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Allentown branchlines
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   Author  Topic: Allentown branchlines  (Read 42102 times)
Charlie Ricker
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #180 on: Nov 23rd, 2010, 6:29pm »
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I'm no railroader, but I wouldn't think it would be possible with a two-person crew. IIRC, that move was outlawed a while back.......
 
BTW, I look forward to coming on here for the slide-show, too!  
 
Charlie


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lehighboy
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #181 on: Nov 23rd, 2010, 6:50pm »
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The local job crew out of Sayre would perform this manuver in Towanda at the Masonite siding. I witnessed it one summer day in 1971. Just an engineer and a trainman.

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LVRR2095
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #182 on: Nov 23rd, 2010, 7:00pm »
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on Nov 23rd, 2010, 5:40pm, one87th wrote:       (Click here for original message)
I'm intrigued by those "flying switch" moves, especially in an ubran environment. I'm assuming it required at least 4 people to perform... engineer, conductor riding on footboard to release the coupler, a brakeman on the boxcar and a flagman to flag those unprotected grade crossings.
 
Would something like this be possible with today's 2 person crews?

You're forgetting you also need somebody to throw the switch!
 
As to being possible today, that is a moot point as it is a move that is prohibited.
 
Keith in Maine
 


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #183 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 12:52am »
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A little after midnight... not yet tired.
 
davidyur: Glad to know you're enjoying this forum.  So am I!  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of trains along the northern end of the Jordan Loop, nor have I ever seen any.  I'm sure it had to do with its rather remote location in those days.  I remember walking the line with my buddy in the late 1960s, right after the rails had been lifted.  We started at the former West End Jct. (which was close to where Allen St. would have hit the line had it come all the way through to the tracks) and walked the right-of-way over to the Front St. underpass.  I no longer remember it all that clearly, but I'm almost certain there were no grade crossings in that area and the surrounding landscape was rather barren.  I'm sure SOMEBODY must have caught some action along the line, the question is do they still have those pictures or have they ended up in a land-fill somewhere?  I have a few shots of the East Penn drill on the section of the Jordan Loop that still exists -- the part south of Linden St. Yard.  If you're interested in seeing any of those, let me know and I'll post a couple after I finish the WEB postings.  Of course I realize those aren't nearly as rare as trains on the north end of the loop.
Regarding engines on the WEB, most were various SWs and NW-2s during the late 60s and 70s.  Other than Baldwins in the 50s and early 60s, I'm not aware of any other types of power being used on the line... though an earlier LV posting talks about a PC GP derailing around 8th & Sumner during Conrail's first winter.  I've never seen pictures of anything other than the types of diesels I mentioned.  Also, the drill worked out of the small LV office along the track scale which used to be just south of the Union St. crossing along the old main.  No power was kept at the end-of-line 12th St Terminal.  There was only one time I witnessed an engine kept on the line overnight and that happened in early 1980/1981.  The train had derailed in the middle of the 17th & Tilghman St. intersection on its outbound run and tore up part of the track in the process.  After the cars were re-railed, the East Penn drill proceeded outbound and serviced one or two remaining customers, then tied up for the night at the Robbins Door & Sash Co. siding (formerly Hess's Warehouse).  The next morning it proceeded inbound after the track had been repaired.
 
one87th: Because the flying switch on the WEB involved two grade crossings (Madison and 13th Sts), a 4-man crew was absolutely necessary.  After all air was manually released from each of the train's cars (lined up along Scott St. west of Madison), one brakeman would man the turnout just east of Madison St.  The second brakeman would already have walked east and positioned himself at 13th St, ready to flag the crossing.  The conductor would stand along the train between the engine and caboose.  The engineer would slowly move the train forward, just enough to get the cars in motion, then the engineer would tap the brake to release any pull on the couplers.  The conductor would pull the drawbar on the caboose so the coupler knuckle would open, then climb up onto the eastern platform of the caboose and position himself behind the brakewheel.  The engineer would quickly increase the engines's speed so as to clear the points of the Madison St. turnout.  The brakeman would quickly throw the points on the turnout as soon as the engine was east of them.  This allowed the free-rolling train to continue downgrade towards the 13th St. crossing.  At this point, through a combination of sudden change to upward grade (visible in the pictures I've posted of tracks 3 & 4 located in the 12th St. yard) and the skill of the conductor applying just the right amount of pressure to the brakes on the train-leading caboose, the train would come to a halt just shy of track's end.  No, Mike... I can't see how any less than 4 men could have done the job at that location.  That may be why Conrail began using the long passing siding between 14th & 15th Sts. to runaround their trains during the late 70s.  They probably were working with 3-man crews by then.  I always felt the guy with the biggest responsibility was the brakeman who had to get that Madison St. turnout thrown at just the right time.  It was always timed perfectly.  I'm only sorry I didn't own a movie camera back in those days!  
 
charlie6017: So glad to know you, too, are enjoying what I've been doing here.  Thanks for showing an interest.
 
lehighboy: Did the Masonite siding involve any grade crossings?


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #184 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 1:04am »
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LVRR2095: The flying switch performed on the WEB was always fun to watch... especially when the drill contained a train of more than just a couple of cars.  My guess is the railroad made the move illegal after one-too-many trains rolled off the end of a siding or became involved in a few-too-many grade crossing accidents.  
 
It's late, but I'll post a few more photos before bedtime.
 
Here's another great shot which includes the J. Harry Jones Coal Pocket structure, this time in a view looking south... just east of 13th St.  Taken by the same friend who shot the World of Mirth fair train along Sumner Ave, this shot (believed to have been taken around March of 1958 ) shows one of the Valley's Baldwins pulling an L&N boxcar past the former Ritter & Smith Lumber Co shed.  The engine was passing over the turnout which separated tracks 1 & 2, while the turnout pictured in the foreground separated tracks 3 & 4.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #185 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 1:18am »
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The year on the previous picture was believed to be 1958.
 
This 09/21/1945 shot from the Houser Collection shows the same location as the previous posting, but looking east.  The old passenger coaches and stockcars used by the World of Mirth are parked on track #2 in the 12th St. yard.  Notice the large coal pile to the left of the photo.  That was a common sight back in the days when the Allentown Steam Heat Co. would stockpile coal for their furnaces in the 12th St. yard.  My father often talked about how large the pile would be in early fall... just before the heating season began.  What looks like a small pile of coal to the lower right would have most likely been overflow from the rail siding which serviced Harry Jones.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #186 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 1:24am »
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Dave Latshaw's 07/03/1975 picture shows action on track #1 directly in front of Ritter & Smith.  The boxcar pictured would have been heading to or coming from the Peters Fertilizer Co siding.  The view is looking south-west.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #187 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 1:36am »
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On the same day my friend shot the drill servicing the C.Y. Schelly Hardware company shed (see picture on page 1 of this forum), he earlier shot this picture of action on track # 2.  Through the 1960s and very early 1970s, a number of flatcars loaded with various pieces of farm equipment would be positioned by the ramp at the east end of track two for unloading.  The white building behind the train was the Peters warehouse.  You're looking south-east.  That's track # 3 in the lower left and I'm the little figure leaning out the side cab window.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #188 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 1:43am »
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A better exposed shot on a different day shows two flatcars on track #2 and a single 50-foot boxcar on the Peters' siding.  Tracks 4 & 3 are in the foreground.  The large trees were located in the West End Cemetery.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #189 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 1:59am »
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Tonight's (this morning's) last posting was also taken by my World of Mirth- shooting friend during the late 1950s.  This wonderful angle (looking west from near 12th St) shows the only cars I ever saw on the end of track # 1.  (The passenger coaches at left.)  Also visible is the Mauser Mill warehouse (later Peters Fertilizer) still in original brick color, Ritter & Smith, the J. Harry Jones Coal Pocket structure, and the ramp with original wooden surface and end-loading section.  (I believe a fire destroyed this ramp in the early 1960s.  It was later replaced with an asphalt-topped surface and had only side-loading/unloading capabilities.)
 
Yikes... it's nearly 2:00AM!  Next time I'll finish our tour of the WEB with several more photos showing action on the Peters Fertilizer Co. siding.   -- Mark


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LVRR2095
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #190 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 7:03am »
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on Nov 24th, 2010, 1:04am, A-townbranchfan wrote:       (Click here for original message)
LVRR2095: The flying switch performed on the WEB was always fun to watch... especially when the drill contained a train of more than just a couple of cars.  My guess is the railroad made the move illegal after one-too-many trains rolled off the end of a siding or became involved in a few-too-many grade crossing accidents.  
 
.

Most of my experience with "flying switches" took place at the Oak Island end of the railroad. I remember several times when making this type of move at Ryerson Steel on the S&K branch in Jersey City. At least once the car died right on the switch....leaving me and the engine trapped on the wrong side. Now they had to send another locomotive from East Claremont to come and move the car off the switch before we could move.  
Keith in Maine


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lehighboy
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #191 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 7:15am »
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No grade crossings.
 
The Trainman would cut cars behind right behind the engine from train. and ride along rear of engine on frist ladder rung. the engineer would come to a reasonable speed and the train man would uncouple the masonite string a distance from the switch. the trainman would get to ground as the engine slowed. the engine would clear the switch points and he would throw the switch. the cars would go up the siding and because it was a up hill grade from the main, the would slow considerably after clearing the switch. the trainman would walk rapidly up to the last moving car in the siding an apply the crank brake. he than went back after stopping the cars, threw the switch back, the engine cleared and then went into the siding an spot the cars.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #192 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 10:02am »
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Good morning, all.  Time to finish up the West End branch tour today, but first:
 
LVRR2095: I have no doubt cars not clearing the switch and blocking an engine's escape from a siding was one of the primary reasons the flying switch has been outlawed by the railroads.  To much expense in having to bring in power (and another crew) from miles away to help clear things up.  Thanks for your input!
 
lehighboy: Thanks for the details on the flying switch move you used to witness.  Sounds like the lack of grade crossings made it a lot easier for a 2-man crew to pull off.
 
The final pictures I'll be posting were all taken showing train movements along track #1 of the 12th St. yard.  Peters Fertilizer Company was a very good customer on the WEB during the late 1960s and 1970s.  When they moved their operations to their new plant along the former Reading Railroad's C&F branch near Fogelsville in 1978, the regularity of train movements all the way to 12th St. yard by the West End drill reduced significantly.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #193 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 10:20am »
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Engineer Harold Barwick moves NW-2 #181 downgrade onto track #1 after pulling an empty boxcar from the Peters siding in 1969.  You're looking east and the tall switchstand to the lower left of the engine controlled the turnout leading from track 1 to the Peters siding.  The location of the red truck sitting to the left of the train is the end of track 1, where the two old passenger coaches pictured in the previous post were sitting.  As long as I can remember, the points of this turnout were spiked with the switch thrown to the open position... toward the Peters siding.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #194 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 10:33am »
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Dave Latshaw's 09/23/1976 shot shows a side view of the same location with sister NW-2 #182, just a few yards east of my previous photo.  Peters was able to handle two boxcars at one time, though every now and then, 3 cars would be spotted along their building.  Track #2 stands in the foreground.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #195 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 10:41am »
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The final posting of action along the WEB was taken by Bob Wilt on 12/29/1976 when he caught Ironton Baldwin #751 spotting cars along a shadow-covered Peters siding.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #196 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 11:25am »
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A few final thoughts:
 
When I started this thread nearly two weeks back, my hope was to find others who had photographed trains along the former LV branchlines in Allentown... those who were also willing to share photos and memories of what they witnessed years ago.  While I've posted only about half of my collection, I've tried to cover neary every area which existed along both former LV branchlines.  To date, only one photo has been posted by someone other than me... that of a short train during final months of service along Sumner Avenue on the West End branch and I thank "One87th" for his contribution!  Hopefully as more older railfans find this forum in the weeks and months ahead, they, too, will share some of what they have to what I've started here.  The best part of this for me has been the feedback from those younger railfans who weren't around to witness what I did.  So many branchlines have been abandoned and torn up over the past several decades that today's railfans have little choice but to photograph high-horsepower locomotives on well-ballasted mains, yet to me, it's capturing service to local industry along bumpy and twisted, weed-covered rails that personalizes railroading for the people who lived in the areas which were (or still are) served by rail.  I hope many of you who are just finding this forum will continue to post comments and pictures so that others who never saw these things first-hand can enjoy them through the images we were lucky enough to capture on film many years ago.  Sharing feels good... really it does!  
 
I want to thank those whose photos I've shared throughout this forum.  David Latshaw's contributions -- both to me (through sharing slides) and the local community via his heavily-researched articles on the West End and Barber branches -- has been second to none.  My old school buddy, Guifford Sander, Jr, had a good eye and a 35mm camera long before I did and managed to capture many things along the WEB that would otherwise have never been seen by the masses.  I thank him for, in the more recent years of our lives, allowing me to copy his entire slide collection.  Charles Houser, Sr. and Randolph Kulp were two of the earlier rail photographers who managed to capture scenes that existed years before I did.  I'm so glad parts of their collections were available for purchase!  Bob Wilt, who to me has taken some of the best shots of trains photographed throughout the area, was kind enough to give me copies of Ironton Baldwin #751 as it made its 1976 winter run along the WEB.  Bob's shots always were well thought out and often showed trains from angles the rest of us never thought about.  Bruce Kleppinger was kind enough to let me copy his World of Mirth shots, something most of us living in the 1960s remember well.  Dave Beazley, former neighbor and friend, only shot one picture along the WEB, but it was one of the best in my collection.  (The Sunday move of farm equipment at Franklin & Scott Sts.)
 
My name is Mark Rabenold and I thank all of you who've taken the time to follow what I've done and post your many comments.  I got my first 35mm, auto-focus camera in late 1981... too late to capture much along my favorite line (the WEB), but not too late to follow Conrail's East Penn Drill throughout the area as it serviced many of the local industries located at trackside in and near Allentown... many of which whose sidings are now removed.  I'll probably start another forum sometime in the coming weeks under Fallen Flags / Conrail to share some of those images as well... for those of you who like seeing the locals in action.
 
Happy holidays to all!


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irn750

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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #197 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 12:05pm »
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Mark thanks again for posting your shots and the stories on here. You were one of the few people who took shots of the branches out of Allentown.  You have some really great stuff.  Danny

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DElder
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #198 on: Nov 24th, 2010, 7:58pm »
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As another of those guys who much prefers watching a local working an industrial area or a branchline to fast-paced mainline activity, I really hate to see this come to a close.  Thanks again Mark, I've really, REALLY enjoyed the tour!  (And I hope that additional pictures of this area by others will show up here soon!)
   Doug


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F3_4_me
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #199 on: Nov 25th, 2010, 12:36am »
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Agreed!
 
This has really helped me get a feel for what the branch was about, what Allentown was about at that time, and what to look for now..  
 
Many Many Thanks!
 
-Micah


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