The Merrihew bus line

1920s transportation for those without their own horse or car. Ulster County communities served by the Merrihew Brothers are painted on the side of the bus, evidently before Margaretville was added to the route.

Back in the days when bus seats were made of wicker and the driver was often the mechanic too, a pair of brothers named Merrihew ran the area’s best known ‘mass transit’ operation, the Pine Hill-Kingston Bus Corp.

Russ Merrihew, who learned all about vehicles serving in a motor transport unit during World War I, and his brother Levan “Bub” Merrihew, sons of an Olive Bridge blacksmith, grew up when horses ruled. But for more than four decades their name was synonymous with bus travel in our region.

In 1922 the brothers teamed up to purchase the Pine Hill-Kingston bus corporation which was started by John B. Winne operating a Stanley steamer to carry folks between those two communities. The Merrihews in 1927 bought the Longyear bus line which served the Woodstock area, and later extended to Margaretville: In 1931 they offered direct service from Margaretville to New York City – two buses daily in each direction.

The brothers did the mechanical work, driving and management of the company themselves for many years. A home made snowplow attached to the front of the bus was the only way to get through snow-clogged roads in the early 1930s.

In 1949 the Greene bus line was purchased so riders could now go to Oneonta, and when the Richfield Springs line ceased operating, Bub Merrihew seized the opportunity to extend to Cooperstown.

His brother Russ, who lived in Fleischmanns died in 1944 following surgery in Philadelphia. His passing was front page news, as he had been a Fleischmanns village trustee, a volunteer fireman and a director of Fleischmanns National Bank.

But Bub carried on, expanding the firm to include 12 GMC buses and a number of employees. He was much loved by students who rode his buses to school, and other passengers who enjoyed his wit and kind manner. Bub’s concern about his customers may have led to his death. In February of 1963, two of his buses skidded off the road and though damage was minor and there were no injuries, the incident upset the owner, and he suffered a heart attack, dying four days later.

The Pine Hill-Kingston Bus Corp., known to locals as ‘Merrihews’,” was sold the following year to Adirondack Trailways.