road would start that summer and progress in stages to Hawley, connecting with the trolley line to Honesdale. At this time the plan was to bypass Lake Ariel instead concentrate on the farming regions through which it would pass. Promoters said that they wanted freight business, and "had enough passengers."
    *** Hydroelectric plans
    Work on the hydroelectric dam near Hawley was expected to commence shortly, the Citizen wrote in July 1912. Power would be supplied for the new trolley. The editor predicted that harnessing cheap power will open the possibilities for new industries in the area. Merchants were encouraged to embrace the trolley and prospects it brings.
    Power was to come from the plant to be erected for the new proposed dam at Wilsonville, below Hawley. Expectations were high that this power project was coming to pass shortly; as we know, it would not be that fast- the lake would not be completed and generators turned until 1926.
    Timber, however, was being cleared from the Wallenpaupack valley in February 1913 in anticipation.
    In the meantime, the trolleys would be powered by the electric companies in Hawley and Honesdale (the Hawley plant ran off the Paupack Falls just above the Silk Mill, in the same structure where Timely Treasures is today). Another option for the company was to build its own electrical plant.
    "The Future Looks Bright in Honesdale," declared a Citizen headline in July 1912. The editor admonished nervous businessmen that the trolley would only help them. Trade was expected to increase between the two towns.
    The Citizen's editor in October 1912 expressed hope that the project would go forward as the trolley promised "hundreds of people" to their stores that now shop elsewhere. Parties from New York City were said to have been in Honesdale with the purpose of taking up the proposition for the trolley line.
    The editor also suggested that the trolley would aid agriculture and give Honesdale a desired "metropolitan air."
    *** Hawley trolley route
    An article in The Citizen on Dec. 4, 1912 reported that the Wayne County Street Railway Company was applying to the Governor for a charter to operate the trolley line from Seelyville to Hawley. The application was being filed on Christmas Eve.
    The route outlined in this charter gives us new details about where the trolley would run in Hawley.
    Plans were to enter Hawley on the old canal towpath which ran parallel with Hudson Street, and then turn onto Church Street after crossing the Eddy Bridge. The trolley would follow Church Street to Main Avenue, turn at Teeters' furniture store and head up Main Avenue to the Erie train depot (which was next to what is now the Hawley Library). There was also to be a spur onto River Street from Main Avenue, heading two blocks to Chestnut Avenue. The trolley would take Chestnut to Keystone Street, and then rejoin Main Avenue.
    Page 3 of 4 - What distinction there was between the Lackawaxen Valley Railroad Company and the Wayne County Street Railway Company has not been revealed.
    *** Companies change again
    There was much dissatisfaction by Honesdale Council recorded February 11, 1913, over the failure of the Lackawaxen Valley Railroad Company to live up to its 1909 franchise. The company was supposed to have been in operation by July of 1910. Rails placed on Main Street and Park Street were in many place above the surface of the roads, posing a safety hazard. Great damage was reported, with suits for negligence threatened against the Borough. Large sums were paid in settlement by the Borough; although the trolley company promised to repay, the company had failed to do so. With no assurance that the trolley line would be built, Honesdale Council rescinded the franchise in February 1913.
    Lackawaxen Valley Railroad Company, however, transferred its privileges and franchise to the Wayne County Traction Company.
    That same year, Honesdale citizens passed a ballot measure to invest in paving their principal streets with brick. This would become a sticking point, as the trolley company was expected to help pay for the paving.
    Hawley Council approved a new franchise on February 25, 1913. The 50-year franchise (1963) allowed the Wayne County Railway Company to use certain borough streets.
    On March 6, 1913, Honesdale Council approved the new franchise with Wayne County Railway Company, to be in effect 75 years (until 1988). The burgess (mayor) had yet to sign it, and approval was pending from the company. The newspaper editor said that the prospects looked bright. The franchise required that the company pave within the tracks and two feet on each side, to start within three months and have the trolley running within 12 months.
    Some of the interesting points in the franchise agreement:
    •The Honesdale segment would run from 4th Street up Main and North Main to the bridge above 18th Street; a spur would extend onto 11th Street to the factories that then existed by the river.
    • Turnabouts would be allowed at the D&H passenger train station, Park Street by the Borough line and north off Main Street.
    • Rails would be of standard 4 ft. 8-1/2 in. gauge.
    • Speed would be limited to 12 miles an hour (in 1909 the Borough ordinance called for a maximum of only eight m.p.h.).
    • The fare could not exceed five cents (same as in the 1909 ordinance).
    • Trolleys must stop at all street crossings and not obstruct them.
    • Trolleys must yield to fire engines and other vehicles could cross the tracks but not interfere with trolleys.
    • A $10,000 bond was required to protect the Borough's paving plans.
    Incorporators included Martin B. Allen, E.B. Hardenbergh, W.J. Ward, F.W. Powell, G. William Sell, Charles H. Dorflinger, J.S. Brown, Leopold Blumentahl, F.W. Kreitner, Horace T. Menner, Charles P. Searle, William J. Riefler, Robert J. Murray, F. G. Terwilliger and Sigmund Katz.
    Page 4 of 4 - ••• Hawley franchise
    The unnamed Hawley columnist in The Citizen, February 21, 1913, announced, "Hawley people are delighted over the prospect of the soon coming of the Honesdale to Hawley street railway."
    Hawley Council had just revoked the old franchise dated March 1, 1909 and once the legal requirements were met, a revised franchise was expected to pass. An indemnity bond was to be required in the event of "accidents to horses."

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