20 YEARS AGO (2000)

A little over two years after ground was broken, the new, $11.6 million Danville Bridge finally arrived. More than 2,000 people packed the bridge from end to end for the opening ceremony that included speeches from a state senator, two state representatives and PennDOT district engineer was followed by a parade of antique cars and two horse and carriages. Dan Diehl, who owned one of the carriages, remembered in the early years when farm equipment and buggies crossed the old bridge every day.

The new Danville-Riverside Bridge was officially opened to the public on July 21, 2000.

It was early in the morning when people were standing around the bridge, wanting to be the first to walk across it when it opened to pedestrian traffic at 8:30 a.m. At that time, the orange fence was curled back and the parade began as a casual stroll. Some wandered across the old bridge the day before the dedication of the new one.

Seeing the old and the new standing side by side was quite nostalgic.

Of course, cameras, both video and still, were everywhere, and the moment of this long-awaited event was preserved for the history books. Ed Knauer, of Danville, captured photos of the construction to fill 68 photo albums. Ralph Oberdorf took enough video footage to fill 25 tapes.

Also. the bridge dedication started the official festivities of the 2nd annual Iron Heritage Festival. Denny Hummer, Van Wagner and Rich Pawling, dressed in their festival garb, attended the opening and were ready to present Danville’s history.

 

40 YEARS AGO (1980)

Peter and Paul Sassaman, of Danville, took first and second place, respectively, in the 10 and under, 55-lb. category at the 4th annual Resilite Open Wrestling Tournament held at Shikellamy High School. Josh Gray, also of Danville, placed third in the 10 and under, 50-lb. group.

The 1980 champions of the Susquehanna Valley’s Eastern Division, the Danville American Legion Baseball squad, were pictured in the local newspaper: Allen Roth, Al Amacher, Dwayne Heeter, Don Fausnaught, Dan Enterline, Dave Kopelchek, Brett Campbell, John Morris, Brian Kimmel, Jim Keiser, Mike LeVan, Kurt Bausch, Greg Breech, George Henry and Coach Harold Albertson. Assistant Coach Rick Herring was missing from the photo.

The local team beat the Western Division Champions Mifflinburg in the first playoff game, 4-3; Mifflinburg took the second game, 5-1 and the playoff game at 6-6 was called due to darkness. Mifflinburg became the American Legion Susquehanna Valley champion winning 10-6 in game four.

 

60 YEARS AGO (1960)

Jim Pegg, champion of the Washies Playground Bicycle Safety Test, was pictured demonstrating some of the techniques he used to take the title. Pegg won over the Bloomsburg champion in competition the next day for the title of Columbia-Montour Champion.

Ned Shepperson, at the competition in Bloomsburg, in the ‘circle’ test, assured a team victory for the Washies Playground. Walter McCloskey, Washies Playground director, accepted a trophy from the Bicycle Institute of America. The trophy would remain with the locals until next year’s meet; a team must win the trophy three times to permanently retire it.

The Washies Playground’s dance floor was bulging at the seams as youngsters from far and wide showed their dancing ability by doing the polka, waltz, cha-cha, and rock ‘n' roll at the playground’s "Texas Tommy Ball."

 

75 YEARS AGO (1945)

One of Montour County’s youngest sailors, William Franklin Reibsome, aged 16, had two enemy planes to his credit, according to information provided by his parents.

The young sailor, who was serving in the Pacific as a gunner, claimed he thought the Navy was fun but found that it wasn’t all play.

He gained 35 pounds since joining the Navy and grew 7 inches.

Andilly Cemetery, Nancy, France contained the grave of Pvt. Robert Ward, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Ward, who was killed in action in September 1944.

The first information the Ward family received as to where their son was interred was in a letter from Cpl. Robert Campbell, a family member, relating he had visited the grave.

Another son, Cpl. Joseph Ward, had been listed as missing in action since November, and his status was still unchanged in the War Department files, as no further info concerning his fate had been found.

A third son, Sgt. William Ward, was serving with the Armed Forces on Guam and a fourth son, Sgt. George Ward, was stationed in Alabama.

Pfc. Anthony Kosinski, son of Mrs. Anna Kosinski Danville, was en route from Stockholm, Sweden on the Snowball, the name of the Army air transport operation, for a furlough.

He had been awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the ETO Ribbon, with six battle stars, Good Conduct Medal and the pre-Pearl Harbor ribbon.

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After looking through information about the "Iron Age" for the festival last week, I remembered this story about “The Day the Locomotive Came to Town.”

A manuscript discovered by Grier Y. Boedker, consisting of more than 3,000 words, described a story about the day the "Iron Horse" arrived in Danville; it was a memorable event in the history of the town.

There was an enormous crowd of people awaiting the arrival at the Bloom Street crossing, which was an extension of the Catawissa, Williamsport and Erie Railroad, later the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroad.

“As the train came puffing down the tracks, the crowd fell back in awe and wonder. When the engine reached Bloom Street, the engineer blew the steam whistle. The unexpected noise caused a panic. Many, especially women, ran for their life screaming, some fell down, and others fell over them.” It was a chaotic scene.

I love stories about trains, as I lived near train tracks most of my life until 1978-79 when the Reading Railroad removed their tracks from Danville.

I grew up on North Mill Street and the Reading passed a little over a block away. We children would run up Hemlock Street, as you could hear the whistle starting to sound as it crossed Bloom, then Center, next Spruce, so we had plenty of time to be below the tracks to wave to the engineer and the brakeman in the caboose.

My next home was on Lower Mulberry, and the DL&W was only a half-block away and that whistle would either put me to sleep at night or wake me up in the morning.

Then after Bill and I were married, we first lived in Beaver Place and the Reading was within a block, and again the train whistle was almost like a clock.

We next moved to East Market Street across from the large lot off Wall Street and the DL&W Railroad was again very close and could easily be heard approaching.

Last move to Upper Mulberry Street and the Reading Railroad was in our back yard, the closest of all the past train tracks. The first night that we slept there, the sound of the train whistle and movement on the tracks made me sit up straight in bed. I thought it was coming through the house.

I actually can hear the whistle of the Norfolk Southern as it passes through Riverside in the early morning, a comforting sound, brings back memories. The steam whistle always intrigued me; usually made me wonder about its destination and sights seen along the way.

Sis Hause is a Danville historian. Her weekly columns appear in The Danville News.  

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