North East Rails
Ahead of the Torch Vol 1, Issue 2
Much attention has been given to the National Park Service's efforts to rebuild a steam era locomotive facility on the old Lackawanna site in Scranton, PA , but rarely acknowledged are the other preserved engine facilities in North America. Chama, NM, is probably the best well known of the bunch, perhaps in a tie with Orbisonia, PA. North Conway, NH, boasts the amazing Conway Scenic campus which is virtually a complete Boston and Maine terminal from the turn of the century. The Spencer, NC, museum has a huge roundhouse, and I'm sure there are other engine terminals preserved around the country.
An amazing amount of facilities remain almost complete, but unpreserved. Some are abandoned and some are used for non-rail related purposes. Join me for a look at several sites around my neck of the woods, and think about some near you which we can include in an upcoming issue of Ahead of the Torch.
2) Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania
Pen Argyl (pronounced Pen-AR-jill) was the center of operations on the Lehigh and New England. Their diesel shop, roundhouse, and several other buildings remain in industrial use. The transfer table has been filled in, but the turntable and pit remain. All it needs is track! The yard site is intact, and features scattered buildings. A freight station is believed to remain in town. This is an amazing site. Could this be the home of an Anthracite Road museum? For now, please ask for permission before stepping on the property.
The rest of slate country boasts many railroad goodies. Check out the wooden Lackwanna freight station in Delabole, the stations of Bangor, Portland, and Danielsville. As I mentioned in he last AOTT, the Bender's Junction office remains, west of Pen Argyl. The LNE grade makes for an enjoyable "chase". As an added attraction, see if you can pick out the ancient grades around Katellen which mark an almost forgotten effort by the CNJ to have a competing line in the slate belt. Also, try to follow the long gone DL&W north through Wind Gap to the ice houses at Saylors Lake (it's easy), or the LNE's way-long gone Nazareth Branch south into cement country. The LNE's Bethlehem Branch makes a fascinating "chase", and you will be rewarded with bridges along the route. Can anyone confirm the existence of an LNE bobber at a private residence in Moorestown?
3) Arlington (Tamaqua), Pennsylvania
Another LNE roundhouse, the Arlington structure has been modified for industrial use, but it does still stand. Across the street are several old freight cars, including at least one tankcar and one boxcar. It's worth a diversion from the Reading and Northern or a day in Jim Thorpe.
4) Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Here's one you can help with. I believe that the Pennsy's coal dock south of town above Route 61 still stands. What else is up there? The ancient PRR station is preserved in town, and the fantastic commercial/industrial rear facades of town still face the yard site, even though it is occupied by fast food joints and a highway. The famous iron bridge still stands, though it is out of service to cars and pedestrians. I hope we can save this one. A wooden Reading lineside shack still stands south of town.
5) Mechanicville, NY
The D&H roundhouse still stands, though it has lost all of it's support buildings. The last time I inspected it, it seemed sturdy, but had no track. A far cry from my first visit there in 1976, when it boasted RS-3's and C-628's!
On that same trip, I shot maroon B&M Geeps and gray Lehigh Valley C-420's on the B&M side. The B&M shop building still seems to be active. The wooden sandtower is -unbelievably- still standing. This incredible example of wooden railroad architecture needs a home, pronto! Someone must save this. If I had the cash, I'd do it myself. B&M guys, where are ya'? The inside walls still bear the lettering and car numbers from the wooden boxcars that structure was made from! Wow! Incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6) Toronto, Ontario
The railroad newsgroup had a posting concerning the fate of the big shed next to the domed stadium. The roundhouse is huge, and it appears an interlocking tower has been moved to the site. It will either be a great resource or a filed very soon. What say Canadians? I was there when it was a hopping place!
7) Binghamton, New York
CP Rail operates the old Lackawanna Yard in Conkiln, NY. The old concrete interlocking tower stands in the yard, and adjacent (but unused) is the old DL&W roundhouse and turntable. Do not try to visit this site, Several irresponsible and well-known fans have turned the CP policy on railfanning there from "Come on in!" to "Don't even ask, or we'll write you a summons." The D&H turntable at Bevier Street yard in Binghamton has been removed. CP Rail has recently installed a new table over at Conklin, near the old DL&W one. Did they use part of the old bridge? How rare is this situation in 1995? A railroad installs a new turntable, and it sits a hundred yards from a vintage one!
8) Carbondale, Pennsylvania
The D&H roundhouse was serving as a repository for old White busses. Is this still there? Don't go looking for the D&H canal; buildings from the 1820's. The old stone beauties were recently bulldozed!
In the loss column:
Sources tell me that the Lehigh Valley's roundhouse west of Hazelton
(Ashmore) has recently come down.
The D&H roundhouse remnant at Oneonta is gone.
The Reading coal dock at Rutherford (Harrisburg) was blasted.
The B&M station in Meredith, NH, has been torched. It served as a restaurant, relocated along the highway into town.
NJ Transit has scrapped, in the last couple of years, Erie Stillwell commuter coaches and several coaches which were once part of the Jersey Central's Blue Comet.
Hop Bottom, PA (between Scranton and Binghamton) removed a wooden DL&W boxcar displayed in the town square. Can you believe that this didn't go to a DL&W museum? What a major loss.
The following artifacts have been spotted. Can anyone give information as to ownership, history, and future plans?
1) Fulton, NY: A small steel boxcar (X-29?) rests in town, on it's trucks. The car features wooden roofwalks, but no paint.
2) Bethlehem, PA: A CNJ X-29 in Conrail work service rests near the CNJ roundhouse and coal dock. Does anyone know it's original road number. Does anyone want to preserve it? It's trucks are cast with the initials "CRRofNJ"!
3) Near Jefferson, NH: A wooden coach rests in a field near the Wing Road area. What is the story?
4) Near Ninevah, NY: A wooden boxcar sits in a field on the north side of Interstate 88.
5) Allentown, PA: A single dome tank at A&B Meats. Two X-29's in an industry along the Lehigh Valley's passenger Jordan Loop line north of Tilghman Street. (Across Jordan Creek from the big curve on American Parkway, the old CNJ grade.) A whole fleet of Reading and Lehigh Valley gondolas at Fuller Company, the old Mack Plant under the Eighth Street viaduct.
A Bright Note
A nursery near Buckingham, PA, features a plywood sheathed CNJ caboose. Could this be the car I looked into acquiring years ago in Atlantic Highlands, NJ?
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