Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick Railroad

15-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, February 27, 1911: The roads were so muddy that I went up the railroad to school and came home that way. Besse was out this afternoon. Wish I had all of my lessons out for tomorrow especially my latin.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later: 

It’s hard to picture how bad the mud must have been in the era before paved roads. Railroad tracks for the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick Railroad (S.B. & B. R.R.) crossed the Muffly farm.The route went from Watsontown to McEwensville and Turbotville and then continued east to Washingtonville, Bloomsburg, and Berwick.

My father says that Grandma always called the railroad the Sweet Bye and Bye.

According to an essay by the Columbia County Historical and Genealogical Society the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg and Berwick Railroad (S.B. & B.R.R.) was often called the ‘Sweet Bye and Bye’ because traffic was intermittent, and trains traveled at a slow speed and stopped at every hamlet and feed mill along the route. Sweet Bye and Bye is also the name of an old-time hymn.

There were flag stops at two feed mills between Watsontown and McEwensville (a distance of only 4 or 5 miles). One was at a hamlet called Pioneer–it’s just a group of 4 or 5 houses today–and the other was at Truckenmiller’s Mill which was located next to the Muffly farm.

The railroad was also sometimes called the Weak and Weary railroad. It was a financial failure because there were no major industries along the route.

The S.B. & B.R.R. no longer exists, but the track is still used by trains transporting coal to the Pennsylvania Power and Light (PP & L) power plant at Strawberry Ridge near Washingtonville.

21 thoughts on “Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick Railroad

  1. Not sure if this will be helpful to you or not (or if you’ve already come across this info), but wanted to pass along since you’ve done such helpful work documenting Watsontown. While researching my great-grandfather’s Civil War unit, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, I came across the following reference in a historic newspaper to one of the members of the 47th who died while the regiment was stationed at Key West:

    “To rear a slab of marble in respect to the memory of a departed friend is always the first care at home – so with Capt. Gobin in the case of one of our comrades who died here last summer of yellow fever. It is gratifying to the friends to know that the last resting place of a brother or relative is marked; – so I will give it to you the fact of a monument being erected over the grave of George C. Watson, of Watsontown, Pa., that his friends may know it. The monument is of Italian marble, set in a Granite base, and bears the inscription –

    ‘In memory of
    Geo C. Watson,
    Co. C, 47th Reg’t., Pa. Vols.
    a resident of North’d. County, Pa.
    Died, Aug. 26, 1862′”

    The info was part of a longer letter dated May 3, 1863, and sent by H.W.D. on behalf of the Sunbury Guards (the group which made up Company C of the 47th Pennsylvania) to the editor of the Sunbury American. The newspaper published the letter in its May 30, 1863 edition. That edition is available online via the historic newspapers collection at the Library of Congress.

    1. Thanks for sharing the very interesting information. I’ve already shared it with several relatives who are very interested in the history of the Civil War.

    2. Thank you again for taking the time to provide all of this wonderful information. Since I wrote my last note to you, I’ve read the complete letter. Whew, the first person account of happenings in Key West really gave me a sense of what it was like back then much better than any modern history possibly could. When I get a little more time I’m going to go back to the paper and read the article about Stonewall Jackson’s death and the other Civil War stories.

      And, for others who read this blog, here is the link to the historic newspapers collection at the Library of Congress. It is a wonderful resource.

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