Some facts about The Shortline Railroad: This railroad had only a single track and a few sidings. It's rails begain in AUBURN, South Manheim Township, and ended in PINE GROVE, Pine Grove Township, both towns being located in Schuylkill County, PA. Origionally The Short Line hauled both passengers and freight. A metal signal device was installed at each station and crossing. The devices could be arranged in a certain way, as a signal for the engineer to stop. It was a simple and effective procedure.This train was never meant for speedy transportation. There were quite a few stops between the two towns and the railway sidings were used to hold the railways cars, untill they could be unloaded. I remember some of the things that were delivered:- bags of fertilizer, lime, lumber, and kegs of nails. The Short Line was a five-day-a-week train. She made her "out-going" trip in the morning and returned in the afternoon. The Short Line was also given another name by some of the people who rode her. They called her The Huckelberry Express. They claimed you could jump from the train, pick a can of huckelberries, and return again to the train, continuing your trip.
Approximately sixty years ago I was a young boy, living in the Summit Station Area of Wayne Township, Schuylkill County, PA. My family were living in a forested area, about one-half mile from Route 895. Our home was close to a dirt road, just one of many in Wayne Township. This dirt road passed by a recreation area, called, Stone Mountain Manor. Our home was less than a fourth of a mile from the Manor. In between our home and the Manor, ran The Shortline Railroad.
Some facts about Stone Mountain Manor: It was both a working farm and a public recreation area. Recreation consisted of a large swiming pool, lake for boating and canoeing, summer rental apartments, and large picnic areas. The Manor was a wonderful place to vacation and swim. Sadly, over the years, it was left in dis-repair. Currently it is the property of a religious order.
For me, the Short Line locomotive was a fantastic machine. I was amazed by it's size, power, and the sounds it made. In short: "it took my breath away"! I felt the man who "drove her" was very lucky and very skillful. He was the man my brothers called the engineer. I can still see him, leaning out of his window, elbow resting on the botton edge of the window, wearing his engineer hat and matching jacket. Except for a short glance and wave at my brothers and I, he looked straight ahead, master of his firery steed. I was amazed at how he managed to keep the train from leaving those two small tracks! He always blew the whistle for us. Only, years later, did I learn the regulations required him to signal for each railway crossing, on his entire route.
I cannot remember any passenger cars on this train. Perhaps, most people prefered their cars, to the speed of the Shortline. During this time period (cira World War II), there were no shoping centers, Housing Areas, Medical Centers, or much of any luxeries. Our home was almost completely surrounded by farmland. There was (compared to today) silence everywhere around us. When World War II, ration books, and evening blackouts were history, trucks began hauling most of the freight for the farming communities. The Short Line Railroad could no longer compete for freight hauling and still make a profit. She began to run only a few days a week; then seldom, and finally not at all. In just a few years the tracks were dismanteled, and removed forever. Never again would the farming communities and the small towns hear the whistle of The Short Line.
They may not have know of just, what they had lost. (including myself). I wonder, are there still some souls, out there, who still remember "riding" The Short Line? I sure hope there are. You see, I cannot remember the number of the locomotive, and I don't know the names of the engineers , the firemen, or the brakemen. Their knowledge and memories would be much more interesting then mine.
Sometimes, when the present reminds me of just how old I've become; the past memories allow me to experience once more, the sound of that whistle, I can hear it miles away, getting closer, soon I can hear the rumbling of the rails, and then the clicking of the wheels as she puffs into view. She's ever closer, until, she roars by in shower of steam, smoke and cinders. I watch her until she's out-of-sight, around the bend in the forest. Perhaps, another poor, country kid (Now a Senior Citizen) is waiting for her ?? However, she'll be back again tomarrow, or next week, or perhaps a year from now. Then, I won't be that Senior Citizen again! I'll be that poor, young country kid; WAITING FOR THE 'HUCKELBERRY EXPRESS' GOD bless the men who rode and maintained her and the passengers who rode her, having some smoke, cinders and now and then some steam for company, What a rocking, wonderful ride. How truly lucky they all were.