• New Challenges for the Stewartstown Railroad

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by thebigham
The STB had approved an abandonment petition for the Stewartstown RR.
Last edited by thebigham on Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by JimBoylan
Is this in addition to the abandonment petition granted last week that had been requested by the Estate of Geo. Hart, and not by the Stewartstown RR?
  by thebigham
Stewartstown Railroad press release:


After the Surface Transportation Board ruled in favor of an adverse abandonment of the rail line, the Board of Directors of the Stewartstown Railroad are making a plea for interested individuals to help prevent the railroad from being torn up. The 127-year-old company faces the sale of its assets and probable dissolution unless some white knights come in to save the day. The estate of its former president, George M Hart, has been aggressively pursuing the payment of debts that Mister Hart had originally told the board he would forgive.

Efforts to sell the railroad to someone who would be willing to continue operations have not been fruitful. While the railroad owns assets that the estate itself has determined to be in excess of $1 million, they are unable to obtain loans since they do not yet have an income sufficient to pay a loan back.

Railroad President Dave Williamson said "It is very frustrating. We are closer to running trains than we have been in years. The roofs on the stations have been worked on, the track is being repaired, the locomotives are nearly serviceable, one of the coaches is being painted, we are operating motor car trains and having open houses on a regular basis for the first time in ages. We have more volunteer support and interested people than ever before. We are just getting some momentum going, and will probably be able to operate full size trains in 2013. We just need some help in avoiding the Sheriff.”

The Surface Transportation Board, a government agency that regulates freight railroads, declared that the railroad could be abandoned to allow for the collection of the debt. Part of the basis for this decision was that the railroad has not hauled freight in 20 years, and they do not consider the public benefits of passenger excursion trains in their review. The decision is effective on December 16. After that time, and once a review of the historical importance of various parts of the railroad is completed, foreclosure could result in scrapping of the line to raise money or auction of its assets.

A representative of the railroad indicated that an auction of the railroad was unlikely. "It is in our best interest to sell the assets to pay off the lien prior to a public auction, and then determine whether there is enough left to try to keep going. Selling the railroad at auction isn’t the best way to raise the money.”

A separate organization called The Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad was formed several years ago. It is a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers who hope to see the railroad survive and get back into operation. The Friends have been soliciting donations through a Capital Campaign, which has raised enough money to help the railroad get closer to operating trains again. Volunteers from the Friends have been instrumental in keeping the railroad alive thus far and moving forward. While donations to the Friends are tax-deductible, thus far they have not amounted to enough to make a serious dent in the amount of the debt owed. The Friends continue to encourage donations, and hope to help in resolving the debt issue.

The Board of Directors is looking for assistance from people who would be willing to loan money to the railroad so that it could pay off the debt to the estate. Such loans would be secured by the assets of the railroad. Anyone interested in finding out more about helping save the railroad, or who knows of anyone who might be in a position to help, should contact the railroad directly at [email protected], or contact them at 410-336-1605
  by lvrr325
Anyone pointed out to the debtholder that if they abandon the line, it's one shot, whatever the salvage brings, and you can't get blood from a stone?

If it runs excursions with a volunteer staff it can make regular payments on the debt until those peter out and you can still come back for the scrap later.
  by thebigham
Sent: Thu, Nov 29, 2012 2:58 pm

We may be 80% of the way there!

The Stewartstown Railroad, in existence since 1885, now faces its most difficult challenge ever. Past President George Hart loaned money to the corporation and his heirs are have been insisting on payment or they will foreclose on our assets, and the result will be to sell and scrap the railroad. We have received a final ruling from the Surface Transportation Board (STB) on the case for adverse abandonment filed by the Estate of George M. Hart. Effective December 16th, the railroad will be declared abandoned and the Estate will be able to foreclose on our assets. While the Friends’ Capital Campaign has helped immensely in the process of starting to move towards train operations, it has raised only a small fraction of the total debt amount. Unless something is done immediately, the Stewartstown Railroad will cease to exist.

However, our darkest moment might in fact be a turning point into a new era. The Estate has stated several times that it is willing to sell the lien to a third party for the full amount, which is $352,415. A number of interested individuals have stepped up to commit funds to purchase the lien from the Estate. We now have tentative commitments of almost $279,000 from nine different sources. If enough people will commit funds, our goal is to purchase the lien from the estate and ask people to hold their liens for a minimum of 5 years to allow the railroad to restart train operations and generate funds to start paying off the new liens.

We are closer to running trains than we have been in years. The roofs on the stations have been worked on, the track is being repaired, the locomotives are nearly serviceable, one of the coaches is being painted, we are operating motor car trains and having open houses on a regular basis for the first time in ages. We have more volunteer support and interested people than ever before. We are getting some momentum going, and will probably be able to operate full size trains in 2013, nine years since the last revenue train operated. We anticipate that these efforts will accelerate significantly if the fear of abandonment and dismemberment goes away.

This is your chance to play a major role in saving the railroad for the future. It would only take 8 additional people making commitments of $10,000 to raise $352,000. However, we recognize that many supporters may wish to contribute smaller amounts, so a suggested minimum contribution level of $2,500 has been set to prevent the number of people from becoming unwieldy. We have also been approached by people willing to make commitments of $1000, and are trying to incorporate these pledges into our efforts.

As holders of the new liens, individuals will have the same rights that the Estate has currently, including the right to foreclose if necessary. Because of the liens, contributions would be backed by the assets of the Company, which are in excess of $1 million as documented by the official appraisals done by the Estate itself. Individuals who eventually decide to be reimbursed for their contribution can be accommodated if there are other contributors available. Several people have already indicated that they would be interested in being involved, but cannot produce funds immediately and thus would be candidates for replacement funding. At the end of the 5 year period, the railroad will begin paying off the lien at a rate that will be determined by its revenues.

The individuals will assume ownership of liens and the rights and responsibilities that go with it. However, because the goal is to save the railroad rather than dismantle it, we expect that they will work in cooperation with shareholders and management toward a collective goal, which is to put the railroad back into operation. The individuals will not actually own the railroad, but a lien against some or all of its assets. The possibility of an ownership interest in the company may also exist for major contributors.

The Stewartstown Railroad is an important piece of our local York County history and your support is needed if we are going to preserve it. Please help sustain the railroad. This can be done by simply emailing your pledge or forwarding questions to Kenneth Bitten at [email protected] or call at 410-336-1605. If we cannot assemble a large enough commitment, no money will be accepted, and the railroad will almost definitely be sold and scrapped.

This message was sent to [email protected] from:
Friends of the Stewartstown Railroad | P.O. BOX 456 | Stewartstown, PA 17363
  by Schuylkill Valley
Question, "His heirs" , Who is his Heirs? George was an only child and was never married. I knew George very well. may he rest at piece.

This is a artical from Kurt Bell,
George Michener Hart never felt the need to find a wife or have children: His heart belonged to the railroad, said Kurt Bell, a friend and archivist for the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
Born in 1919 in Doylestown with a shy demeanor, an impeccable memory and an affinity for history, Hart spent his childhood waiting at rail stations and crossings for trains so he could photograph them with his Kodak camera.
As an adult, Hart made his name in tourist excursions.
He participated in the Reading Company’s Iron Horse Rambles and formed Rail Tours Inc., based in Jim Thorpe.
In 1969, he purchased stock in the Stewartstown Railroad, and the station became a second home for him. Bell said Hart would sometimes spend nights in the station.
Also that year, Hart was appointed the director of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, which he retired from in 1983.
Hart died in April in Jim Thorpe.
Source: Kurt Bell, the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania "

  by mowingman
Had a chance to stop by the Stewartstown RR this past Sat. The track along the whole line has been sprayed to keep the weeds under control and in general, the line looks good, although not good enough to handle trains right now. The enginehouse and station are well maintained, and the little "yard" by the station, is full of cars, track speeders and other small rail equipment. We talked to some folks in the depot who are apparently the directors of the group working to pay off a loan on the railroad. They are upbeat about suceeding. currently the little Plymouth is being repaired in the enginehouse, and is just about ready to run again.
The 44 tonner is serving as backup power for the new tourist train running out of New Freedom, Pa. I did not ask, but I would assume this is providing some much needed revenue for the Stewartstown.
  by thebigham
That's great the 44-tonner (exC&PA) is hopefully earning some revenue for the Stewartstown.

They supposedly almost have any $ to pay of the Hart estate and save their little railroad.
  by lvrr325
Anybody bother to read the say 4 or 5 posts previous to the last two?
  by K3CXG
Any recent news on their fundraising efforts?
  by thebigham

http://stewartstownrailroadcompany.com/ ... -railroad/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Settlement reached to save historic Stewartstown Railroad
Posted on August 29, 2013 by admin

York Daily Record: Settlement reached to save historic Stewartstown Railroad

George M. Hart, railroad buff and benefactor to the Stewartstown Railroad, died in Jim Thorpe, Pa., where he was living, on April 17, 2008.

Some time before he died, he had given, or loaned, depending on whom you ask, $350,000 to the operators of the Stewartstown Railroad. It wasn’t a formal loan, as no papers were drawn up. But, apparently, Hart didn’t see it as a gift. In his will, he mentioned that the Stewartstown Railroad owed him $350,000 that he had bequeathed to the Bucks County Historical Society.

And then, things got complicated. The historical society wanted its inheritance. The railroad claimed it had been a gift, and they were not obligated to pay it back. There was legal wrangling, and in November 2012, Hart’s estate asked the federal government to abandon the 7.4-mile line so it could foreclose on the railroad to collect the debt.

The federal government granted the request in December, clearing the way for the estate to foreclose.

In January, though, the estate and the railroad entered settlement negotiations. The railroad’s initial offer was $275,000, which the estate rejected, saying that after legal fees it would amount to a little more than $100,000.

The negotiations continued, and this week, the railroad said it had reached an agreement to settle the issue.

James Gillotti, an attorney for Hart’s estate, could not be reached for comment. The Bucks County Historical Society, the heir, declined to comment.

The railroad has agreed to pay the estate the $350,000 it sought. In return, the estate pledged to withdraw its abandonment with the federal government’s Surface Transportation Board. The money is being held in escrow, said railroad president David Williamson, and will be paid in one lump sum.

“We’re happy to be here,” Williamson said. “We’ll be anxious to get back to work on the railroad and get the trains running again.”

Article in the York Daily Record: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_23961143/st ... -rail-line" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;