Abandoned Line That Is Now Schuylkill River Trail

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Abandoned Line That Is Now Schuylkill River Trail

Postby railtrailbiker » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:13 am

I biked from Valley Forge to Locust Street Center City on Wednesday and am curious to know about the rail service that once occupied the right of way I used.

What railroad, when route was abandoned, and what portions of the trail are actually using the former RR ROW.

Thanks.



Tony
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Fri Sep 24, 2004 5:33 pm

Much of the route that you biked was once the Pennsy's Schuylkill Division.

Biking east from Valley Forge thru the Betzwood area you may have noticed the intact mile markers. The trail follows the ex-Pennsy ROW thru Norristown, where you begin to parallel the active Septa R6 (former Reading) line, a section of which (between Norristown Transportation Center and Ford Street) is used by freight connecting between Abrams yard and the Morrisville Branch (formerly the Trenton cutoff). Moving east, you stay with the ex-PRR ROW thru Conshohocken and Miquon, where you may notice the catenary poles still in place. The trail is no longer on RR property by the time you reach Manayunk. For a brief stretch from the Art Museum to Locust you are parallel to the active CSX line, once used by the B&O as link to Reading trackage at Park Jct and access to North Jersey and New York. The easternmost segment of the trail between Chestnut and Locust was once occupied by B&O station and yard trackage and the final loop at Locust was once part of the B&O's coach yard.

* * *

Link to trail map...
http://www.schuylkillriver.org/maps/land_trail/first_map2.jpg
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Postby Schuylkill Valley » Sat Sep 25, 2004 9:52 am

The new part of the trail that goes out through Collegeville follows the former Perkiomen branch of the Reading . That line went between Perkiomen Jct. on the Reading main line to Emmaus,Pa. on the East Penn line of the Reading Co. The track is still in from Perk Jct. to Oaks and the track is still in from Pennsburg to Emmaus .

Have a good one

Len.
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Postby AlexC » Fri Oct 01, 2004 9:55 pm

The Perkiomen Trail is technically a different trail, but part of the same system.
More info here.
http://charyna.homeunix.com/trains/PerkBranch/
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Re: Abandoned Line That Is Now Schuylkill River Trail

Postby Hal » Sat Oct 02, 2004 5:57 pm

railtrailbiker wrote:I biked from Valley Forge to Locust Street Center City on Wednesday and am curious to know about the rail service that once occupied the right of way I used.

What railroad, when route was abandoned, and what portions of the trail are actually using the former RR ROW.



That railline started as the Pennsylvania Railroad.

It was built to compete with the Reading Railroad/Philadelphia for Coal Traffic.

I belive the Pennsylvania started with mixed coal & passenger service in the pre-civil war 1860s or about then.

The bike trail runs to Port Royal Avenue, then leaves the Pennsyl ROW for Nixon Street.

The Pennsylvania Railroad continued south to Ivy Ridge, Manayunk, across the big Spanish Arch Bridge through Bala and Cynwyd to Zoo, towards Arsenal junction, then down the 25th Street Viaduct in South Philly to the Pennsport yards.

Tthere are carbon copies of the Manyunk Bridge on the former Pennsy railroad that's now the Thun Trail just east of Reading PA
Part of that section of former Pennsylvania Railraod is a rail with trail,
but the big Spanish Arch bridges are only carrying bicycles now.

The Pennsy ran passenger service to Broad Street Station over what's now JFK blvd.

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Postby NYSW3614 » Sun Oct 10, 2004 9:53 pm

I just finished biking the last segment of this trail yesterday. Cool trail- but sad to see the trains gone. The railroad alongside the canal in Manayunk looks like a great prototype for a model RR- industrial trackage, dipping under the bridges, etc. West of Conoshocken you go past a still active steel mill with a plant RR. When was this line abandoned?

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Postby Sir Ray » Mon Oct 18, 2004 12:58 pm

NYSW3614 wrote:I just finished biking the last segment of this trail yesterday. Cool trail- but sad to see the trains gone. The railroad alongside the canal in Manayunk looks like a great prototype for a model RR- industrial trackage, dipping under the bridges, etc. West of Conoshocken you go past a still active steel mill with a plant RR. When was this line abandoned?
Joshua

Actually, I was wondering about this track when I took a walking tour of Manayuk last year - the track that you're talking about which parallels the canal as you said - was this part of the Schuylkill Division? I know the history of the line crossing the Manayuk Bridge to Ivy Ridge (Pennsy end of R6, long cut back to Cynwyd), and I know the history of the line cutting through Manayuk (Reading end of R6 - elevated) to Norristown fairly well (thanks to the late Gerry Williams great book about SEPTA), but what exactly was this 'Water-level' route between the river and Manayuk Main Street, what did it serve, and when and why was it abandoned (alas, our tour guide really didn't know anything about it - and the line, at least the part we walked along for a few blocks, south of the R6 Pennsy Bridge, looked, cosmetically at least, in fairly good shape).
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Postby PARailWiz » Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:44 pm

what exactly was this 'Water-level' route between the river and Manayuk Main Street, what did it serve, and when and why was it abandoned


If you look at the map that comes up on a search of "Manayunk" at http://www.topozone.com, this line connects to the old Reading Main line, so it probably goes with the Reading RR. According to this map http://www.manayunkcanal.org/more/kidsmap.htm, (and ignoring its childish nature), there were several mills that it must have served. Also, i'm not sure it's even abondoned, although that's pure conjecture on my part. More information can be gleaned here: http://www.manayunkcanal.org/.
-JZ
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Postby NYSW3614 » Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:24 pm

Sorry for any confusion- but when I asked when was this line abandoned I was referring to what is now the trail between just west of Manayunck (sp?) to beyond Valley Forge. The line along the canal is in service- Georgia Pacific gets tank cars. There's a lot of neat features- e.g. a coal dump right between a mill and the canal, right on the "main line."
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Postby PARailWiz » Tue Oct 19, 2004 11:28 am

Oh geeze, i'm sorry. I guess i'm not sure what you're talking about then. The Schuylkill trail runs right under the old PRR Schuylkill Division catenary starting approximately around Miquon, and into Valley Forge (the catenary poles are still in place to around Conshohocken). I have no idea where that part of the trail between Manayunk and Miquon came from, though. I'm not sure it was part of a railroad. Am I closer to where you mean now? If not, I'm completely clueless.
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Postby Hal » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:34 pm

NYSW3614 wrote:Sorry for any confusion- but when I asked when was this line abandoned I was referring to what is now the trail between just west of Manayunck (sp?) to beyond Valley Forge.

The line along the canal is in service- Georgia Pacific gets tank cars.

There's a lot of neat features- e.g. a coal dump right between a mill and the canal, right on the "main line."


It's confusing-

You've actually got 3 different railroads, plus the canal towpath.

R6= Reading
The current active SEPTA R6 Norristown runs on the former Reading Railroad- that dates to the early 1800s

CANAL
The current bicycle trail through Manayunk that runs along the east side of the canal is brand new- the boardwalk and fill were added by the City in the 1970s.

The current freight line on the west side of the canal is located on the old towpath for mule drawn barges.

North of the dam, the bicycle trail follows the former canal towpath, and parallels the modern R6, which is on the anchient Philadelphia Germantown & Norristown RR. This little stretch is a historical oddity, because for about a decade in the early 1800s, the mule drawn canal barges ran side by side with the horse drawn Philadelphia Germantown & Norristown Railroad- the location where the bicycle trail crosses the active railroad tracks is Shawmont Station, which started as a feed station for the PG&N horses. It appears to be the oldest untouched railroad station in the USA at almost 180 years old.

Beyond that, the bicycle trail runs on Nixon Street for a short stretch,
then runs on the former Pennsylvania RR right of way

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Postby Hal » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:56 pm

NYSW3614 wrote:The railroad alongside the canal in Manayunk looks like a great prototype for a model RR- industrial trackage, dipping under the bridges, etc. West of Conoshocken you go past a still active steel mill with a plant RR. When was this line abandoned?


Who said it was abandoned?

Image

It's an active freight line service the boxboard recycling plant.


Image


Actually, the bulkeads along the freight line it was recently re-built as part of a general improvement plan

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Postby Urban D Kaye » Tue Oct 26, 2004 7:04 am

Great pix of the Smurfit-Stone box plant, and that ex-Reading SW1001.
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Postby NYSW3614 » Wed Oct 27, 2004 7:02 am

Nice photos! When do they usually come down? I didn't think the line was abandoned, just trying to figure out when the former railroad that makes up the majority of the River Trail was abandoned (the portion that starts a few miles west of Manayunk then runs west to beyond Valley Forge).

Thanks!
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Postby Hal » Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:14 am

NYSW3614 wrote:just trying to figure out when the former railroad that makes up the majority of the River Trail was abandoned (the portion that starts a few miles west of Manayunk then runs west to beyond Valley Forge).


That's the Reading Division (Branch?) of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
It's still active on the late 1960s fold out maps of Montgomery County
that the County itself put out (great because they show the railroads, bridges etc)-

By the mid 1970s, the railroad was abandoned- the best way to date the end of the railroad would be looking at when the Hosptial in Conshohocken was built right-smack-in-the-middle of the old PRR right of way.

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