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Allentown branchlines
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   Author  Topic: Allentown branchlines  (Read 42879 times)
A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #720 on: Apr 6th, 2017, 1:47pm »
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Unfortunately, the last two WEB photos Jake had were taken all the way out at the end of the branch.  In this picture, dated 06/14/86, the 12th Street terminal/yard hadn't seen train service in over 4 years.  Within the following few weeks, the company contracted by the City of Allentown to remove all rails and ties would be pulling up these last traces of railroad in the northwest part of the old city.
Though no trains are pictured in this view taken looking east from the N. Madison St. crossing, I thought it was a good picture to post because it shows a number of businesses and industries which once existed in this area.  To the right of the track is Scott Street.  At the right edge of the photo is what was then the Unemployment Bureau.  North 13th St. crossed (from right to left) in front of the stacks of lumber and Ritter & Smith's lumber company shed (the reddish wooden building visible above the lumber) blocks the view of the then abandoned Peters Plant Food warehouse.  The trees in the distance sat inside the large West End cemetery along N. 12th St.  The brick building just to the left of the blue truck parked in the distance was originally the Penna. Ind. Oil Co. (still standing as an auto repair shop today).  Slightly to the left, you'll see a portion of a dark red building with gray doors.  That was the M.S. Young Company building (Ritter & Smith Truss Company as I remember it in the 60s and 70s).  Not visible in this scene is the track which used to run from the track at left all the way over to the north (left) side of this old structure.  (It was removed around 1970 or '71.)  The rails used to run just south of the southern sidewalk along Liberty St. and ended at the edge of the western sidewalk along N. 12th Street... where today's CVS building sits.
Finally, the tannish building to the left (which actually was on the west side of N. 13th Street) was part of a grouping of buildings which were, in part, owned by the Trexler Lumber Co.  It's easy to see the changes in track elevation which existed at this part of the line and made the "flying switch" maneuver possible.  The 13th Street crossing was the transitional point between down and up-grade.  Due to the rise in elevation in the 12th St. yard, it was possible for the conductor (riding on the east-facing caboose platform at the head end) to stop the train by applying the brakes on the caboose just as the free-rolling train entered the 13th St. crossing.


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« Last Edit: Apr 7th, 2017, 3:41pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #721 on: Apr 6th, 2017, 2:02pm »
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For today's final post, I'll wind the clock back nearly 10 years from the last photo to 11/01/76.  Jake captured RDG SW #2761 along Scott St., switching midway between the N. Madison and N. 13th St. crossings.  This was a total surprise to me as I'd never known either branch to be worked by a RDG engine during the early days of Conrail.  I'm only sorry he didn't photograph more locations as the drill worked the WEB that day.  If you look closely up near the end of track, just below the trees, you'll see the end of a light-colored box car which was positioned next to the unloading ramp once located there...  most likely a lumber delivery for the Ritter & Smith company.
Next time I'll begin displaying the final 9 photos taken along the Barber branch during the Conrail and R.J. Corman eras.   Stay tuned!   -- Mark


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A-townbranchfan
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #722 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 3:56pm »
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With the impressive 8th Street bridge sitting off in the distance, Jake photographed the drill returning from Traylor Engineering along the Barber branch.  His date states he took this (and two of the following) pictures on 05/26/85, so that's what I'm listing.  However, judging by the lack of green on the trees and grass in these photos, I'm guessing it was more like 03/26/85, or possibly 04/26/85.  Anyway... the eastbound train is just about to cross the spot where the double diamond crossing with the Allentown Terminal RR (CNJ & RDG) once existed... moments before crossing the curved trestle over the Jordan Creek and exiting the branch.  (There used to be a large pile of dirt and stones at this location, allowing a railfan to get some elevation when photographing a subject.)

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« Last Edit: Apr 8th, 2017, 12:56pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #723 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:04pm »
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On 04/06/87, CR SW-1500 #9525 was photographed as it moved along the Barber branch a block or so west of the last picture.  This was taken looking east from the edge of M.L.K. Blvd., close to where the Parkettes building stands.

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« Reply #724 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:16pm »
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Jumping ahead to 01/16/02, Jake faced west and photographed a bend in the branch, just east of the Lehigh Street grade crossing... the spot where the line cut through an auto junk yard.  This was the day the Corman RR was pulling up track after the branch was abandoned.  Though there are no engines or cars in the photo, I liked the fact that he had walked in from Lehigh Street and turned around to show the curve which existed here.  (More photos taken this day will appear at the end of these postings.)  Take note of the brick building on the right, for it will appear in the next posting, but from about a 180-degree turned view.

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« Last Edit: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:17pm by A-townbranchfan » Logged
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« Reply #725 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:25pm »
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Back to 05/23/85.  Conrail SW #8698 sat idling on the east side of the Lehigh Street grade crossing... next to the building shown in the previous posting.  This was photographed just 3 days before the first of today's postings showing the Traylor shipment being moved east of this point.  Notice that the engine in that shot, however, was Conrail's SW #8693, not the 8698.

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« Reply #726 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:32pm »
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Here's the other SW (8693) on its 05/26/85 move out to pick up its load at Traylor.  It was photographed this time on the west side of the Lehigh St. crossing.

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« Reply #727 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:45pm »
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A short while later that same day, Jake managed to photograph #8693 through the trees as it sat at Traylor engineering along the Little Lehigh creek... waiting for its load to be moved into place.  You can see the large ring load sitting on a different track to the east (left) of the engine.  My guess is Traylor's small switcher may have been sitting directly behind the SW, preparing to pull the flat car to the rear (west) of Conrail's engine.  As is evident in the first photo of these Barber branch postings, the load was pulled along the branch behind the Conrail unit, not pushed by it.

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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #728 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 4:56pm »
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Unfortunately, the last 3 photos I'll be posting from Jake's collection are from that gloomy day in January, 2002 (the 16th), when a track crew from the R.J. Corman RR worked their way from west to east, pulling up spikes, rails and old tie plates from the rotting ties below along this old Valley branch line.  This photo was taken looking west from the curved trestle over the Jordan Creek.  The roadrailer is just about at the spot where the Allentown Terminal RR once crossed the Barber branch.

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« Reply #729 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 5:44pm »
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A short while later, rails were being removed from the trestle.

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« Reply #730 on: Apr 7th, 2017, 5:57pm »
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This final post shows the removing of rails just east of the Jordan trestle with the old gas works tower in the background.
I hope you enjoyed these unexpected additional photos taken by Jacob Stofko.  As I previously stated, finding anything these days showing the West End branch (removed in 1986) or the Barber branch (removed in 2002) is like discovering lost treasure to someone like me.  Jake told me he doesn't own a computer and knew nothing of this thread's existence, so I'm very happy that one of the followers of the images and captions I've posted here over the past several years brought the existence of Jake's collection to my attention.  If anyone knows of any other railfans who may be older and not very computer savvy, please talk to them and see if they have any branch line photos or slides in their collections.  I'll be more than happy to scan their images and post them here for all to enjoy.  -- Mark Rabenold


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« Reply #731 on: Apr 17th, 2017, 9:57pm »
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Last week, a number of railroad-related pictures appeared on mcall.com, the website for Allentown's daily newspaper.  I was unable to view them myself, but a friend recently forwarded them to me and the following image (looking west, possibly taken from the top of the former gas works tank which used to sit east of Basin St. and south of Union St.) was so good and rare that I felt it had to be shared here.  Though neither the West End nor the Barber branches are shown, this photo shows almost the entire section of the Jordan Loop track which ran between the two branches.  Also visible are both the Lehigh Valley and the Allentown Terminal (CNJ & Reading shared) stations which sat along the 300 block of Hamilton St. in days gone by.  The passenger coaches shown were sitting on the holding tracks which ran along the west side of the ATRR station.  The Union St. tower which once controlled all movements in this area sat just out of view to the left of the photo.  I don't know the date nor the name of the photographer, but based on the track arrangement shown and the condition of the two stations, my guess is the photo was taken sometime  during the 1950s... or even earlier.   Hope you all enjoy examining this rather rare find!  -- Mark

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« Reply #732 on: Apr 21st, 2017, 11:43pm »
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I met again with Jake Stofko today and he had a few more prints to offer.  In this photo from 3/23/86, the Brownhoist crane used by E. Schneider & Son scrap yard on Sumner Ave. sits just west of the 7th Street bridge.  Next time I'll be posting two more fascinating pictures from Jake's collection, these taken around 1911-1912 at the former West End Jct. along the Jordan Loop. -- Mark

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« Reply #733 on: Apr 22nd, 2017, 9:34pm »
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As promised, the following two images were obtained from the collection of Jake Stofko and were both dated "1911-1912".  They were photographed by John P. Scharle, an Allentown train enthusiast who enjoyed taking railroad photos during the early days of railfanning.  In this first image, a recently constructed Tilghman Street bridge is the primary subject shown.  However, to those of us who were often more interested in seeing what ran under the automobile bridges we drove across, take a gander at this!  At left you'll see an unobstructed view of the double-tracked Jordan Loop and (at left) the beginning of the West End Branch just north of where it diverged from the southbound (railroad east) J.L. track at West End Junction.  Looking through the open upper truss of the bridge you can see the McDermott Bros. industry.  The waterway shown is the Jordan Creek.  At far right, the railroad tracks running beneath the bridge belonged to the CNJ and traveled between the Allentown Terminal station and the CNJ main.  (Today's American Parkway road.)  Look closely just above the surface of the bridge (slightly left of the right through truss) and you'll see a covered bridge (with advertising painted on its side) which once stood very close to the current interchange of Sumner Avenue and the American Parkway.  Notice, too, all of the open farm land which appears above the left half of the bridge.  The view is looking northeast.

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Re: Allentown branchlines
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« Reply #734 on: Apr 22nd, 2017, 9:57pm »
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In this second historical view, the photographer is standing at trackside facing south as a LV passenger train heads north (railroad west) along the Jordan Loop at West End Junction.  The center track is the eastbound J.L. track which remained in service to this point after the J.L. was abandoned to allow access to the West End branch... the ballast-less track shown at right.  You can see that a crossover existed between tracks one and two.  You'll also see the first half of the siding (at right, beyond the WEB track) which used to service the building which sat on the north side of the Gordon St. crossing (until its recent demolition)... the building shown in earlier postings which had the painted sign for Rabinowitz & Sons on its east wall.  Off in the distance is the faint outline of the Adelaide Silk Mill at Race & Linden Sts.  Also, take note of the string of box cars sitting over in the small CNJ yard which used to sit just north of their Gordon St. crossing.
My special thanks to Jake Stofko for his willingness to share these rare images here with all of us.  Hopefully this will ignite a spark in those of you who may have Allentown branch photos you haven't yet shared.  Again, I'll be happy to scan your images or slides if you don't have the equipment needed to do so.  I'm in the phonebook.  -- Mark Rabenold


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