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Allentown branchlines
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   Author  Topic: Allentown branchlines  (Read 42613 times)
A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #360 on: Jan 12th, 2011, 12:57am »
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The passing of a northbound automobile on N. 15th Street startled me as I was gazing through my Brownie camera's viewfinder and snapping the shutter... thus the blurred image.  In spite of the poor quality of this photo, I thought I'd post it since it was the only time I ever photographed the Sheftel & Sons warehouse siding being served by the West End drill.  The view is looking south-east from 15th St, slightly south of Sumner Avenue.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #361 on: Jan 12th, 2011, 1:28am »
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I'll end tonight's post with three color slides taken near the same location as the previous image.  In this 12/19/1974 shot by Dave Latshaw, the westbound drill is crossing N. 15th St. by Sumner Avenue.  Facing south-west from the parking lot of the Rose Bowl, Dave captured most of the main Hummel warehouse in his shot.  You can see one boxcar sitting at the farthest west of the building's three doors... just behind the yellow truck.  The reddish glow by the front of the engine is a flare which the brakeman was holding due to poor visibility that day.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #362 on: Jan 12th, 2011, 1:37am »
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Another great shot by Dave, this time taken on 04/16/1979, shows a double-headed drill moving inbound (east) along Sumner Avenue... just east of the 15th St. crossing.  The front of the lead unit was just passing one of the Sheftel & Sons warehouse doors.  Look closely and you'll see that the engineer had remained in the cab of the second unit for the inbound trip. (This would have been the lead unit on the outbound run.)

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #363 on: Jan 12th, 2011, 1:49am »
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Back to the pre-Conrail era for tonight's last post.  On 11/05/1968, the West End drill sat in front of the Sheftel warehouse as its crew broke for their usual lunch at the Rose Bowl Bowling Alley across Sumner Avenue.  (Dave Beazley photo.)
That's it for tonight.  As always, comments, questions and your own pictures are always welcome!    --Mark


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« Last Edit: Feb 17th, 2012, 12:04am by A-townbranchfan » Logged
pumpers

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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #364 on: Jan 15th, 2011, 9:27pm »
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Regarding the map on page 18, the BQ branch still had it short section cutting across the old American wire mill/US steel(?) just north of Little Lehigh Creek.  When that area was redeveloped, I think the BQ branch was realigned to stay south of the LL Creek.  I looked at old Sanborn maps from around 1930, at and the at time there were LV stub end tracks ending at either side of Lehigh St a short ways south of the LLC, just north of Mill St.  The stub approaching Lehigh St from the west was connected to the BQ branch in the Traylor area.   The one approaching from the east ended at what later became the junkyard shown earlier in this thread.    
 
I would assume that to make the realignment, these two stubs were just connected together by putting tracks across Lehigh St.  My question is, is that more or less what happened?
 
My second questions is what was the alignment of the stub that approached Lehigh St from the east ??- it was not on my map.  All I can assume is that it came off the "old" BQ branch after is crossed the CNJ passenger tracks from the LV passenger loop, and the snaked between the CNJ Mack branch and the LL Creek (there wasn't much space there).    
 
Can anyone follow what I am saying and know the history? JS


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #365 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 12:01am »
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pumpers:  You're right in that the map still shows the Barber branch on the north side of the Little Lehigh because the map was from the 1960s and the realignment didn't happen until the 1970s.  The pony-truss bridge that still sits across from the Parkettes Gym on MLK Blvd was from the original route the branch took.  This thread has grown to be quite long but I know I mentioned that on an earlier page during some of the pictures I posted of that part of the BB.  If you can find the photo of engineer Harold Barwick standing by his engine and caboose, that shot was taken before the tracks were moved south of the creek.  Regarding your questions, I must admit I'm a bit lost in what you're asking, so I'll yield to the real expert of the Barber Branch... Dave-39 (David Latshaw).  I believe he still checks in here fairly regularly so hopefully he can follow what you're asking and give you some answers.  Here's a shot by Charles Houser of the track in that area as it looked on 03/01/1952.  You're looking east from just west of the crossing with the CNJ/RDG's "Allentown Terminal RR" tracks, about a block or so south of Union St.  Looking at the way the turnout is thrown, I'm fairly certain Mr. Houser was standing on the BQ "main" with the pony-truss bridge a short distance behind him.  I would imagine the track at left once led to the wire mill industry.  Dave... could you verify that for us?

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #366 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 12:32am »
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Here's one more from the Houser collection, taken in the same area as the previous image, but from about 27 years later on 04/11/1979.  The engine is heading east at the spot where the Allentown Terminal tracks once crossed.  Look closely to the top and right of the engine and you'll see the former plate girder bridge pictured on the left side of the previous post.  How relatively quickly things can change.  --Mark

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Hyrailer
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #367 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 12:45am »
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In the photos with the semaphores there appears to be a split point derail. What does it protect?

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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #368 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 8:36am »
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on Jan 16th, 2011, 12:01am, A-townbranchfan wrote:       (Click here for original message)
 Here's a shot by Charles Houser of the track in that area as it looked on 03/01/1952.  You're looking east from just west of the crossing with the CNJ/RDG's "Allentown Terminal RR" tracks, about a block or so south of Union St.  Looking at the way the turnout is thrown, I'm fairly certain Mr. Houser was standing on the BQ "main" with the pony-truss bridge a short distance behind him.  I would imagine the track at left once led to the wire mill industry.  Dave... could you verify that for us?

A-townfan, this is all just super.  Best stuff I have seen on a rail forum in my 10 years looking at them.
 
Regarding the photo mentioned above -- it is actually at the heart of my question, I think.  I think the "track at left" that once led to the wire mill industry over the pony truss bridge still standing by Parkettes gym perhaps WAS the old BQ branch "main" -- exactly the track shown going north of Little Lehigh Creek on the map on page 18 here.  In my thinking, the one Mr. Houser was on what was at that time the stub end branch which ended at Lehigh St at the future auto junkyard shown in your later photos, and which later would become the "BQ main" when the wire mill area was redeveloped (being extended across Lehigh St to join the LV stub ending there coming in from the Traylor area).    
 
Beyond whether my conjectures above are correct, I am wondering if the tracks to the junkyard area snaked between the Reading Mack branch area and Little Lehigh Creek.    
 
Update: Actually, I just found map on-line --Take a look at maps.google.com in this area in "map" mode, where it shows property lines.   http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=w+union+st,+allentown,+pa&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=28.529345,54.228516&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=W+Union+St,+Allentown,+Pennsylvania&ll=40.599299,-75.462266&spn=0.003332,0.010707&z=17 .  You can see the fork in the LV line of the picture you showed just west of the CNJ/Reading passenger line, and the one branch going over towards the wire mill.  You can also see how the Readign Mack branch came off the passenger main and did a nearly 180 degree turn.  And it seems that indeed the LV did squeeze between the Reading Mack branch and the LL Creek.  It gets a little broken up down by Lehigh St, but I think you can get the picture.  
JS


« Last Edit: Jan 16th, 2011, 8:40am by pumpers » Logged
DAVE-39
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #369 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 4:05pm »
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Pumpers you are correct. On the Houser photo, the track to the left was the main BQ branch track that ran across the pony truss bridge, through the wire mill complex and crossed Lehigh St just to the north of the current Lehigh St. automobile bridge across the Little Lehigh. The track that Charlie Houser was standing on was the track that ran along the south side of the Little Lehigh and ended in numerous sidings behind the buildings on the east side of Lehigh St. This approximate 1600 feet of track was referred to as the South Allentown Branch. It was constructed in 1890 and used until approximately 1960. City Coal & Fuel was probably the last customer. Over the years there were at least four separate sidings in the area behind Lehigh St. In 1974 Allentown Redevopment Authority purchased the former Wire Mill property and requested the LVRR to relocate its BQ branch track back to the former South Allentown Branch. Although the former South Allentown branch track had not been used for about 14 years I believe it was still intact but just covered with mud and debris. The South Allentown branch track was rehabilitated (new ties and ballast) up to Lehigh St. by December 1974. By Feb. 1975 track was extended west across Lehigh St to connect with a siding on the west side of Lehigh St. that previously served the former Yeager Furniture Co.  
 
Dave Latshaw


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Dave-39
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #370 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 4:46pm »
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To Dave K.
The two sets of semaphores protected the crossing of the two Allentown Terminal tracks that lead to the Allentown Terminal Station at Hamilton St. These tracks were used by CNJ and RDG passenger trains to and from the Allentown Terminal Station. The semaphores were always set against the BQ branch trains. When the inbound BQ branch train wanted to cross the ATR tracks, they would stop and call the Union St. tower to ask permission to cross the ATR tracks and enter the LVRR main track.  You can see the call box in the picture on the right side of the track. When the ATR track was clear, the semaphores moved to clear. When the engineer received the clear semaphore he would give a whistle to the tower (I believe 3 long and 2 short) acknowledging that he received the clear and was moving. As soon as they cleared the ATR crossing the semaphores were reset to stop for BQ branch trains. I don't remember the derail but it probably was additional protection for the crossing.  
Also in the picture, it appears that new ties were placed under the track in the middle of the picture. A switch may have been removed at the site of the new ties. Originally there was another switch in this area that provided 2-3 sidings in the space between the BQ main branch track (to the left) and the South Allentown branch track (to the right). The sidings were used for storage of cars to or from the wire mill.  
 
Dave Latshaw


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Dave-39
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #371 on: Jan 16th, 2011, 8:10pm »
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I located a source of areal views of Allentown from March 23, 1939 and July 17, 1971 which show both the West End and BQ branches. Attached is a low res image from 1939, you can download the high res images which have some reasonable detail when zoomed in from http://www.pennpilot.psu.edu/  
 
Key in Allentown PA as the location, each red square represents an arial photograph. For those not that familiar with the area, locate the red square closest to 17th and Tilghman St which is close to the western point of the West End branch as it loops back eastward. You can refer to Mark's previous highlighted map post to follow the branches.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #372 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 1:40am »
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pumpers: So glad you're enjoying this forum.  I am too!  I told you Dave Latshaw was the Barber branch expert.  I stand corrected in my guess at which track was which on the Houser slide.  If you go back to page 2 of this thread, you'll see a picture I took of the same location around 1970.  The two crew members pictured had just called the Union St. tower for permission to cross the ATR tracks.  That's the great thing about this type of site... one keeps learning things!
DAVE-39: Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.  Your two articles in the Lehigh County proceedings, the many photos you've taken and your memories of these branchlines have been extremely valuable and helpful toward keeping the memory of these Valley branchlines alive.  Thanks for your input!
valleyfan628: Gif-- You, like Dave, have added a lot to this forum through your many pictures, comments and additions like these PennPilot maps.  Too bad those maps from the 30s and 70s don't have the birdseye view that today's satellite maps have.  Imagine being able to look back 75 years and see the detail we can see today!  Again, thanks!
I'll post a few more pictures from this area for those interested.  Here's another shot of CR GP38-2 #8128 on the Jordan Creek trestle as it prepares to leave the BQB at 2:20PM after delivering an empty flatcar to Traylor on 03/23/1989.  This location is just east of where the BQB crossed the Allentown Terminal tracks in this north-east facing view.  The bridge still stands today.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #373 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 1:54am »
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Here's another view of an earlier post, taken on 05/30/1990 at 12:45PM.  The location is slightly west of that pictured in the Houser slide from the early 1950s.  I ran across the pony-truss bridge to get this shot on the other side of the Little Lehigh creek from where I had parked along MLK Blvd.  I believe this was at about the spot where the eastern end of the 1974 track realignment had begun.  The view is facing east.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #374 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 2:02am »
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This 04/12/1989 shot was taken just west (and across the Little Lehigh) from where the previous photo was taken.  The East Penn drill was pushing two empty flatcars out to Traylor when I took this picture at 4:55PM.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #375 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 2:08am »
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At 5:35PM, I shot the same train... this time heading east (inbound) as it crossed at Lehigh St.  You're looking south.

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« Reply #376 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 2:19am »
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Thought I'd end tonight's (this morning's) postings with a Dave Latshaw shot taken 02/29/1977.  Here the drill prepares to head east (inbound) across Lehigh St. with Ironton Baldwin #751 providing the day's power.  This time you're looking north, north-east.
Again, my thanks to Dave for helping explain things regarding the earlier days along the Barber branch.  Hope these photos help those of you who weren't around to see things get an idea of how the branchlines moved through the Allentown area.  -- Mark


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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #377 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 10:31am »
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OK, here are some Sanborn insurance maps from the 1930-1950 time frame, of the South Allentown branch that Dave-39 describes (before the relignment)   The first is of the Lehigh St area, showing the siding to Yaeger furniture on the west side of Lehigh St, the BQ branch crossing the Little Lehigh Creek going up to the wire mill area, and the tracks at the end of the South Allentown branch on the east side of Lehigh st in the future auto junkyard area (it was already noted as a scrap-iron area)Also shown is the Reading Mack branch.    
 
The second is a bit to the east, showing the Reading branch coming off their passenger main and the LV South Allentown branch between it and the Little Lehigh Creek.  Couldn't find a map yet further northeast with the junction in Allentown-Branchline's photo.    
JS



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« Reply #378 on: Jan 17th, 2011, 10:33am »
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Here's the 2nd map:
JS



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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #379 on: Jan 18th, 2011, 12:48am »
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Though previously posted on page 2, thought I'd re-post this here... being that we're currently focused on this eastern end of the Barber branch.  Taken 11/04/1969 (on page two I had guessed at the date, but I since found the exact date), this east-facing shot shows an elevated view of things from my position standing out on the end platform of the caboose which was being pushed off the line by the engine during a high and wide special move out of Traylor. This angle shows just how close the trestle over the Jordan creek was to the ATR crossing.  In the extreme upper left corner, the former landmark gas tank is partly visible in its original gray paint.  As previously stated, brakeman LeRoy Hunsicker is on the left, conductor Eddie Kropf stands on the right.

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