Bennett's Valley, Railroads, and the "Hoodlebug"

Contributed by Rich Levine and Bob Nay

Because of its growing coal and lumber industry, railroads became an important part of the Valley’s economic life. And up until the mid 1930s, visitors and residents could travel daily from Driftwood to DuBois on the light rail passenger trains known as the “HoodleBug”.

This article is the platform for a series to remember and commemorate the railroads and its people in Bennett’s Valley. You have the opportunity to share these stories and memories of this special railroad history- either passenger or freight trains. Please contact Bob Nay or Rich Levine to share your stories, memories, history, pictures, etc. This could be a unique story of the past and may set some directions of the future. Also this is only a beginning step for the history of the railroads here. If you see any mistakes or corrections please let Bob Nay know.

In the Valley it all began with the Low Grade section of the Allegheny Valley Railroad in 1869. The railroad – later known as the Pennsylvania Railroad, then the Conrail Line- went from Driftwood to Dubois and beyond the stations. Intermediate stations were located along the way at Grant, Summerson, Benezette, Caledonia, Weedville, Cardiff’s Major Station, and Penfield.

The Pennsylvania line was on one side of the Bennett’s Branch and another line of the B & O (previously the Buffalo & Susquehanna) was on the other. This line provided passenger and freight services to principal stations in Medix Run, Summerville, Brookville, Reynoldsville and 14 minor stations, including one in Falls Creek. The B&O would use the B&S tracks from DuBois to Sinnamahoning, where a new 73 mile line would be built parallel to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, to connect to the Reading Railroad at Williamsport, PA.

Railroad stations were placed all along these lines often on both sides of the creek.

Several smaller railroads connected to the Pennsylvania and B & O lines for special commercial purposes such as hauling coal. These included the Shamut Railroad, the B & S Railroad,, the Dents Run Railroad, and the Winslow Colliery Railroad to name a few.

Railroad Memories

In researching this story, I heard from a people who spent their youth in the Valley and said they watched the trains go by but were never allowed to go near them. Some of there remembrances follow:

  • They remember a grandfather bringing chicken eggs from his farm to put on the B & O to go to the hatchery in Reynoldsville, and also chicks coming back on the train for grandpa to pick up.

  • Some of their personal trips were to get on the Pennsylvania line and go to DuBois to see the doctor or dentist. Neither remember going to St Marys much because the train didn’t go that way easily.

  • The Hoodlebug as I know it was used to provided transportation between Dents Run and Wilmer. Wilmer at one time was a thriving coal town that now has been become a ghost town. The Dents Run railroad and the rail lines running to through Dent Run from Driftwood and DuBois and beyond did connect to one another. The person who last run the Hoodlebug was Sam Snook, and in his absentness Bill Harrison.

  • The village of Dry Saw Mill was renamed Grant, as the railroad installed a siding here in preparation for President Grant’s visit here in 1870. They named the siding Grant, and the town became known as Grant.

Railroad Stories

The last paragraph gave us a little insight into the railroad experiences in the Valley. Other contributed stories are below:

Railroad Internet Links

Please share your Stories and Memories of the Valley’s Railroads

You have the opportunity to share these stories and memories of this special railroad history – either passenger or freight trains. Please contact Bob Nay or Rich Levine to share your stories, memories, history, pictures, etc.