Peter Bowler stands at the site of the Atlantic passenger station of the Erie Railroad. His grandfather went to work here in the 19th century as a telegraph operator.
It was getting to be late afternoon and fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I were heading north on Pennsylvania Route 18 after having finished a successful chase of a train on the adjacent Bessemer Subdivision of Canadian National.
Peter was telling a story about how his grandfather got his start in the railroad business as a telegrapher for the Erie Railroad in Atlantic, Pennsylvania.
Ralph H. Wallace
Atlantic is a mile east of Route 18 so I decided to drive over there to see it.
The station is long gone and Peter said the last time he was there all that remained of the depot was a concrete pad.
We pulled into town, parked in a driveway just short of the tracks and started walking next to the tracks, which today are owned by Norfolk Southern as far as Meadville, Pennsylvania.
The concrete pad that Peter had seen years before was gone. We reached what we concluded was the station site, which sits at the end of a street that dead ends near the tracks.
There isn’t much to Atlantic, just five streets total.
Peter’s story about how his grandfather began on the Erie in the late 19th century and rose to the position of passenger traffic manager for the railroad intrigued me.
A biography published in a Who’s Who in Railroading of North American noted that Ralph H. Wallace had entered railway service on March 1, 1875.
He would later hold positions as a passenger agent in Geneva, Pennsylvania; Lakewood, New York; Atlantic; and Oil City, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Wallace would be promoted to traveling passenger agent based out of Akron and worked in the Cleveland office before being transferred to New York.
He retired effective Dec. 1, 1927, after serving the Erie for nearly 53 years. He died at 74 on April 5, 1930.
After making a photo of Peter standing near the station where his grandfather had begun his railroad career, we took a swing through town and found the street that led to the station.
There were no street signs but I found out later that it was named Depot Street.
An obituary that I found about Mr. Wallace noted that he had an interest in railroad history and enjoyed sharing it with others.
Oh, the tales he could have told about working in the depot in Atlantic and what used to be here decades ago.
Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders