Welcome to the B&W. We preserve and demonstrate the story of industrial railroads. At one time, before forklifts and conveyors were invented, trains of this size were the backbone of many industries, including sawmills, coal mines, brickworks, and construction sites. Read on to find out the history of our railroad, the background of our cars and locomotives, and even why Bucksgahuda is the place where "The Geese Wear Pants."
IN THE BEGINNING: The B&W got started in 1966 when the Bauer brothers of St. Marys, PA, purchased a German-built steam locomotive through an advertisement in Trains magazine, and shipped the engine from Germany through Philadelphia to St. Marys. The first 15 feet of track were laid here just before the locomotive arrived, and the original engine house had to be built around the engine! After reconditioning this first locomotive, other equipment, rails, ties, and supplies were acquired over the years, notably in 1981 when the Joyce National Powder Co. of Eldred (PA) donated the entire plant railroad. With this additional equipment, interest in the project continued to grow and something new is added every few years. The large enginehouse was first constructed in 1983 and enlarged twice; the bridge built in 1985, the loop of track finished in 1986, and the turntable and water tower were added in 1992. In 1993, we were fortunate to acquire a diesel-electric locomotive and a Shay-type steam locomotive, also in recent years two additional enginehouse buildings and a 60’ standard gauge boxcar were added for additional storage. The last few years have also seen construction of a quarter-mile branch line on the original St.Marys and Southwestern Railroad grade.
OTTO, NORMAN, AND THEIR NARROW GAUGE FRIENDS: The B&W's first locomotive (#1, of course) is "Otto", a steam locomotive of the 0-4-0 wheel arrangement built by Henschel of Kassel, Germany in 1939. During the overseas journey here, the crew on the American Merchant decided that the locomotive deserved a proper Bavarian name and chalked "Otto" on the cab. “Otto” weighs about 10 tons dry or 12 tons with coal and water added, and takes about three hours to build up enough steam to go to work, so the engine is only run several days each year. "Otto" received new boiler flues and stay bolts in the mid-1990’s and continuous maintenance and improvements each winter. In 1998-2000, all the driving rods, bearings, and suspension were completely overhauled over a 15 month period.
The #2 slot was originally kept open for a second steam engine, so the first gasoline powered engine added was numbered 3 and named "Norman" for his sometimes-cantankerous behavior. The engine, built by the Vulcan Iron Works in 1924, came to us in 1973 from the Peter Cooper Co. factory in Gowanda, NY. "Norman" was returned to active duty in 1993 after a comprehensive 10 year overhaul.
Engine #4, "Joe" was built in Brookville, PA by the Brookville Locomotive Works in 1965. Named by employees of the Eldred powder works, "Joe" was completely rebuilt in 1983. The rebuilding included regauging the wheels from 3 feet between them to our 2 foot gauge.
The B&W finally acquired a #2 with the arrival of a diesel-electric locomotive completely homebuilt by Ed Ducay, a railroad machinist of South Elgin, (Chicago) Illinois. Ed began construction in 1974, and Ed’s family donated the completed engine to us in 1993.
Locomotive #6, a Shay, was first built by Peter Lear, and served as motive power for his Mohawk Valley railroad in Colebrook, New Hampshire. His equipment was donated to us by his daughter and moved here following Peter's passing in 1994. Peter had been able to power only one of the two swiveling power trucks on the locomotive, but the B&W shop crew built a matched set of trucks to further increase it’s pulling power. After a boiler swap, new cab, and new water tank, the locomotive today is very much a creation of the B&W’s Tony Weber. The locomotive is lettered for both the St. Marys & Southwestern (which operated Shays over the same grade we use today) and local lumber firm Hall & Kaul.
While the Shay was being rebuilt, the B&W acquired a 10-ton diesel-hydraulic Plymouth locomotive that had originally been built for International Nickel Co. (INCO) for their Charlestown, WV plant. The locomotive was quickly regauged from 30” to 24” and given #5. Every bit as heavy and powerful as “Otto”, #5 was named “Henry” because Henery is the green engine in Thomas the Tank Engine.
Our track inspection car #24, commonly called a "speeder", was custom built by Fairmont Railway Motors, Inc. for a farmer in Iowa. A “one-lung” gasoline engine with a belt drive powers it: the engine must be stopped and then cranked in reverse to change the speeder's direction. Pump car #21 was built here in early 1994: it is powered solely by human endurance. Car # 22 is a trailer for the pump car, being built by the next generation to carry them from project to project.
#30, the flatcar with red sides, was rebuilt in 1982. Caboose #100 followed in 1984 and passenger car #80 entered service in 1992. These three use rebuilt frames, but yellow maintenance car #2420 was built new in 1981. Eight bottom dump cars came from a Sherwin-Williams paint factory in Kofferville, Kansas, and other cars came from a number of sources, including Peter Lear's Mohawk Valley. In 2001, the B&W shops built a steel hopper car for use in spreading stone for track ballast. Equipped with six air-operated hoppers, it quickly spreads stone only where needed.
While some cars have been built new in our shop, most of the equipment preserved here was previously used for hauling gunpowder, dry paint pigments, tanning hides, pulpwood, or similar commodities during processing. "Otto" was originally used for dockside switching and road repair projects. Shay locomotives, with their gear driven wheels that provide ample power at the expense of speed, were commonly used in construction and on logging railroads. Some industrial plants use diesel-electric locomotives similar to #2 today, although the versatility of trucks and forklifts has allowed rubber-tired vehicles to assume many of the functions previously handled by plant railroads.
THE STANDARD GAUGE CARS: The large red standard gauge caboose is #186 of the Pittsburg, Shawmut, & Northern. It was built in Ridgway, PA in 1913 by the Russell Snow Plow Co. and sold to the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad after the demise of the PS&N in 1947. The B&W acquired it in 1966, restored the body and interior in 1986-87, and rebuilt the end platforms in 1995-96. Across the driveway is Wellsboro and Corning #6506, a 60-foot long boxcar built in 1968 specifically to haul automobile parts. It came to us in 2002 after some rough handling on the Soo Line railroad damaged the load-cushioning frame sufficiently to be uneconomical to repair for further rail use. It does, however, handily store a wide variety of spare parts.
Rails, ties, and other track parts were obtained from a variety of sources. Of particular note are the various types of switch stands in use, mostly of the "high-level" type not commonly seen today. Switch stands from the Wellsville, Addison, & Galeton, PS&N, New York Central, and mining railroads are all in use. Whistle posts and other signs have come from the Baltimore & Ohio, Pennsylvania, and PS&N railroads.
SO, WHY IS THIS THE PLACE WHERE THE GEESE WEAR PANTS? Glad you asked. In Germany, where both the founding Bauer family and the railroad’s first steam locomotive came from, parents told their children a fairy tale of “Bucksgahuda”. If the children didn’t mind their flock of geese and do their chores, the story goes, a giant gander would swoop down and cart them off to another place. In this place, the gander would turn the children into baby geese, still wearing their little boy knickers, who never grow up. Our Bucksgahuda is the place where the little trains never grow up.
In our real world, the B&W is a non-profit educational corporation registered under Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. We appreciate your support and hope you enjoyed this "virtual" tour.