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Wilmington & Western Railroad Trip 7/19/2013



by Chris Guenzler



Dave and I pulled into the Wilmington & Westerm Railroad parking lot and sitting in front of the station was the Pennsylvania Railroad Doodlebug "The Paul Revere" 4662. I started taking my pictures.









Here are views of the unique piece of railroading history.

A Brief History

The Wilmington & Western Railroad was chartered in 1867 to move goods between the mills along the Red Clay Creek and the Port of Wilmington, and officially opened for freight and passenger service on October 19, 1872. Three passenger trains and a mixed freight train operated six days a week on nearly 20 miles of track between downtown Wilmington, Del., and Landenberg, Pa. Much of the line ran through the Red Clay Valley, bustling in the late 19th Century with farms, small villages and water-powered mills. Excessive construction debts and poor management caused the line to fall into foreclosure in 1877, just a few years after opening. New owners reorganized the line as the Delaware Western Railroad, which became highly profitable moving Kaolin Clay, vulcanized fiber materials, snuff, iron and coal to and from the many mills that lined the route.

In the 1880s, the line was purchased by the Baltimore & Philadelphia Railroad (B&P), a subsidiary of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O). Purchase of the line by the B&P provided the Baltimore & Ohio with an access route to compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad for passengers and freight traveling between Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City. The line became known as the "Landenberg Branch" by the B&O and was, for a time, its most profitable branch line.

When a resort opened along the railroad in the late 1880s at Brandywine Springs, the passenger business flourished as people from around the region came to the park to escape the summer heat. They came to enjoy the fun house, pony rides, carousel, live entertainment and delicious food. The park closed in 1923, and the passenger business ended on September 28, 1930, a victim of the Great Depression. Shortly thereafter, the Pennsylvania Railroad discontinued its connecting service to Landenberg. With trucks and automobiles gaining in popularity, the Landenberg Branch saw a sharp decrease in freight traffic, and the line was shortened to Southwood, Del., in the early 1940s. After the demolition of the large Broad Run Trestle and growth of residential development after World War II, the line was shortened to Hockessin, Del., in the late 1950s.

In the mid-1960s, Historic Red Clay Valley Inc., (HRCV) was formed and began leasing the tracks from the B&O on weekends beginning in 1966, operating steam-powered tourist trains between Greenbank Station and Mt. Cuba, located mid-way between Greenbank and Hockessin. In the mid-1970s, the line's new owner, The Chessie System, determined that the line had become a financial burden and filed for abandonment of the Landenberg Branch. With the line due to be demolished, fundraising began by HRCV. In August of 1982, the remaining 10.2 miles of the Landenberg Branch were purchased by HRCV.

For three days in September of 1999, Hurricane Floyd pounded the East Coast, destroying two of our wooden bridges spanning the Red Clay Creek, damaging 11 others and causing numerous washouts along the line. A year later, volunteers and contractors had repaired most of the line between Greenbank and Hockessin, and on November 25, 2000, the first revenue train made its way westbound to Mt. Cuba. The Wilmington & Western had overcome a major natural disaster in just 18 months, but the railroad would soon discover that Mother Nature had more in store.

On September 15, 2003 (one day short of the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Floyd), the remnants of Tropical Storm Henri stalled over southern Chester County in Pennsylvania and produced record amounts of water in the Red Clay Creek. The rushing waters tore through the Red Clay Valley, destroyed six of our historic bridges, and reduced our railroad from 10 miles to two. We persevered (and continued to operate on the remaining section of track) while we rebuilt the bridges to withstand future flooding.

On June 30, 2007, our Royal Blue coaches, behind a gleaming locomotive 98, triumphantly entered Hockessin, Del., for the first time in almost four years - the Wilmington & Western was reborn! Today, our railroad continues to operate regular steam- and diesel-powered tourist trains on our full 10 miles of track between Greenbank and Hockessin. In recent years, our railroad has become a popular site for weddings, birthdays, family reunions and a variety of other events. Our Board of Directors, staff and volunteers contribute countless hours of work each year into making the railroad the successful enterprise it is today, and they do it so that future generations will have a living awareness of the history, industry and beauty of the Red Clay Valley.

Pennsylvania Railroad "The Paul Revere" Doodlebug 4662



Motor car No. 4662 was built by Pullman Standard, outfitted by Brill, and outshopped on April 29, 1929. The car is self-propelled, and features both passenger seating and baggage storage. Cars such as this were usually referred to as "Doodlebugs" by railroaders, and they saw service on lightly-used branch lines where it was not economical to operate a full-length train. The car was originally powered by two Winton 175hp gasoline engines, but was rebuilt in the winter of 1942-43 with two Cummins HBIS-6 175hp diesel engines. She was retired from service in April 1959, and was later purchased by the National Capital Trolley Museum (NCTM). The 4662 never operated at the NCTM, and was stored outside in North Baltimore where it was heavily vandalized. Historic Red Clay Valley Inc. (HRCV), purchased the car in March 1967, and brought her back in service in December 1979. In 1989, HRCV received a grant from Revere Copper and Brass to restore No. 4662, and she received new diesel engines, draft gear and brake system improvements, as well as interior renovations. The car was dedicated as "The Paul Revere" on June 7, 1990, in honor of the Revere Foundation's generous gift, and she is the only Pennsylvania Railroad doodlebug in regular operation. The 4662 features a modern bathroom, a 110-volt electrical system for air-conditioning and heating, a seating capacity of 60 passengers and a small baggage area. "The Paul Revere" is assigned to our "Ride-To-Dine" dinner trains and is also perfect for small charters.

A look around the ground.



They have a semaphore signal here.





A display car undercover.

Our Trip



After these pictures we were allowed to board the Doodlebug.





My ticket for this trip.





We left the Greenbank Station and headed to the Mt Cuba Picnic Grove.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the first time.





We headed out into the forest on a very hot and humid afternoon but our route is mostly in the shade.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the second time.





A forward view looking along the Doodlebug.





You will see Red Clay Creek through the trees along most of the trip.





A forward view looking along the Doodlebug.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the third time.





The Doodlebug crossed a small unnamed road.





The Doodlebug crossed Centre Road.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the fourth time.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the fifth time.





The Doodlebug ran by the Wooddale Covered Bridge.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





There are a few open locations in the forest.





The Doodlebug took another curve.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the sixth time.





The Doodlebug ran by the Mt Cuba Picnic Grove which would stop on the way back from Ashland.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the seventh time.





The Doodlebug took another curve on this trip.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for the eight time.





The Doodlebug came to our turnback location at Ashland. The crew invited me into the front so I could photograph the line all the way back to the Greenback Station.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek.









The Doodlebug took all these curves.





Tangent track is rare on this railroad.





The Doodlebug took these curves.





The Doodlebug went through this rock cut.





The Doodlebug went by MP 55.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





The Doodlebug returned to the Mt Cuba Picnic Grounds where we all got off.







Four views of the Doodlebug at the Mt Cuba Picnic Grounds.





Scenes of Red Clay Creek from the Mt Cuba Picnic Grounds. I went and took a seat on a picnic bench. After 18 minutes it was time to leave the Mt Cuba Picnic Grounds.





The Doodlebug left the Mt Cuba Picnic Grounds.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek.





Red Clay Creek.





The Doodlebug took these curves.





The Doodlebug ran by MP 50 and crossed this road.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





Falling trees are always a problem and Super Storm Sandy knocked down plenty of trees along this route.





The Doodlebug took these curves.





The Doodlebug ran by MP 45.





A Do Not Spray Zone.





A triple crossbuck crossing.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





The Doodlebug ran by MP 40.





The Doodlebug took a pair of curves.





Inside of the Doodlebug.





The Doodlebug heads to this curve.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





The Doodlebug ran by the Wooddale Covered Bridge.





The Doodlebug ran through a rock cut.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek.





The Doodlebug crossed Centre Road.





Heading back into the forest along our route.





The Doodlebug took a pair of curves.





The Doodlebug came to a switch.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek.





The Doodlebug took this curve.





The Doodlebug ran down this straight track.





The Doodlebug ran by MP 25.





The Doodlebug took these curves.





The Doodlebug took a piece of straight track.





The Doodlebug ran by MP 20.





The Doodlebug ran along Red Clay Creek.





Look at those tree roots.





The Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek.





Taking another curve.





The Doodlebug heads for the next curve.





The Doodlebug heads down a short piece of straight track.





The Doodlebug ran by MP 15.





The Doodlebug came across a trespasser on the last crossing of Red Clay Creek.





After he cleared, the Doodlebug crossed Red Clay Creek for a final time of this trip.





We pulled back into the Greenbank Station and I thanked my train crew for the excellent trip aboard the Wilmington & Western Doodle Bug 4662.

The Trip to Miffinville

Dave put Summit, NJ into his Garman and it gave us 45 minutes plus to get to Summit, NJ. We left the Wilmington & Western station and headed to US 1 but made a stop at something we saw going into Wilmington.





Pennsylvania Railroad 0-6-0 60.





An unnumbered caboose.





The Hockessin Pennsylvania Station. We then got on US 1 and was going good until we reached the road to take us to Interstate 95. We hit a five mile long traffic jam and we watched our time for the good disappear. It got so bad that our second back up train became impossible to get to. I told Dave to forget it and we headed to Miffinville. We finally got to Interstate 95 to Interstate 475 which became Pennsylvania Toll Road 475 that took us up to Interstate 80 to Miffinville. Before going to the hotel we drove to Berwick to find the station but had no luck. We returned to Miffinville and after getting dinner at Arby's for me we checked into the Super 8 for the night.



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