It was only after I returned from a recent visit to Pennsylvania that I was reminded of an old expression my dad used, “Going to Bucksgahuda where the geese wear pants!” I never knew what he meant by it but I've been doing a little research and came across a couple things I did not know about, namely the existence of two “living history” museums, if you will, in praise of the narrow-gauge railroads that once criss-crossed Pennsylvania. These were worker railroads, not meant for passengers. They hauled coal from the mines and lumber from the forests and were an integral part of Pennsylvania's growth and prosperity.
I've been trying to find out where the word “Bucksgahuda” comes from and all I've found is an old Bavarian legend told to children to get them to do their chores. Apparently the kids were told that there was a land called Bucksgahuda and little boys (and presumably little girls, too) who failed to do their chores, would be swooped up by a giant gander and carried off to Bucksgahuda. There they would be transformed into baby geese while still wearing their overalls, thus the expression where the geese wear pants. Why that name was chosen for the Bucksgahuda & Western Railroad, I don't know but I like it.
The Bucksgahuda & Western Railroad got its start in 1966 when the Bauer brothers from St. Mary's purchased a narrow-gauge steam locomotive from Germany. They named it Otto and Otto was the beginning of an outdoor, living history museum. They started out by laying 15 feet of narrow-gauge track (two feet wide) and gradually, through the years, added to the museums collection. Among the additions area second steam engine named Henry, a gasoline-powered engine named “Norman,” a Shay that was rebuilt, a 10-ton deisel-hydraulic Plymouth locomotive, and so the collection grew.
The entire Bucksgahuda & Western Railroad collection is in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, and is occasionally open to the public. You can find out more about it at their web site: www.bnwrr.com.
The Teaberry & Southern Railroad was started in 1972 by Paul and Bill Krellner, also of St. Marys, and is listed as a “hobby railroad.” It runs along Route 120, the Bucktail Trail. The Teaberry & Southern operates on no particular schedule that I could find but it looks like fun. This video was posted on YouTube.
So, in my home town of St. Mary's, Pennsylvania, the love of narrow-gauge steam locomotives seems to be thriving. It makes me happy to know that these bits of our history are still loved and appreciated and preserved for future generations.
Thanks for reading.