HAWLEY - Three blasts of the train horn resounded in Hawley Wednesday, as the Stourbridge Line’s No. 54 BL2 locomotive approached a crossing.
Local residents who happened to see the trains expressed their excitement. Scott Mead, the fire chief, took a video as the locomotive pulled a caboose across the Church Street crossing (known as Degnan’s Crossing in the Erie days).
Tom Myles, Owner and President of the Delaware Lackawaxen & Stourbridge (DL&S) Railroad, said Thursday that the locomotive was being used to bring in a caboose and some passenger coaches that will be used for the excursions, which resume May 9th. He said they will continue to bring cars in as needed. On April 20, a private excursion will be coming down from Honesdale with a line of cabooses and coaches, going as far as Lackawaxen and back.
Resumption of the popular train excursions brings new promise for the local railroad, with potential for both excursions and eventual freight business. The DL&S has its headquarters in Honesdale. Myles said they are on track for National Train Day, May 9, and are “moving on about 16 different fronts” to make that happen.
Scott Mead remarked, “Glad to see it back on the tracks again, hopefully they can get freight back on the line bringing back a little bit of history.”
Indeed, for Hawley, both freight and passenger train traffic once moved regularly in three directions. For Honesdale, trains are especially nostalgic, being the place where the first commercial locomotive to operate in America, the Stourbridge Lion, rain in 1829.
“ Extremely positive, more activities to do, more people to employ, more tourists to come to the area and support other businesses as well, etc.... Something special for Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays or just any day to share some time with special people,” a comment from Kathy’s License Service on The News Eagle Facebook page reads, reacting to the train moving through Hawley.
For now, public excursions will be limited between Honesdale and Hawley. Myles said that repairs must be made down the line towards Lackawaxen, before regular runs can be scheduled that far.
Boarding of the train will only be done in Honesdale, in the beginning, when full trains can be anticipated. He said that it will be technically possible to catch the train in Hawley and take the next one back on the same day, but that depends on if there is enough seats. They are not promoting Hawley boarding at this time, but Myles said “If there is space I’ll make room.” Ultimately, he said, they plan to board at both locations.
The first excursions will be held on Saturday, May 9 and Sunday, May 10. Three rides are planned on each day, Myles said, departing Honesdale at 9 a.m., 12 and 3 p.m. The train should arrive in Hawley 45-60 minutes later.
After that, rides are planned every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Rides are being planned in October for the fall foliage season.
Dinner trains are being discussed, but may not happen this year. They have a couple dining cars at the railroad yard in Honesdale- painted yellow and black. They lack generators, which they will need for the air conditioning and other electrical needs. He said they need to assess the equipment, and perhaps use other cars if necessary.
Myles would not estimate the number of workers they will need as the railroad company grows, but to get the train excursions started, they will need six. They have three on board at this time. He said that persons are welcome to call and leave a message for information. They will need locomotive engineers, conductors, ticket sales people, painters, carpenters, electricians, and persons who can repair tracks and signals. Much of this work is being subcontracted at this time. People having railroad experience are desired.
In addition, volunteers are sought, to help as conductors and other tasks.
Although the DLS&R has rented the Torrey Building at the Wayne County Historical Society, Myles said this is their business office. He said that passenger tickets and information will be handled across the tracks at the Wayne County Visitor’s Center (Chamber of Commerce building, 303 Commercial Street). Tickets will also be sold online or by phone.
Coach ticket prices are $20/adult or $10/age 12 years and under; caboose tickets are $30, for ages 13 and up, only.
Michael Keefe, Chief Financial Officer, said that their web site should be online by April 9. Information and ticket sales will be available online at thestourbridgeline.net, or by calling 570-470-2697.