By Richard Palmer
It is common knowledge Sam Sloan ruled the D.L. & W. with an iron hand. Also, during his long regime stretching over more than three decades, not a train moved on Sunday. No amount of pleading or petitioning could change his mind, and this is fairly well documented.
" A large number of Philadelphia excursionists who arrived in town by the D.L.& W. R.R. Saturday morning, and who lived on the line of the Oswego road, were obliged to remain over till this morning. The D.L. & W. road runs no Sunday trains."
--- Syracuse Standard, Oct. 23, 1876
"Sam Sloan was a man of marked characteristics. Not the least of these was his sturdy Presbyterianism. It was he who made the Lackawanna conspicuous during his administration because of its having no Sunday trains. "I would not work myself on Sunday," was his explanation, "and I do not see why the men under me should be made to work on Sunday." - Binghamton Press, Sept. 23, 1907.
But the Syracuse Standard of July 18, 1886 takes a different twist on this story, although its authenticity might be questioned:
"The death of William E. Dodge, of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad three or four years ago, made a vacancy in the ranks of the magnates which yawned like the Water Gap in the Delaware valley. Sam Sloan and he were associated in the management of that system by a bond of brotherly feeling. The lines of their lives ran as parallel as the iron strung by their enterprise from Hoboken to Buffalo.
"Never while Mr. Dodge lived was it suggested in seriousness that trains be run over the system on Sunday. Mr. Dodge had scruples against this desecration in which he could not be budged. And he had his way about it while the patrons of the road cursed Sam Sloan for his psalm-singing hypcrisy.
":Under the truly good order of things, no matter from what points were started or at what points they were when the midnight of Saturday arrived, the fires were dumped and the passengers turned out to wait until Monday morning. As it used to be, every Saturday night a car load of people or two on their way to Oswego were left over in Syracuse for 36 hours. At other places the same inconvenience was made unavoidable This was all the doing of Mr. Dodge.
" Since his death modern civilization has asserted itself on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad. Mr. Dodge was hardily under ground before Sunday trains began to run. Sam Sloan was thought a backslider for changing the policy of his line, but this was a mistake, for it was his old partner who represented the puritanism in the combination."
Actually, it wasn't until William Truesdale succeeded Sloan as president in 1899 that changes started to be made. The Syracuse Evening Telegram of Friday, March 17, 1899, and other newspapers on the D.L. & W. carried this article:
"A RADICAL DEPARTURE.
"The Sam Sloan policy of no Sunday trains, which has prevailed on the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad for a generation or more, is a thing of the past.
"The new and progressive president of that road, Mr. Truesdale, will start Sunday trains next Sunday and will continue to run them thereafter. The change will be most in evidence on the New Jersey main line, and it will immediately promote the comfort and convenience of the traveling public.
"The Sloan policy has been a very unpopular one and was not justified by any public consideration."Sunday trains on leading railroads are as much of a necessity as are week day trains and the new management of the D.L. & W. road is to be commended for its departure from the old custom which found no favor with the traveling public."