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Allentown branchlines
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   Author  Topic: Allentown branchlines  (Read 42558 times)
darktown2
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #120 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 10:01am »
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My view about he WEB track condition. When I worked the branch from 1969 to around 1974 (off and on as an extra then a regular trainman), I can't remember a single time that we derailed. Granted the track was in poor condition but not as bad as places like Hazleton. I first worked Hazleton in 1970 and held a regular mine run job 1975 until 1982. We would derail EVERYDAY! At one point it took us 4 days to complete a round trip to the Jeddo breaker. But I digress. Point being the derailments just were not as common on the WEB. Also the "passenger main" between the freight yard trackage rode like glass. A tribute to the LV and their track forces who I feel do not get enough recognition as to how well the LV ran.Work that lasted far into the years when not much was done to the roadbed.    Keith

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #121 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 10:17am »
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Around 1971, my friend decided he'd take an "artistic" shot and climbed to the top of a boxcar on Ice City's Allen St. siding so he could photograph another boxcar which had been placed on the siding by a newer Ice City warehouse located between Allen & Liberty Sts.  You're looking south and can see both the Allentown Hospital and, in front of it, the warehouse which serviced Hess Brothers Department Stores at the time.  Look to the left of the main track and you'll see the lead to the lumber company sidings still in place, though heavily covered by weeds.  And to you younger railfans, here's proof that boxcars used to have roofwalks on top of them!  (By the way, my friend wasn't drunk, just a bit uneasy standing on top of the car... thus the slightly tilted view!)

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LVRR2095
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #122 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 10:20am »
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on Nov 18th, 2010, 10:01am, darktown2 wrote:       (Click here for original message)
A tribute to the LV and their track forces who I feel do not get enough recognition as to how well the LV ran.Work that lasted far into the years when not much was done to the roadbed.    Keith

I'll second that! I remember making some high speed runs when I was a fireman for Bill Beck and Charlie Bair between Lehighton and Oak Island. And I don't think the mainline had seen any major work in many years. Throttle eight...don't be late!
(The other) Keith


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #123 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 10:35am »
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Keith's (darktown2) previous comment about derailments on the WEB is correct.  In all the times I followed action on that line, I only remember 3 derailments, one of which happened just behind where this 1969/1970 photo was taken.
 
In this shot looking south-west from 17th & Liberty Sts., Ice City decided they hadn't liked where the Valley had placed their car so the guys unloading it released its brakes, figuring they could move it a few feet on their own using gravity and the slope of the track.  Problem was, it got away from them and they ended up fouling the main track.  I don't know exactly how much they were fined by the railroad, but in addition to the $$$, Harold told me they got one hell of a lecture from the railroad.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #124 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 11:07am »
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Another Houser shot dated 05/10/1966 show Valley SW #186 heading north-west across the intersection of 17th & Liberty Sts.  Coming off of the Hess Bros. siding and within 2 or 3 car-lengths of the previous photo's location, conductor Eddie Kropf rides the front of the SW as he prepares to throw the switch for the reverse move across the intersection to pick up the rest of his inbound train.  The 75-cent car wash to the left of the photo is now the location of the New York Style Pizza shop.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #125 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 11:19am »
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The following two pictures were obtained by Dave Latshaw during the extensive interviews he did with former business owners along the West End branch.  If I remember correctly, both of these pictures were given to him by a former owner or employee of the Trexler Lumber Company.
 
This amazing picture, believed to have been taken around 1940, shows three of the passenger coaches used on the World of Mirth Fair train while parked along N. 17th St, by Liberty St... in front of the Trexler Lumber sheds.  It's where today's B'nai B'rith towers sit.  (The shed on the left later became C.Y. Schelly Hardware Co. and is pictured back on page one of this forum.)


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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #126 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 11:37am »
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A rare find, this photo -- believed to be taken in the very early 1900s-- shows the huge Trexler Lumber Company shed which used to stand between 17th & 16th Sts. on the north side of Liberty St (today Liberty Medical Center and CVS Pharmacy), as well as the previously viewed sheds which sat on the south side of Liberty St.  You are looking east down a pre-paved Liberty St. from N. 17th St.  The shed to the right of Liberty St with the large open door later became the C.Y. Schelly Hardware Company.  This one's a keeper!  Enjoy!!

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #127 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 12:09pm »
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Back to the same area some 60 or 65 years later... or about 44 years ago!  Another Houser Collection shot, taken minutes prior to the shot posted 3 images back, shows conductor Eddie Kropf again, this time leaving his train and headed for the office at the Hess Bros. warehouse.  Eddie would always check with the warehouse foreman before moving cars to see at which of their four warehouse doors they'd like the car/cars placed.  Once again, the C.Y. Schelly and Trexler Lumber Co. sheds loom in the background.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #128 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 12:25pm »
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Another dark, poor quality shot taken with my Kodak Brownie camera in the early months of 1969 shows the West End drill placing a car at Hess's warehouse siding.  Hard to see, but brakeman LeRoy Hunsicker is tightening the brake wheel on that Frisco boxcar as it's being shoved into place while the rest of the train remains on the WEB main.  The snow-covered tracks at left led to the Trexler Lumber Co. shed and their adjoining lumber yard.  The partially-visible turnout points are thrown towards the shed's siding.  From my earliest memories of heading into my grandparents' house on Gordon St, I only ever once remember seeing a car ( a Milwaukee Road boxcar) sitting in the outside lumber yard at Trexler.  I don't know how many total cars they received hidden inside their shed during the 1960s, but the company's shipments by rail had considerably dwindled from the days previously pictured in the early 1900s shot.

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #129 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 12:35pm »
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Another shot by my friend better shows the Hess Bros. warehouse siding and the track at left leading to Trexler's lumber yard.  Judging by the brownish color on those railheads, it's been years since a train ran on that siding.  You're looking south-east toward 16th & Gordon Sts.  That's the PP&L building visible above the yellow-ish lumber company building.

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #130 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 12:53pm »
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And for today's final posting, a 10/10/1977 shot from Dave Latshaw showing Conrail's drill heading westbound past the Hess Bros. warehouse and distant Allentown Hospital.  Taken from Liberty St. looking south, south-west, the chain-link fence you see in front of the train is the remains of that running along the left side of the previous photo.  It was still defining the edge of the Trexler Lumber Company's yard 4 and 1/2 years after the huge 03/31/1973 fire which destroyed both remaining lumber sheds.  The yellow brick towers of B'nai B'rith now stand in this location.
 
Next time, we'll head back along the Barber branch... moving west from Traylor.  While I'm truly enjoying sharing these images and captions with everyone, I ask, again, that others share any pictures/slides they may have taken along any of the Allentown branchlines.  (Thanks again, One87th!)  Please tell any local railfans you know who may have captured a shot or two off the Valley mainlines about this forum.  Sharing pictures from railroading days long gone gives one a good feeling... especially when others join in with comments, stories, AND photos.  Thanks to everyone who's shown an interest in the hours I've spent doing this so far.  Hope you'll continue to stay tuned and add your input and feedback.   - Mark -


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Henry
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #131 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 2:34pm »
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Here's retouched version of the '69 Hess shot. It's as light as I could get it without totally trashing the shot.
 
I have been enjoying your tour!
 
Henry


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DElder
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #132 on: Nov 18th, 2010, 11:41pm »
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Mark:
This is GREAT stuff!  Thanks for all your hard work in putting this together, and by all means, keep it coming!
   Doug


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photoman475
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #133 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 8:13am »
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Thanks for the information on the Mack truck plant.  I appreciate it!

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #134 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 9:08am »
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Back to the Barber branch today.  I have 18 more pictures to share along that line.  If time allows, I'll finish it today.  If not, I'll finish the Barber photos next time and resume the tour along the West End branch.  But first:
 
Henry: Thank you for lightening up my Hess's warehouse photo.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this forum, my new computer has all the bells and whistles attached... I just need to learn how to ring and blow them!    Thanks again!
 
DElder:  Nice to see a new name amongst those who have posted comments here.  I'm glad you're enjoying the ride so far and hope you'll continue to post comments.
 
photoman475: You're very welcome.  If anybody knows anything about the previous question posted by photman475 (was the Mack plant along S. 10th St. ever serviced by any railroad other than the Reading), please post your information at any time.
 
Remember guys... please spread the word about this thread to any railfans you know from the Allentown area.  I'm really hoping to see more phots posted as more people find this forum.  Thanks!   -Mark-
 
Now back to the Barber branch... moving west from the former Traylor Engineering complex.


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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #135 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 9:23am »
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On 12/23/2001, after photographing the site where the turnout leading to the Barber branch had been removed (the first Barber branch photo pictured early in this forum), I drove over to S. 10th St. and walked in to the old Traylor facility.  This picture shows what I found.  I hadn't been back there in close to 10 years and was amazed at how dead things seemed.  You can see the Traylor name had been painted over above the large door on the shed at right.  While a few flatcars were still spotted here and there, it seemed like a different place from that I had visited so many times in earlier years.  The track at left was the Barber "main" and, even after R.J. Corman removed remaining track from the branch in the months after this picture was taken, the section you're seeing here was left intact.  It should be very interesting to see if the grant Corman was just awarded by the state (see earlier posting from One87th and the Morning Call) will lead to train activity returning along this part of the branchline at some point in the future.

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #136 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 9:39am »
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On 11/30/1984, Dave Latshaw took this right-of-way shot from under Allentown's S. 15th St. bridge, looking west.  This shows the area directly beyond the Traylor plant where the track was framed by a large hill to the south and the Little Lehigh Creek to the north.  The area of track directly under the bridge was the site of frequent erosion problems for the railroad due to rainwater runoff from the street on the south side of the bridge streaming downhill and pouring through the open-grate surface of the 15th St. bridge.  My favorite part of this photo is the gleam of the rails!

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #137 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 10:11am »
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On 03/10/77, Dave took a picture of an inbound drill headed east along the stretch of track previously pictured.  He was standing just west of the 15th St. bridge, across the Little Lehigh.

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #138 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 10:23am »
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Moving outbound (west) along the line, Union Carbide Corporation - the Linde Division - was the next frequent customer on the Barber branch.  On one of the rare trips I made with the morning crew along this line, we stopped to place a tankcar on their upward-sloped siding.  Linde often had one, two or even 3 tankcars sitting on their siding when I'd pass by in the late 60s and 70s.  Glad I had the chance to photograph their plant being served around 1970.

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A-townbranchfan
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« Reply #139 on: Nov 19th, 2010, 11:04am »
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The next four postings captured action along the most impressive of the 8 bridges which once existed along the length of the Barber branch.  This 250-foot long, curved wooden trestle crossed the Little Lehigh creek just west of the Linde siding and the Lehigh Parkway East grade crossing.  The first of these 4 pictures (this one from the Houser Collection) shows a west-facing view as a former Valley engine with Conrail caboose heads east, having just crossed the L.L. creek.  The date was 05/10/1977.  By 1984, a section of rail just to the right of this photo was removed by Conrail to formalize abandonement of the outer portion of the line after severe flooding in early August of 1982 caused massive damage to the track and roadbed west of this location.  Due to declining rail shipments beyond this point, Conrail chose not to repair the badly-damaged portion of the branch, so Linde became the outermost customer until March of 1985 when it, too, stopped receiving shipments by rail.  (Per Dave Latshaw's Barber branch article in the 1988 Lehigh County Historical Society's proceedings.)

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