Sayre Historical Society

Tours by appointment. The museum will be open Saturdays (10 to 4) and Wednesdays (from 5 to 7 p.m.) through December. Admission is free.

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The Sayre Historical Society is open Saturday's from 10 to 4 and Wednesday's from 5 to 7.

“Runway coal car!” featured in Sayre Quarterly

CAPTION: Bystanders inspect the damage to nine vehicles damaged when a runaway coal car crashed in 1967 literally feet from the Lehigh Valley Railroad station in Sayre. Thirty-two-year-old Owen Fassett Jr. amazingly rode the coal car through two crossings before jumping off just prior to the crash. No one was injured.

The fall issue of the Sayre Historical Society’s Quarterly publication has a compelling story on the 1967 runaway coal car that averted tragedy and has entered the lore of Valley history.

Written by Nancy Fassett, the article recounts the once-in-a-lifetime experience of 32-year-old Owen Fassett Jr. who was unloading a car of coal at John H. Murray & Son when the car started to move. The story relates the amazing ride through two road crossings all the way to Sayre before it came to a crashing halt literally feet from the Lehigh Valley Railroad passenger station.

“As the car entered the Sayre yards, it started to tip to the left, and that is when Owen jumped and started running”, according to the article. “The coal car was loaded with fifty to seventy tons of coal.”

Other articles in the fall issue include a feature story on the historic Rest Cemetery and the long-standing efforts to maintain the burial ground that contains the remains of over 200 early residents including Valley pioneer John Shepard.

“The first burial, according to tradition, was an 18-year-old nephew of John Shepard’s, whose name was Chester Pierce. The historical record suggests young Pierce was the victim of an accident caused when his foot became caught in a stirrup while riding a horse and he was dragged to death. Unfortunately, no record was made of his burial in the cemetery and no grave marker exists today that shows his final resting place,” the article states.

A 1941 Sayre High School program donated by the late Mary Zimmer of Sayre, lists the names of the football players, band members, color guard and “S” Club members of the old Red and Blue. Sam Olisky was president of the S Club and members included Tom Worthington, Steve Ball, Charles Stevens and others. The color guard leader was Lois Woodward and the drum major was Marjorie Bizilia.

Another feature is a series of photographs taken in 1975-76 showing the Sayre railroad yards before the famous Route of the Black Diamond was merged into Consolidated Rail Corp. on April 1, 1976. The photographic slides were taken by former Valley resident Alain Robiolio and donated to the historical society.

LVRR officials back in 1890 are featured in a large photograph in the center section of the booklet. Names from the past identified in the photograph include J.W. Bishop, Bert Hayden, George Lacey, and E.O. Pealer, along with several others.

The Quarterly concludes with a retrospective of the recent Rotating Exhibit on “The Mighty Susquehanna.” The story includes rare images of Native American sites around Sayre including an underground sweat bath which was rendered by the late Ellsworth Cowles, flood pictures from 1936 courtesy of Sayre historian James Nobles and an interesting account of long distance swimmer Russell Chaffee of Sayre.

“In 1966, the former math teacher swam the entire distance of the Susquehanna River accompanied along the way by local Boy Scouts in canoes,” the article states. “Mr. Chaffee’s endurance endeavor was chronicled by the local radio station that reported on his progress along the river.” Chaffee recorded an amazing record of long distance swims.

The local history publication is available to members of the Sayre Historical Society who receive issues of the publication four times per year. Individual issues are available at the historical society on Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7. The booklet is also carried locally by Carls Newsstand in downtown Sayre.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The organization is membership-supported and a recipient of United Way funding.

Newest exhibit remembers the Dave Smith Run

CAPTION: A group of runners at the Dave Smith Run include Dale Smith and Tom Williams, race organizers, and brothers Eric and Craig Childs, along with others, in a race in the late 1980's. (Photo provided by Randy Felt)

SAYRE – The newest exhibit at the Sayre Historical Society focuses on a young Sayre man who had a big impact on the town where he lived.

“Remembering the Dave Smith Run” will open Saturday, September 5 as part of the annual History Fair and continue until Sunday, December 20 in the museum’s Rotating Exhibit Room.

The Dave Smith Run was named in honor of a 1980 graduate of Sayre High School who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma while in high school and bravely battled the disease until his demise on December 26, 1983. In the year after his death, the first Dave Smith Victory Run was held at the Sayre High School track to celebrate the life of Dave Smith. High school friend Tom Williams and Dave’s twin brother, Dale, approached the local chapter of the American Cancer Society to find a way to help. The idea was to host a 24-hour relay run where a group of runners would take turns running on the track, covering over 240 miles in that time period and raising money for cancer research.

“We were just a couple of young guys,” recalled Dale Smith. Eighteen years and countless miles later, the event had raised over a half million dollars for cancer research.

CAPTION: Dave Smith is pictured in his 1980 Sayrenade yearbook photo.

The first year runners endured bad weather and a rough cinder track at Sayre, but managed to raise $1,500 in contributions. Over the years, the race became an inspiring example of community generosity. Year after year, the event organizers motivated more and more people to become involved in their cause. There were numerous “connections” organized in local businesses and surrounding towns: The Ingersoll Rand Connection, The Guthrie Connection, The Towanda Connection, The Troy Connection, and The Mary Barry Connection, to name a few.

Despite a bitter ending when the race organizers had a dispute with the American Cancer Society over distribution of funds, the Dave Smith Run remains in the hearts of countless people.

“The experience of those 24 hours, in one place and doing what we did, had such an impact on other individuals,” said Dale Smith. “It was such a positive experience.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Museum hours are Wednesdays from 5 to 7 and Saturdays from 10 to 4.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The society is a recipient of funds provided by the United Way.

“Sayre’s Days of Old” topic of History Under the Stars program

"History Under the Stars" will take place on Saturday August 22nd beginning at 7PM with music with the actual program beginning at 8PM followed by the Sayre Fireworks.

CAPTION: Sayre’s “lamplighter of long, long ago,” Haight Griswold, will be one of the featured historic images at the first History Under the Stars program at the Sayre Historical Society on Saturday, August 22.

SAYRE - A unique program at the Sayre Historical Society will focus on “Sayre’s Days of Old: Horses, Trolleys and the Old Lamp Lighter,” on Saturday, August 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. Presented by Sayre historian James Nobles, the first History Under the Stars program will be held on the museum grounds in downtown Sayre just prior to the Summer Fireworks display at Riverfront Park.

“The program will include images with commentary of the early days of Sayre as it grew from being an Athens Township hamlet of a little over 700 people in the year 1880 to its boom town growth of over 3,000 people in 1890,” said Nobles.

The program will be displayed outdoors on a large screen affixed to the southern end of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station. Admission is free and bags of popcorn and bottled water will be available.

“This was a time of horse drawn carriages and wagons being driven on dirt roads,” Nobles said. “Bicycles and walking were prominent and for many people were their only mode of travel. East Lockhart Street ended at the Susquehanna River where a ferryboat was operated, preceding any bridge over the river to Riverside Drive.”

The program will also include many images of the trolley system on its route through Sayre on tracks in the center of the dirt roads. The "gong" of the trolley bell was well-known to the people of Sayre for nearly a half century. Railroading will include the arrival of the very first Black Diamond Passenger Train at the Sayre passenger station in 1896.”

As the sun sets, the program will include images of Sayre’s old streetlights.

“In its early days, Sayre had oil streetlights that required a person to, in the words of an old song, “turn them on when night is near,” and to, “turn them off when dawn is here.” Haight Griswold was Sayre’s “old lamp lighter of long, long ago.” Images will be shown of Haight on his rounds,” Nobles explained.

The program will show the progression of transportation in Sayre from horses, bicycles, Herdic coaches, and steam locomotives, to the trolley cars, and finally automobiles.

“Some of the images will be very familiar as much of the background in the pictures has been preserved and is with us today,” said Nobles.

The History Under the Stars program will include musical entertainment starting at 7. The history program is scheduled to start at 8. Sayre’s fireworks, which will be visible from the station grounds, are set to start at 8: 45 p.m. Blankets and lawnchairs are encouraged for the program.

The Sayre Historical Society is a membership-supported, non-profit historic preservation organization staffed by volunteers. The group is the recipient of United Way funding.

“Molly” featured in Summer Quarterly

SAYRE - Longtime Sayre resident Molly Cacchione is the subject of a feature story in the Sayre Historical Society’s Summer Quarterly. She was born on June 10, 1912 and passed away on December 21, 2014 at the age of 102 after a long life of service.

CAPTION: In this 1948 photograph, Sayre’s Molly Cacchione wears clothing made for her in Armento, Italy, birth place of her mother. Molly is featured in the Sayre Historical Society’s Summer Quarterly publication.

Other items in the summer Quarterly include a photograph of the Class of 1965, an account of the life of Spanish-American War veteran Richard Sherman of Sayre, the conversion to electricity of the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s power house in Sayre, and an unusual find by Kathryn (Alteri) Atkins. She donated to the Sayre museum an LVRR shop employee’s round trip ticket that turned up in a California antique store.

The Quarterly, published four times a year, is mailed to historical society members as part of their membership benefits. Individual copies are available at Carl’s News Stand in Sayre and the historical society museum located in the former Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station in downtown Sayre.

The illustrated feature story, written by Sayre historian James Nobles, covers Cacchione’s life as a daughter of immigrants Bernardo and Anna Marie Cacchione. The biography focuses on her life on the East Side, working at the Belle Knitting mill (later the Blue Swan), faithful church membership in the Epiphany Parish, volunteering at the Robert Packer Hospital and involvement with the Sayre Centennial Committee.

“Molly was one of ten children, all raised in the Church of the Epiphany,” said Nobles. “All were educated in the Sayre public schools, first at the East Side School, just a block away from the Cacchione home, and then at Sayre High School which at that time was east of the ponds on West Lockhart Street. Molly and all her siblings learned their work ethic working in their father’s bakery, in addition to assigned chores within the home under the guidance of Mother Anna Maria. From her very earliest years, conscientious work was part of her life. Another trait taught by their mother was to look for the good in everyone. Molly spent a lifetime doing that.”

Photographs include a nine-year-old Molly when she was a fourth grader at the East Side School, a newspaper photograph from 1965 of a union committee induction ceremony at O’Brien’s Inn, Molly at the Church of the Epiphany, and more.

The Sayre Historical Society is a non-profit historic preservation organization, membership-supported and staffed by volunteers, and a recipient of United Way funding.

The Sayre Historical Society is open Saturdays from 10 to 4 and Wednesdays from 5 to 7. A Genealogy Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, July 25 featuring John Goodenough of Binghamton who will offer tips on researching Civil War ancestors. Pre-registration is required for this free event.

See Our 2015 Events!

Books Available for sale by mail

Pictures from the September 6th History Fair ...Click here

Music of Sayre
Music in Sayre, Our Newest Revolving Exhibit!

Museum celebrates Roosevelt in Sayre with ice cream social, caboose exhibit.
A new book documenting the 1905 train excursion that carried President Theodore Roosevelt through Sayre made its debut at the Sayre Historical Society’s Caboose Day on Saturday, June 28
Press Release

Then Now


What's Happening

Caboose is now on display at the SHS Museum!

SUCCESS STORY--Society and Museum partner for energy effiency and weatherization upgrades
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"…a busy little city nestling ‘midst the Blue Ridge Hills…"Sayre Alma Mater
SAYRE, located along the north central Pennsylvania-New York border traces its name to Robert Heysham Sayre and its location and early development to visionary Howard Elmer.

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Thank you for your continued support.

A Piece of Our History ...see book & purchase details
Black Diamond Express
Sayre - Postcard History