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Sunday, May 2, 2021

Weekend Special:
Silver Lake Train Excursions Brought City Folk and great distance rural folk
I always loved trains--especially passenger trains. My first train ride was when I was in second grade at age 7 in the early 1950s. We went by bus up through the Buffalo Central Terminal, formerly the New York Central Terminal (1929-1979). It was the biggest building I had ever been in. I loved seeing the big Buffalo with the huge old clock in the center of the main floor. I later would compare the terminal to a great overture that preceded a magnificent historical composition--the train ride itself. 

Trains were still running quite often back then and we could hear them from our home and when we visited my grandmother's home of origin, the tracks were right across the street and the trains would shake the house and rattle the windows which made it all the more exciting. My Dad would complain when he had to stop at the numerous train crossings when we were traveling somewhere by car (there were a lot more back then) but I was always so pleased when the gates would come down and he would have to stop so we could watch the ever-so-long freight trains pass.

Every time I view the photo above, I think of the excitement of train terminals, travels and even whistle stops. Faith groups were notorious for singing along the route of their travels which I imagine may have taken place as these Methodists drew near to their retreat setting at Silver Lake. This photo shows a dry arrival day which means that the road was not at all muddy. I believe the photo was taken during the 1880s because the fancy entry gate was still up and used and it was before the 1895 construction of the Hoag Gallery. 

Also, I followed history by the occasional photos of my great-grandfather's dry goods store in the Seneca-Swan Street neighborhood. He opened it in 1882 and his first sidewalks were boardwalks--just like the ones shown in the photo above. Most train passengers, above, carried only the luggage they could carry, planning either to stay with relatives or at one of recently built hotels, tent rentals, or if they were one of the lucky early cottage owners.

Just look at that crowd climbing up the hill of Wesley Avenue. They may look a little tired from the packing, preparations, and the travel itself, but it seems like one can view their anticipation and enthusiasm for the week to come. And since it was a very limited day and age for entertainment, and particularly for Methodists and Baptists, this was a full week (or two) of entertainment. The Preachers of the day were so animated and loud, they were more like fine actors than religious speakers. And there was always music--lots of music and song, eating together, greeting and catching up with old and new friends. And then--the train ride back--the closing adventure of a smokey view, pressured steam sounds, including steam whistle and live bell, and the occasional live ember, journey home!

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