Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Photograph of Patrick Byrnes and Article About His Retirement as Operator of the City Island Horse Car in 1914

As I noted in yesterday's posting, I have written extensively in the last year about the horse car that once ran from Bartow Station on the New Haven Branch Line to City Island when the area was part of the Town of Pelham.  See, e.g.:

Wed., February 24, 2010:  Attempted Suicide of City Island's Long-Time Horse Car Driver

Wed., February 3, 2010:  Early Information Published in 1885 About the Organization of the "City Island Railroad", a Horse Railroad from Bartow Station to City Island

Tue., February 2, 2010:  Information About the Pelham Park Railroad at its Outset

Fri., January 22, 2010:  1884 Account of Early Origins of Horse Railroad Between Bartow Station and City Island

Tue., September 1, 2009:  Pelham News on February 29, 1884 Including Talk of Constructing a New Horse Railroad from Bartow to City Island

Wed., December 2, 2009:  Accident on Horse-Car of the Pelham Park Railroad Line in 1889

 Thu., December 31, 2009:  1887 Election of the Board of Directors of The City Island and Pelham Park Horse Railroad Company

Mon., January 4, 2010:  1888 Local News Account Describes Altercation on the Horse Railroad Running from Bartow Station to City Island

Patrick Byrnes retired as the operator of the horse car in 1914 after twenty-five years of service.  The Evening Telegram - New York published a lovely article about his years of service and included a photograph of Mr. Byrnes.  That photograph appears immediately below, followed by the text of the article that it accompanied.

"City Island's Last Horse Car Driver To Lose His Job Soon
Philosopher of Ancient Transit System Ready to Retire Before Modern Progress.

Horse cars in the Bronx are doomed at last, and Patrick Byrnes, the man who put the 'rap' in rapid transit on City Island, will soon be out of a job.  For the last twenty-five years Mr. Byrnes drove the star 'run' from Belden Point to the Bartow station of the New Haven Railroad.

The late Henry D. Purroy, Louis M. Haffen, formerly Borough President, and, in fact, all the leading politicians in the Bronx, at some time or other have been passengers on Byrnes' car, of which he was both driver and conductor.

'Talk about your pay-as-you-enter cars in New York,' said Byrnes to an EVENING TELEGRAM reporter, who found him seated inside his car the other day, 'why, man alive, we have had pay-as-you-enter cars here on City Island for the last twenty-five years.

'Yes, sir, and don't you forget it, they all paid as they got on.  In those days the fare was ten cents, and when the coin was dropped in the box as I was driving along I could easily tell by the sound of a coin whether it was a nickel or a dime.

Carried the Mail.

'The mail and the newspapers were also carried by me, and besides the newspapers I had to carry neews, for all the islanders would rely on the car driver to know all the 'goings on' on the island.  I was expected to know this, that and the other thing, and if I didn't know it, it wasn't worth knowing in City Island.'

'Did you ever have an accident?' the reporter inquired.

'Never in my life; I can truthfully say I never hurt any one on or off this old car,' Byrnes replied.

'Pat,' as he is familiarly known to every man, woman and child on City Island, praised the enterprise of Edward A. Maher, vice president of the Union Railway, who will soon run dry battery cars along City Island avenue, and contented himself by saying that his neighbors on the island needed faster service now than he had been giving with his horses for the last twenty-five years.

'When I came up here from Actorsville, known to-day as Port Morris in the Bronx, twenty-five years ago to go to work for Henry Carey, then the owner of the line, there were about 1,300 inhabitants on the Island.  To-day there are 3,000 in the summer season , and I'll bet you I saw most of them grow up around here,' Mr. Byrnes continued.  'When the population increased another horse was added to the car and now we've had two instead of one for the past six or seven years.'

'Did the car always run on schedule time?' he was asked.  'Oh, of course, there were delays now and then, such as a stray cow or a fallen tree, and then sometimes the car would jump the track; but that wasn't often and if there were not enough passengers in the car to get out and lift it back again, why we just had to stay there until help arrived.'

Byrnes lives at No. 121 Pell street, City Island, with his wife and two daughters.  The latter two were born on the Island.

Popular as Story Teller.

The last horse car to carry passengers on City Island is No. 69.  It came from the old Broadway line many years ago, when cable power forced horse drawn cars to the barn.  During Byrnes' twenty-five years driving on City Island he became popular as a story teller, and very often his advice was sought and his wisdom heeded.

Before the reporter left him, Mr. Byrnes said:--'And now, son, come here till I tell you something.  Never borrow money.  Take care of your job, and if you don't like it, quit it quick, and get another one.  Keep your expenses within your earning power and save a dollar for a rainy day, but don't spend it all the first day it rains.  Try to do more work than will satisfy your boss, for there's no telling when you may be the boss yourself.  Let your neighbors settle their own quarrels; don't 'but in' [sic] -- you will make enemies on both sides.  Go home early at night and don't forget to come to City Island as often as you can, the air up here keeps a man feeling young.'"

Source:  City Island's Last Horse Car Driver To Lose His Job Soon,The Evening Telegram - New York, Jul. 19, 1914, p. 9, col. 3.

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