|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
The lovely watercolor
in our toolbar above is
a depiction of the office
at 17 Maple Avenue.
The artist is Portville's
very own talent,
Portville in the Limelight
Our little town of Portville has been given a lot of attention lately. A few years ago, PHPS was
contacted by retired Pennsylvania Railroad man, Mr. Ernest Clausing. Portville's stretch of track
was in his territory and John Karuch was his track foreman at Portville. Mr. Clausing is also a
member of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society and was researching and
writing an article concerning the PRR in the Olean area for possible publication in the Keystone, the
One of the questions that had been eluding him is where the Olean-Bolivar trolley crossed the PRR in
Portville. We responded with our usual eagerness and an ongoing project had begun.
Welcome to PHPS
This page was first updated on 2-18-11
This is a very large file and takes time
Farewell to Dotty Weston Riley (1926 - 2010)
We are sad that we had to say goodbye to Dotty Ann Weston Riley at the end of 2010. Members of
PHPS will recall an article we presented in our May 2009 issue of the Homespun Collage on Dotty and
her family, including the Westons and Fornesses. Responding to the remark "Why Dotty, you are
practically royalty!", she remarked, "Well, I don't like to wear my tiara." She was a wonderful, funny
lady and will be sadly missed. Truly, a "Queen for a Day".
If you did not see the article, we have created a link that will take you to it. Also reprinted from the
Olean Times Herald is her full obituary.
Mr. Clausing's thorough research and attention to detail
provided him with the technical information he needed to
write a very interesting article. He was finally published in
the Spring 2011 edition of the Keystone. We are thrilled to
have been included in his project have been given his
permission to present his article on our website. (Read
In researching the article, we contacted many people who
we thought could shed some light on the subject. Many
thanks to Gene and Marion Newburg who recently sold
their Spring Hill family farm at the end of White House
Road. They recalled that the trolley went alongside White
House and behind their house. The trolley then followed
the Shawmut tracks, heading east toward Ceres. The
trolley line has been gone since the late 1920's when it was
replaced by the automobile for transportation.
Some of the best photographs used in the article were sent
to PHPS from Bernice Eastman. They were taken back in
1920 by Clarence W. Evans (Sr.) from the roof of the old
Northwestern tannery. He lived in a house on White
House. Denny Griffith lived on Highland Terrace which is
across the tracks from North's block plant. He wrote "I
walked those tracks to school and we would find mail from
the railroad, they would miss as they tried to get it from the
tower." That tower was the WH tower that Mr. Clausing
mentions in his article (see the photo below).
Our fascination with the railroads goes way back into Portville's history. Our PHPS treasurer, Bob
Fairbanks, maintains his grandfather Dutch Marsh's story about the trolley company's clandestine
night caper, tearing up the tracks without the Pennsy railroad's knowing. We all want to believe it, of
course. Mr. Clausing's further research turned up this article: "A temporary crossing will soon be
secured over the Pennsylvania at grade, the appellate division at Buffalo having upheld the decision of
Justice Kenefick. The Pennsylvania has proposed either an underground or overhead crossing be
made. They are willing to bear a share of the cost." Whether an event preceded this decision or not,
we will probably never know for sure.
The P S & N railroad had a passenger car affectionately known as the "Hoodlebug". We scanned this
photo recently (see below) from the Shawmut book for a former Eldred resident writing his life
story. Tom Pollock also recalled his Mother taking the Hoodlebug from Portville to Smethport. He
says it was a single, self-propelled car that she got on at the Shawmut station here in Portville and
went back and forth to her parents' home in Smethport.
Portville Movie Fame
Another bit of fame that came Portville's way recently was the filming of the Denzel Washington
movie, Unstoppable. Mr. Clausing, author of the Keystone article described above, sent us some of
the pictures that were taken on "the set". Those of you who saw the movie may find the following
"Unstoppable is inspired by the "Crazy Eights" unmanned train incident in 2001. The train, led by
CSX Transportation SD40-2 #8888, left its Walbridge, Ohio, rail yard and began a 66-mile (106 km)
journey through northwest Ohio with no one at the controls, after the engineer got out of the
originally slow-moving train to correctly line a switch, mistakenly believing he had properly set the
train's dynamic braking system, just as his counterpart in the movie did.
"Two of the train's tank cars also contained thousands of gallons of molten phenol, a toxic ingredient
of paints and dyes harmful when it is inhaled, ingested, or comes into contact with the skin. Attempts
to derail it using a portable derailer failed, and police were unable to shoot out the fuel release
valve, instead hitting the fuel cap. For two hours, the train traveled along at speeds up to 47 miles
per hour (76 km/h) until the crew of a second train coupled onto the runaway and slowly applied its
brakes. Once the runaway was slowed down to a speed of 11 miles per hour, a CSX employee,
trainmaster Jon Hosfeld, ran alongside the train and climbed aboard, shutting down the locomotive.
The train was stopped just southeast of Kenton, Ohio.
"When the film was released, the Toledo Blade compared the events of the film to the real-life
incident. "It's predictably exaggerated and dramatized to make it more entertaining," wrote David
Patch, "but close enough to the real thing to support the 'Inspired by True Events' announcement that
flashes across the screen at its start." He notes that the dead man switch would probably have worked
in real life despite the unconnected brake hoses, unless the locomotive brakes were already applied.
The film exaggerates the possible damage the phenol could have caused in a fire, and he found it
incredible that the fictional AWVR freely disseminated information such as employees' names and
images and the cause of the runaway to the media. In the real instance, he writes, the cause of the
runaway was not disclosed until months later when the National Transportation Safety Board released
its report, and CSX never made public the name of the engineer whose error let the train slip, nor
what disciplinary action it took." (Author Unknown)
|The train derailment on the set of "Unstoppable"
Photograph of the Hoodlebug was scanned from the publication Pittsburg, SHAWMUT & Northern
Railroad Company, by Paul Pietrak, 1969
|Dotty Ann and her older sister, Marion, in their sleigh in 1931