In the 30's and 40's there were two trains a day in operation. This schedule allowed school children, including the brothers and sisters of Patsy Baughman, former Swandale resident, to ride the train from Swandale to Dundon where they'd walk across the Elk River bridge to school in Clay. They would catch the evening train back to Swandale.
It's hard to separate the passenger operations on the BC&G from the freight operations because for most of the life of the railroad, all trains operated as "mixed trains", that is a passenger car was coupled on the end of the coal trains. Coaches #16 and #17 served as the caboose for the train crew up until the BC&G acquried its first caboose in 1959.
1915 (Daily except Sunday)
WIDEN 6:30 am DUNDON 8:05 am
DUNDON 9:00 am WIDEN 10:30 am
WIDEN 12:30 pm DUNDON 2:05 pm
DUNDON 5:20 pm WIDEN 7:00 pm
1929 (Daily except Sunday)
WIDEN 6:30 am DUNDON 7:55 am
DUNDON 9:00 am WIDEN 10:30 am
WIDEN 12:30 pm DUNDON 2:10 pm
DUNDON 5:25 pm WIDEN 6:55 pm
WIDEN 7:00 am DUNDON 8:30 am
DUNDON 11:00 am WIDEN 12:30 pm
1939 (Daily except Sunday)
WIDEN 7:05 am DUNDON 8:25 am
DUNDON 9:10 am WIDEN 10:40 am
WIDEN 12:00 pm DUNDON 1:25 pm
DUNDON 3:30 pm WIDEN 5:00 pm
WIDEN 6:15 pm DUNDON 7:40 pm
DUNDON 11:35 pm WIDEN 1:05 am
1950 (Daily except Sunday)
DUNDON 10:00 am WIDEN 11:45 am
WIDEN 12:15 pm DUNDON 1:45 pm
DUNDON 3:30 pm WIDEN 5:15 pm
WIDEN 5:45 pm DUNDON 7:15 pm
These four schedules from the Railway Registry span pretty much the entire history of the BC&G. It is assumed that since these were the published schedules, they applied to passenger service, although this cannot be confirmed.
Observations about the schedules include the fact that at least through 1939, the first train of the day departed from Widen and it wasn't until later that the trains originated from Dundon. Also note that in the 1939 schedule, there was a "night train" that left Dundon at 11:35 pm. According to Cody Burdette, this was a coal train. The B&O came from Gassaway twice a day during this time to service the BC&G. He recalls night trains ran even in the 1950's, although infrequently. Motor "A" was in service in 1950 so it's not clear how the schedule for the bus compared to this schedule. Again, Cody recalls that Motor "A" ran twice a day, morning and afternoon.
The 1920 BC&G Financial Statement noted that the schedule at that time (see the similar 1915 schedule above) allowed someone to leave Widen in the morning, connect with the B&O to Charleston and return to Widen before the end of the day. Great service! (see B&O PASSENGER SERVICE, below). In 1941, the BC&G acquired a Model AC Mack-built railbus that became known on the railroad simply as Motor "A". Motor "A" provided passenger service up through 1959. It is generally reported that passenger service in the ex-Pennsy coaches ended when Motor "A" arrived but that is not absolutely certain.
The Motor "A" schedule for 1959 below was published in the November 1959 MODEL RAILROADER article on the BC&G. While there were two Railbus trips a day at this time, it is my understanding that there was only one round-trip coal train per day. In the 1955 NRHS BULLETIN indicates Motor "A" left at 9:30, followed by the coal train, so perhaps there were two schedules, one for the railbus and one for the coal train. However, most sources who address the topic indicate that the coal trains ran as EXTRAS and so would not have appeared on a published schedule.
1959 Motor "A" Schedule
DUNDON 9:30 am WIDEN 11:00 am
WIDEN 11:30 pm DUNDON 1:00 pm
DUNDON 3:30 pm WIDEN 5:00 pm
WIDEN 5:15 pm DUNDON 6:30 pm
I am aware of little information about exactly where passengers boarded BC&G trains, either the coaches or Motor "A". Certainly the B&O station at Dundon would have been one place. Dave Marquis recalls that on a trip he took on Motor "A" in the late 1950's he simply boarded at the road crossing near the Dundon yard. Beyond that, I can only speculate. One thing that is particularly curious is how the train crews handled passengers when they were at the back of a 60 car coal train. That would have put the engine crew out in the woods while the passengers where being loaded / unloaded!
One thing should be made clear at the beginning concerning passenger service on the BC&G...there weren't many passengers! As indicated in the statistics below taken from various Financial Reports, passenger volume was never high. It's easy to see how a coach on the end of a mixed train or Motor "A" could have easily handled the volume.
YEAR ANNUAL VOLUME DAILY AVG. (250 days)
1920 17, 549 70
1940 9,020 (est*) 36
1950 1,826 7
* 1940 est. based on pass. revenue in Jan-March 1940 of $902 and 1950 revenue of $.40 reveue/passenger overall for the year.
The "7 per day average" in 1950 from the 1950 Financial Statement is supported by these conductor tickets in my collection from February 1951 that were used by the Motor "A" conductor. I have about 40 of these from the early 1950's and while I haven't done a detailed analysis, by inspection it appears they could average about 7 per day. For example, the first two tickets shown have 8 and 7 punches respectively. The one on the far right has over 25 punches, the vast majority being $..25 cent fares.
MOTOR "A" CONDUCTOR's TICKETS
FARES - It's not possible to discern the fare structure based solely on the conductor punch tickets put one might assume that since the biggest amount shown is $.75, that might have been the fare from Dundon to Widen.
Moon Mullings, BC&G engineer, is quoted in the October 1993 issue of TRAINS to say "Hey, listen. We ran two passenger trips a day back then (1926). Just an engine or coach, maybe a boxcar, too. We hauled miners in and out, and took high school kids for Clay. During the Depression, when the coal didn't run, the passenger trains still did. The mail had to go through, you know." It should be noted that during the Depression the mine sometimes only operated 2 days a week.
Here is a description of passenger service written in 1928-29 that appears in Widen, Appalachian Empire, Vol. 2, page 17, that pretty well sums it up:
"Train service to and from Widen is regular. Persons wishng to travel "deluxe" should avoid the combination freight and passenger service. The railroad was not established primarily for passengers service but to make it possible for personal transportation a coach is occupied to the end of a long string of coal cars as they make their three trips daily from Widen to Dundon."
The most infamous incident relative to passenger service on the BC&G came on October 3, 1952 during the heart of the labor unrest. On that day, Motor "A" was stopped at gunpoint and one man was beaten. After that, for some period, armed guards rode the railbus. This incident is believed to have been the last armed train robbery in the US.
As a final note, BC&G Motor "A" is believed to have been the last motor car in regular passenger service in the US when it ceased scheduled operations early in 1959.
RESTROOMS ON THE TRAINS - By Jerrold Murphy
Jerrold tells a wonderful little story about accommodations on the coaches.
"I remember riding on the train and there was a toilet in the coach. Being just very young at the time, I was pretty reluctant to use it because when I looked down I saw only railroad track underneath! That's why we were always told not to pick the berries along the track!
In the early 1960's (and possibly as early as 1955) several fan trips were planned on the BC&G. It appears that a couple were cancelled due to poor ticket sales and so perhaps only two took place. Typically the fan trips included a round trip from Dundon to Widen behind one of the Consolidations with passengers riding in the three BC&G coaches, caboose C-1 and leased B&O gondolas fitted with benches running longitudinally down their centers. From video taken of the fantrips, Motor "A" was usually in the mix, as well. As with fantrips on any railroad, photo run-bys were a part of the day's activities. The engines involved where always freshly painted, apparently by the Collis P. Huntington Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society who sponsored most of the trips. Below is a listing of the fantrips for which documentation (usually in the form of brochures) exists. A selection of representative photos is also presented.
May 31, 1955 - According to a reference in the March 1971 issue of RAILROADING MAGAZINE, a fan trip was held in 1955. This would have been the only one to have taken place while the railroad was still part of the ERC&L company. Recently someone who participated in the event confirmed that, in fact, it took place o Sunday, May 31, 1955. It was part of "The West Virginia Short Line Railroad Jamboree' sponsored by the Louisville chapter of the NRHS. The fans rode behind rod engines, a Shay and a Climax along both the BC&G main and out on the Lilly Fork. No confirmed photos have surfaced.
May 29, 1960 - This trip on the BC&G was part of a three-day 1000 mile trip sponsored by the NRHS that included trips on the B&O and BC&G. The B&O train traveled from Washington to Grafton and then a special B&O train continued to Charleston and delivered fans to the BC&G on May 29th. The brochure suggests that BC&G #4 pulled the fans and that Shay #19 would be operating. Motor "A" was also included. In fact, #4 and #19 double headed for part of the eastbound trip! (see photo below). Price for the entire 1000 trip was $50 per person, and included lunch in Dining Car X-6 and two nights in Charleston! The capacity for the trip was 325 persons and according to the brochure for the October 2, 1960 trip (below), 157 more wanted ticket but couldn't get them.
October 2, 1960 - This trip was planned, but according to Larry Fellure, was cancelled due to lack of interest.
May 28, 1961 - This trip was planned, but was apparently also cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
June 1, 1963 - This trip was organized as part of West VIrginia's Centennial celebration. Motive power was advertised to be #13 and Georgia Pacific #19 was to be "operated under its own power at the Dundon shops". It turned out #19 was actually in Swandale. Fans were invited to come early and and "stay in our camping area behind the BC&G shops". Unlike the other trips, this one was put on by the BC&G and checks were to be made out to "BC&G Railroad Company" and mailed to "Mr. E.C. George, Ass't Treasurer, BC&G RR, WIden, Clay County, WV."
June 1, 1963 - Howard Ameling, two color photos, one b/w photo.
Note the snappy stripped canopy and 'drumhead' sign on the rear of the caboose!
There is a fair amount of mystery surrounding this photograph.
It shows BC&G #4 with three beautiful B&O coaches on the BC&G main just above the Dundon Shops. Based on the number of people in the picture and the photographer on the ground to the left of the engine, it certainly appears to be a railfan weekend.
I obtained this 8 x 10 photograph from Richard Manning and in his handwriting on the back are the words "May 1960". This would make it part of the B&O/BC&G railfan weekend. But none of the folks I've spoken with who participated in the 1960 weekend (Bob Withers and Lloyd Lewis, to mention a couple) have any recollection that the B&O cars actually came onto BC&G track. Certainly they did not make the trip to Widen.
The gentlemen mentioned above believe that this photo was from the 1958 event, about which there is very little information recorded.
This photo by John Krause is from the collection of Cody Burdette and shows the double-heading #19 and #4 rolling through Cressmont during the May 29, 1960 fantrip. Note the white 'extra' flags.
From Richard Manning Collection - Assumed 1960
This undated photo confirms that there were fan trips that went out on the Lilly Fork! Here Shay #19 is knee deep in the creek during an apparent photo run-by. That's certainly an impressive crowd of railfans on the opposite bank! I doubt there's anyplace in the world today that you could see a Shay ford a stream...
Loretta Johnson Samples collection
The B&O provided passenger service to Dundon but details about it are sketchy. On page 17 of a paper back document entitled "B&O MONONGAH MEMORIES by Louis Alderson, the following statement appears: "The old passenger service between Elkins and Charleston through Adrian undoubtedly had it's inception under the Coal & Coke Railroad's operations. In the 1930s under the B&O it consisted of one train, No. 35 Westward, scheduled to arrive in Adrian at 10:32 am and train No. 36 Eastward getting into Adrian at 12:42 pm (Railroad Timetable No. 35 April 24, 1938). As might be expected, local people dubbed these two trains with the titles "morning train" and "afternoon train". They were powered by ten-wheelers...and usually pulled a mail car and one day coach, but I saw one of them manage a Railway Express ca, a mail car and four day coaches during the Christmas rush in the mid-1930s."
Alderson goes on: "Not long after that, possibly sometime in 1939, the Adrian to Elkins run disappeared from the timetables as the passenger service between Elkins and Charleston was changed to Grafton to Charleston (B&O Railroad, 1940). The ten-wheelers were replaced by more modern and powerful Class P-3 Pacific 4-6-2's. Trains No. 35 and No.36 survived on runs between Grafton and Richwood (not passing through Dundon, RBS) as trains No. 135 and No. 136 until the mail contracts were cancelled in the mid 1950s."
Phil Bonzon indicates that B&O Timetable #68 date September 1954 shows a third class passenger train #81 departing Dundon at 9:00 pm and arriving Charleston 1:00 am. Train #82, it is assumed, is the east bound version of the same train, although the eastbound timetable isn't shown. The 1955 timetable does not show these trains so passenger service to Dundon must have ended sometime in this period.
May 1960 - Mike Baum photo
For the fantrips, passengers rode in all three of the BC&G passenger cars as well as in B&O gondolas fitted with center benches. The photo to the right by Robert Amon, taken in May 1063 is perhaps the best photo that has surfaced to date of these cars. Three are visible in this photo. Because they are lettered for the B&O, it is assumed that they were leased by the BC&G for these trips.
A couple of addtional fan trip photos are posted on the TRACK page.
This interesting photo appears to be a BC&G passenger train with two coaches, but more careful inspection indicates that there appears to be gondolas carrying railfans behind the crewman (Engineer Jobe Young) standing to the right of the water spout. White striping appears on the running boards, suggesting railfan weekend paint, although the smoke box doesn't look as freshly painted as in other photos of the event. But
#13 was the scheduled engine on the June 1963 trip so this could be a photo from then. The orientation of the coaches coupled to the engine with the gons at the back would be the correct arrangement for the return trip from Widen on a fantrip. Fireman Ab Wilson is leaning out the window, according to Cody Burdette. The photographer unknown.