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To Ridgway resident Jack Cleaver Jr. bearing witness to the last passenger train departing from the Pennsy Railroad Station along N. Broad Street in Ridgway is a wonderful childhood memory.
In 1962, Cleaver only an 11-year-old boy at the time says he remembers the scene vividly.
"For a lot of families in that day, the father's job was to go to work and provide the income and the mother took care of everything else," Cleaver said. "It was very unusual for my dad to do any activities with us, but he had come home one evening from work and he said to my mom, 'Get the kids we are going to go to Ridgway, I want to put you and the kids on the train because this is the end of an era."'
Cleaver remembers his family's excitement to get on board.
"We were excited because we had not rode on a train before," Cleaver said.
According to Cleaver, the family dropped what they were doing, packed into the automobile and drove to Ridgway from their home in Portland Mills.
"When we got to where Aiello's [Cafe] is now, I remember looking and saying 'Oh my gosh, look at all of these people,"' Cleaver said. "There was just a mass of people surrounding the station."
Next Jack's father, Jack Cleaver Sr., parked the car and walked to the station to purchase tickets for fare from Ridgway to Emporium.
"His plan was to put us on the train in Ridgway and he was going to drive to Emporium and we'd get off there," Cleaver said.
Unfortunately due to the popularity of the event tickets had sold out.
"He [Jack Sr.] came out shortly after shaking his head," Cleaver said. "I can remember these details very vividly, and he said, 'We cannot get tickets and we cannot get on the train.'"
Despite being unable to board the train, the family waited for it to pass the station.
"We were at least going to see the last train go through Ridgway," Cleaver said. "When the train pulled in everyone began to cheer, it was really a party-like atmosphere.
"We stood there and we watched people board. I can't remember exactly how many, but the train took off and we stood there watching it ride down the track."
Those wishing to make a donation to help restore the exterior of the train station can be made to the Ridgway Borough c/o old train station 108 Main St., Ridgway, Pa., 15853. If interested in sharing a memory of the train station please contact Gian DeLoia of The Ridgway Record at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.