FIRST TRAIN OVER THE DELAWARE
The Company had announced that to celebrate the completion
of the railroad to Binghamton special excursion trains would be
run between Piermont and that place Wednesday, December 27, 1848.
The track along the Upper Delaware Valley was yet in an unfinished
condition, and Major T. S. Brown, Chief Engineer of the work,
decided that it would be wise to run a preliminary train over
that part of the track, from Port Jervis to Deposit, a few days
before the regular excursion trains were to pass, in order that
their safety might be insured and all cause of delay removed.
The Rev. Henry Dutcher, now of Warwick, Orange County, N. Y.,
then an employee of the Company, was one of those who made that
initial trip over the Delaware Division, and he thus relates his
reminiscences of it to the compiler of this history:
"The train consisted of an engine, one passenger car,
and two flat cars. Among those aboard were Major Brown; H. C.
Seymour, General Superintendent; Silas Seymour, Major Morrell,
W. H. Sidell, of the engineer corps; H. O. Beckwith, William A.
Dutcher, a man of the name of Rice, myself, and others, making
fourteen in all, besides a gang of laborers with pails, picks,
and shovels. We started from Port Jervis at two o'clock P.m. on
Friday, December 22, 1848. At Lackawaxen the engine 'Piermont'
was attached ahead of our engine. We proceeded to Narrowsburg,
arriving about seven o'clock. After supper we started on. It had
been snowing all afternoon, the snow being from six to eight inches
deep. It continued to snow as we proceeded, so that our progress
was very slow. When about two miles above Cochecton, six miles
from Narrowsburg, our locomotives ran out of water. We stopped
at a creek, the embankment being some thirty feet above it, and
forming a line, passed six hundred pails of water up to the engines.
Some of the men froze their fingers. Proceeding on our way, at
daylight next morning we found ourselves about a mile above Hankins
Station, having travelled about twenty miles during the night.
At this point we came to a dead stop. We found a mile and a half
of track not laid, and no iron nearer than Narrowsburg with which
to lay it. The snow was badly drifted. There were from two to
three feet of snow on the road-bed. We got the trackmen out and
set them to shovelling, and sent one engine back to Narrowsburg
after iron to fill the break. Leaving orders to proceed with the
engines as soon as the track could be laid, fourteen of us, without
any breakfast, started to tramp it up the track through the snow,
which was in many places to our hips. At about two o'clock in
the afternoon we arrived at Long Eddy.
"'Now,' said Superintendent Seymour, 'we will have something
He leading the way, we all followed, ravenous, having eaten
nothing since seven o'clock the night before, and having toiled
incessantly all that time. The house he took us to was kept by
John Geer. And another such a place! The bed-room, kitchen, sitting-room,
parlor, upstairs, and down-cellar were all in one room, and not
a very large one, nor a very clean one, at that. Seymour told
the old lady of the house that we were as hungry as wolves and
wanted some dinner. She took a box from her dress pocket, treated
herself to a large pinch of snuff from it, wiped her fingers on
her apron, and replied that she did not know how it would be,
but she would do the best she could. Lifting a trap-door in the
floor, she descended to an apology for a cellar, and brought up
a loaf of bread, a plate of butter, and a dish of honey. The honey
undoubtedly was clean, but the butter had the appearance of having
been sprinkled with pepper and salt. The bread, while it looked
good on the outside, showed layers of dirt through it when cut,
as though it had been kneaded on the floor. In addition to the
above, she brought from a cubby-hole at one side of the old-fashioned
chimney a dish of potatoes that had been warmed over at some time,
and a dish of beans, both frozen, and a plate of fried pork, and
another of mackerel, each of which looked as though it had been
picked at by the hens. These were all put upon a bare table, with
knives and forks, but no plates and our dinner was ready.
We mechanically went through the motions of eating, but it
was a miserable failure. Our dispositions were to eat, but our
stomachs would not agree with our dispositions, and we did not
eat a sixpence worth. After resting ourselves for a few minutes,
Major Brown asked the old lady how much we were indebted to her.
After taking another pinch of snuff, she said she could not tell.
"'It wasn't much of a dinner, anyway,' she said, and me
thought her judgment correct. Major Brown handed her a twenty-five-cent
piece for himself, and asked her if she thought that would be
about right. She thought it would, so we each handed over a quarter,
thus paying three dollars and a half for what would not have fed
a chicken. From there we went to the Company's shanty, opposite
Big Equinunk, where we got our supper at about five o'clock. From
that point we proceeded two miles farther to Jeremiah Lord's,
where twelve of the party hired Lord to take them to Hancock that
night. It being Saturday night, Ray Clark and myself concluded
to stay with Lord over Sunday. Monday morning we got Lord to take
us to Hancock, where we found the others waiting for the engine.
This did not make its appearance until four o'clock Monday afternoon.
We found that between Hancock and Deposit there were three miles
of track not laid, so that there was no way to get further with
the cars until that breach was filled, and the iron had to come
from the other direction from Susquehanna. Major Brown decided
that he must go through to Binghamton at all hazards. The rest
of the party resolved to go no farther, but I told the Major I
would stick to him as long as there was a button on his shirt.
The trouble was to get to Deposit. We found a lumberman who was
going there, but he had no better accommodation than a pair of
bob sleighs. Turning one up over the other to make a seat, we
rode the thirteen miles without buffalo robe or blanket; and what
a bitter cold night it was! When we reached Deposit we found Engineer
Joshua P. Martin, with the locomotive 'Orange,' with which he
had brought the iron to lay the three miles of track, and was
waiting for us to take us to Binghamton, forty miles distant.
After getting our supper we boarded the engine, with nothing to
shelter us. There were no cabs on, the engines yet. Facing a strong
northwest wind, with the mercury at zero, we rode over that bleak
country, arriving at Binghamton at half-past eleven o'clock Monday
nightthree days, nine hours and a half getting over the
division. But we succeeded in getting the road in order so that
the excursion train on the following Wednesday passed over the
division without accident or delay."
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