The Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad Historical SocietyThe Pittsburg, Shawmut and Northern Railroad Historical Society had its humble beginning in 1979 during the Allegany County Fair. At that fair, late Jim McHenry, an ex-employee of the PS&N and Bill Reddy, a railroad employee and railroad historian, got together to talk about railroads and especially the Shawmut.
On May 24, 1981 a meeting was held at the fair grounds to gauge how much interest there might be in forming a group to perpetuate the history of the railroad. Donations at the door amounted to $54.00 and the organizers were pleased that so many people showed up that afternoon. It was proposed to form the society. Also at the meeting were several former Shawmut employees, many of whom are now deceased.
As an informal group, the first set of officers were elected to serve until some plans could be finalized and a charter for the organization drawn up. Leslie Haggstrom, a recent law school graduate who had started practice in Angelica, did the necessary work for the charter at no cost to the organization and by October of 1981, the society was formally organized.
The original officers and trustees were McHenry as president; Bill Reddy, vice president; Laura Norton, secretary/treasurer; and Trustees Ed Faust, Terry Mott and Stan Howe. Norton also was corresponding secretary, and for a time was editor of the Cannonball.
February of 1982 was a banner month for the organization, having swelled to 100 members. The society had its first opportunity to acquire a piece of rolling stock, the body of Coach 278 which was built in about 1880. It had sat in a location near the old engine house for many years and had been used used as a house but was now vacant.
The current owner wanted $400 for the car body and so through raffles and donations sufficient funds became available to make the purchase. In addition to this another $92.00 was spent on rails and ties to be placed on the Allegany Fairgrounds. Additionally, period trucks were acquired from Lenard Ferguson, the general manager of the defunct Wellsville, Addison & Galeton Railroad in Galeton, PA at an estimated cost of from $350 to $400. Long time president, the late Jim McHenry, held raffles as a fundraiser, which were well supported and provided us with the extra income needed to purchase items for the Coach No. 278.
The car body was moved to the fairgrounds in June of 1982 with the assistance of what was estimated at about 20 to 24 volunteers. This included the Angelica Town Highway Department, local trucker Roland Gallman who offered the use of one of his trucks on the Saturday morning and at no charge to the organization. It was a circus like atmosphere as the car body was loaded on the truck, followed by several cars and trucks which traveled on a street that was formerly part of the Shawmut right of way, now called Railroad Avenue. The entourage went past the original brick Shawmut station on its way to its new home. Gallman used his air horn to attract the attention of the locals that day.
The car was on display during fair week that year. Everyone was impressed that the car was once again back in Angelica. During the fair the car was dedicated. Special guest was "Box Car Willie," the country and western star, who was performing at the fair. He along with 100 year old Bert Smith a retired Pennsylvania Railroad agent and operator were on hand for the event, which got considerable TV and newspaper coverage.
Over the years we've been fortunate enough to have had two writers who had both actually worked on the Shawmut. A.J.(Doc) Dornish, a section foreman from St. Marys and Vince O'Leary who was retired from the railroad and resided in Cooperstown. Vince was the son of the chief train dispatcher in St. Marys.
In 1985, member Terry Mott from Bradford PA took measurements of the former Shawmut depot at Farmers Valley, PA just prior to its demolition. These measurements were eventually used to build the replica station on the Allegany Fairgrounds. The station provides meeting space and additional space for storage and display of the society's artifacts.
The society maintains steam engine No. 88, built by the members using a real steam boiler and a chassis and tender trucks donated by the late Mike Cleary. The members had hoped to have a live steam engine for the train, but realized there was little area to run it. They completed the engine in 1989. This engine and its coal tender toured the country in 1997 to promote a McDonald's Monopoly game and the kids reading program.
The private car Clara, officially Coach No. 99, joined the display in 1998. This Pullman coach/sleeper was the private business car of Receiver Frank Sullivan Smith who bought it with his own money and gave it to his wife Clara as a birthday present. After two years of hard work and restoration, it was officially dedicated in 2000. This car was never owned by the railroad but was numbered and lettered for it.
The most recent piece of rolling stock added to the museum is bobber caboose No. 175, originally built by the Shawmut in their Angelica shops in 1912. It arrived at the fair grounds in November, 1999 and has been completely restored.
In 2013, the Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad Historical Society received
501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. We continue to grow and promote the rich history that was the Pittsburg, Shawmut & Northern Railroad Historical. We cordially invite you to join in this effort.