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The Pittsburg Shawmut and Northern Railroad


The Shawmut train traveling North on the track directly behind the Alfieri property in Clermont is shown here. The Pittsburg Shawmut and Northern Railroad played  a very important part in the history of Clermont.  More More commonly known to most of us as the “Shawmut”, it had a couple less known names. Some old timers referred to it as the “Mutt” and at times" Pretty Slow & Noisy" for the P.S. & N.

          This railroad was organized on August 2, 1899 Railroad tracks where it was transferred to the Erie  lines to markets in the east.  With the help of a good number of Italian workmen completed the segment of road from Kasson to Clermont to connect with the old Buffalo , St Marys & Southwestern segment of the Shawmut. This included the famous Kasson loop. Several excellent books about the “Shawmut” have been written and are readily available.  Therefore my discussion will be focused on the local employees and that portion of the line that was located in the Clermont vicinity.  My personal experience as a former employee of this railroad and my acquaintance with other employees of the line are useful in this endeavor. The section of track that was considered the "Clermont Section" ran from Kasson through Clermont to North Fork . Of course the famous  " Loop de Loop" which was officially called the Kasson loop was located in this section.  To us employees it was simply the " Loop ". An interesting note about the loop and a Clermont resident is that Fred Anderson was a stonemason and helped construct the tunnels for the stream that ran under the loop. Of course it is noted that Fred Anderson was one of the local Clermont farmers

The Kasson Loop was built with the help of a great number of Italian workmen in 1909. This section of track joined the section from St Marys in Clermont.  The loop was officially opened with a big ceremony including a band that year as shown in the following photo.


The main locations of the section, often called stations were Kasson, Palmerville, Clermont, Dale (also called Chatham), Three Mile, Five Mile, Wellendorf, Straight Creek, Wildwood, and North Fork.   Wellendorf was named after B. E.Wellendorf from St Marys who was chief engineer with the railroad. Wildwood is also well known for the state fire tower that was located there.  Chatham more commonly known as Dale was located about a mile south of Clermont. See photograph below:

Dale was unique in that a water tank was located there where the locomotives stopped to get water for the steam engines.  There was building along the side of the tank that housed the natural gas driven engine for pumping the water from a deep well to fill the huge tank.

The siding located at Dale was used mostly for unloading creosote ties, rails, and other materials needed to maintain the tracks. There was also a siding at Wellendorf which was used mostly to re-arrange cars on a train or to leave cars to be picked up by a later train.  It also served as a parking area for an engine, handcar, or a motorcar to wait for a train to go by at a certain time.  Both sidings had oil signal lamps for night use of the sidings. In the winter after the train with a snowplow went by the siding switches had to be cleaned.

Photo Credit Hagman collection

Prior to the organization and extension of the P. S. & N. through Clermont people who wanted to travel to Olean would use the Pennsylvania railroad.  With the arrival of the Shawmut a one-passenger train called the “ Hootle Bug” was introduced to enable people to go to Smethport and points beyond. Local residents fondly called it the” Hooty Bug”.

Maintenance of its railroad bed is vital to any railroad.  For the Clermont section of the P.S. & N. a crew consisting of a foreman and 4 or 5 men was employed.  From the early years until final days of the line a Spadafore was employed. In the early years Frank Spadafore was the foreman.


Some of the employees were: Frank Feragine, Frank Miniaci, Tony Spadafore, and Vernon Swanson. Later Some of the employees were Tony Rica, Mike Spadafore, Bruno Muzzi,and Dominic Feragine. One of his younger sons Jim Spadafore came to work for him in the 1930's. Upon Frank’s retirement Jim Spadafore became the foreman.

The rest of the crew was John Palumbo, Glenn Snyder, and Vernon Swanson.  In the summer of 1943 I worked as a temporary employee at 32 cents an hour. The work on the section consisted of maintaining the roadbed. Old ties were replaced as needed. Ditches along the roadbed were kept clean. The ride way was mowed with scythes during the summer months .One constant need was to raise low parts of the track and tamp under the ties for proper height.  Below is a picture of a jack used to raise ties on the Shamut during the 1940’s.


  The regular men made 35 cents per hour.  Harold Hagman was hired as a full time employee in the fall when I returned to high school.  In early 1944 Harold got a job in the Bradford oil fields so I was hired as a full time employee. Early in 1945 I was drafted into the U. S. Army and so the crew was only 4 again. In the summer of 1946 the other men were laid off except for the foreman.  Upon my discharge from the army in late 1946 the railroad was required by law to give me back my job.  In March of 1947 Harry W. Findley purchased the road and prepared to dismantle it. Consequently I was also laid off but Jim Spadafore was kept on to work with the dismantling group.

          The only reason for this railroad in the first place was to haul coal out of the mines of Pennsylvania to the markets in the North and East.  After World War II, the main business of the railroad, its coal business, began to fall off. Since it had failed to pay interest on money during the years of construction, it had entered into receivership. It was actually bankrupt from the beginning but was allowed to operate under a receiver appointed by a court. In fact the railroad was in receivership longer than any railroad company in the history of these United States .  The last train of the Pittsburg , Shawmut & Northern ran on April 1, 1947.


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