Uncle Luke the Motorman, Riding the Pennsy
I have done a great deal of genealogy and have recorded a lot of family history. My dad used to enjoy telling stories about riding with his Uncle Luke on the interurban railway that served Canton.
Luke Dunlap was a streetcar operator for the Northern Ohio Traction and Light Company and had the longest route in Stark County. It was called the limited because of the limited number of stops it would make.
He would make the run from Massillon through Canton to Alliance and back twice a day. When the car reached the end of the line, the passengers would have to get off and help push the turntable around to head the other direction.
Heavy rains often flooded Tuscarawas Street West at a low spot between Whipple and Woodlawn Avenues on the Canton – Massillon run. When the electric streetcar approached the high water, Uncle Luke would have all the passengers stand on their wooden seats so they wouldn’t be electrocuted when they went through deep water.
On Page 13 of the book Canton Area Railroads I would bet that the man in the middle of the center row is Luke Dunlap.
My grandfather used to take me walking in the Canton parks that would end on Tuscarawas at the car barn. Even then in the late 1940s, there were steam locomotives on the tracks that went alongside the park. These were the tracks that I think were used by the Canton – Akron Interurban.
I clearly remember the Pennsylvania Railroad station in Canton because my mother, brother and I would frequently take it to Chicago where my mom’s mother lived. It stopped at every little town that was near the tracks.
The trip was exciting for the first hour but soon the glamour turned to boredom. I know my brother and I started the phrase “are we there yet?”
We didn’t have a lot of money and maybe the Pennsy didn’t even serve meals in the early 1950s, but we would pack a grocery sack with sandwiches and potato chips and fruit for the eight-hour trip to grandma Young’s. The conductor would always put us in two seats that faced each other.
I have many memories, including putting pennies on the tracks, collecting coal as I walked the rails and seeing hot boxes smoking as the train went by.
Dave Freitag Hills and Dales, Ohio December 2, 2009