Synopses & Reviews
In 1881, a narrow-gauge railroad was built in southwestern New York, from Attica to Arcade. It was later rebuilt to standard gauge to connect with what became the Pennsylvania Railroad. Concerned that the line would be abandoned, local farmers, merchants, and others raised money to purchase the railroad and formed the Arcade and Attica Railroad. Through vintage photographs, Arcade and Attica Railroad highlights the history of a railroad that, faced with declining revenues, launched steam-powered passenger service in 1962. With a dedicated management team that has taken the time and effort to face obstacles, the pride of loyal employees, and a supportive community, the railroad has endured a variety of herculean challenges to continue passenger and freight service in Wyoming County, New York.
Title: Book captures majesty, history of A&A Railroad
Author - Matt Surtel
Publisher: The Daily News
Some people see the Arcade and Attica Railroad as just that.
Author Kenneth C. Springirth sees the freight and excursion hauler as much, much more. He shows his affection in a newly-published book paying tribute to the short line.
"I think the thing that impresses me is their cooperation," he said this week. "If anything wouldn't have survived, that railroad would have been a prime candidate for abandonment years ago.
"For farmers, business people and residents ever since, it's been a situation where they're going to keep that railroad going no matter what it takes."
"Arcade and Attica Railroad" presents a photographic history of the A&A, along with some written chapters explaining the line's complex past.
It was formed in 1917 from the ashes of numerous failed predecessors. The other operations -- reaching as far south as Cuba and Wellsville in Allegany County -- were torn up.
But local residents realized the A&A's value. They raised $100,000 and managed to keep the line running.
Springirth's book features photos stretching back to the 1800s. They include the railroad's predecessors, along with operations into the current era.
Many show the A&A's original steam engines, including a series of derailments which were often amid heaping snowdrifts. They also show the railroad's diesel engines, the start of its passenger excursions, and the intensive labor that keeps a short line in shape.
"The most important thing was you had a progressive management that took the extra step," Springirth said. "These people have taken the time and made the extra effort to keep that line in place."
Springirth's love for the A&A started after he revisited the line last year. A Philadelphia native and Erie, Pa., resident, he'd visited once before in 1963, just as its steam excursions were starting.
What he discovered was a personal revelation, in terms of the community and the railroad itself.
"I have to tell you, they are the most cooperative railroad people I have ever met," Springirth said. "It's so special over there, and not only the railroad."
He mentioned residents such as town historian Jeff Mason, and Chris Lester and Patrick Connors, who are active in the Friends of the Arcade and Attica volunteer group.
The railroad and community were also more than accommodating, said Springirth, who'd already written eight other books on railroads and trolley lines.
"Basically it was incredible, the cooperation I got from that community," he said. "I never experienced anything quite like it. Arcade is a special place. Even though it's quite isolated, they really work harder because they have to."
Beyond the A&A, Arcade and Attica Railroad also shows a few images of Olean's trolley and bus lines, since Arcade's a stop on the bus route. Besides its reading and historical preservation value, Springirth said the book is designed as a field guide for people who want to know more about the railroad.
He predicts the A&A will point the way toward the future, in which communities will increasingly depend on local and progressive rail operations.
All this in a railroad that could have been abandoned years ago, if people hadn't been determined.
"This personifies the fact that if you have the willingness to make something work; take the extra time, care and patience; and have a dedicated work force, you can do some amazing things," Springirth said.
Springirth will conduct a book signing 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 21 at the A&A depot on 278 Main St. It will also be sold at Burlingham Books in Perry.
"Arcade and Attica Railroad" is set to become available starting Nov. 2. Visit www.arcadiapublishing.com for more information.
Title: Author writes about A&A, finds Arcade "refreshing"
Author - Carole Jones
Publisher: Arcade Herald
Kenneth Springirth of Erie, Pennsylvania chose the Arcade and Attica Railroad as the subject for the eighth book in his Image's of Rail series. The Erie, Pennsylvania transportation historian spent over 1,000 hours researching the story of the local common carrier, and became a fan of the train and the village in the process.
"This is like a slice of heaven right here," Springirth told the Herald. "It's refreshing to be able to walk down a Main Street and meet people with such good work ethics who still act like human beings."
Springirth, who is originally from West Philadelphia, says few other places have the tools for a successful future like Arcade has, noting that the Arcade and Attica R.R. is the oldest common carrier (carrying freight and passengers) in the United States.
"I am very impressed with the 'can-do' attitudes people in the area have," he said. "That's why this book is a history book with a mission - to tell everyone what a gem this town and its railroad really are."
Springirth's 125-page book includes never before seen vintage photographs from both public and private collections (200 in all), documents the history of the line, and pays tribute to the management and employees of the railroad for their extra effort to preserve history.
"I have never had this much cooperation with one of my books," he added. "I've enjoyed working with George and Trudy Ling, Chris Lester, Jeff Mason, and Patrick Connors, among others."
Springirth's book is available at the Arcade and Attica Railroad Station, Downtown Domes and Creekside Fabrics. A book signing will take place on Saturday, November 21 at the station from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
About the Author
Kenneth C. Springirth, author of Greater Erie Trolleys, Johnstown Trolleys and Incline, Pittsburgh Streamlined Trolleys, Suburban Philadelphia Trolleys, East Broad Top Railroad, Southeastern Pennsylvania Trolleys, and Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad, has a vested interest in rail history, as his father was a trolley car motorman in Philadelphia, and his grandfather was a motorman in Washington, D.C. A transportation historian, he has been documenting and chronicling the history of the Arcade and Attica Railroad since 1962.