The Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad Fun Fest Day
By Michael J. Rotolo TCA 92-35372
The Delaware Lackawanna and Western railroad fun fest day was held on Saturday June 25, 2005 . This marks the second event since the formation of “The East Stroudsburg Railroad Tower Society”, which was established in June 2003 to save the tower where railroad workers controlled the rails at Dansbury Depot PA.
The ESSA Bank & Trust of East Stroudsburg PA is funding the fair and the Phoebe Snow look-a-like contest with grant money from the bank. Fair admission was $5.00 for adults, $3.00 children & seniors. Admission fees will help to fund the repair of the tower, an estimated $200,000 project.
The fair was located at Miller Park adjacent to the Dansbury Depot & Tower. A 150 foot tent was located there.
Among the many vendors under the tent were TCA members Angela Trotta and Bob Thomas. Angela is well known for her beautiful railroad paintings.
The Dansbury Depot was converted into a restaurant (where e*Train Editor Bob Mintz and I once had dinner) and holds National Historical Society status in Monroe County .
The East Stroudsburg tower is the only wooden tower on the 80 miles of the Pocono Mainline.
The society has already spent $20,000 replacing the foundation of the tower.
There are still many repairs needed to the tower including a new slate roof and windows. While I was in the tower I noticed that the walls and ceiling were painted with lead paint and much of it was chipping. Many of the levers in the tower still needed to be repaired, but there are 13 levers still in operation today.
The control tower, which was built in 1908, allows trains to get the clear signal and proceed on the appropriate track. The manual switches and levers- which predate the 1908 tower, jut out of the floor. The railroad, which ran on a strict timetable, often staffed the tower with one or two workers, depending on the schedule. As years passed by, the telegraph and later the telephone was used to communicate with other towers on the line.
A CTC, otherwise known as the Centralized Traffic Control panel, was installed in the 1950’s and replaced some of the switches used.
Charles Liberto, of Langhorne PA, President of the organization, noted that the Fair gained the Society, the commitment on Saturday that Steamtown would run two or three trains, and the Delaware Lackawanna Railroad would run one 15-car dinner train from Scranton to Delaware Water Gap next year.
The Fair drew a large crowd from as far away as New York & New Jersey. People made the trip in order to see the tower and Phoebe Snow look a-like contestants.
In my opinion, the show catcher was the Delaware Lackawanna diesel engine and caboose which was parked on the mainline across from the tower. The caboose was open for all to see.
The local Boy Scouts were on hand to serve you up fresh funnel cakes. (sorry Gordon Wilson, no maple donuts!) Other vendors offered soft drinks and snow cones. There were musical groups, craft and collectable sales, and of course, trains for sale. In addition, there was a modular train layout.
One of the modular train layouts which was at the show, was the Central Jersey Railroad Modular Club.
Members who were on hand to run the trains were Chris Bond, Jim Kerner & Russ Kress. The layout consisted of two outer loops which connected to a number of sidings and yards.
The rail used was two rail, not three rail. There were also 3 very impressive lighted signals on the layout too.
Today’s layout was 12 X 25 feet, but can grow to a larger size. The layout had a good number of buildings and scenery which contributed to a very well running modular layout.
Located on the layout was an engine known as “The “Pioneer”. “The Pioneer” was built in Boston by Seth Wilmarth in 1851 for the Cumberland Valley Railroad of Chambersburg, PA. The Pioneer was attacked by the Confederate Army during the Civil War, but was rebuilt and later served many decades to come until it was retired as an Exhibition Engine.
While I was there for 5 hours that Saturday I met up with TCA and LOTS member Al Schwartz from Long Island , NY . Talk about making a 3 hour drive to visit a train event. Al and I spent a few hours walking and viewing the sites, including the tower itself. During our time at the train fest, we stopped for lunch with Angela & Bob Thomas. We picked up Italian subs, Pizza & soft drinks from a local proprietor named Tony’s Pizza & Restaurant. (Author’s note: (The food here is worth the trip from anywhere.)
The Phoebe Snow look-a-like contest was held with 8 plus contestants. The contestants were being judged by railroad officials, President of the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad, Chief Executive of Monroe County Railway, representatives from ESSA Bank and Trust, Pocono Health System, and State Rep. Mario Scavello.
“Phoebe Snow” was the invention of a Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad advertising campaign. She appeared in print ads and actresses were hired to play her for special appearances. She dressed in white and emerged spotless from her travels because the DLWR, unlike other railroads, used anthracite coal, which burns cleaner than bituminous coal. Among the many jingles and ads to come forth, “The Phoebe Snow” campaign boosted business by 80% over a 10-year period for the DLWR.
“Phoebe Snow” was responsible for a sharp increase in passenger service in the Twentieth Century, spreading the name Lackawanna . Other railroads to use anthracite coal were the Erie Railroad, The Central Railroad of New Jersey, and Lehigh Valley Railroad, to name a few.
The “Phoebe Snow” took the place of the Lackawanna Limited, which made it’s maiden trip between Hoboken NJ and Buffalo NY in 1883 and which was claimed by the Lackawanna as the oldest named train in the United States .
“I won my fame, and wide acclaim, for Lackawanna ‘s splendid name, by keeping bright and snowy white, upon the road of anthracite.”
The new “Phoebe” made her appearance in November 15, 1949 . The “Phoebe Snow” all streamlined passenger train, made it’s maiden trip, and again she could go to Buffalo NY without her gown becoming dirty.
The new “Phoebe Snow” streamliner represented an investment on the part of the Lackawanna of $7,500,000. As part of the program to create this fine train, 5 3-unit diesel locomotives, 25 60-2 passenger coaches, 9 sleepers, 2 36-guest diners and 2 tavern observation lounge cars were purchased.
The lounge cars were the pride of the train. In each, there was a portrait of “Phoebe Snow” by Penrhyn Stanlaus.
Coaches: #301-315 built American Car and Foundry (ACF)
#316-325 built Pullman Standard
Diners: were numbered #470-1 built by The Budd Co.
Tavern/lounges were numbered #789-790 also built by Budd
Pullmans were of the 10-6 configuration (10 roommettes; 6 double bedrooms) and were named as follows: Chenango, Cohacton, Kittatinny, Lackawanna , Pequest, Pocono, Tioughnioga, Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock, built by AFC.
The advent of the Lackawanna Railroad in 1856 changed the economy of the community from agriculture to industry. Rail travelers arrived in East Stroudsburg at the Delaware , Lackawanna and Western Station, which was built in 1856, then known as the Dansbury Depot. Train service peeked in 1900 with the arrival of the legendary “Phoebe Snow”. The main line from Scranton PA to New York City , was built in the 1860’s, and pieced with two other railroads. The Morris and Essex from Washington, NJ to Hoboken, NJ and a portion of the Blairstown Railway from Washington, NJ to Delaware, NJ.
The line which ran through the Pocono’s, had many curves and grades. The line also ran through 2 tunnels. Because of the curvature of the line, it could not be straighten out or widened due to changes in the elevations through the mountains. The DL&W embarked on a difficult and costly construction program. The new line would be known as the “Lackawanna Cutoff”, which ran between the Delaware River and Hopatcong , NJ . On the Pennsylvanian side the track was expanded to four tracks where possible. This started from East Stroudsburg up to Scranton and beyond eventually reaching Buffalo , NY .
Membership in The East Stroudsburg Railroad Tower Society has reached 85 members and is still growing. Anyone interested in joining may send for information at the following address.