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Allentown branchlines
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   Author  Topic: Allentown branchlines  (Read 42284 times)
valleyfan628
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #620 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 12:20am »
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Bill, I will add some info regarding the trestle that was located between Allen and Liberty Sts. If you go back and look at post 123, you can see a shot I took looking south form just north of Allen. At this time Ice City also had this building. You can see a box spotted on the lead to the trestle. Additionally, post 123 shows a box which had drifted back down to the main, but he shot is looking directly back to where the trestle once was.
...Gif


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #621 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 11:27am »
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Hi Bill... and welcome!  I just dug out my copy of the wonderful article on the WEB written by Dave Latshaw in 1992 for the Lehigh County Historical Society.  Dave spent many, many hours researching the businesses once located along the branch.  According to his research, Ice City moved into their building along 17th Street in 1960.  They added the warehouses located between Tilghman & Allen Sts. in 1966 and in 1967, added the warehouse (between Allen & Liberty Sts) which Gif Sander referred to in his recent reply.  While he didn't have a listing of cars received during the 1960s, in 1973 there was only 1 car and in '74, there were 5.  Also, Service Coal -- previously located near the southwest corner of 17th & Tilghman Sts, was the last serviced coal facility in that area.  According to Dave's article, it was in business until 1965.  If you look at the map I included at the very beginning of this thread, you'll see the tracks as they existed in the late 1960s.  While I didn't show it because it was already out of service at that time, the Service Coal Co's siding ran in the same direction as Ice City's siding, starting north of Ice City's track and running to the west of the main track, ending near Tilghman St.  I hope this helps you with your design plans.  Good luck! -- Mark

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one87th
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #622 on: Dec 19th, 2012, 11:27pm »
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Welcome, Bill!
In reference to Mark's comments in the previous post, here is the only photo I know of for the Service Coal Co., located at 17th and Tilghman Streets.  Company was in operation from 1917-1965. Based on the details of the photo (coal piles to left), it appears we are looking south from Tilghman St at the facility. West End branch and north-facing trailing spur into facility would be to the left of the photo. The site today (2012) is occupied by the Rich Mar Florist building.


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« Last Edit: Dec 19th, 2012, 11:28pm by one87th » Logged
MrBill
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #623 on: Dec 20th, 2012, 4:55pm »
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Gentlemen, thank you for the warm reception. Interesting info! There are a bunch of Penn Pilot views of this from the 30's, and i finally found one that seems to show the Service Coal yard siding pretty clearly paralleling 17th right up to Tilghman. So, do you guys remember seeing the Service trestle (if there was one) or trackage at all in the late 60's? Was the switch still in place?
One87, great vintage Ad! Thanks for posting. Any idea what that tall rack apparatus next to the siding might be?
One more work day, then I can get some drawing in. This will be fun! I love the concept of keeping history alive through track planning and modeling.
Lastly for now, What do we know about the switchback siding that came off the southern Ice city (GF Eric) siding? It shows clearly in your pics as well as the map, which has it running right down to Liberty st. It looks like the switch stayed intact. Do you remember how far toward Liberty the rails went by around 70'?
It's amazing how they must have negotiated moves within such a switchback-on-a-ramp type set-up, yet you see this kind of thing a lot in older arrangements.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #624 on: Dec 20th, 2012, 7:01pm »
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Michael (One87th): Once again, you've added sweet icing to this multi-layered cake!  Where you find these rare pictures I'll never know... but please keep them coming!
Bill: The section you're interested in was always my favorite part of the line.  I can tell you I spent many days hanging out around the section near Ice City. I took tennis lessons as a kid in the mid-1960s about 4 blocks down Allen St. and used to walk up or ride my bike to this part of the branch to see if I could see the West End drill running by around noon after my lessons finished.  I can tell you I remember the switch to the coal company being intact but not much of the siding left... and I can remember when the switch was removed... but I can't give you exact dates, just that both happened during the 1960s.  Regarding your other question, the rails ran right up to the sidewalk along Liberty Street and were partially obstructed by a big old Maple tree right by the end of the siding.  Also, only once in my life did I ever see a car on that siding, but I remember it clearly because it was in the very early 1970s and I couldn't believe that the track was still in use being that I'd never seen one there before.  By the way, it was a brown box car... don't remember the road name.  Sadly, I never had a chance to photograph its delivery or removal, so I have no photos of the engine out on the old trestle!  Hope these memories help your planning.  -- Mark


« Last Edit: Dec 21st, 2012, 10:20am by A-townbranchfan » Logged
MrBill
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #625 on: Dec 20th, 2012, 7:48pm »
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Now that I look closer at that Service Ad, I can see a couple of cables hanging from what looks to be an overhead tramrail type crane! But it would seem to only move parallel to the siding,  hmm. I doubt they made that big coal pile with it. Small time coal yards were homes to some very interesting homemade contraptions.
Mark, the fact that you got to see a car on that switchback at all is pretty fortunate!
That's really good to know. I'm amazed at the useful life of those sidings through the 60's. I know I might sound redundant, but can you recall seeing any evidence of a trestle (foundations, bents, retaining walls, etc) within the Service location, or do you think it was a ground level siding with pits perhaps?  
Also, You mentioned not seeing an engine on the trestle during the switchback move. So i take it there was at least some of trestle left during your visits? The 39' Pilot view shows it stretching all the way to allen st. In the 71' view it looks totally gone! Were they still delivering any raw materials to it somehow after Ice City got the property? Your buddy's pic from atop the boxcar seems to be about the best possible view of it, but it's hard to make out behind the fencing and clutter. This is a wonderful shot btw, with that box canted up like that on the ramp. This along with the 80's view on page 23 really gives some great lay-of-the-land comparisons.


« Last Edit: Dec 21st, 2012, 7:22pm by MrBill » Logged
A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #626 on: Dec 21st, 2012, 10:50am »
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Bill: I would have said I have no clear memories regarding the service coal siding remnant at the time I hung out there.  However, I suddenly got a flash of an image in my mind and I think I'm right in saying it was an earthen lead to a very low "trestle".  (Remember, the grade of the land dropped as you moved north from Liberty to Tilghman St.  There was probably just enough clearance for a carload or two of coal to spill out under the track.  Other than that, I can't help you with any further details for I always entered that area from Allen rather than Tilghman St.
The good news is, I can help you more with the other area you asked about.  I just dug this slide out of my West End slide trays.  I don't remember who shot it, but I'm fairly certain it's a Dave Latshaw slide.  It was dated 6/27/82 and was taken after the line was abandoned.  I cropped the original a bit to give you a better view of the area we're talking about.  The picture was taken looking north, northwest from just north of Liberty and west of 17th Sts.  The building to the right is the back of the American Drycleaners shop.  At this point, they had purchased land from the railroad to exend their parking lot (at right).  Remember, until the early 1970s, the track leading into the former Trexler Lumber Co. complex ran parallel and just to the right of the branch's "main", pictured here.  This angle gives one a better idea of the lay-of-the-land, so to speak.  You can see the rather sharp rise of elevation on the siding at left.  The trestle extended beyond the visible part of the siding.  The materials yard was actually lower than the main track and had a several-foot high concrete wall around it with a chain-link fence above the wall.  I remember some of the concrete trestle piers still being in place, but as long as I can remember, the length of the siding was only long enough for an SW and 1 car to clear the switch leading back to the siding by Liberty St.  A bumper had been placed at that point and all track and supporting timbers (or steel beams?) had been removed beyond the bumper.  I have no personal memory of the full trestle being in place.  Also, one of the occupants of the warehouse at left had, at some point, built a wooden walkway (with several steps) that went up and over the track just south of that bumper, thereby actually shortening the usable track length even more.  I believe there was a door on the north wall of the building and this pedestrian "bridge" allowed workers to access it in a safer manner.  That's about the best I can do, memory-wise.   --Mark


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« Last Edit: Dec 21st, 2012, 11:51am by A-townbranchfan » Logged
A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #627 on: Dec 21st, 2012, 11:35am »
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As long as I was in the Ice City area of my slide collection, I grabbed Gif Sander's shot and greatly enlarged the area of interest.  This is from the same image posted long ago on this thread... the one to which Gif referred in his initial reply to your inquiry when he talked about going to this area with his Dad years ago to pick up building supplies.  If you look at the lower right corner, you can see the top of the boxcar upon which he so bravely stood to take this picture back around 1970.  Gif was just north of Allen St. (Ice City's main siding) and was shooting south toward Liberty St.  Now that I've enlarged this, I can see that it wasn't a big Maple tree which started overgrowing the siding at Liberty St, but a Horse Chestnut Tree.  You can tell by the cluster of blooms visible in the photo.  (Allentown used to have many of these trees planted in this part of town.)  Anyway... if you look closely, you'll see that the wooden pedestrian bridge I previously mentioned can be partially seen right behind the boxcar parked by the distant warehouse.  Looks like they actually built a ramp which ran from the rear (north) loading door to the east side of the car.  You can see the door on the car's left is open and some crates are sitting there.  Look a little further out beyond that ramp and you'll spot the reddish-colored bumper.  I was thinking again about when I saw the one and only car parked on the siding by Liberty St. and I now believe it was more like 1967 or early 1968.  I say that because it was before I started riding with the crew and that was in the fall of '68.  Also, now that I see this picture, I believe it would have been impossible for both an engine and one car to clear the switch points which led to that siding... due to the construction of the wooden pedestrian bridge.  One final bit of detail for you, the switch stand which operated the turnout on the "switchback" was one of the older, high stands often found in New England railroading.  The vast majority of the others used on the line were the more common low variety.  That should give you more detail than you were after, Bill.  Hope it all helps with the planning.  If your friend ever builds a layout featuring this part of the WEB, be sure to send me some pictures!  --Mark

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« Last Edit: Dec 21st, 2012, 11:59am by A-townbranchfan » Logged
MrBill
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #628 on: Dec 21st, 2012, 4:59pm »
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Wow, nice! Thanks Mark. I truly appreciate the effort and your time, as you and Gif are probably the only ones who know these details. I spend a lot of time doing photo research, and always wind up missing items within them, for years sometimes. I've been working on a section of the West Reading branch in downtown Reading for 3 or 4 years now, and am only now just about satisfied with my info. Figuring out the timelines of the changes are difficult but very rewarding.
I noticed that makeshift dock-height platform in the "runaway" boxcar shot on page 7, but couldn't tell exactly what was going on there until you posted the enlargement of Gif's south facing shot. What an interesting rambling structure that is! It looks like there could be a seperate extention of it over to the western car door spotting location. The only handrail seems to be at the drop where the trestle would have started. Also in the view of the runaway shot, it looks like the added platform only extended just over the bumper to a set of steps to ground level (at that point in time anyway).
That latest photo shows the switchback turnout really well. Thanks for posting it.
I'll leave you be on questions for now. Time to break out the drafting supplies.
Thanks again.  -Bill


« Last Edit: Dec 21st, 2012, 5:16pm by MrBill » Logged
DAVE-39
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #629 on: Dec 24th, 2012, 2:55pm »
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Bill,  
 
The siding into the Service Coal Co. property was laid in 1907 and was 200 feet long. It was originally C. A. Eberts and became Service Coal in 1917. I don't know if there was a raised coal trestle at the Tilghman St. end, however Mark's comment that the land drops off between Allen and Tilghman St. makes me believe they built a level trestle off the ground high-point and used the natural land drop-off to dump between the tracks They used this technique at the coal yards at 4th and Sumner Ave and on the Barber Quarry branch at St. Cloud and Fairview Sts.  
 
As for the switchback at G. Ehrlich (Ice City Warehouse), there was a coal trestle on the site in the 1890's. I don't know when the switchback was added, however the section of track going north onto the trestle was approximately 125 feet from the switch and the section of track going south to Liberty St. was 185 feet. I remember on occasions in the late 50"s seeing a box car in the siding at Liberty St. They could have left cars run from the trestle by gravity into the siding, but when getting a car out they must have ran the loco and one car up on the trestle. Eventhough the steam switchers weighed only 104 tons and the 180 series diesel switchers weighed 124 tons, I know the railroad did not like to run the loco on the coal trestles.
 
I have a 1917 revised railroad map of the area around 17th and Liberty that you can look at. If you are interested give me a call and we can set something up. Maybe Mark will be available also and we can answer some of your questions.  
 
Dave Latshaw


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Dave-39
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #630 on: Dec 27th, 2012, 2:35pm »
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For those who don't recognize the name, Michael Molovinsky writes a blog known as "Molovinsky on Allentown".  His focus is mostly on the history of Allentown -- everything from years ago to yesterday.  Michael has added a couple of comments to this thread and contributed a blueprint of the LVRR track arrangement down around Hamilton and Front Sts.  Just recently he advised me that he had taken a couple of photos of the remnants of some coal companies which sat along Sumner Avenue as late as 1970.  He's forwarded two photos to me thus far and said he'll dig a little deeper for the other pictures he took.
The following two photos were taken looking south-east from the 15-hundred block of Sumner Avenue.  At the time these pictures were taken, the company was known as the Morris Wisser Coal Co, though prior to 1958, it was originally the George Sacks Coal Co.  Though the siding to this industry had been removed years before these pictures were taken, I thought they'd be of interest to those who have followed this forum from its start.
In the first picture (below), you can see the sign which marked the N. Fulton Street crossing, just south of Sumner Avenue.  You can see the WEB's main track running through the picture.  The row homes pictured sit on the west side of N. 15th St and the building at far left is the western side of the Hummel Furniture Co's main warehouse.  Michael's picture shows the antiquated coal sorter still used by the Wisser Company as late as 1970.


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #631 on: Dec 27th, 2012, 2:51pm »
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In his second photo, Michael moved almost 1/2 block west (near the southeast corner of 16th & Sumner Ave) and photographed the remnants of the former coal trestle which once served the Sacks/Wisser coal companies.  Though not visible in this photo, the WEB's "main" ran in the grassy area between the former trestle and the line of automobiles parked in what was then the used car lot of Ruhe Oldsmobile, formerly located at 15th & Tilghman Sts.  The row homes visible from the rear sat (sit) along the north side of the 1500 block of Tilghman St.  Until I viewed these photos, I had completely forgotten about this little coal yard... even though I passed it many times during the days I walked and rode the line.  My thanks to Michael for sharing what he has and for bringing forth a long-lost memory for me!  --Mark  


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Charlie Ricker
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #632 on: Dec 28th, 2012, 3:16pm »
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Thanks Mark for posting, and thanks to Mike for sharing them with us........this is such a great thread!
 
Charlie


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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #633 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 12:59pm »
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Those new photos of the Wisser Coal Yard are great! Looking forward to more from Mr. Molovinski's archives. Nice find Mark. So after I figured out the photo angles of those shots, and working on another layout plan based on the Reading switchback over at Traylor, I got the Ice City Curve drawing going.
OK. First off, my target date here is 1967, since Ice City had acquired the Erich yard (warehouse #4) at that point. In your pics I've identified Ice City warehouses 1, 3, and 4, but not #2. Where was that at? Mark, on page 1, in your pic of 251 switching the CN and Milwaukee boxes, you can see another Ice City building in the background, on St. Cloud St. Was that the showroom at the time? Sounds like they moved their showroom location around a lot.  
I'm trying to figure out if I'm getting the turnout placements right. I know the RR's tried not to put the points within grade crossings unless necessary. As you all have kindly done previously, Please let me know if you guys remember seeing any cars on these sidings, if the turnouts were still in place, or any corrections in general. If anyone here is good with photoshop, and could copy this out and draw in corrections, that'd be really cool too.
Not sure how some of these points at the Hess warehouse couldn't have been within the intersection, so I'm guessing the LV may have had some of those buried switch throw mechanisms at this point. Mark, the pic of you in the switcher at Schelly, was that the northernmost building in the complex?  
I'm going through the thread as often as a I can to glean more info. I'll probably just replace this drawing as I edit it, so as not to post dozens of revisions. Sorry if I'm missing some things previously posted. Still, a lot of fun though. Looking forward to hearing from you guys.  -Bill
 


« Last Edit: Jan 8th, 2013, 2:01pm by MrBill » Logged
valleyfan628
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #634 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 2:26pm »
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Bill, I have attached Dave Latshaw's drawing of the WEB from 1942. You can compare Mark's diagram from the beginning of this forum with this one and see what had been removed by the 60's.  
...Gif
(For those of you that saw the original post here, Bill has updated his drawing with the corrections I had previously noted)



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« Last Edit: Jan 7th, 2013, 9:45am by valleyfan628 » Logged
MrBill
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #635 on: Jan 6th, 2013, 4:25pm »
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Nice map Gif and Dave! Thanks. After looking back through the thread, and checking the Pilot views, I figured there was something off there too. I think I see how the re-alignment went now after they built the GE building. I'll be fixing that up shortly.  
Touched it up. Of all the views I've studied showing the GE warehouse area, I can't see any switch points to Penn Oil or Rapid. Now I'm just wondering where the points were for the Hess siding.


« Last Edit: Jan 6th, 2013, 6:55pm by MrBill » Logged
A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #636 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 12:03am »
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Bill: I'm not sure what Gif meant when he said the siding at 17th & Tilghman was "reversed", for the way you've drawn it is the way I remember it.  I have no memory of the switch being intact, but the segment of track which came out of the building ran to the southwest and would have been served from a points trailing switch on the outbound run.  I also don't remember the switch being intact for Penn Oil, though I still remember the siding being there for many years.  There may have been a bumper on the western end of that siding, but again, my memory regarding that remnant is very vague.  I have no memory of any switch points along the branch being in the streets which crossed the line, and I certainly never came across any signs of any buried switch stands.  One thing you have right which Dave had wrong is the turnout leading to the G.E./Harold Stephen's siding.  It was (as you've drawn) located on the east side of the 16th St. crossing, not the west side.
Actually, your entire drawing is quite accurate (as I remember things), except for the switch leading to the Hess Bros. warehouse siding.  Their switch was near the northwest corner of the intersection of Liberty and 17th Sts... just south of the switch for the Ice City (warehouse #4) siding.  I don't remember how IC's warehouses were numbered, so I don't know about warehouse #3.  Their main showroom in the 1960s was located to the east of the railroad tracks, between Tilghman & Allen Sts.  You entered it from 17th St.  One other thing... I'd lengthen the sidings inside of the Schelly and Trexler Lumber Co sheds.  They didn't run the entire length of the buildings, but they were longer than what you've drawn.  And, yes... Schelly was the northern-most building running right along an asphalt sidewalk next to Liberty St.  Finally, I have no memory at all of any crossovers being located in this area.  If there were any, it was long before my time.  Nice work, Bill!    -- Mark


« Last Edit: Jan 7th, 2013, 12:27am by A-townbranchfan » Logged
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #637 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 5:48pm »
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Thanks Mark. Gif was looking at my first draft which I fixed and re-scanned right away.  I'm just replacing the above map as I edit the drawing. I'll edit previous posts to try and save space whenever possible. Keep an eye out. Newest version (5) is above. I think I have the track layout pretty tight now. I labeled the buildings on the east side of the curve, so whoever knows can add names to them. From your info Mark, Is bldg. A the IC showroom?
What can you guys tell me about the Ice City structure, with the cue ball logo, on the left, behind warehouse #3 in this pic?
 Apparently it fronts on St. Cloud st. Might this be warehouse #2?
It looks as if it was gone by the time the 1971 Penn Pilot shot was taken.
 


« Last Edit: Jan 8th, 2013, 1:57pm by MrBill » Logged
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #638 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 10:30pm »
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Bill: Sorry, I hadn't written down which IC warehouse you'd asked about when I wrote my last reply.  There's a good chance the St. George St. building would have been warehouse #2 in the 1960s.  As I said on page one of this thread when I posted the attached photo, IC had moved their operations over to that building on St. George St. by the 1980s.  They just put a new front and new sign on the old building.  And yes, building "A" on your drawing would have been the original showroom.  Buildings C&D are the American Drycleaner and laundromat structures, and building E was a small drive-through car wash which was only in operation for a short period of time.  I can still picture building B in my mind, but I can't remember what it was... some type of industrial business, but not a railroad customer.  Your modified drawing looks very good... I'd say you've captured the track arrangement quite accurately!  --Mark

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« Last Edit: Jan 7th, 2013, 10:34pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #639 on: Jan 7th, 2013, 11:33pm »
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As I recall Ice City was also in building "B" in the 70's. I seem to remember them having a window display along Allen St. I also located a picture of the abandon siding that serviced Penneco at 17th and Tilghman.


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