Posts Tagged ‘Gowanda New York’

Chasing the NY&LE (Part 2)

June 16, 2021

Second of two parts

After the New York & Lake Erie excursion train arrived at South Dayton, passengers disembarked for a 30-minute layover.

We watched and photographed as the locomotive ran around to the other end of the train for the return to Gowanda.

We then toured the station, which was open during the layover. We enjoyed the displays and photo albums from local residents of Robert Redford, Steve Martin, John Candy, and the former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-4 No. 4070 during the visits in the 1980s.

Many of the locals were very lucky to have photos of and with the celebrities.

At about 3:15 p.m. the train departed for the return trip. We chased it and got a few more photographs.

In the images above we see changing ends at South Dayton, approaching Markhams Road after passing Dole Street, the train at East Hill Street dropping down into Gowanda.

Back in Gowanda, we see the train passing a derelict Contrack coach that Marty, myself and Craig Sanders had seen in 2017 during a trip to Arcade & Attica.

Finally, here is No. 1013 as it appears today and No. 1013 as it appeared during an Akron Railroad Club/Railroad Enthusiasts charter trip on April 26, 1987

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Disappointment Quickly Turned to Joy

June 15, 2021

On Sunday Marty Surdyk picked me up just after 9 a.m. at my house. Our quest for the day was to photograph the excursion on the New York & Lake Erie (ex-Erie trackage) out of Gowanda, New York.

In the 1980s we rode and chased trips often during our younger days. This was to be a reprise of that era.

The NY&LE always had a special connection to us. In 1983, former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 traveled from Cleveland to the NY&LE for an important role in scenes for The Natural starring Robert Redford.

In 1987 the railroad had a special role in the filming of the comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles starring John Candy and Steve Martin.

Also in 1987 and 1988, we participated in photo charters on the railroad when the locomotive and passenger cars were still wearing the fictitious Contrack livery for Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

We arrived on the NY&LE before noon and scouted the line to plot our potential photo locations. After having lunch in Gowanda, we ventured to the station there. Passengers were beginning to arrive.

However, our excitement changed to disappointment. An Alco FA was attached to the train but with its back end forward. The other FA was in the engine house.

We were thinking of riding the train because we weren’t too excited about photographing what appeared to be a boxcar leading the train.

We decided to still chase since the lone FA would being facing the proper direction on the return even though the sun angles would not be ideal.

We set up at East Hill Street just around a curve from the station area. At 2 p.m. a horn blow for departure sounded. Oh well maybe another time we’ll come back to get the back-to- back FAs.

Shortly the train appeared and disappoitment turned to “Wow!” There was the other FA. We never heard it coming out of the engine house.

We have no idea how we did not hear anything since Alcos definitely are not quiet. We were extremely delighted.

And with that the chase was on from Gowanda to South Dayton.

In the top image is the excursion train at East Hill Street in Gowanda followed by images made at Church street in Dayton, Markhams Road and at the South Dayton station.

Also shown is what we thought would be the motive power for the trip and a depiction in the Gowanda station of John Candy and Steven Martin.

The South Dayton station was used in the filming of The Natural and Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

A group photograph of Akron Railroad Club and Railroad Enthusiasts members was made at the South Dayton depot in 1987.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

NY&LE Resumes Excursion Trains

October 14, 2020

A western New York short line railroad has announced that it will resume tourist train excursions.

The New York & Lake Erie Railroad will run its first passenger excursions this Saturday, offering two trips celebrating the railroad’s 42nd anniversary.

Excursions had been suspended thus far this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Also planned for the fall and winter are fall foliage, Halloween, Harvest Fest, and Santa Express trains.

The Class III short line is based in Gowanda, New York, near Buffalo.

From Movie Star to Derelict

September 30, 2017

Marty Surdyk, Ed Ribinskas and I were driving home last July from an outing on the Arcade & Attica in New York State.

We stopped in Gowanda, New York, to photograph a former Erie Railroad station and ended up discovering something else.

It was Contrack coach 3573 sits neglected nearby. Many of its windows are broken or covered with plywood.

Now owned by the New York & Lake Erie, the short-line railroad has a connection to the Akron Railroad Club. In 1987 the club and the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts sponsored an excursion on that railroad.

Being a late Sunday afternoon, no one was around the depot, which is adjacent to a small yard.

I happened to look across the street and noticed something that I wanted to investigate.

It turned out to be one of the “Contrack” coaches used in the filming of the 1987 movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles, which featured Steve Martin  and John Candy.

The unlikely pair are traveling by plane from New York to Chicago en route home for Thanksgiving when the plane was diverted to Wichita, Kansas, due to a blizzard in Chicago.

The two opposites wound up taking a Contrack train out of Stubbville, Kansas, but the locomotive broke down in Missouri and the passengers were left stranded in a field.

A utility pole has fallen on one side of the car and vegetation is threatening to swallow it.

An online search yielded little information other than the car has apparently been sitting at this location for more than 10 years.

Parts of the movie were filmed in Gowanda and the scene where the locomotive breaks down occurred between Dayton and South Dayton.

As you might imagine, the car is rusting and its paint fading, but the Contrack logo and name are still visible.

The car appears to have been built or modernized during the streamliner era, but I otherwise know nothing about its heritage. It probably was used for a time in the NY&LE tourist train operation.

I’m not an expert in assessing the physical condition of passenger cars, but it appears it would require a lot of money to cosmetically restore Contrack 3573, let alone get it into operating condition.

With the car having been in one place for so many years and continuing to deteriorate, it seems likely it will be scrapped in place some day.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles was released 30 years ago on the day before Thanksgiving to take advantage of its Thanksgiving travel theme.

The film had an upbeat conclusion that was pure Hollywood, yet it will take more than Hollywood magic for Contrack 3573 to have a happy ending.