• L&H Memories: Island Park Sundays:)

  • Discussion of the L&HR and its predecessor the Warwick Valley Railroad for the period 1860-1976 at its inclusion with ConRail
Discussion of the L&HR and its predecessor the Warwick Valley Railroad for the period 1860-1976 at its inclusion with ConRail

Moderator: David

  by jmchitvt
Way, way back in the 1940's & 50's when I was growing up two important events occurred EVERY Sunday: 8 o'clock Mass at St-Rose of Lima, and then go over the ridge to Island Park in Buttzville. It was just east of where NJ Rte 30, then Rte 69, and later #31, met what was US Rte 6, later Rte 46, then under the DL&W and there it was on the right!!

Our family friends "Bunk" (his real first name escapes me) and Helen Mountain with their son Bobbie ran this great restaurant and tavern called "Island Park". Out front was a take out/snack bar window. You crossed on foot to an island in the Pequest where there was a pavilion, picnic tables scattered here and there, and this machine gun mounted up on a rock. I could defend the island from the invasion!!

For the budding rail enthusiast THE big attraction was the L&H on the other side of the channel from the island. No wayside signal was visable as the Pequest passing siding ended, then the through plate deck bridge over the river, going west. Overhead "soared" the DL&W "Old Road", which I paid little attention to.

We'd catch 5 or six trains and back then I had no clue to train symbols. I remember an early L&H employee timetable showing just one freight schedule eastward, maybe a #92?? I'm sure HO-6 ran but maybe then they used the same # the B&O had into Cumberland, CSD-96. The trains looked exactly like those I dwelt upon in TRAINS, with all the colorful cars from the midwest and western roads. The L&H was my connection to the real rail world. The DL&W was boring with all the home road cars and dusty cement traffic.

I especially remember two types of steam locomotives. The 90-class heavy Consolidations and those 3 beautiful Mountains.
I mentioned the lack of a wayside to watch for trains. Well the "steamboat" whistles on the #10, 11 and 12 blowing for Pequest Road only a mile east, or the Buttzville village crossing even closer, was all I needed to hear to "bolt" my way outside in cooler weather, or to drop whatever I was doing outside. Like abandoning my post at the machine gun!!

So, Helen's wonderful cooking kept us all alive. We'd get three meals, but the supper comes to mind. The throngs travelling Rte 6 would scarf up all the hamburger and hot dog rolls, so I'd have to settle for plain bread for a hamburger sandwich. Dad and Mom loved steamed clams so I'd be amused as they dipped theirs into the melted butter.

"Bunks" son Bobbie did a considerable comic book business of his own. When Mom and I would go back on Monday morning to help clean things up Bobbie would be tallying up all his proceeds.

The L&H dieselized early and I really didn't miss steam. Two prevalent events in our family created a wider experience for me. We started vacationing in Northeast Vermont about 1946. Dad served with a Vermont unit and was invited to visit his Army buddies. The CPR and QC (Quebec Central) coming into Newport showed me my first diesels, the Alco FA-1 cab units in grey and maroon. They also ran the early model RS-2 on wayfreights. Then if I wanted the steam experience Sherbrooke and Montreal and the prevalent steam in the Eastern Townships went on another FOURTEEN years!! This was the best of both worlds for THIS enthusiast.

Getting back to the real subject this article, Island Park WAS great family fun and during this time between Mother's Day and Father's Day I give thanks to God for wonderful parents. Time spent on the L&H, a good education, and residence and employment in Vermont, where I met my wife, were all made possible because of what they did for me.
  by charlie6017
Excellent reading.......Thank You! And also a big Thank You to my parents also, and Happy Memorial Day to all past, present and future Veterans for your sacrifices!

  by Marty Feldner
As usual, a most enjoyable narrative.

A visual aid- the view from the island. Undated, my guess (from the lack of signals, and lack of cement parging on the DL&W bridge) is pre-1912 or so.

I also (barely) remember the 10 class steamboat whistles- I was 3 when the L&HR dieselized, and lived well within earshot of the crossings in Warwick. Thanks to my late father (a veteran, as am I), even at that age I was no stranger to the yards and facilities here.
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