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ARA anniversary ad / Arcade Herald / collection

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arcade15 Your journey aboard the Arcade & Attica Railroad begins even before you board the train. As you enter the historic station, you are surrounded by the history of railroading in America. Tour our historic station and view all the exhibits, from antique railroad lanterns to switch locks, even to an old switch stand. Nostalgic original photographs depict an era of days gone by. Next, you pass our authentic ticket office, where the ticket master will be glad to sell you tickets for the day's train trip. Tour our small gift shop and snack bar while waiting to board your train. With an "All Aboard", the whistle blows, and the whoosh of the air brakes releasing can be heard. Very soon, the engineer has gotten the train up to speed and you are on your way, enjoying your 90-plus minute ride through history. Along the way, you will see a few random appearances of today; for the most part though, the trip is through the countryside and farmlands that have remained virtually unchanged since the line was originally laid in the 1880's.

Arcade & Attica Railroad

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ara_state The Arcade & Attica Railroad of today operates freight service from an interchange with regional Buffalo & Pittsburgh at Arcade Junction, New York, 15 miles to North Java. But the shortline primarily runs excursion trains between Arcade and Curriers, a ride of 7 miles and the source of most of the company's revenue. Originating pike Tonawanda Valley Railroad was organized in 1880 and ran a 3' gauge line between Attica and Curriers, and another railroad soon extended that line to namesake Arcade. The following decades saw expansion, contraction, and reorganizations under various names, until the present Arcade & Attica was organized in 1917 to purchase and operate the property. The northernmost 17 miles, from Attica south, were abandoned in 1957. Regular passenger service ended earlier in 1951, but excursion service began by 1962 with the purchase of second-hand steam locomotives. An enginehouse for steam and diesel work is maintained in Arcade. The company remains independent.

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collection

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ARA tourist route in context / collection

Steam Motive Power

Arcade & Attica #18

  • builder:ALCO Cooke Works
  • arrangement:2-8-0 "Consolidation" type
  • built:Nov 1920, Cooke #62624
  • fuel:soft coal/water
  • notes:
  • blt for Cuban sugar cane service
    to Charcoal Iron Company #18
    to Newberry Iron Company #18
    to Boyne City lumber #18
    to Arcade & Attica #18, 1962
    boiler rebuild completed 2008
    in service; primary excursion power
  • builder
    ara18g1 ara18g2

    Curriers, NY / Aug 2017 / RWH

    Diesel Motive Power

    Arcade & Attica #110

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:44 tonner
  • type:B-B light switcher
  • built:Jun 1941, GE #12947
  • series:386 produced 1940-56
  • engine:(2) Caterpillar D17000 (400 hp)
  • notes:
  • blt new for Arcade & Attica
    retired; on display in Arcade, NY
  • builder

    Arcade & Attica #111

  • builder:General Electric
  • model:44 tonner
  • type:B-B light switcher
  • built:Apr 1947, GE #28346
  • series:386 produced 1940-56
  • engine:(2) Caterpillar D17000 (400 hp)
  • notes:
  • blt new for Arcade & Attica
    in service, backup unit
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    Arcade & Attica #112

  • builder:builder
  • model:65 tonner
  • type:B-B light switcher
  • built:May 1945, GE #27866
  • series:________________
  • engine:(2) Cummins (550 hp)
  • notes:
  • blt United States Navy #65-00063
    to Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge #122
    to Colorado Springs Public Utilities #9701
    to Arcade & Attica #112; in service
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    Rolling Stock

    dlw_logo The Arcade & Attica maintains a collection of 8 former Delaware, Lackawanna & Western coaches, built between 1915-17 and purchased in two batches from the DLW by the shortline. The coaches were originally used in commuter service in New Jersey. Below is a sample from the roster.

    tag_pinLocations

    Arcade, NY

    Click to see the Arcade depot area plotted on a Google Maps page
    Click to see the ARA enginehouse area plotted on a Google Maps page
    Click to see the Arcade & Attica display plotted on a Google Maps page

    Curriers, NY

    Click to see the Curriers depot area plotted on a Google Maps page

    tag_spot "Double A" People

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    Arcade, NY / Aug 2017 / RWH

    Collections

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    Snapshots

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    Summer 2017

    ara_snap3 "Dad, these folks have a lot less rules than that last train we rode."

    My young daughter wasn't suggesting that the folks at the Arcade & Attica were running anything less than a safe operation. I think her observation was just a natural way of noticing that we were simply enjoying ourselves, meandering behind smoking steam through tall corn fields that no one had to explain. It had occurred to her, after the strong "All Aboard" back at the depot, that no one was chatting her up over the loudspeaker. And no one had to remind her to please hold on something when departing. Two pulls on the whistle cord up front had already suggested that step.

    The ARA is a tourist hauler that knows how to get out of its own way, how to let their Cooke kettle, their rustic coaches, and the rambling New York countryside do most of the talking. Some tourist lines chatter on and on about this and that over their P.A., lots of trivial banter and lots of rules and regs with sentences written by liability insurers. I get it: tourists do dumb things and then sue. But not in Wyoming County is one talked up about what could go wrong. On the Arcade & Attica, the sectional rail keeps up the banter, the chorded whistle gives the speeches, the minstrel couple with the eccentric songs makes the most noise. I guess when you run a class AA operation, there's no desire to fill the air with scripts and no need to assume that folks don't know what to do with themselves, safely, at a casual 12 miles per hour. Just come aboard, and enjoy our ride. "We're glad you're hear," the open coach windows seem to say.

    In that sense, and in many others, the ARA is one of the classiest little pikes I have travelled in a long time. Take the enduring class of the Strasburg Railroad and the clerestory lore of the East Broad Top and mix them together: you get a visit to the Arcade, New York. I kept thinking of the Strasburg, especially, the great granddaddy of all tourist railroads. Like the SRC, the ARA simply soldiers on as the fine little common-carrier shortline it was always meant to be. No theme parks here. No feeble non-profits. No liability waivers. Just pure railroading, old school. But also like the Strasburg, there is a sense of grand purpose hanging thick in the air. Around the Arcade depot and engine shed, everything is tidy. Everything is painted. Everything is neat, even if homespun. When you walk through the depot, you feel like you are in your Aunt and Uncle's living room. There's local history here. Everything is orderly, to be sure, but nothing is over-managed. Every employee: dressed to the nines in the fitting garb but also friendly as can be. You feel the solidity of good practice -- that's what the rules and regs are for -- but you also feel like you are staying awhile in someone's home. When the train makes the halfway point at Curriers, before the runaround, the steamer is backed up to a pair of sturdy stair-steps, one for either side of the cab. Why? ... so that riders can walk through the temple and feel the holy of holies up close. Of course. Why wouldn't you want your patrons to see, smell, taste what all this fuss is about. A class move.

    From the conductors in ties to the custom mile post markers to the four-axle Lackawana coaches that feel like they just rolled off the interchange track from a wild western set, the ARA is an experience of another day and time in every respect. "Where history repeats itself," the brochure says. That's one way to put it. Another is simply to pay attention to all those sectional joints clinking under your feet, to the fullsome smell of soft coal drifting back to the rear end from a trim Alco product long past its use-by date; it is to notice that everything is well run around here, but also well loved. That orange-hued affection may just be the reason there's been steam in this county, in one boiler or another, for a century this May.

    "All aboard!"

    Now that's one rule I'm glad to follow.

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    Arcade, NY / Aug 2017 / RWH and Ella Hawkins

    Links / Sources

    This page was updated on 2017-08-20