Biography of a Train

(Adapted from the article, "Looking Back" from Steppin' Out, December, 1974; undated newspaper clippings in the scrapbook of Mr. George C. Fowler of Niobe, NY; and notes by Plumber Meade)

            Not all railroads travel great distances.  In Warren County, there were many short lines, like John Day's Dinkey, which moved people and freight relatively small distances.  The Warren County Traction Company came to be known as John Day's Dinkey, and its rail line stretched just ten miles from Youngsville to Sugar Grove.  It operated less than ten years, from about 1902 to 1908.

The train was given the nickname John Day's Dinkey because Day was the superintendent of the line, and because the engines were only about one-third the size of standard locomotive engines, thus they were small and "dinkey." This could be a problem when the vehicle was loaded with passengers, because sometimes, it was unable to make some of the steeper climbs.  When this happened, all the male passengers had to get off and push the car up the hill.

The train traveled from Youngsville to Sugar Grove and back, charging 10 cents for a one-way ticket. The terminal was the D.A.V. & P. station on Oak Street in Youngsville. and the train ran on Main Street, up Matthew’s Run and Jackson Run, and into Sugar Grove.

The line had two engines, two coach cars, and three or four flat cars which hauled freight and mail. The passenger cars were designed with benches running along the sides so that the two rows of passengers faced each other. Although it had regular stops, the train would also stop to pick up anyone who flagged it down.

One gentleman recalled that "it seemed to run as well backwards as forwards and that sometime, on the night run, it made the entire ten mile run backwards rather than to bother to turn around, although there was a turntable outside the line's Sugar Grove round house."

The next time you are on a drive and you find yourself between Youngsville and Sugar Grove, try to imagine what it would have been like to ride a small train, to see it run backwards at night, or even to get out and push it up a hill!


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society