New York Troopers - History
Preserving the Past for Those Who Follow
 
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CAPTAINS TRAIN

Captain Robinson having worked briefly for the New York Central Railroad developed a great love for railroads and was a great believer in trains. During the early 1930s he had troopers lay a track adjacent to the Erie Railroad Spur located at the rear of the corral behind the barracks on East Main Street, Batavia, N.Y. Utilizing a saddle horse, the troopers hooked up a scoop shovel to level the track bed. The horse ran away several times, fortunately not injuring itself by the scoop shovel striking it’s legs. The ground was eventually leveled with the railroad ties and rails placed in position. The Captain had obtained the ties and rails from an Erie Railroad work crew and created his own rail spur.

Robinson located a small quarry locomotive that was obsolete at a stone quarry in Clarence, N.Y. The locomotive was given to him free of charge. He then found a

Caboose that was also donated. The engine and caboose were hauled to the barracks in a low flat bed truck borrowed from the Department of Transportation and set onto the rails. He had the troopers paint the engine with black enamel paint with red trim and the caboose with red enamel.

In his memoirs, T/Sgt. John Long recalled Captain Robinson’s 12-year-old son, Chandler playing on the train. He was pretending to be an engineer blowing the train’s whistle. Sgt. Long happened to be outside at the time, when Chandler said how nice it would be if there was smoke coming from the engine just like a real train. Long got some newspaper and old rubber footwear from the stable and started a fire in the locomotives boiler. The black smoke poured out in bellowing clouds, but the heat from the fire also peeled off the paint showing the rust beneath. Long told Chandler not to tell his father, as there would be big trouble for both of them. The boy never said a word. A few days later, Captain Robinson was heard to say that if he found out who started the fire, he would be fired.

The final resting place of the “Captain’s Train” could not be determined. A reasonable assumption is that it was scrapped, melted into steel and used in the war effort.

Viola Roblee, Captain Robinson’s secretary from May 1943 until his retirement in January 1944 never saw the train, as it had already been removed. She remembered him talking about his “Shawmut Line” which was what he named it.

According to Rowena Wood, wife of deceased former Senior Investigator George Wood (29 to 69), Robinson was told to have the train removed by the superintendent in about 1940. The Captain was tight-lipped and not very happy about it, but there wasn’t anything he could do. She didn’t know its final disposition.

Sometime after Robinson’s retirement in January 1944, Governor Thomas E. Dewey visiting Batavia Trooper Headquarters asked if this was the location of the famous railroad. Captain Joseph Lynch now commanding told him it was, but it had been removed several years earlier.

 
  
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