Photos above in a gallery of historic photos recreated in hand-paintings by local artist R. Ed Myers. If you would like to contact Ed or purchase paintings, please email me for contact information. Top photo shows the train in front of what is currently known as Paul's Market. Above photo shows a train trestle in Piney Twp.
About 1860 or 1861 the Western Union Telegraph Company established an office and in 1873 the Sligo Branch Railroad was built. During war times, Sligo being a telegraph station, was a central point for gathering news from the field, and many an excited crowd assembled about the store and office in those days.
The Allegheny Valley Railroad came to Sligo in 1873. The following transcript gives details to the organization/construction of the Sligo Railroad.
No. 22 In Act To incorporate the Clarion County Railroad Company 1871
SECTION 1: Be it enacted by the Senate of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That W.W. Rankin, John Logue, John Elliott, A.H. Alexander, S.H. Hagan, Isaac Mong, Samuel Heeter, Martin Kearney, Levi Kifer, L.C. Pritner, James K. Henry, Jacob Bittenbender, J.M. Turney, R.B. Brown, David McClay, G.W. Fulton, Martin Wagner, E.F. Lerch, John H. Smith, Jacob Black, James Campbell, George W. Arnold, R. Rulofson, D.B. Curll, Samuel Frampton, J.P. Lyon, Samuel Wilson, John D. McKee, B.M. Means, Alexander Hindman, William T. Alexander, J.B. Knox, W.W. Barr and Nathan Myers, or any seven of them, and those who may hereafter be associated with them as stockholders, be and they are hereby incorporated and constituted a body of politic and corporate, under the name, style and title of the Clarion County Railroad Company, with all rights, powers and privileges and subject to all the restrictions and conditions conferred or imposed by an act to regulate railroad companies, approved the nineteenth day of February, one thousand eight hundred and forty-nine, and all its several supplements, so far as same are not altered or supplied by this act; and said company shall also be entitled to all the rights, powers and privileges of any general law of this commonwealth relating to railroad companies.
SECTION 2: The said company are hereby authorized to construct a railroad, with one or more tracks, commencing at a point on the Allegheny river, between the mouth of Redbank creek and the mouth of the Clarion river, or at Lawsonham, or any point on the Redbank creek, and extending by the nearest and most practicable route to the borough of Clarion, in the county of Clarion, with power to make branches to develop the resources of any section of Clarion, Jefferson and Forest counties, and connect with any other railroads in said counties.
SECTION 3: That the capital stock of said company shall be two hundred thousand dollars, divided into shares of fifty dollars each, with the privilege of increasing the same, from time to time, to six hundred thousand dollars, an amount sufficient to complete and equip their road and branches.
SECTION 4: That the directors of said company may borrow money, to an amount not exceeding five hundred thousand dollars, and issue their bonds therefore, either with or without coupons, in sums not less than one hundred dollars each, and secure the principal and interest of said bonds by a mortgage upon the road, property and franchises of said company.
SECTION 5: That any incorporated railroad, or other company, shall have power to subscribe to the capital stock, or to purchase or endorse the bonds of said Clarion Railroad Company. Provided That books may be open for subscription to the capital stock of the company after one week's notice; the board of directors shall consist of seven stockholders, five of whom shall constitute a quorum; the board of directors may require the capital stock to be paid in at any rate not exceeding fifteen dollars per share in any period of thirty days.
JAMES H. WEBB, Speaker of the House of Representatives
WILLIAM A. WALLACE, Speaker of the Senate
APPROVED - The first day of February, Anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and seventy one.
JNO. W. GEARY
1/22/1873 Titusville Morning Herald - Titusville, Pa. - CLARION COUNTY RAILROAD COMPANY - The annual meeting of this company was held at the office at Sligo on Monday, the 12th mat., and the following board of officers chosen for the ensuing year:
President - J.P. Lyon
Directors - W.M. Lyon, William Phillips, W.W. Barr, William Reichart, D.E. Lyon, David
Maclay, and B.M. Means. Secretary and Treasurer - D.E. Lyon.
The road from Sligo to Lawsonham, where it connects with the Bennetts Branch of the
Allegheny Valley Railroad, is now under contract and the work is progressing rapidly. It is the intention to have the cars running to Sligo by the first of next July.
1874: At the mouth of Redbank Creek, the “Low Grade Division” or also know as the “Redbank Junction” was completed. This track branches off the AVRR and travels to Driftwood, PA where it then is known as “Bennett's Branch”. The Low Grade Division also branches 5 miles down Redbank Creek at Lawsonham where it goes through Rimersburg to Sligo where it is then called “ Sligo 's Branch”. The Sligo Branch was constructed to harvest the immense lumber and coal resources of Clarion County .
The practice of of boating clay was abandoned and shipment was then made on the cars. The line was originally constructed to tap into the local timber resources but Sligo's supply was quickly exhausted, not only because of typical sales and consumption, but because of the vast amounts of lumber used in fueling the iron furnace. The region's abundance of bituminous coal replaced the dwindling lumber resources.
Sligo's line was initially owned by the Allegheny Valley Railroad (AVRR). Pennsy took control of the Allegheny Valley Railroad in 1900 and the line was extended to Buffalo NY, becoming the PRR's Buffalo & Allegheny Valley Division. In 1968, Penn Central acquired the line. Conrail later owned the branch until the 1990s, when it was sold to Pittsburg & Shawmut RR. The treacherous grades in the vicinity have produced accidents, including one incident while under the ownership of Pittsburgh & Shawmut, when a string of loaded hoppers broke loose from the C&K loader just outside of Sligo and dragged a single SW-9 with them downgrade to the end of the line at Sligo where they piled up.
The Sligo Branch Railroad has been used for transporting pig iron, tan bark, hoop poles, iron ore, timber, coal, and stock, all of these commodities being shipped at this point.
The 1880 censuses can be vague in occupational description, so it's required some guesswork in identifying railroad employees. Most of the 1890 census archives were were destroyed in fire, so it has been unable to provide insight into the employees of the railroad during the census year. The 1890’s papers do give some insight through miscellaneous correspondence of the dangers and tribulations of the railroad in the vicinity.
Jan. 5, 1893 Clarion Democrat — An A.V.R.R. brakeman, by the name of Henry Pontious, residing in East Brady, fell from a car on his train, between Lawsonham and Redbank, last Tuesday night, and was cut in two. He leaves a wife and four children.
Jan. 12, 1893 Clarion Democrat — The sad news reached our village on Friday morning of the sudden death of Alphie Lowther. He was a brakeman on the local freight on the low grade. It is supposed he had fallen off the train. It was forty five minutes from the time he was last seen until the train men found him. He was still living but expired in a few minutes. The family lived here for several years and have the sympathy of the whole community in their bereavement. Alphie was in his 19th year, a smart, active and promising boy. Many tears were shed by his schoolmates over his untimely death. (Rimersburg news item)
Feb. 2, 1893 Clarion Democrat — It is reported that a well known Pittsburgh and Western brakeman recently committed a dastardly and unprovoked assault and battery on a modest young lady standing at one of the stations of the line, for which the assailant was arrest and taken before a legal tribunal at Edenburg where he was fined $5, which he paid. Jealousy is supposed to have been the cause of the fracas.
April 27, 1893 Clarion Democrat — J.W. Frampton, a brother-in-law of J.G. Conner, of the first ward, and a late candidate for Legislative honors in Clarion county, and who has been making his home in this place for some months past, has sued the Penn'a R.R. Company for $50,000 damages for injuries sustained by being thrown from a seat in a passenger car at the Butler Junction on January 17th, by the coach coming in collision with several freight cars. Mr. Frampton has been under the care of Dr. S.F. McComb since the accident. Attorneys Kennedy & Smith have charge of the case against the company. Mr. Frampton hopes to be more successful in this contest than he was in Clarion county Legislative fight. Time will tell. Tarentum Sun.
April 27, 1893 Clarion Democrat — Reuben Sallade, a very aged resident of this place, while on the way to his home was struck by a train and injured seriously. He was walking on the Sligo branch division of the A.V. Ry., and being deaf, did not heed the rumbling sound of the great velocipede making a trip to the mines. The engine was pushing several cars ahead of it, when the front car struck Mr. Sallade on the head, throwing him off on the side track which resulted in his being hurt inwardly along with several very bad wounds on the head and also the loss of several teeth. A large crowd was present in a short time and Mr. Sallade was taken on the train to his home. Dr. A.M. Mohney, of Rimersburg, was immediately summoned and the wounds were attended to with the greatest of care. Mr. Sallade is now 63 years of age and this, the third time in the past 20 years that he has been seriously injured. At present writing he still remains in a very critical condition, but we are in hopes of his speedy recovery.
June 15, 1893 Clarion Democrat—train tickets to the World’s Fair, Chicago being sold at various stations.
1910 CLARION & EAST BRADY ELECTRIC - A contract has been given to the Ridge Brothers Company, Pittsburgh, Pa., to build from Clarion, Pa., to Reidsburg, six miles. The plans call for a line to connect Clarion, Reidsburg, Curllsville, Sligo, Rimersburg, and East Brady. Maximum grades will be 2 per cent, maximum curvature eight degrees. The company will let contracts soon for putting up a power house. F.M. Arnold, president; G.E. Arnold, assistant to president, and F.W. Patterson, chief engineer, Clarion. Source: Railway Age Gazette Published by Simmons-Boardman Pub. Co., 1910 Item notes: v.49 1910 Jul-Dec
The following article was under the headline “Retired R. R. Men Honored at Sligo”.
1941: CONSTRUCT RAILROAD TO PINEY DAM -- A new standard gauge railroad is under construction in Clarion County with more than a mile of right-of-way being cleared between Piney Dam, huge hydro-electric plant on the Clarion river, and a spur of the New York Central railway. The railroad will be used in the spring to bring in two transformers, each weighing 25 tons, and take out two smaller transformers that are now in use. Increased demand for electrical power from Piney Dam necessitates the installation of heavier equipment and construction of a railroad is the only way the huge equipment could be handled. Source: 12/25/1941 McKean County Democrat
Railroad History of Sligo, Clarion County, PA.
Sligo depot, demolished sometime during the 1970's.
Employees of the Railroad from Piney/Sligo
Adams, Stewart - Traveling Agent. 1880
Ayers, John B. - Sligo Borough RR Engineer 1880
Bailey, George V. - Foreman on RR 1910
Bashline, David Hunter - Engineer 1910-1920
Berrean, James P. Laborer 1920; Tracksman 1930. [Son of Dennis & Ellen]
Blair, William - Laborer 1920
Bostwick, Charles E.
C.E. Bostwick died in his home, Wilkinsburg, Pa., November 21, 1910. He formerly lived at Sligo and was conductor on the Sligo Branch Railroad. He leaves a widow, formerly Elizabeth Grier, and one son, R.G. Bostwick, an attorney of Pittsburgh. Mrs. S.K. Clarke, of Clarion, is a sister of Mrs. Bostwick. Mr. and Mrs. Clarke went to DuBois Wednesday where the interment took place. Source: Clarion Democrat, November 24, 1910.
Burns, Frank M. - Brakeman 1930. Born 1897.
Caberman, Thomas M. - Watchman on Eng 1920
Callen, Hugh Smith - Engineer 1910.
Last Saturday night as William Callen, engineer, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Callen, was bringing a freight train down the Sligo Branch and was on a heavy down grade near Lawsonham, where the Branch intersects with the Low Grade division, he lost control of the train by reason of the fact that the air brakes would not work, and it run off. He sent his fireman back along the train to help set the brakes on the cars, but it seems the run-away train attained such speed that nothing could be done to stop it. At a sharp curve the engine swung over off the track and nineteen cars followed and all piled up in an awful wreck. The engine after running along on the roadbed and tearing up the track for about forty feet or more, ran off of the bed and turned almost upside down, pinning Mr. Callen under it, and the escaping steam scalded him in a frightful manner. His legs were crushed and his head was badly injured and crushed, while the steam had burned out his eyes and boiled parts of his flesh from his face and head and body. It took from the time of the accident, shortly after midnight, to 8 o'clock the next morning to release his body from the wreck. The train, of course, was a complete wreck, and the fireman and other men on the train were injured, but we are informed, only slightly. Mr. Callen was about 36 years of age and was married, his wife having been a Miss Henry, and leaves her with four small children, Helen, Darl, Sarah and William. The surviving brothers and sisters are: Mrs. Jennie E. Bashline, Hugh S. Callen, Mrs. Zula Over and Harry Callen, of Sligo; Mrs. Verda Seifert, Curllsville, and Curtis E. Callen, Kittanning. His parents and one sister preceded him in death. Deceased was a member of the Brotherhood of Firemen and Engineers and the Knights of Malta. The funeral of the deceased took place last Tuesday, Rev. S.L. Richards conducting the service. Source: Clarion Democrat January 9, 1919
Campbell, Fred J. - Stationery Engineer - Compression Station 1930
Chappel, M*ford - Operator 1910
Cole, Charles W. - Fireman 1930
Colwell, William P. -Conductor 1900-1930. Age 34 in 1900; 45 in 1910; 54 in 1920; 65 in 1930 as Wm T.
Craig, Leslie David - Engineer 1910. In 1917, employed as a stationery Engineer for Graham Coal Co.,
Davis, John - Laborer 1900
Davis, John D. - Foreman on RR 1910
Davis, John Gilmore - Foreman on RR 1910 age 33
Davis, William Thomas - Laborer 1910
Dwyer, John - Brakeman 1920
Eberhart, James B. - Engineer 1920
Greenawalt, Allie - Conductor 1900
Greenawalt, James W. - Engineer 1910
Hartle, Frank - Fireman 1910
Henry, Gilbert Russell - Laborer on railroad 1930
Henry, Wilbert F. - Stack Fireman 1920
Hilliard, David H. - Telegraph Operator 1930
Hodil, James H. - Freight Agent 1910—worked for Penna RR for about 35 years.
Ketner, Stewart M. - Engineer 1900-1910
Keys, Vernon R. - Engineer 1930
Lauck, Samuel - Conductor 1910
Love, Kelly L. - Fireman 1920
Lynn, James B. - Telegraph Operator 1910
Lyon, David Elliott —Director 1870s
Lyon, William Maclay — director of the AVRR
James Mack, an old and well known resident of Sligo, formerly a section boss on the Sligo branch of the low grade division of the A.V. Ry., dropped dead while sitting in a chair at his home on Thursday of last week the cause of his death being attributed to a stroke of apoplexy. He leaves a widow and several grown children. His remains were laid to rest in the Catholic cemetery at New Bethlehem on Saturday. Source: Clarion Democrat, Sept. 16, 1897.
McCallister, Jno. B. - Engineer 1860
McCool, William - Coal Digger 1880
McElravey, Cyril C. - Fireman 1930
McElravey, William - Fireman 1930
McKinney, Frederick Roy - Hostler; Laborer 1910-1930. Born 22 Aug 1886 Rimersburg, Toby Twp.
years. I was pensioned at 53 years of age on disability due to an accident at Phillipston.”
McKinney, John Henry - Flagsman; Freight conductor 1900-1920. Born 10 Jan 1862 Porter Twp.
He was a Railroad worker for the P.R.R.. Worked about 20 years as a night conductor on the Sligo Branch.
He was pensioned July 1, 1928 after 40 years of service. John Henry McKinney started working for the
Miller, unknown 1919
Mills, Harry Thomas (b 1892) Laborer 1910 [son of Thomas McCullough and Emma Florence (Kerns) Mills]
Minnick, John A. - Laborer 1920
Montgomery, Charles - Engineer 1900
Murphy, Rex E. - Construction of RR Bridges 1930
Neil, D. Parsons - Fireman 1910
Herbert M. Patrick, aged 50 years, for years superintendent of signals of the New York division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, died Friday, Dec. 30, 1909, at his home in Curllsville. In 1885 he entered the employ of the Union Switch and Signal Company, Pittsburgh, where he remained 15 years. He then began his work of installing signals on the Pennsylvania Railroad. Some time last spring or summer, Mr. Patrick was brought to his old home near Curllsville suffering from what was reported as softening of the brain. It seems that nothing could stay the progress of the disease and he gradually faded away. He is survived by three sisters, Misses Mary and Laura, at home, and Mrs. Will Bittenbender, near Curllsville, and three brothers, Lawrence and Harry L., in the hotel at Irwin, Pa., and John. He was a member of the Presbyterian church and belonged to Pittsburgh Commandery, Knights of Templar and was high in Masonry. The funeral was held at Licking church. Source: Clarion Democrat, January 6, 1910.
Peterson, Elic G. - Laborer 1930
Pfaff, Dune J. - Operator 1910
Phillips, Col. William—Director. His estate settlement is something to behold. He bought certain tracts of
Rankin, Heber I. - Fireman 1920 [Son of John & Margaret (Hartman) Rankin]
Rummel, Kenneth Warren
Saylor, Edward P. - Laborer 1910
Shoup, Grover Hilton - Fireman 1930
Shoup, Joseph E. - Laborer 1910-1920
Snyder, George S. - Stationery Engineer 1910
Snyder, John M.A. - Stationery Engineer 1910
Swarts, Luther A. - Agent 1910-1930 (a/k/a Luther C. Swartz)
Thomas, William M. - Brakeman 1880-1900
Vogle, William G. - Laborer 1910
Williams, Gilmer P. - Fireman, Engineer 1900-1920 a/k/a Gilmore. Son of George & Lydia Lucinda Williams
Womeldorlf, Joseph S. - Laborer 1920
Woods, Lebious - Brakeman 1900
Wyman, Jesse Oscar - Brakeman, Flagman 1900-1930
Wyman, Percy O. - Clerk 1900
If you have additional information on the Sligo Branch Railroad or its employees, please email me.
Sligo train crew workers about 1930. Left to right: Davey Williams---Engineer; Pete Colwell ----Conductor; Pete Everheart----Fireman; Frank Burns -------Brakeman; Jim Berrean--------Brakeman; John Henry McKinney--Flagman (daytime) - Conductor (night). Photo courtesy of Joseph P. Rhein—Stewart/McKinney research website. Thanks to Ed Myers and friends for identifying members of photo.
The Great Wreck, Sligo branch. 19 cars were involved. The wreck was near the Sterling Mines. Wm. Callen, an Engineer was killed (obit & details below). Kelly Love, a Fireman was hurt, as were Miller and Shoemaker. The wreck was Jan 3, 1919.
Butler and Clarion Will Be Connected by Trolley Line—"Nick" Longham and the Arnolds are Among the Officials at Head of New Company Butler, Pa. July 10 - A trolley line 60 miles long, to connect Clarion, Pa., with the Pittsburg suburban lines at Butler, is being promoted by capitalists in Clarion county, and contracts for twenty-five miles of the line, from Clarion to East Brady, will be let this week. The Clarion and East Brady Electric Railway Company has obtained a charter, and the rights of way have been obtained and surveys made. George B. Arnold, the Clarion banker, is president of the company. Identified with him are F.M. Arnold, of Clarion, a brother; Congressman J.N. Langham, of Indiana, Pa., F.W. Witherell, of Pittsburg, and R.M. Werner, of Akron, Ohio. The farmers along the route have subscribed more than $50,000 of stock. Men of means in the town at the upper end of the route - Clarion, Reidsburg, Sligo, Rimersburg, Philipson and East Brady - are taking large blocks of stock. It is proposed to complete the section from Clarion to East Brady next season, giving the towns connection with the Pennsylvania trains on the Allegheny valley division. Then the trolley is to be pushed on to Butler, by way of Bruin and Chicora. The rights of way have been obtained for this end of the time and financing will be taken up soon. At Butler the new line will connect with the Pittsburg and Butler, with thirty-nine miles of track, and the Pittsburg, Harmony, Butler and New Castle, with sixty-five miles of track.
Source: Indiana Evening Gazette—July 10, 1909