article by George Dilling
"Coal trains" section below was added over a year
the orignal article appeared. Revision date: Ocober 14, 2002.
daily passenger trains came through Nanty Glo (late 1920s, '30s), one going east
early in the morning and one going west at 7 p.m. They carried both mail and freight.
When they arrived, Mr. James Cornelius, Station Master, would take a large cart
out on the long wooden platform to get the mail and freight from the train and
take the mail and freight going on to the train.
was about fourteen or fifteen years old when one Sunday a friend and I decided
to walk to the Ebensburg Airport. We hoped we would get a ride home. I had on
a pair of new shoes and got a blister on my foot. When it was getting late and
we hadn't gotten a ride, we decided to
walk home. We were told that if we went down the hill through the woods to the
railroad tracks it would be much shorter.
got to the tracks, we did not know which way to go. In a few minutes, the 7 o'clock
train came by, showing us the way. It was getting dark when I got home. I knew
I was in trouble for getting home too late for church. There were three doors
into the house. The kitchen and dining rooms were locked. We seldom used the one
into the living room. I went through that door and there, facing me, was a bear
with its mouth wide open showing big teeth. I hurriedly closed the door and waited
for the family to come home. They laughed at me for being afraid of the new bear
rug made from the 300-pound bear my dad had killed.
Nanty Glo had two
train systems that served the community: The C & I (Cambria and Indiana) system
was rated one of the most prosperous short haul lines in the United States. It
was headquartered on the hill above the Ivory Hill houses and was referred to
as the upper tracks. I don't know how far east it went, but I do know that it
brought coal from the east.
On the Western side it
went as far as Pine Flats in Indiana County. There was a branch that went to Rexis
(near Vintondale) and up past White Mill. The tracks were connected also to Nanty
Glo, Ebensburg, and Colver. (Webmaster's note: From Vintondale's history and
the account of the "Belsano Job,"
it's understood that the original rail line from Ebensburg to Vintondale was via
Colver, White Mill, Red Mill, and Rexis.)
of the C & I houses was the Eleanor Railroad yards. This was used to shift cars
to determine where the coal would be shipped. Some went on to Colver and some
went to the Pennsylvania tracks in Nanty Glo.
other system, mentioned above, was The Pennsylvania. The Pennsy had two spurs,
one going to Syberts Feed Mill, which was used to deliver items like wheat to
the mill. The other spur went into the Ragley Lumber Yard, delivering lumber to
the mill. It went into the large enclosed building. There was room on either side
of the tracks for cars, trucks and the sheds to store the lumber. There
was also a short section to deliver sand to the sand house.
main purpose of the railroads was the shipping of coal. The "lower" tracks, which
went through the center of town, had a siding between First Street and McCoy Street.
Tracks from Heisley Coal Co., "later Bethlehem Mines," and Webster Mines crossed
the creek on the trestle across from the Firehall and joined the Pennsy near the
entrance to the Ghost Trail.
Some of the coal from
Heisley also went in the opposite direction and across the long trestle at the
end of McCoy Street and onto the C & I tracks.
the railroads were essential to the economy of Nanty Glo, they were also somewhat
of a nuisance. From early morning until late at night the tracks along McCoy Street
were used for shifting the cars around. The trains were long, extending far beyond
Chestnut Street, blocking the crossing for very long periods of time. Often, several
of us students would line up the steps to the principal's office to receive an
excuse for being late.
Sometimes, some impatient
person would crawl under the cars or climb over the coupling between the cars.
Two persons lost their lives trying to get to the other side when the train blocked
the crossing. They were Edward Baldwin, Sr., and Charlie Morgan.
during the night there would be an engine on each end of the train. Sometimes
there was a brakeman in the middle who would signal the engines with a lantern.
At other times, the engines would signal each other with shrill whistles. My wife
lived between the two tracks and she says that often she was frightened at night
when she was wakened by the shrill whistle of the train in front of their house.
But without the trains, the coal mines could not
have existed and the livelihood of most of the people of Nanty Glo would have
train-related pages: The Belsano Job
| Clark's Farm | Rail
Ghosts on the Trail