MUSEUM & GIFT SHOP HOURS OF OPERATION:
Tours by appointment. The museum will be open Saturdays (10 to 4) and Wednesdays (from 5 to 7 p.m.) through December. Admission is free.
Click here for directions
We will continue to keep you up to date on what’s happening here and on our Facebook sites. Also you can reach us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our museum phone at 570.882.8221 and leave a message.
Thank you for your continued support.
"The Fight for Liberty: Sayre in World War I" will open on Saturday, April 7th and run until September 5th.
Sayre museum hosting History Under the Stars
SAYRE – “History Under the Stars” returns to the Sayre Historical Society on Saturday, August 25 with a musical program followed by “Seldom Seen Sayre” presented by Sayre historian James Nobles.
CAPTION: An artist’s rendition of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station and the Desmond Street Park by Robert Shepps will be one of the featured images at “History Under the Stars” at the Sayre Historical Society on August 25.
The program will begin once the stars are brightening overhead and the sun’s rays weakening in the west allowing many images of old time Sayre to be visible on the large outdoor projection screen. Admission is free. Donations are accepted.
A few of the topics to be reviewed are an explanation of Sayre’s use of the “silent cop,” a number of aerial views of the expansive facilities of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Sayre, with some colorized views created using 21st century technology, the community open-air swimming pool of 20 years, and the footbridge and tunnel of the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
The program will be held in conjunction with the annual End of Summer Fireworks.
A wide range of rare images from Sayre’s past will be presented. Other subjects to be explored will be neighborhood schools, which predated the current H. Austin Snyder Elementary School, Sayre’s original “town clock” followed by the old and new Desmond Street Clocks, the KKK parade in Sayre in the 1920s, views of Sayre’s downtown Desmond Street area as changes occurred over the years, including the Desmond Street Park from its beginning with very young trees, to its loss as a park after a lengthy controversy and the removal of very mature trees for new construction.
The Sayre Historical Society is an all-volunteer, non-profit historic preservation organization funded in part by the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.
The museum will be presenting the annual History Fair on Saturday, September 8 from 10 to 4. Yesterday’s Gentlemen, a history re-enactment troupe from Owego, will be participating along with local organizations displaying unique history treasures from Sayre’s past. A number of tables are available free to local individuals and groups interested in displaying their Sayre-related artifacts.
Visit www.sayrehistoricalsociety.org or Facebook for more information.
Railroad artist profiled in latest Sayre Quarterly
SAYRE – A pioneering photographer who created the large painting of the Black Diamond Express at the Sayre Historical Society is the subject of the cover story in the Spring issue of the Quarterly.
CAPTION 1: A photograph of the Black Diamond Express near Milan is identical to the painting done by William Rau that is located at the Sayre Historical Society.
William Herman Rau was hired by the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1895 as their official photographer after a career documenting the western United States including Yellowstone. He also worked as the official photographer for the Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 1890’s. The story of the Rau painting includes its donation by the sister of Earl Payne of Waverly who was a former railroad accountant and drug store operator, and the restoration of the painting by art conservator Anne O’Connor of New Burlington, Mass.
CAPTION 2: William Rau was the official photographer for the Lehigh Valley Railroad in the late 1890’s.
The painting had been stored in the basement of Mr. Payne’s daughter, Anna Frances Payne. Mr. Payne started his first drug store in the old Capital Theater in Waverly in 1928, according to his Nov. 11, 1959 obituary. He later purchased the building on the corner of Broad and Waverly streets from John Van Atta in 1937. Through the efforts of past historical society president Bill Ransom and with the help of Dan Leary of Waverly, the painting was donated to the Sayre museum.
Museum volunteer Ken Bracken, who helped package and ship the mammoth work of art to Massachusetts, said the painting had the “dubious distinction” of being the “filthiest painting (the art conservator) had ever worked on.” The restoration was worth the effort.
In his long career, Rau was credited with documenting the 19th century industrial era of the United States with artistry and elegance.
A photography exhibit sponsored by Lehigh University in 1989 featured a booklet on the railroad –era photographs by Rau and included an essay by Stephen Perloff, a photographer and educator.
“Whether he was photographing a rugged mountain pass, carefully manicured farmland, or the stark architecture of an engine house, Rau invariably seemed to find that one place that yielded marvel, grace, or sublimity,” said Perloff.
A second article in the Quarterly covers the 1881 tree planting ceremony in memory of President Garfield sponsored by the Sayre Arbor Association. It includes a copy of the program presented to Lula Bishop for participating in the event. Each child participating received a commemorative medal with Garfield’s likeness on one side and Lincoln’s on the other. The commemorative program was donated to the Sayre Historical Society by Gwen Lacey.
The center section of the magazine shows the inside of the Assembly Hall at the Sayre Shops with a large group of railroad employees along with two bowling alleys and the Lehigh Shops Orchestra off to the side. The photograph is company-produced and dates from 1927.
A third story highlights a 1930 Robert Packer Hospital School of Nursing yearbook belonging to Monica Nunan. A variety of interesting facts is included in the article as well as illustrations of the School of Nursing building, Dr. Donald Guthrie, hospital superintendent Howard Bishop, nurse directress Nina Smith and Miss Nunan. The 1930 Nucleus yearbook was donated to the historical society by Linda (Spaulding) Fisk.
The final two articles in the Quarterly document the generous donations made to Sayre by the late Mary (Packer) Cummings, sister to Robert Packer and daughter of Asa Packer. The two articles – one from 1908 and the other from 1909 – discuss the donation of land to be used for the Parish House and the formal dedication of the Parish House on November 10, 1909. An aerial photograph of the Robert Packer Hospital from the 1950’s includes the Parish House and the Church of the Redeemer. The photograph was donated by Eloise Wilson. A postcard view shows the Parish House and rectory next door.
A flyer advertising the “Grand Opening” of Oak Grove Park is reprinted on the inside back cover. A cover illustration of a flier from the 1930 World’s Fair in Chicago promotes the Lehigh Valley Railroad and is included on the back cover.
The Quarterly is a benefit to members of the Sayre Historical Society and is mailed out four times per year. Individual copies are available from Carl’s Newsstand in Sayre. The Sayre Historical Society will re-open for the season on Saturday, April 7 with a new exhibit on “The Fight for Liberty: Sayre in World War I,” and a musical program of “Folk Songs and Popular Music of World War I.” Admission is free.
The Sayre Historical Society is member-supported and a recipient of funds from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.
Hotel man profiled in new Sayre Quarterly
SAYRE - Robert Adam of Sayre was the proprietor of the Wilbur Hotel in the years following the Great Depression and Sayre’s No. 1 Elk when he passed away in 1962. His story is told in the Winter issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly.
CAPTION: Robert Adam, a prominent hotel owner in Sayre in the 1930’s and 40’s and a charter member of the Sayre Elks Lodge, is featured in the Winter issue of the Sayre Historical Society Quarterly. (Photo courtesy of Agnes Griffin)
Included in the 20-page booklet are numerous historic photographs of the landmark hotel located on the corner of Desmond Street and W. Packer Avenue in downtown Sayre. Built in 1880 by Robert A. Packer, the hotel has undergone numerous transformations over 137 years including a 2001 renovation by Trehab that brought the historic brick structure back to its original splendor.
It was a different scene when Adam bought a run-down establishment in 1932 and remade the hotel into “one of Bradford County’s largest, and next to the Ward House in Towanda, its most famous hostelry,” according to a 1962 Evening Times newspaper account.
Adam also served as exalted ruler of the Sayre Elks on two occasions and was a founding member of the lodge when it was formed in 1909, according to his obituary. He served as district deputy in 1932, the first from Sayre, and was president of the Northeast District Elks Association in 1941.
Adam, one of 12 children, came to Sayre when he was five years old. His father (James Adam) was chief bill clerk for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. According to his obituary, Adam had learned the trade of boilermaker as an apprentice in the Sayre System Shops and worked for the Lackawanna Railroad before returning to Sayre. As a teenager, Adam had the distinction of being the “youngest car chalker” in the United States,” his obituary stated.
In 1907, he opened the Central Cigar Store on Desmond Street and later turned to hotel management.
A number of rare photographs of Adam and the Wilbur Hotel were donated to the historical society by his daughter, Agnes Griffin of Sayre.
The Quarterly is published four times per year and is a membership benefit of the Sayre Historical Society. Individual copies are available at Carl’s New Stand on Desmond Street in Sayre. Visit www.sayrehistoricalsociety.org for more information on membership.
Other stories in the winter issue include the memories in 1937 of a 90-year-old Sayre resident by the name of Augustus P. Kremer. Mr. Kremer’s recollections were included in an article from the Sayre Evening Times newspaper. The article appeared in a scrapbook of Valley items compiled by Miss Mary Frost of Waverly and recently donated to the Sayre Historical Society by Rose Lerche.
Mr. Kremer was a former freight clerk in Sayre when the town’s first railroad station was located between the tracks east of the present two-story brick passenger station built in 1881. He married Carrie Bradley of Sayre in 1885. The couple had a daughter named Nora and a son, Edwin. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1935.
Mr. Kremer lived at 306 S. Keystone Avenue in West Sayre and described the main thoroughfare at the time as a “muddy lane” with few houses and mostly farm lands and vacant plots.
The article said Mr. Kremer remained neutral in political discussions, kept out of arguments and was reported to be in good health.
“Mr. Kremer attributes his health and long life to non-use of liquor and tobacco, which, especially for the former, he says he has seen put many in their graves,” according to the news account.
The center section of the booklet features a photograph of the 1962 Epiphany eighth grade graduating class. Father Francis Toolan is surrounded by 26 graduates.
Sayre’s walk bridge is also highlighted in the winter issue featuring the reminiscences of Dr. Jeremy Plant who photographed the bridge starting in 1967. His recollections appeared in a 2008 issue of Milepost magazine, a publication by the Friends of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
“My older brother Jeffrey was (and is) an active rail fan also, and was finishing his law studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, less than an hour away from Sayre,” he said. “So it was a mecca for us to visit on weekends when I could combine rail fanning with a fraternal visit.”
Seven photographs showing the walk bridge or views from the walk bride are included with the article. One of the photographs showing Lehigh Valley Railroad diesel locomotives beneath the walk bridge was taken by well-known railroad photographer J. J. Young of Binghamton.
Plant, who has authored or co-authored more than 20 books on railroad subjects, referred to the landmark Sayre structure as the “Railfan Bridge.” He is a professor of public policy and administration at Penn State Harrisburg.
A 1916 article from the Elmira Telegram newspaper recounts the amazing exploits of champion checker player James Adams of Sayre who defeated 15 rivals in a competition held in Elmira. The competition took place at Lagonegro’s Cigar Store.
“Just to make the matter binding, he sent word up from Sayre that on Thursday evening, April 20, he was not booked for a ladies sewing society or a pink tea and could drop in any decent place in Elmira and run off a couple of rounds, with the best the city afforded in the line of expert movers, fifteen at a time,” the 1916 article said. “The word went out, and clans from the office, meat market, factory and banks commenced to collect.”
In the final tally, the Sayre checker “champeen” won 17 matches, lost 4 and had nine draws.
A postcard view of the Methodist Church in Sayre from the Marty Smith Collection is also included in the Winter issue. A program cover from the 21st Annual Banquet of the Sayre Sportsmen’s Club from 1957 is also included. The back cover features a photograph of the Art Reagan Jewelers sign that graced the landmark Sayre jewelry store for many years.
The historical society, located in the Lehigh Valley Railroad passenger station in downtown Sayre, is a recipient of funds from the United Way of Bradford County. The membership-supported organization, which reopens on April 7 with “The Fight for Liberty: Sayre in World War I,” also receives funds from the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.
Sayre museum planning World War I exhibit
SAYRE – World War I will take center stage at the Sayre Historical Society in 2018 with a new exhibit “The Fight for Liberty: Sayre in World War I” which will open Saturday, April 7 and run until September 5. A full schedule of events is being planned for the Sayre museum, located in the historic Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre.
CAPTION: The Sayre Machine Gun Company of the 13th Pennsylvania Infantry will be among the featured images in “The Fight For Liberty: Sayre During World War I” opening April 7 at the Sayre Historical Society.
Returning in 2018 are Celebration at the Station (a wine and craft beer tasting event) on May 23, Caboose Day on June 30 and a genealogy program and workshop on July 28. Other events include History Under the Stars on August 25, History Fair on September 8, Oktoberfest on October 10 and Model Train Day on November 24.
On Saturday, September 8, a new exhibit will focus on “The Art of M. Louis Gore” in the museum’s Rotating Exhibit Room.
The museum board of directors recently held their annual dinner meeting and re-elected the following officers for 2018: president, Mike Frantz; vice-president, Ted Pinkard; treasurer, Steve Bowen; and secretary, Mary Lou Palmer. Scott Chaffee is assistant secretary/treasurer.
Board members include the officers along with Ken Bracken, Tom Collins, Bill Crocker, Henry Farley, Meade Murtland, Joe Quatrini and Mary Sargent.
The World War I exhibit will include historical information relating to the experiences of Sayre people in what was called “The Great War.”
Highlights of the exhibit will include the area’s first casualty of the war, Archie T. Hatch, in 1914, the formation of a machine gun company in Sayre in 1916, a Red Cross Canteen in Sayre in 1918, and the Welcome Home Parade and dedication of the Dough Boy monument in Howard Elmer Park in 1919.
A bronze tablet on the monument contains the names of the 12 Sayre men who died during the war. They are Archie Hatch, Orlando M. Loomis, Eugene F. Murphy, Leo A. Murphy, Arthur V. Drake, Fred D. Skiff, Clarence B. Utter, Elmer D. Jackson, William H. Decatur, Wayne E. Horton, Ransom H. Grumme, and Frank E. Bower.
A World War I uniform (donated by Eugene Cole) that was used by Nathan Johnson of Sayre including his helmet and gas mask will be featured along with a Red Cross uniform belonging to Sarah (Lennon) McMahon. The Red Cross uniform was donated by Sarah Harrington, grand-daughter of Mrs. McMahon.
According to a history of the World War I Canteen in Sayre written by Mrs. J.W. Bishop, over 47,000 service members were provided canteen service while their trains stopped in Sayre.
Trains were met by the Canteen volunteers day and night, according to Bishop. At first, coffee and sandwiches were served and then nearby farmers contributed apples, eggs and other produce. Local women baked pies, prepared custards and made bread puddings that were provided each day to the canteen, according to the historical account.
When the armistice on November 11, 1918 ended the war, the canteen continued operating for returning servicemen. Documentation exists for a canteen service as late as July 1, 1919.
The public’s warm regard for the patriotic services of the canteen volunteers was made evident in a newspaper account from the Owego Gazette.
In describing a “victory parade” in Owego, the editor of the newspaper described the formation of Red Cross volunteers who marched in the parade.
“Next came the Sayre Canteen, wonder workers of the war. At the head of the column was a handsome red and white float, featuring Red Cross nurses ministering to a wounded soldier. This was a mighty attractive feature, for it got the crowds all set for the following feature, which was one of the high-lights of the whole show. It was composed of about 60 ladies of the Sayre Canteen, uniformed in the canteen regulation light blue and white. They marched in perfect alignment and in perfect step. The Sayre Canteen, composed of workers from Athens, Sayre and Waverly, had already paraded in the big celebrations in Towanda and Sayre, and consequently were trained to the minute for yesterday’s march. Anyway, this one opinion was shared by everybody who passed critical judgment on the parade, and that opinion is that in appearance and style and action, the Sayre Canteen was the finest marching unit in line. It sure was a stunning feature.”
The Sayre Historical Society is staffed by volunteers and is a recipient of funds from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.
New book published on the early railroad in Sayre
SAYRE – A new book on the early history of the railroad in Sayre by railroad historian Richard Palmer has been published by the Sayre Historical Society. The new book covers the earliest years of the railroad in Sayre including numerous photographs and illustrations as well as a detailed chronology of events. The 60-page soft-cover book is the third book by Palmer that has been published by the historical society.
CAPTION: The coal pockets of the Pennsylvania & New York Railroad are pictured in a new book on The Coming of the Railroad to Sayre by railroad historian Richard Palmer published by the Sayre Historical Society. The coal trestle was located near exit 61 of Route 86 near the Best Western Grand Victorian Inn in Sayre.
All three books are available in the Burkhart Gift Shop at the museum located in the historic Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger station in downtown Sayre. Museum hours are Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m.
An addendum to the book includes reminisces of John Fitzgerald of New Albany on his work experiences with the Pennsylvania & New York Railroad in 1867. Excerpts of a diary by railroad supervisor John Rahm in 1869 detail the construction of the P & NY Railroad which was later absorbed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
Lists of early locomotives on the P & NY Railroad and “Early Lehigh Valley Locomotives Spotted in Sayre - 1869 to 1872” are also included in the fact-filled booklet.
In the book, Palmer documents the early history of railroading in the Penn-York Valley with mention of the “Tioga Point Railroad” in 1841.
“The proposal was to build a 4 ½ mile railroad from Athens, at the head of the contemplated North Branch Canal to Waverly, to connect with the New York & Erie Railroad,” Palmer writes. “The route was surveyed by Ira Spaulding, a local civil engineer and a charter was granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was capitalized at $50,000. Its purpose was to connect the ‘Wyoming Coal Valley’ with the interior of New York State.”
Palmer examines the role of the Erie, Lehigh Valley and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroads in the Valley. He also covers the North Branch Canal, the Barclay Railroad and the Towanda Coal Company and their influence in the development of the railroad in Sayre.
“The Barclay Coal Co. operated its own trains over the completed portion between Towanda and Waverly, being pulled by its locomotives Greenwood, Lamoka and Waverly,” according to Palmer. “On June 4, 1870, the ‘Waverly’ drew from the foot of the incline plane at Barclay to Waverly, 100 loaded coal cars, a baggage car and two passenger coaches. This was said to have been the largest train ever drawn by one locomotive over the road.”
Palmer is the author of numerous books and magazine article on railroads in Central New York. Palmer’s previous books for the Sayre Historical Society include The Handsomest Train in the World: The First Twenty-Five Years of the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s Black Diamond Express and A Moment in Time: Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidential Special to Chautauqua in 1905.
The Sayre Historical Society is a recipient of funds from the Bradford County United Way and the Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency.