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East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
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   Author  Topic: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)  (Read 4231 times)
Charlie Ricker
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #100 on: Jan 12th, 2013, 11:58am »
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Great thoughts, Vern. It would be a good idea in my opinion to sell lots of those "reset buttons" and spread 'em around. Lots of people will need 'em!
 
Charlie


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HwyHaulier
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #101 on: Jan 12th, 2013, 12:19pm »
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Charlie -
 
MOLTO GRAZIE! I try!  
 
I get so weary of the rail "foamer" element (which includes the industry trade group types), always with the whining about obvious benefits of Rail,  
and why isn't everyone doing it! We are so "...live for the day..." anymore. Were the Rail crazies to check the history, then to discover that so many  
classes of movements voluntarily shut down by the Rail carriers, as it was breaking their backs!  
 
Or, as a long time "highway freighter" type, this the Thanks we get for all the times Knaus Truck Lines of Kansas City "bailed out" the old Rock  
Island, and others, with their own promises of LCL services, which they could not perform in timely fashion! There's more, of course, in my Sermons! <G>)
 
MORAL (if any?): There are no panaceas. Neither truck nor rail can do it all! After over a century of it, we may suppose most have it figured?
 
..........................Vern......................


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #102 on: Jan 12th, 2013, 12:40pm »
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HwyHaulier/Vern: I agree... you raised some excellent points.  I'm afraid my comments came from years of frustration as I watched miles of secondary rail lines being abandoned and torn up... especially the lines I followed as a kid.  I'll be the first to admit that in so many cases, the railroads cut their own throats by not reinvesting profits into improving track, signals, etc.  I can remember my West End Branch buddy, engineer Harold Barwick, laughing one time when I picked up a discarded "DO NOT HUMP" card from the former 12th St. Yard at the end of the branch.  He may have been joking with me, but he told me at the time that they always gave cars with those cards "a little extra push over the hump"!  I also learned from personal observation that the WEB crew would often stop their train for 15, 30, even 45 minutes on the inbound run and sit under the western Tilghman St. bridge span where there were no grade crossings.  They'd do this if they finished their work on the branch "too quickly", just so they wouldn't be clocking out early.  Harold told me this personally.  Last year, at a talk he gave at the Lehigh County Historical Society, Mike Bednar talked about the last run of one of the Valley's crack freight trains along their former mainline into Allentown.  He said the train stopped behind his house in Darktown, backed up to Cementon, then opened up as it headed into Allentown... all so that Mike's daughter could sit behind the controls for the final run!  When I hear these stories, I can fully understand why so many railroads have filed for bankruptcy over the years.  I can also understand why Conrail (and now Norfolk Southern) became so disliked by many of the "old railroaders" when they made the bottom line the most important thing.  And as any business owner will tell you... once you've lost a customer (in this case to the trucking industry), it's almost impossible to win them back... unless you prove that you can provide better service or greatly reduced prices over the competition.
Don't get me wrong... I'm very grateful for the way things used to be in the railroading business.  Had enforcement of rules not been much more relaxed than they are today, I and countless other young boys and men wouldn't have had the wondeful  experiences and memories we have.  I'm also one of those people who believes the quality of life was truly better when the pace was more relaxed than it is in today's hectic world.  In spite of that, I realize the huge importance that trucks, their drivers and the entire transportation industry plays today.  I only wish I were still able to spend some of my retirement hours following the West End drill as it crawled along those wonderful rusting, weed-covered rails which are no more.  Thanks Vern for your input.  I always enjoy reading things which make me think!  -- Mark  


« Last Edit: Jan 12th, 2013, 1:38pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
A-townbranchfan
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #103 on: Jan 12th, 2013, 1:31pm »
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Vern: Looks like I was writing my last reply as you were posting yours.  Now that I've read it, there are two things I'd like to make clear:  (1) I am NOT a "foamer", nor a "rail crazy".  I've met them at trackside over the years and I'm most certainly not one of them just because I support an increased use of our ever-shrinking rail network.  (2) I AM someone who is greatly concerned about our planet's limited resources and am always supportive of things which can be done to curb our country's insatiable use of natural resources... specifically fuel oil.  I'll never be convinced there aren't millions of tons of freight being transported every year over our nation's highway system which could almost as easily be transported by rail, thereby reducing traffic congestion, gasoline consumption and the constant rebuilding and resurfacing of highways and bridges paid for with tax dollars.  And before you tell me about all the millions of dollars the trucking industry pays toward such highway repairs, you and I both know those costs get passed on to the companies who transport their goods via the highway, then on to us, the consumer.  Yes, railroads have to pass the rebuilding of track onto their customers as well, but their expenses aren't subsidized by millions of automobiles which pay tolls each day to use their tracks, nor are government subsidies flowing into railroad pockets the way they do into national, state and local road-building programs.  Now... if that view makes me a "foamer" in your eyes, then I guess I'll accept you're labeling me as such.  I more like to think in ways which benefit that masses, rather than the few.  As I've said before, I like things which make me think.  I'm just not thrilled when people start throwing out somewhat derogatory names just because someone views things a bit differently than they do.  You're right, today's world needs BOTH trucks and trains.  I just believe the balance between the two is not where it needs to be... mainly due to years of mismanagement inside the railroad industry.  Again, I thank you for voicing your opinion.  It feels good to voice an opinion, and I ask anyone else who has one on this subject to feel free to do the same. --Mark

« Last Edit: Jan 12th, 2013, 1:36pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
HwyHaulier
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #104 on: Jan 12th, 2013, 1:58pm »
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Mark -  
 
Thanks! Your kind remarks much appreciated...
 
Ah! The entire business of "secondaries" and "branch" operations. All involved near to madness on resolutions which would keep all happy!  
It was always "Hobson's Choices"? Always "trade offs"?
 
I was in on it early, with work with Consolidated Freightways. So much of its early work, throughout Pacific Northwest that of "shadowing" and  
helping out rail carriers in pickup and delivery of LCL as well as other cargo. It was, in fact, a collegial and cordial set of relationships, esp. with  
MILW, CB&Q, ROCK ISLAND, ESPEE and others.
 
In the mid 1950s, CFWY went to "national" scope. This done with purchase of other carriers, key players with routes throughout the Midwest.  
The Rail lines with troubles of their own, with too much overbuilding, and branches into later ghost towns. For the Rails, it compelled a great  
deal of daily services, freight and passenger, into points with little patronage.
 
Which leads to my own deeply felt enmity for the Motor Carrier Act (1935). This the one where the Washington bureaucrats placed a ban on  
Rail ownership of longer haul trucking and bus operations. The cited "Anti Trust" problems were nonsense. The violations seen by those sitting  
in DC on the Potomac, and little connection to daily realities, IMHO...
 
Oh, well! It has made for an absorbing passing Parade called Life? Things change. Whether for better, or worse? Who knows? Not to hijack  
your own ALN Topic here. Just some reflections from an Aging Coot Emeritus...
 
(2:02 PM ET). Noted yours, 1:31 PM. The Fuel tax and so on arguendo is tiresome. There are tons of papers on file, examining it at exhaustive  
length. The problem being? Few state any of it in simple, business like style. That is: Receipts In. Payments Out. There's the part which doesn't  
"pencil out" all that well. If we could just get these shippers to stop routings based wholly on perceived service standards! <G>
 
..........................Vern...................


« Last Edit: Jan 12th, 2013, 2:09pm by HwyHaulier » Logged

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Charlie Ricker
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #105 on: Jan 12th, 2013, 2:29pm »
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Here's my 2 cents for what it's worth:
 
I have good feelings toward both industries. My good feelings towards trucking and 18-wheelers are more personal than what I believe is more rational today. My grand-father was a regional trucker in Western NY State, and when I was a tiny one he took me on a short jaunt in his truck. He shared lots of stories and the combined experiences made me even want to be a truck driver for a short time--but I never did. I spent many years driving school buses instead.
 
Now my thoughts on the railroads, and I'll admit being more biased towards them. I sort of think Eisenhower's push for the Interstate Highway system and the subsidizing of them was on the "short-sighted" side. One reason I say this is because I don't think much thought was given to the pollution that this increased traffic inflicted upon the atmosphere. While there is no question that trucks can give industries more timely and diverse services, that's one premium that we ALL have to pay.
 
I'll say this about today, however. Both industries are helped by each other today. Companies such as JB Hunt work with Norfolk Southern for one example. Better late than never, yes?
 
Vern, both you and Mark have great points. Great conversation!  
 
Charlie


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HwyHaulier
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #106 on: Jan 13th, 2013, 6:58am »
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Charlie - Mark - All -
 
Thanks! All I am trying to say is one can't much second guess shipper routing decisions. In turn, shippers work to satisfy particular service  
demands and requirements of each customer. Or, one doesn't need a degree in Psychology to work in freight, but it can't hurt.
 
Here, my initial reply to Mark's comments in Reply #98. Maybe I didn't have enough morning coffee? Anyway, your writer inferred a conclusion  
of a tenuous position that surely rail rates must be more attractive than competition. On shipment by shipment analysis, that simply doesn't  
hold up. The decisions are not simply all about rates. Recall, we were into some detail on the issues with bulk Portland Cement, Commercial  
Trans (IL) Case.
 
And, here, excuse my rambling expositions of routing theory and practices. Rather the Topic here should focus on purely Allentown issues...
 
..............................Vern......................


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #107 on: Jan 31st, 2013, 1:56pm »
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Good news... possibly.  In today's Morning Call newspaper, three artist's renditions were printed showing plans for the proposed redevelopment of the riverfront area of Allentown from Hamilton St. north to slightly north of Tilghman St.  Plainly visible in the upper left-hand corner of the first sketch was the single-track main which RJCorman has been using to service the remaining customer at the site previously owned by Lehigh Structural Steel.  While the drawing shows a change in the existing Front Street crossing, the track is clearly shown... thus eliminating my previous concern that the city would try to have the line abandoned and removed as part of this proposed multi-million dollar development.  Of course, there's still no guarantee that Corman will have any customers to serve along this stretch of track once/if the LSS site is redeveloped to commercial, rather than industrial... but at least they're allowing for the track's existence in their planning stage.  Time will tell, I suppose.  --Mark

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #108 on: May 16th, 2014, 12:56pm »
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Bad news... possibly.  In today's Morning Call was an article about how the crossing gates and flashing lights are being removed along the Lehigh Industrial line in downtown Allentown... the remaining trackage of the original Lehigh Valley main which I covered on the first 2 pages of this thread.  Turns out that R.J. Corman only has one remaining customer on the line, and they're about to move much closer to Corman's yard at Race & Linden Sts.  Though Corman did not state they would be officially abandoning the line, they admitted that the coming move would leave no customers on the line, so it would be considered "inactive".  They said any train movements which may occur in the future on that part of track will use a flagman at each crossing.  In spite of my optimistic view typed in the previous entry, I would now say that the pending redevelopment of the Lehigh Structural Steel site will most likely lead to the loss of yet another stretch of original Valley main.  The article said that the lone customer hadn't yet completed their move, so once again I'd suggest anyone who's interested in capturing limited action along this stretch of track along Front Street hurry out with their cameras and do so before this, too, is nothing but a distant railroad memory. -- Mark

« Last Edit: Feb 28th, 2015, 12:33pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
towny72
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #109 on: Nov 17th, 2014, 8:53am »
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Mark,  
 
Again thank you so much for the pictures and the detailed information of the drill. I hope you come across some more great slides!
 
From the word I have gathered things do not look that great for the line now.  The future of the old main certainly is in doubt.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #110 on: Feb 4th, 2015, 5:51pm »
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Well gang... looks like the final nail's about to be driven in the Lehigh Industrial line's coffin.  In today's Morning Call, it was stated that the developers who are designing the new Allentown Waterfront area (where Lehigh Structural Steel once stood) will be increasing the size of the development because they've recently purchased the railroad line which would have run through it from the R.J. Corman company.  (I'll bet Corman's sorry they ever spent the money to replace all those rotted crossties north of Tilghman Street up to the end of track by the former Tarkett plant!)  They're planning to use the right-of-way from Hamilton Street north to build a new two-lane road which would give additional access to their site just south of the Tilghman Street bridge.  They're also planning to build a road and a biking and walking trail north of the Tilghman Street bridge.  The trail would follow the river and connect with the D&L rail-trail network which currently stops in Cementon... just north of Whitehall Cement.  There is still one customer receiving occasional service along the line, but the article said they will be moving to a new location this spring.  So... if you want one last chance to photograph a train along the original Lehigh Valley main in downtown Allentown, better hurry.  Of course, being that Corman doesn't run a regular schedule on that section of track, railfanning the line will pretty much be hit or miss.  It's going to be a bit of a sad day for us older railfans who still remember regular freights running along those now rusting rails, once they start tearing up the rails and ties.  But at least you'll be able to view the way things used to be, here on this East Penn Drill thread.  By the way, if anyone IS lucky enough to get another shot of Corman's train running along the line, how about sharing your photo here for all to see?  Thanks! -- Mark

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towny72
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
 
« Reply #111 on: Feb 25th, 2015, 12:26pm »
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Sad.... From what I understand there were interested customers on that part of the line and throughout the remainder of the tracks in town. The current owner and these customers were never able to come to an agreement. I even caught wind years back that LaFarge made several attempts to come to a deal to get rail service but again nothing ever came of it.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: East Penn Drill in and around Allentown, PA (1980s & 1990s)
  024_683x864.jpg - 130406 Bytes
« Reply #112 on: Nov 21st, 2016, 10:03pm »
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As a final follow-up to the earlier entries on this thread, I'm posting a picture I took two weeks ago while standing at the former Walnut Street crossing (looking north toward Hamilton Street) of the "old main" of the Lehigh Valley in downtown Allentown.  Figured I'd take one last picture before the rails in the street were removed.  So much for hoping rail service would return to Whitehall Cement or any of the other businesses along the track shown in the first couple pages of this thread.  Glad I spent all those hours chasing the East Penn Drill back in the 80s and 90s so the memories will live on through the photos I've posted here... like reply #24 on page two showing this same location during better times.   Enjoy!     --Mark

http://Forums.Railfan.net/Images/CR/024_683x864.jpg
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