A Short Story about Ardsley Truetrack

extra.gif (2521 bytes) ARDSLEY TRUETRACK WANTED:
UPI... December 20, 2000 Click for further details on right. reward.gif (32402 bytes)
lirr70.jpg (32869 bytes)
Long Island Railroad caboose #70, stored in Bay Ridge, NY is the possible first victim of Ardsley's mischief.
brokseal.jpg (17894 bytes)
Harry Hassler, Chief of Police NY&W, indicates the broken seal in the yard on one of the boxcars.
bayridgestalk.jpg (23032 bytes)
So..., the pursuit begins in the Bay Ridge Yard.
noparking.jpg (33379 bytes)
Seems there is a problem over at the siding, also.

ontherun.jpg (23382 bytes)
The hunt continues with Harry, in pursuit in the yard

bryardwest.jpg (26001 bytes)
Looking west into the yard the trail proceeds east..

The trail proceedes north through Brooklyn.

graffiti.jpg (38055 bytes)
More graffiti as we enter the tunnel.

tunnel.jpg (6537 bytes)
Possible danger lurks in the darkness?
onthehunt.jpg (27097 bytes)
Exiting the north end, in pursuit...
hideout.jpg (23798 bytes)
Appears we have found the hideout, abandoned...

endofline.jpg (28614 bytes)
And the trail leads to this siding...

hotcar.jpg (24821 bytes)
Where we find the late 1960's Dodge Dart(?) "getaway" car.

Steven Lynch


UPI: Albany, NY Dec. 22, 2000

A Subpoena was issued in upstate NY as a result of the slanderous accusations of one Ardsley Truetrack by the Law Offices of Crooke and Swidler representing PA&DB RR officials. Judge Uneeda Justice presided over the trial and awarded a libel settlement in the sum of $3,000,000.00 (1955 HO dollars to the officials. President and CEO when asked what he planned to do when and if he is able to collect from this, as Judge Justice named him "this libelous deadbeat", Mr. Brinkmoeller was quoted as saying, "I am going to Disney World" (wherever that is.)


The management of the PA&DB and that of the NY&W RRs, recently received a copy of Ardsley Truetrack's biography, The Early Years, and were quite enraged by Mr. Truetrack’s accusations. The manuscript was presented to the President of the PA&DB, as he lay in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack, by the President and CEO of the Taconic and South Bay RR.

Once again, Mr. Truetrack’s twisted mind has tried in vain to discredit the reputations of high ranking railroad officials. As in most criminal investigations, the investigating officers never reveal all the details of the crime, so too in the episode described by Ardsley. Once again, he portrays himself as the victim but unbeknownst to Mr. Truetrack, two railfans had been shooting pictures at this time and were photographing the rare appearance of a New York and Western engine on the PA&DB, using their cameras with telephoto lenses. These two honorable citizens came forward shortly after the accident and allowed Officer Krumpke and officer Ketchum to take possession of their cameras and the films they contained. The officers took the cameras and the film that they had taken of the scene to police headquarters. The FBI processed the film and the photos clearly show Mr. Truetrack spreading journal lubricant over the rails prior to the accident. The oilcan, which was discovered in the bushes near the scene, was also sent to the FBI where they positively identified the fingerprints as those of Mr. Truetrack, from his employment records and those of his childhood local police department. It appears Ardsley even in his youth had a Peeping Tom problem, and was arrested outside the church’s organist home as she was entertaining the choirmaster after rehearsals one summer evening. Fortunately, they had observed young Ardsley peering through the bushes on the previous week and had notified the authorities and who then followed young Ardsley and arrested him. Ardsley’s account of the caboose fire is also refuted in these films which clearly show Ardsley creeping into the caboose sans the fire extinguisher he claims to have used in saving the caboose, it also shows Ardsley clearly tossing a lit lantern into the caboose.

Even Ardsley’s reference to the "Keystone Cops" shows Ardsley active imagination, and the films clearly show officer Ketchum of the Danasburg police stepping from his 54 Buick cruiser. Furthermore, neither officer is in possession of a Model T Ford.

Ardsley again runs afoul when he claims to have hidden in the church. At the time of the accident, Father Flanagan was standing outside the Holy Family Church with Father Brinkmann and the members of the bridal party and guests after performing a wedding ceremony for Mr. & Mrs. Shoestring. The photographer snapped Ardsley as he raced paced, his singed trenchcoat flapping in the wind. Ardsley tried to board the Lizzy B that was tied up at the pier by the Sea Catch cannery, but was stopped by the crew. The last accounts by the crew seem that Ardsley jumped onto a slow moving freight headed into Rothaug Yard.

After meetings with the accused officials and those of the NY&W, a subpoena was issued by Judge Wisemann of the Danasburg First District Court against Ardsley and the author of this slanderous document for Libel.

In a statement delivered at the courthouse to members of the press, PA&DB representatives thanked law enforcement officials and the judge for their efforts in bringing this madman to justice. Walter Cronkite ended today’s newscast with the prophetic statement, "When and where will this Truetrack debacle end? When will Ardsley cease making ludicrous allegations end."

Ardsley Truetrack (correct spelling), self proclaimed railroader par excellence, claims to be the husband of Camellia Vanderbilt, daughter of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, founder of the New York Central Railroad. (The absurdity of this is that even someone with a college degree could figure that he would have to be at least 120 years old for this claim to be true.) He believes that he has the right, nay, the obligation to roam at will, the properties of the former New York Central System (and any connecting roads) as if on a permanent inspection tour. The Commodore himself, he says, granted this mandate to him, so that he (Ardsley) could be the eyes and ears for the Commodore.

While not exactly malicious, he comes off as a doddering old fool. Don’t let his appearance or manner fool you! He is a master of disguises, and knows how to evade detection and capture as well as any foreign agent. While there are many outstanding warrants for his arrest through the NYC operating area, no law enforcement agency has been able to hold him for more then a few hours. Usually, a short time after his arrest, a mysterious phone call comes in to the police station and Ardsley is released into his own custody. Upon exiting the police station, Ardsley almost evaporates into the local scene, to resume his observations and file his reports.

If one thing can be counted on, it’s that if there’s an operational mishap on a railroad in the northeast, Ardsley will have witnessed it happening. He has an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time to catch employee errors. His reports to the Commodore (or whoever his "Godfather" is) are legendary; more then one Superintendent has been called on the carpet to explain the why’s and wherefore’s of an embarrassing incident. Some of the incidents Ardsley has reported include:

  • A caboose "parked" in the middle of Main Street.
  • The crash of a new NYC F unit into a Caboose by an unqualified NY&W engineer.
  • The near de-forestation of large tracts of land on the PA & DB.
  • About that school thing…we’re going to leave that covered up for now.

If you see a guy in a long trench coat and a fedora lurking about, beware! It is probably Ardsley Truetrack.

Biographical material provided by Stephen T. Rothaug - President T&SB Railroad

Ardsley Truetrack - The History

The Early Years

Chapter 1…………..In The Beginning

Chapter 2…………..Orphaned

Chapter 3…………..The First Job

Chapter 4…………..Transformation

Chapter 5…………..The First Incident

Chapter 6…………..Runaway on the Genesee & Erie

Chapter 7…………..The Caboose Caper

Chapter 8…………..Run Free, Run Wild; the Diesel Chronicle

Chapter 9…………..One, Two, Tree: Environmental Express

Chapter 10………….Off The Hook

Chapter 1

It started innocently enough. It was an event that occurred in tens of thousands of homes across the country. But nowhere did it have the impact that it did in this one house. A father, kind and caring, brought home a brand new set of shiny Lionel trains for his three year old son.

It was a simple set, consisting of a 2-8-4 Berkshire (with a whistle in the tender), a Baby Ruth boxcar, a gondola loaded with three white canisters, a working milk car and an orange Lionel Lines caboose. A simple loop of three-rail was quickly laid around the Christmas tree and wires were run from the transformer to the snap-on power connector. The engine and cars were put on the rails, coupled together and with a twist of the transformer handle, the train moved around the "layout" with ease. The action of the valve gear, the sound of the wheels and the white wispy smoke emanating from the stack of the big Berk mesmerized the child. He spent hours watching that little train go round and round.

At the tender age of three, Ardsley Truetrack was hooked on railroading! As Ardsley grew, so did the train set. By the time he was 11, there was too much to put under the tree. Now it occupied a small table in the corner of the basement. By age 15 it took up almost half of the spacious room and by 18 it consumed every square inch available. Aptly, the rolling stock and engines also multiplied. The two huge KZ transformers could run 8 trains simultaneously and still have reserve power for all of the operating accessories such as the log loader, coal loader, milk car and crossing shanty.

Young Ardsley was in his glory when he was at the controls. Among his favorite engines were the New York Central Hudson, the Pennsy GG-1 and the classic F3’s with the Santa Fe war bonnet paint scheme. He bought smoke pellets by the box full, for the acrid white smoke added to his enjoyment. At times, the basement was so smoky that it looked like a real engine terminal.

But this involvement in Lionel trains took its toll on Ardsley. His school grades suffered, as did his social life. With his low grades, college wasn’t even an option. And where a "normal" young man of 18 would be chasing ‘skirts’, Ardsley’s only thoughts were of skirted passenger cars. He was under the care of a psychiatrist for a time, but eventually refused to go to any more sessions.

If the status quo could have been maintained, Ardsley would have run his trains forever and not cared about the real world. But that wasn’t to be. When Ardsley’s father took ill and died rather suddenly, his mother, her heart broken over the loss of her dear husband fell into a deep depression. Ardsley probably wouldn’t have noticed anything different, but one day just as his miniature Twentieth Century Limited was about to blast through Breakneck Point the electricity to the house was shut off for non-payment of the bill. All of the trains ground to a halt, lights went out, and the music stopped.

Ardsley’s life was about to change, and he had little say in the matter.

Chapter 2

 His mother’s health was in a downward spiral and nothing seemed to help her. Relatives were summoned from near and far to make peace with the ailing woman. She pretty much ignored everyone except for one distinguished gentleman. When he entered the room, her eyes lit up. She reached up from her bed and pulled his ear close to her mouth and feebly whispered something in his ear. No one in the room heard what was said, but he was clearly shaken by what she told him. Then she let go of him and quietly passed away.

Many people attended the burial service for Mrs. Truetrack, including the mysterious well-dressed gentleman to whom she spoke just before her demise. Some thought it unusual that the casket was conveyed down the aisle on a fleet of Lionel flatcars running on twenty parallel tracks laid the entire length of the church. To Ardsley, it made perfect sense. It took almost all of his engines to move the heavy weight. (He decided to use a push-pull arrangement to get the job done within the time allotted in his timetable.) And yes, the smoke from the stacks smelled remarkably like incense!

After the burial, the mourners dispersed quietly, leaving Ardsley wondering how he was to survive. He had no marketable skills and there was no inheritance, nothing! In his grief (how am I going to operate my trains?) Ardsley failed to notice the gray Packard (with white lightning stripes) parked on the road. In it, the well-dressed man was talking to another, and pointing rather disdainfully in Ardsley’s direction. Then the car sped off.

It was a few days later when the second man in the car knocked on the door of the Truetrack residence. When Ardsley answered, the man introduced himself as a Mr. Pearlman, an aide to "the Commodore". It seems that Mrs. Truetrack was somehow related to the Commodore and on her deathbed begged him to take care of her son, Ardsley. Before he could beg off, she passed away. As hard-hearted as he was, not even the Commodore could ignore a last request from a dying woman. So Mr. Pearlman had come to offer Ardsley Truetrack a job with the New York Central Railroad!

Ardsley was stunned! A railroad job! On the Central! Only in his wildest dreams, could he imagine this happening! He quickly accepted and was told to report to Grand Central Station the following Monday at 7am. For the remainder of the week all he could think about was this job. What’s it to be, he wondered? Engineer? Dispatcher? Division Superintendent? Why, even a lowly Station Master would be Ok to start. Railroading was in his blood, he knew he was destined for greatness and this was the break he was waiting for. He would make the name Truetrack known and respected throughout the railroad industry.

 Chapter 3

He arrived at Grand Central at the appointed time and was met by yet another aide to the Commodore. He was given a ticket (for which $11.67 was to be deducted from his first paycheck) and put on a train to Albany. A connection delivered him to Syracuse and from there he boarded a decrepit coach on the end of a milk train that was returning empties to Malone, just south of the Canadian border. Upon reaching Malone, no aide met him this time. Just a note tacked to the terminal door instructing Ardsley to go to an address in town (town? That was an overstatement! There were more cows then people here).

He found the address and knocked on the door. The man who answered was the local agent for the Central and had received his instructions for Mr. Truetrack by telegram. The agent and a bewildered Mr. Truetrack walked about three miles south along the right-of-way to a shanty near a dirt grade crossing in the middle of a cornfield. The agent took a stop sign out of the tiny shanty and handed it to Ardsley. He said, "ven da train comes, hold da sign up and stop da traffic on da road. Ven da train is gone, put da sign avay till anudder train comes, den put da sign up again". With that, the agent walked back to town, leaving Ardsley in charge of the least used crossing on the least used branch on the entire New York Central System.

Ardsley was as confused as he’d ever been. There were questions to be answered, but no one to ask! Among them were such perplexing ones such as:

  1. Where am I?
  2. I have no money so where am I going to stay, what am I going to eat?
  3. Other then the clothes on my back, this trench coat and fedora, what will I wear?
  4. How can I become a railroad magnet when I’m stuck here in this forgotten outpost?

And the one that really blew his mind:

5. How can the trains possibly run on these tracks when there’s only 2 rails?

There were no answers, only the wind rustling the corn stalks in the nearby field.

And so began Ardsley’s auspicious career on the New York Central Railroad.

 Chapter 4

 The weeds told the story. Looking at the dirt road as it approached the tracks, Ardsley noted that the weeds were a few inches tall. He studied the surroundings for a while and realized that this "road" was no more than a tractor path connecting the two halves of the farm bisected by the railroad. There hadn’t been a vehicle on this path for weeks. Rail traffic was not much better. The southbound milk train came through each day at 5:30am and returned at 2:45pm. That was it! He surveyed the crossing shanty next. It was about 6 by 6 feet, had two windows, one facing north the other south, and a door. There was a wooden coal bin on the side, half filled with coal. Inside there was a small desk, a creaky chair and a potbelly stove with a sooty stack running up through the roof. And, the stop sign on a pole. Ardsley knew only one thing for sure: he had to get out of here. But how?

He fell asleep in the chair pondering his next move and did not awake until the southbound milk train came by at 5:30am. He woke with a start, grabbed the stop sign and ran for the crossing. The folly of his actions struck him as he stood in the dark protecting a crossing that no one used. In a moment of uncharacteristic boldness and initiative, Ardsley threw the sign into the cornfield and hopped aboard the slowly moving train.

"Look out world", he thought, "Ardsley Truetrack is on the move!"

He had no idea how much fear those words would bring to railroad men in future years!

 Chapter 5

The trip south was uneventful but slow due to the frequent stops at dairy farms and creameries along the route. The conductor, surprised to see him in the rickety coach, questioned his authority to ride the milk train. Ardsley was able to produce an official unlimited New York Central pass with no expiration date. (The pass looked as old as the hills and probably was, for he found it lodged behind one of the drawers in the old desk in the shanty. In the years to come, this single document would cause more trouble for the Central than anything that a team of Philadelphia lawyers could draw up in their lifetime.) That pass satisfied the conductor and Ardsley was ignored for the rest of the trip. Perhaps ignored is the wrong word here, for the conductor, brakeman and the head end crew all gathered in the cab to discuss the man in the trench coat, riding their train. The general consensus was that he must be a Company spy, most likely from Security or Operations, checking up on them. Their conversation got so involved that the train passed three sidings that should have been worked. By the time the crew became aware of their error, the train was too far south to do anything about it. There would be hell to pay for this! The train continued on its way while each crewman tried to figure out how to blame someone else for the mistake. Career-long friendships dissolved in minutes as charges started to fly around the cab. When the train reached Syracuse, Ardsley departed and left the area without ever knowing the trouble he caused. This scenario would be repeated many times in the coming years.

 Chapter 6

Ardsley remained in central New York for several months. He found that by showing his NYC pass, he could get meals for free at the beanerys and diners that exist in railroad towns and for a few bucks, he rented a room in a local flophouse or sometimes at the ‘Y’. He had an arrangement with the post office in Malone in which they would forward his paycheck, meager as it was, to wherever he was at the time. He spent most of his days exploring branch lines and independent operations that connected to the Central. At night, he studied the employee’s timetable and a book of rules that he swiped from the milk train.

One night in early July, Ardsley found himself in Rochester. He was inspecting the Genesee & Erie operation to see if it should be absorbed by the Central or simple put out if business. He was too restless to sleep, so Ardsley donned his coat and hat and walked down to the yard to see what was going on. As he walked through the yard, he was careful not to be spotted, for the railroad dick, a guy named Buckshot had a bad reputation for beating on hobo’s and transients found in the yard. He was passing by a maintenance shed when he knocked over an empty oil drum causing quite a racket. That startled two workers who were cooping in the shed. They stumbled out only to see a coated figure running down the tracks and between a string of freight cars. They decided to go back to work rather then give chase and forgot about the stranger. But as they returned to their job, a huge shadow silently loomed out of the darkness and gaining speed rolled passed the two stunned men. The men knew that there were no crews sorting cars that night so it must be a runaway and it was heading for the main line! It was only the quick thinking of another employee that averted a sure disaster. He switched the runaway onto an uphill siding (the coal trestle) and when it slowed, he was able to jump on the ladder and apply the brake. A hostler, moving engines around, was summoned and returned the car to the yard.

(After an exhaustive investigation, the following facts were obtained:

  1. The day crew swore that the brakes were properly set on that car when they finished their work.
  2. The Division Foreman accounted for all the men on the night shift in Avon. But since they’re all a bunch of drunks, are still suspect.
  3. While the existence of a stranger in a trench coat and fedora cannot be proven, Bruno Buckshot reported that a man fitting the description of the stranger was seen earlier in the day snooping around G&E facilities.
  4. It doesn’t appear that the NY&W, the destination for the runaway car, had anything to do with the incident. However, that is a dead-beat operation, owing several hundred dollars in per diem fees to the G&E. There might be a connection.

The case is closed pending new information that might turn up.)

Ardsley escaped capture in this episode by the skin of his teeth. What happened was this: In his attempt to escape detection, Ardsley ran down the track and slipped between a string of cars to another track. Fearful that he was being chased, he climbed up a ladder to hide atop a boxcar. The belt on his trench coat got tangled in the brake wheel and in trying furiously to free it, managed to turn the wheel just enough to release the brakes. As the car started to roll, he jumped to the roof of another car and hid there until the coast was clear. He then quickly departed the area and made his way back to Syracuse.

After this incident, it was to be a few years before Ardsley Truetrack surfaced again.

 Chapter 7

On the east side of the Hudson River, southeast of Albany, NY there’s an old industrial town named Ghent. There are still enough factories there to warrant regular freight and passenger service. The Port AnnMarie & Danasburg Railroad, a subsidiary of the New York Central, handles those chores. The PA&DB is run by a tough Dutchman, who rules it with an iron fist. Rulebook violations are verboten on this road! Many an operator has been chastised for thumbing his nose at the book and/or the boss. But all of this notwithstanding, Ardsley Truetrack zeroed in on the PA&DB for some of his most famous, or should it be said infamous, exploits. There have been more confirmed sightings of Mr. Truetrack on this railroad than on any other line. His letters, memos and communiqués to "Commodore Vanderbilt" are legendary! More then once the CEO of the PA&DB was on the carpet in the Commodores downtown office to explain how this or that happened.

Usually Ardsley’s reports were unfounded, but once in a while he picked up on an event that the PA&DB management would have liked to forget. The railroad already had some public relations problems with the mayor’s office in Port AnnMarie. Freight and passenger trains often block the grade crossings, tying up vehicle and pedestrian traffic for blocks. The mayor is constantly running down to the station to lodge official complaints against the railroad’s unwillingness to honor agreements made regarding this issue. While it doesn’t appear that Ardsley Truetrack had anything to do with the traffic tie-ups, he was there to report each and every one to "the Commodore". Vanderbilt’s "let the public be damned" attitude was once OK because he was so powerful it didn’t matter what anybody thought. But it’s not that way anymore. Public Relations are a big thing, and the Central had the best PR men in the industry, but they were spending too much time explaining events on the PA&DB.

Take the caboose that was found blocking the main intersection in town. It was at least seventy feet from the nearest rail, just sitting there, presenting quite an obstacle to the townspeople. The mayor really blew his cork over this incident. Management made feeble excuses about some 0-5-0 dropping the caboose there in a switching move, but investigators could find no record of a 0-5-0 on the roster of the PA&DB or any railroad serving the town. What investigators did discover was that the caboose came into town the previous night on a local freight, and was spotted in a siding while the crew did their switching duties. Officer Krumpke (NYC RR Police) said that several witnesses reported seeing a stranger wearing a trench coat and fedora in the area at that same time. Officer Ketchem (PAPD), at the desk on the graveyard shift, reported many complaints from nearby residents regarding excessive noise coming from the rail yard.

The record shows that Krumpke and Ketchem searched the area for the stranger to no avail. However, a few days later the dry cleaner had an interesting story to tell. When he arrived to open his shop that day, a bag filled with wet smelly clothing was at his door. Attached to the bag was a $20 bill and a note requesting that the clothes be cleaned, put in a brown bag and left by the gazebo in Danasburg. The cleaner said the clothes reeked of brackish water like that found in the harbor. Since the $20 was more than enough to cover his costs, he complied with the request in the note. Ketchem remembered that there was one complaint that night of a naked man running past widow Slaydem’s house, but since the only description she could give was a very graphic, detailed one of his private parts, never followed up on it. Everyone wondered if there was a connection between the incidents. (The populace of this town isn’t too swift!)

By this time, a name was finally attached to the mysterious stranger in the trench coat and fedora:

Ardsley Truetrack.

The final report indicated that while there was no proof, Ardsley Truetrack was the most likely culprit. A warrant for his arrest was issued and an APB was sent out to all police forces to be on the lookout for Ardsley Truetrack. He was a wanted man!

Ardsley, for his part, was a crafty individual. He seemed to know when to show himself and when to stay in hiding. For now, evasion was the way to go. He moved only at night, finding secure hiding places during daylight hours. It was while he was at one of his favorite hiding spots that he witnessed the nest incident.

For once he was completely innocent!

 Chapter 8

The following is a transcript of Ardsley Truetrack’s statement to the author taken many years after the event took place.

"It was Thanksgiving time if memory serves me correctly. Due to some nefarious reasons, I had taken up residence in the attic of the freight station in Port AnnMarie. It was either late afternoon or early evening when I heard a diesel engine turn over then start up. Now it wasn’t unusual for that to happen, especially on a holiday period. This road often runs extras on holidays. (There’s a rather large railfan, er, make that a railfan community, in the area and they often come down to the depot to watch the trains run.) I crawled over to a small crack in the plastic wall of the building and peered out to see what was going on. I could see an engine (F3 or E8?) running back and forth on the tracks in front of me. There was a crewman throwing switches to route the engine to various tracks. Something seemed odd to my trained (no pun intended) eyes. I climbed down from the attic and furtively moved to the tall stack on the tugboat tied up at the dock. I was a pretty good vantage point to observe the goings on in town. As I watched the diesel go back and forth, I tried to see the engineer, but I couldn’t make out who it was. At some angles he looked familiar, but I wasn’t able to put a name on the face. I thought that if I could get closer I might be able to ID him. I lowered myself from my perch on the stack and moved under cover near the lumberyard, hard by the side of the tracks. As I peeked out from behind a stack of lumber, the diesel moved passed at a relatively high speed and rammed a caboose that was spotted on the track. The noise was terrific! I thought the caboose would be reduced to kindling, but it wasn’t. There was some damage to the couplers and a little smoke was coming from a side window of the caboose. The engineer climbed out of the cab and was met by the CEO. Neither noticed the smoke from the caboose. Officers’ Krumpke and Ketchem arrived on scene (in a Model T, no less. I thought I was watching the Keystone Kops!) and while they conferred with the CEO, the smoke thickened. Something had to be done! I, Ardsley Truetrack, had to act. Risking everything I had going for me, I ran from the lumberyard with a fire extinguisher in hand. Across the tracks, up the steps and into the inferno I went! There were a few cardboard boxes fully aflame. I emptied the extinguisher on the blaze, pretty much putting it out. I heard voices and turned around to see the two cops running towards the rear of the caboose. I had to get out of there, and fast! I dropped the extinguisher and raced to the front of the car. Flinging the door open, I leapt from the platform to the ground and ran for my life. The two cops reached the front platform just in time to see me duck behind the creamery. They gave chase but never found me as I hid in a small grove of pine trees beyond the building. I stayed there a very long time. I saw the CEO and the guy who had beer running the diesel walk away talking, as if they were friends. The guy had on a hat with a NY&W logo on it. Very interesting. I wondered, was he was qualified to run an engine on the PA&DB? I had some investigating to do!

When the scene was quiet, I made my way to the church in Danasburg and fell asleep high up in the steeple. Life on the lam is not an easy one.

Waking before sunrise, I left the church the same way I got in, through an unlocked window. I went to a diner and while sipping my coffee listened to the scuttlebutt regarding yesterday’s incident. Embers knocked from the potbelly stove by the impact apparently dropped into some cardboard boxes causing the fire. The boxes were filled with some kind of family records, enroute to New York City. All that was pedestrian stuff! What caught my ear was the talk of an unqualified engineer operating the locomotive. This was serious! Rumor had it that while the NY&W guy made a hasty retreat back to someplace named Littletown, on Long Island, the Dutchman was attempting a clumsy cover-up of the collision. But, I, Ardsley Truetrack knew that the truth must prevail! I would make sure that the Commodore knew first-hand about this flagrant rulebook violation! Someone would pay for this!

Being the eyes and ears of the Commodore was a huge task, but I knew I could handle it!"

Ardsley’s narrative of the collision ends here. It can be added that the Commodore was informed of the incident and that the Dutchman had to pay for the damages out of his own pocket. It should also be noted that while the NY&W employee was never identified, a PR man from that road (a Mr.Lynch) offered to help locate replacement equipment from his main supplier, eBay & Associates. That simple act so impressed the Commodore that, over the Dutchman’s strenuous objections, he declared all NY&W engineers qualified to run any locomotive on the PA&DB.

 Chapter 9

Hiding is no easy task. One would think that moving about without being noticed would be a simple thing, but Ardsley Truetrack found it to be the major challenge of his life. Lying low during daylight hours and crawling around spying at night was not the life of glamour he had envisioned for himself. But one thing he did enjoy was seeing the countryside by moonlight. In his need to find suitable cover from which to watch the goings-on, Ardsley became quite a naturalist. He taught himself how to apply camouflage so that he could blend into almost any environment. From heavy industrial zones to the rural countryside, Ardsley could become virtually invisible! A mere shadow here, a clump of shrubbery there, Ardsley’s bag of tricks was impressive.

Ardsley took note of some amazing things and reported most of them to the Commodore. One fault that he found was the neat total de-forestation of the countryside surrounding the PA&DB railroad. Vast acres looked as if they devoid of living things for a thousand years. Ardsley was appalled! Mother Earth had given man so much, and man in turned striped her bare. A few letters to the Commodore produced the desired result.

Directives were handed down to the Dutchman to improve the real estate along the PA&DB right-of-way, or else! The "or else" was never defined, but not even a man as stubborn, opinionated and ornery as the Dutchman wanted to find out what it meant.

Botanists and tree experts from a local arboretum were hired to survey the situation and make recommendations as to what had to be done. The problem was fairly obvious, as was the solution. They scoured the dumps and landfills for discarded artificial Christmas trees and brought them to a place called "the basement" where a skilled craftsman hacked them into proper tree shapes. After gluing on some fake "leaves", the trees were planted into the terrain. Ardsley was surprised at just how good they looked. Vast tracts suddenly bloomed with trees and vegetation. His scheme had worked!

Ardsley in his self-centered world never cared a bit about nature! He just wanted more places to hide, and he got what he wanted! However it can be said that the PA&DB was the better for it.

 Chapter 10

Things were going pretty well for Ardsley. He knew the surrounding area enough so that he always had a warm, dry place to sleep and he rarely went hungry, for there was always someplace to get food. Weather-wise, it seemed like Danasburg was stuck in a state of perpetual fall. Beautiful weather (a little humid in the summer) was a great blessing. He loved the freedom he had to roam around and explore things. The last thing on his mind was the police, for Ardsley had developed a knack for evading them. But unfortunately for him, the long arm of the law was hot on his trail.

One Wednesday night as he was munching on crumb cake at the home of A. Gould, owner of the A. Gould Screw Company, the Port AnnMarie PD moved in and picked up Ardsley on a multitude of charges. Among them were charges of trespassing, vandalism, breaking and entering, and for being an all-around pain in the ass. The last charge wasn’t really against the law, but gave everyone involved a great sense of satisfaction! He was hauled off to the station house and locked in a holding cell while the ADA prepared for the arraignment. Railroad men across the northeast breathed a collective sigh of relief as word of Ardsley’s arrest spread like wildfire throughout the region.

Ardsley was as depressed as he had ever been, for the situation seemed hopeless. What was he to do? How could his actions be construed as illegal, when all he was doing was protecting his benefactor’s business interests? He was not some bumbling fool roaming around causing trouble! He was Ardsley Truetrack, nephew of the great Commodore! Suddenly, Ardsley knew what had to be done. He dashed off a letter, gave it to the guard to mail and sat back with confidence, for he knew how he would get out of this mess once and for all.

That the letter, sent on a PA&DB RPO, ever found its way to the addressee was in it itself a minor miracle considering the PA&DB’s ragged scheduling. When the letter was read, a few discrete phone calls were made to people who could get things done quietly, but firmly. They in turn made calls, one to he mayor of Port AnnMarie, another to the Dutchman who runs the PA&DB, a third to the president of the Genesee & Erie, and so on down the list. The gist of the one-sided conversations was that if all charges against Ardsley Truetrack were dropped the New York Central Railroad would continue to interchange freight and passenger traffic with certain railroads named in the complaint against Mr. Truetrack. The callers didn’t have to say what would happen if the charges were not dropped, for the recipients knew very well. Some would call this extortion, but the big guys at the top of the food chain called it leverage, and they knew how to wield their power to get what they wanted.

One by one the charges against Ardsley were dropped until there was nothing left to hold him on. Reluctantly, Ardsley was released from jail and sent on his way. But the upstate rail operators did extract one condition from the Commodore: Ardsley was never to set foot on their property again, ever!

The Commodore called in a couple of markers and found two operations where Ardsley would be permitted. The target companies were the Taconic & South Bay on the west side of the Hudson below Poughkeepsie, and the New York & Western on Long Island.

Pity those railroaders who have to put up with Ardsley Truetrack’s shenanigans! At last report the CEO’s of the two lines, Steve L. and Steve R. were conferring as to exactly which saloon is mid-way between their two operations. They are looking for a quiet spot where they can drown their troubles and commiserate over their common problem, Ardsley Truetrack.

Biographical material provided by Stephen T. Rothaug - President T&SB Railroad  Anything not right? Contact him!