HAWLEY - Abram Reddy Snyder was a native of Hawley, Pa., who spent a long career as an Erie Railroad conductor. He was a familiar face to decades of passengers, aboard the Erie & Wyoming Division trains that connected his hometown with Scranton.

HAWLEY - Abram Reddy Snyder was a native of Hawley, Pa., who spent a long career as an Erie Railroad conductor. He was a familiar face to decades of passengers, aboard the Erie & Wyoming Division trains that connected his hometown with Scranton.
Overall a safe profession, with daily schedules of freight trains and passenger trains sharing tracks and facilities at numerous rail hubs in the region, there were invariably mishaps from the slight to the disastrous. They did not escape notice in the local press, and accounts from the early 20th century show that Snyder was affected by his share.
 
Gravity railroad
 
Abram Reddy Snyder [another source spelled his middle name as “Reedy”) was born February 19,1851, to Abraham and Margaret Jane Snyder. His father was superintendent of the Pennsylvania Coal Company (PCC), which started operations in Hawley in 1850.
The PCC conducted a 47-mile gravity railroad, hauling coal from the mines in the Pittston area of Luzerne County to Hawley, for transfer of cargo to waiting canal boats (and later to steam trains).
The Snyder homestead was close to the action in Hawley, near the shop where coal cars were being assembled, a framing shop, carpentry shop, blacksmith and lumber area, all for the benefit of the PCC. This is laid out on the 1860 street map of Hawley.
The house and work area were located along the Lackawaxen River where today the Borough Hall, Sunoco station and Workforce Wayne offices are found, across from Bingham Park. The park was the site of the canal basin, and place where the gravity railroad tracks converged to unload coal and haul the empty cars back to the mines. These tracks were on either side of the Snyder house and PCC shops.
Abram R. Snyder worked on the PCC for several years. At least one of his tasks was to help repair coal cars.
There were seven children in the family: Frances, Emma, Jane, Abram, Helen, Myron and Mary. (The story of Myron Snyder, who operated a Hawley drug store, was told in a previous story in this series.)
The PCC shut down its gravity system in 1885 in favor of a steam railroad to haul coal and other cargo, and passengers.  The Erie & Wyoming Valley Railroad ran on its own tracks, only roughly following the course of the PCC’s abandoned gravity rail beds.
Snyder immediately went to work on the Erie & Wyoming and remained until he retired in 1917.
 
Fair train
 
A report in October 1908 in The Herald, a Honesdale paper, told about the 46th Wayne County Fair, near Honesdale. The Erie brought a special train from Hawley, under the charge of Conductor Snyder. About 200 excursionists took the ride to attend the fair.
The Delaware & Hudson Railroad was also bringing special trains each day from Scranton, via Carbondale to Honesdale to visit the fairgrounds.
 
Train wreck
 
Conductor Snyder was seriously hurt in a train wreck on the Erie’s Wyoming Division, September 3, 1910. Two men were killed, several people were seriously injured and between 20 and 25 passengers received cuts and bruises.
The Tri-States Union of Port Jervis reported that two passenger trains had a head-on collision near Lake Ariel, Wayne County at 2:25 that afternoon. The locomotives and two baggage cars were wrecked.
A conflict in train orders was said to have been responsible.
Daniel Smith, an engineer from Dunmore, and John B. Miller, a locomotive fireman from Dunmore, were killed.  Baggage cars on both trains separated the locomotives from the passenger cars, credited with sparing further tragedy.
The trains had been moving at 30 m.p.h. and were about 200 feet apart when crews saw each other’s train.
Smith was in charge, along with Conductor Elston, of Train No. 102, heading east from Scranton.
Train No. 143, heading west on the single track, was in charge of Engineer Grant and Conductor Snyder.
Engineer Grant and the conductors of both trains disclaimed all responsibility for the wreck. Both conductors showed their orders that they had the right of way on the loop. (The single-track loop took trains from the main line to the station at Lake Ariel.)
Doctors from Lake Ariel rendered assistance, and a special train arrived from Scranton with more medical help.  Snyder had to be removed to a Lake Ariel hotel due to his injures.
Less than three weeks later, on September 20, Conductor Snyder signaled for his train to stop after the engineer failed to stop at the Maplewood station as scheduled. After hearing Snyder’s repeated signals, the train’s fireman, George Schryer, climbed into the locomotive’s cab to check on the engineer.
Schryer found that the engineer, John Miller of Dunmore [of the same name as the man in the train wreck earlier that month] had been struck in the forehead by a thrown missile and knocked out. The fireman stopped the train and backed up to the Maplewood station. The engineer’s condition was not considered serious; he was taken to a passenger car and was revived before the train reached Dunmore. Miller later said that he had not seen anyone along the tracks that may have thrown something at him. The Erie sent detectives to investigate.
 
Family life
 
He was married to the former Helen Ammerman. They raised three sons, Samuel, Floyd and William.
The 1900 census lists Abram and Helen Snyder, as borders living at Reafler’s Hotel on Church Street in Hawley. This building still stands, and is an apartment house diagonally opposite the Baptist Church. He and his wife were both 49, and he was listed as a conductor.
Each year Abram would enjoy fishing during his vacation on local streams, as well as hunting for birds and rabbits.
According to his obituary in The Citizen, Snyder was a pleasant man to talk to, well informed on current topics and intensely interested in bettering the condition of humanity in any way he could.
He was a member of the Masons of the Brotherhood of Railway Conductors.
Abram R. Snyder died at age 67 after an illness, on October 24, 1917. The funeral was at the Baptist church in Hawley; he was laid to rest at Walnut Grove. His wife Helen survived him.
Later known as the Erie & Wyoming Division, the locomotive line from Hawley to Scranton operated until the early 1960’s. The last passenger train running from Scranton, through Hawley to Lackawaxen, on this line occurred in June 1961.

Main sources:
Newspapers archived at Fultonhistory.com
Census data and other records at Ancestry.com/ Hawley Public Library