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Allentown branchlines
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   Author  Topic: Allentown branchlines  (Read 41238 times)
Flemington Flyer
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #660 on: Mar 25th, 2014, 2:06pm »
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Well, since there is a spark of new life on this thread, I'll add this....While I have nothing photographic to add (I'm from New Jersey, born and bred) and model the LV's Jersey City terminal, I am thinking about taking apart my waterfront layout and instead, modeling the WEB! "So what?", you might be saying? Well, this weekend, I am presenting a talk at the 6th Annual Valley Forge Railroad Prototype Modeler's Meet this coming weekend, March 28th to the 30th. The ONLY bad thing is, I am doing my presentation at 10PM! Visit this link for a scheule, cost and all the other nitty-gritty details -  
http://www.phillynmra.org/RPMMeet.html
 
Using the extensive info here, as well as Dave Latshaw's article, I have put together a presentation on what I MIGHT model in the very near future. I just want to say that I can't thank everybody who has contributed to this thread enough, otherwise my presentation and my (possible) future layout could never have happened!
 
I hope you can join me if you are in the area!
 
Ralph Heiss


« Last Edit: Mar 25th, 2014, 2:11pm by Flemington Flyer » Logged

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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #661 on: Apr 29th, 2014, 10:44pm »
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Found this while trolling ebay. Listed as somewhere on Sumner ave. in 1941. There might be a reference to Ace coal here in the thread already, but I cant find it at the moment. I'm sure one of you guys will know where it was.

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #662 on: Apr 30th, 2014, 8:32am »
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I couldn't identify the location shown in the picture (especially because there's nothing railroad-related included), so I referenced Dave Latshaw's informative article on the history of the West End Branch and found that Ace Coal & Ice Co. was located at 711-725 N. 17th St. between 1936 and 1942.  That would have been between Tilghman St. and Sumner Avenue, on the east side of 17th St... just north of where Peterson's Seafood was located in later years.  With this information in mind and looking more closely at the photograph, I believe the photographer was standing near the intersection of 17th & Sumner Avenue, looking east.  The houses pictured to the left I believe are those which sit at 16th & Washington Sts.  Sumner Avenue would have been the dirt clearing (with the tire ruts) slightly to left of center.  If you look down that path to the building barely visible in the distance, I believe that to be the old Gulf refining company building, later to become the Allentown School district's book depository... located on the south-east corner of Roth & Sumner Avenues.  If I'm right about the location, the WEB's main would have run to the right (south) of the Ace Coal structure.  
While it's always interesting to look back at how things used to look in and around Allentown, I'd ask that postings to this thread be limited to images which clearly show railroad tracks or other railroad-related items... only because of the large size to which this thread has grown.  Thanks, however, for your contribution, MrBill. -- Mark


« Last Edit: Apr 30th, 2014, 8:51am by A-townbranchfan » Logged
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #663 on: Apr 30th, 2014, 1:33pm »
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Mr. Bill,
 
I appreciate your effort to collect the photo and share it here.  It’s a neat old photo and has a lot to say.
 
It may have been taken sometime between late fall and early spring – trees are bare and weeds dormant.  It may also be late afternoon – west facing sides of the homes (left) are well lit while the south sides are in shadow.  The bright tonal area between the entrance and building (right) may be snow covered or have heavy frost.  It sure has an abrupt edge along the tire rut.
 
It's also neat to see streets unpaved and so little development in this part of town as late as 1941.  By the late 50s & early 60s Sumner Avenue was paved and pretty busy.  It was HOT to walk along especially during a sticky, summer day.  Thankfully, the concession stand at Jordan Park (off North 6th and Sumner) had snowballs.  
 
Ace was a small business.  The old truck is neat – guessing it’s an old coal delivery truck.  The old loader is neat too, partly hidden behind the building.  Those black diamonds were probably delivered by the Valley – that’s not rocket science as the branch was nearby.  So, if one looks hard enough, one should find a railroad siding and link to the branch.  And sure enough, you do.
 
Ace Coal & Ice was located at 711-725 North 17th Street (Rear) – the addendum “Rear” is part of the formal address.  Your photograph nails the “Rear” part pretty well.  Ace apparently was around for only six years, ’36-42.  Two other coal distributors shared the same address, including: Verno Benningoff ('44-48 and Ralph Weaver (’44-46).  Allentown Rapid Service Company, another coal and ice distributor (’20-’53), owed property at 711-725 North 17th Street – kinda wonder how they were related business-wise.  
 
A siding was extended northeastward from the branch to serve Allentown Rapid Service - guess Ace got coal there,but the business arrangement is uncertain.  The siding appears on an old blue-line map of the branch, framed and hanging on my office wall along with the “Allentown” tower sign and a few other mementoes of “home”.  A similar map is reproduced in David’s (1992) paper.  The points of the siding trend west toward 17th Street and there is suggestion of a small coal pocket.  
 
If someone is modeling the branch circa 1940, the photograph helps envision surrounding property, the rail business, and local color.  The photograph may also hit memory nerves, stimulate work, generate interest, or who knows what. Someday another piece of the puzzle may turn up.  Every bit keeps the line alive.  So, thanks again.
 
Best regards,
 
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #664 on: May 1st, 2014, 8:48am »
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Regarding the picture of the Lackawanna passenger train at the Allentown station.  Why did the Lackawanna detour the passenger trains over the LV passenger line instead of just taking the freight line north?  Was there some reason for them to stop (or maybe they just passed through) ?  I seen several videos of the Lackawanna detour trains (during the '50's) taking the passenger route.  Why ?

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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #665 on: May 1st, 2014, 9:48am »
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The DL&W was well built, but it was susceptible to flooding.  As I recall, the region was hard hit by hurricane Diane (1955) and other storms, prompting diversion of traffic.  Agnes (June 1972) was the final straw.
 


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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #666 on: May 1st, 2014, 11:07am »
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Maybe I didn't word that Lackawanna passenger train question correctly.  I understand that they were re-routed thru Allentown because of the flood during the mid 50's.  They were routed over the LV from P-Burg to Coxton.  I understand that.  My question is when they got to Allentown,  why did they go into they passenger line to the LV station rather than staying on the LV freight line thru Allentown ?  Did they make a station stop ?

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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #667 on: May 1st, 2014, 11:37am »
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In answer to your question, it's my understanding that during the era in which this detour took place, the Lehigh Valley sent many of it's through trains (including some freights) over the Jordan Loop track to lessen the number of grade crossings.  On the Jordan Loop track, there were only 3 major crossings to deal with (S. 3rd St, Union St. and Gordon St.), while trains traversing the "old main" tracks had double that amount... several of which were more heavily traveled than those crossed by the Jordan Loop.  If any of you older railroad workers know differently, please correct me... but this has been my understanding. -- Mark

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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #668 on: May 1st, 2014, 1:08pm »
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Checked my library, have nothing confirming DL&W formally discharged / picked-up passengers at Valley’s Allentown station.  
 
DL&W used both the Jordan Loop and Old Main through Allentown – see Peter’s 2013, “Lehigh River Valley Trackside…” page 45, top photo; DL&W Fs on the main with an EB September 5th, ’55.
 
Storm hit August 18 & 19th 1955 – I remember water in the basement near 9th and Tilghman, Allentown.  Once service was restored, D&LW diverted trains for a month or so.
 
The Valley was also walloped.  Main between Penn Haven and Tannery was wrecked.  Trains were rerouted over Hays Creek until the WB track was restored in late August ‘ 55 (see Archer ‘77 p. 273).  Mike also shares photo of water across the tracks at Calypso – see LV in Color #5, page 33, top.  
 
Trains could’ve have stopped in vicinity of station for signals, clearance, etc.; however, given financial and physical circumstances, as well as ICC rules, doubt formal passenger service was established for that month.  
 
Seems it was a good day just to get them over the road.


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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #669 on: Jun 17th, 2014, 10:42am »
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Union Street Interlocking - 1938
 
A chance find provides a rare view of an Allentown location previously discussed in this thread - Union Street interlocking.   The photograph, taken by an unknown photographer on January 18, 1938, captures several steam era features.  A 1932 Sanborn map for this area was previously posted by Moderator Henry on December 6, 2010 – page 16 this thread.
 
With the photographer’s back at Union Street, the camera straddles Allentown Terminal (AT) EB main and looks northward toward the CNJ station.   A Reading camelback and tender steam pass the Allentown Boiler Works facility (left) – a glimpse of the company’s name appears in front of the engine.  A gas electric (?) and baggage car occupy house tracks west of the station.  While the identity of the car is known, the large headlight above the end doorway is unmistakable.  A second steamer is seen in the yard just north of Hamilton Street (gates are up).  The slight curve to the east ahead of the station makes it difficult to judge which track the engine is running on.  The Spangler Foundry, marked by the prominent billboard, lies just east of the station (right) and fronts South 3rd Street.
 
The Valley’s station is off to the left and Union Street tower is off to the right.  Starting closest to the camera, the four Valley tracks running from left to right include: a “house track” that ran a short distance to the left along the west side of the Valley’s concrete passenger platform; the east and west bound passenger mains (Tracks 2 and 1, respectively); and a siding that rejoined Track 1 in front of the Valley’s station.  Off to the right, the passenger mains joined the old freight right-of-way (Tracks 3 and 4) at the Jordan creek bridge (Jordan Junction).   The Barber Quarry Branch took off behind the tower (Morris & Black) from switches along Track 2 and the house track.  The plant saw considerable change over time; only the Valley’s Track 2 was retained as a secondary while all the rest were abandoned.
 
Many types of signals are seen in this steam era photo.  A two arm semaphore guards the diamonds along the AT EB main with a “split rail” style derail located just this side of the signal.  Two or three dwarfs are also present; one protects the diamonds along the AT WB main (small black box between tracks) and others are located along the curves just beyond the turnout.  Elevated trunking – the boxy protective structure surrounding signaling cables – runs along the curve just the left of the switch.  Decent size relay cases rest on either side of the AT main.  
 
Another two arm semaphore is seen along the industrial spur running east on Factory Street - left side of the photo.  The signal protects movements toward the AT main.  The Factory Street spur is visible between the 3rd pole and AT main.  I don’t recall seeing this crossing in the mid to late 50s, so I suspect it may have been yanked by then.  I do remember the semaphore and dwarfs along the AT mains, they where filthy and gorgeous.  
 
More recent views with slightly different perspectives (late 50s – early 60) were published by Mr. Plant (2001, p. 22) in his Trackside around Allentown and Mr. Bednar (2008, pp 82-83) in his Facilities volume 1.  A discussion of the original electrical interlocking was published by Ralph Scott (1908 pp 42-47) in Automatic Block Signals and Signal Circuits.  Old circuit diagrams suggest several waysides were banjo style signals.
 
 


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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #670 on: Mar 8th, 2016, 3:09pm »
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OK, it looks like it's time to revive this thread again.  I don't have photos, but do have some interesting information.  I've been going through some information in the ARHS Archives which were donated by Mr. Bob Yurvati in order to catalog what's there.  I have found Reading Co. waybills from Allentown for April and September 1970.  Over the weekend, I was sorting them by customer and remembered seeing some of the names on the internet somewhere, or in a book or magazine or.......
Anywho, they were quite interesting. Mack was shipping flatcar loads of R Model cabs to their plant in Hayward, CA, along with an occasional trailer of parts.  Sheftel, mentioned in Reply #264 to this thread, shipped boxcar loads of rags to New England.  GE was shipping trailers of small electrical appliances to CA, and Fuller was sending gondolas (and one High/Wide shipment) to various consignees. Caloric in Topton was shipping trailers of stoves hither and yon, and R.T. French was shipping trailers of foodstuffs from Souderton via the Piggyback ramp, to name the largest customers.  
Questions:  1) Where was the Reading Freight House in Allentown? How about the piggyback ramp?   2) Dave L, do you have any pix of the Mack cab loads? Did they come from Plant 5C that you mentioned in reply #474? I will also ask Bob Wilt when I (hopefully) see him Friday night.  
Also, the Hagley Museum in DE has Dallin Aerial Survey photos of Allentown. Check out 700.200.08925.jpg for a view fm the SW of the Mack plant at 8th St., Traylor, and the BQ and Mack Branches.  It doesn't *quite* cover the switchback, but it's close.  
Will work on tabulating the traffic from the April file over the next few weeks, in-between other pressing projects. That's all for now.....


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Re: Allentown branchlines
 
« Reply #671 on: Apr 17th, 2016, 2:14pm »
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on Mar 7th, 2014, 5:40pm, A-townbranchfan wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Just when I'd given up hope of ever finding additional images to post here, something really special has come my way.  Thanks to a friend of a friend sharing some slides he purchased from the collection of the late Kermit Geary, Sr., I have another rare view into the past for all those who've followed this thread.  Taken from the Linden Street Bridge, looking south toward the Hamilton Street bridge in Allentown sometime in the mid-1950s, the photographer captured a detouring DL&W passenger train heading railroad west on the former Jordan Loop of the Lehigh Valley Railroad... past the Allentown passenger station.  The detour was the result of severe flooding along the DL&W's track due to a hurricane which struck the east coast at that time.  By the way, the empty eastbound track shown to the right of the train is the track which still remains in place today and is used by R.J.Corman to reach their small freight yard just north (to the rear) of where this picture was taken.  Enjoy... and being that it's been many months since anything's been posted to this thread, has anybody else found something of interest to add here? -- Mark
Mark, thanks for posting this, great photo! Wayne-


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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #672 on: Oct 23rd, 2016, 4:26pm »
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Okay you branch line lovers... time to bring this thread to life again!  I finally started building the HO layout I've been planning for about 15 years and had a member of the Lehigh & Keystone Valley club in Bethlehem build some warehouses for me based on buildings which were once served along the Valley's West End Branch.  One was the Peters Plant Food company  which sat at the very end of the line at 12th & Gordon Streets.  In an attempt to copy the sign which was displayed on the northern wall of the original warehouse, I pulled out some slides and started to realize that there were a number of photos I had never displayed on this thread... mostly because they were similar to others I had previously posted.  Well, I figure enough time has passed that I can now begin to add a few of those photos to (hopefully) get some interest going again.  Who knows... maybe this will motivate those of you who have some pictures of the former Allentown branch lines in your own collections to finally break down and share what you have with the rest of us!
The first photo shows Ironton Baldwin 751 and its caboose four days after Christmas in 1976 as it moves along the Peters Plant Food siding.  This was taken by local railfan, Bob Wilt.  The view was taken looking southwest and the building visible just above the engine was Ritter & Smith's Lumber Co. shed.
More goodies in the days/weeks ahead.  As always, please feel free to post any comments/questions/photos of your own.   --- Mark


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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #673 on: Oct 24th, 2016, 12:20pm »
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First post of today is another Peters Plant Food warehouse shot by Gif Sander, taken during the summer of 1969 or 1970.  The Great northern box car sitting to the left contained a load of lumber for nearby Ritter & Smith.  This southeast-facing view shows part of the West End cemetery (along N. 12th Street) in the background.

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« Reply #674 on: Oct 24th, 2016, 12:27pm »
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Dave Latshaw captured this Peters action on 10/20/1977... again looking southeast.  Conrail was over a year and a half old at the time Dave took this great picture.  Thankfully they still hadn't found time to completely repaint this old Valley pup!

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« Reply #675 on: Oct 24th, 2016, 12:38pm »
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Last post of today is another Bob Wilt photo of Ironton #751 as it proceeds west and prepares to cross N. 13th Street.  This southeast-facing shot gives a better (though still obstructed) view of Ritter & Smith's lumber shed.  The row homes pictured at far right still sit along the south side of W. Gordon Street.  Same date as the earlier post... 12/29/76.           Until next time... Mark.

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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #676 on: Oct 25th, 2016, 2:33pm »
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In this east-looking shot from March, 1958 (estimated date), Bruce Kleppinger captured a LV Baldwin blocking N. 13th Street as it switched the Peters siding... then owned by Mauser Mill Company, a flour producer.  Off in the distance (to the left of the train) sits the remains of the Allentown Steam Heat Company's coal pile, significantly less than what would have been visible if this photo had been taken just several months earlier, before winter arrived.  The building pictured (with white trim) still stands along the north side of Liberty Street in the 1200 block.  The structure visible behind the coal pile is where CVS stands today.

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« Reply #677 on: Oct 25th, 2016, 2:53pm »
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The same train shot by D.L. on 10/20/77 up by the Peters building is now approaching the N. Madison Street crossing, one street west of 13th.  The track to the right leads to the center tracks of the former 12th Street Yard where  cars were spotted for loading/unloading by numerous area businesses.  The rotted tie lying across those rails just beyond 13th Street was due to a broken rail which occurred in the middle of the 13th St. crossing.  It was a temporary reminder to the crews that the center tracks were not usable at that time.

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« Reply #678 on: Oct 25th, 2016, 3:27pm »
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I took this picture looking north from the Peters siding track, sometime during 1969 or 1970.  The 40' BN box car was in fresh paint and just begging to have its picture taken.  The building off to the right (where CVS sits today) was another building owned by Ritter and Smith where roof trusses were assembled.  The only railroad cars I ever remember being on the siding which led to this building (along Liberty Street) were strings of flat cars from the "World of Mirth" trains which brought the fair to Allentown each September. I can still remember the fun I had (along with other children from that neighborhood) running along the tops of the cars from 13th Street to 12th Street and back again.  Since most of the fair wagons were unloaded in groups, there were metal plates between the ends of the cars, making it easy to get from one car to the next without having to jump great distances between cars.

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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #679 on: Oct 25th, 2016, 3:33pm »
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Gif's picture from 1970 or 1971 shows two Southern boxes sitting just east of the 13th Street crossing.  Normally cars were shoved farther east on the southern-most public siding track... well beyond the switch so the northern track could be used by the crew to switch cars around.  The building off in the distance was originally the Pennsylvania Independent Oil Co, later to become a Citgo station (at the time of this picture) and finally, an automobile tire company.  The building still stands today.

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« Last Edit: Oct 25th, 2016, 3:41pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
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