RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.

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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby LVfastfreight » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:25 am

I lived a 1/4 mile from that wooden bridge up until last year. Occasionally you would see NS repairing the bridge. Once it was turned over to local municipalities for the rail trail.. It was deemed unsafe and closed. Due to lack of funds it's closure was indefinite. What a pain in the ass it is to have that bridge closed! Then right after that they closed down the "green" bridge over the Saucon creek on high street. No easy way to run to the Crossroads for Cheese steaks anymore! The dream of walking to work at Saucon yard for Csx is long dead. I still can't believe they gave away our happy home in Lansdale. We gave it our all to please our consignees and to promote new business. Once the class 1 loses interest there's no saving it.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby rwk » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:17 am

I found these articles from March 1986: http://articles.mcall.com/1986-03-06/ne ... abandoning
http://articles.mcall.com/1986-02-09/ne ... ht-service
http://articles.mcall.com/1986-03-28/ne ... -committee
http://articles.mcall.com/1986-02-02/ne ... ce-conrail
http://articles.mcall.com/1986-03-27/ne ... ment-track
http://articles.mcall.com/1986-01-29/ne ... ter-trains

This was right around the time my father passed away, March 8, 1986. We had the church service at a church in Center Valley, and we went over the now-closed Station Av. and stone bridge from 309 heading from Allentown and we passed right over the tracks. The crossing signals were still there, but "exempt" signs under them and also under the yellow RXR signs as well, and the crossing lights were covered with black material. I think the rails in the crossing weren't paved over yet. It seems the last freight rail movements over that portion of the line in Lehigh and Northampton Counties was in October, 1984 because somewhere it mentions that Conrail deactivated signals north of Lansdale at that time and abandoned service north of Quakertown. My father worked for Bethlehem Steel and we had to drive him to work sometimes from Allentown area where we lived (I still live in the same house with my mom, brother, and her man friend of 19 years) on 22, then 378, then 3rd St. and I saw lots of Conrail freights on the spur line through South Bethlehem, which was the ex-Reading Bethlehem Branch. One time in 1980 I think, I actually saw RDC's waiting at the sheltered station platform north of 3rd St. crossing as we drove past taking my father to work. Back then, 2nd St. had a ramp up to the Hill-to-Hill bridge which went between the abandoned LV/RDG Union Station and the sheltered platform for commuter trains.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby charlie6017 » Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:08 pm

Resurrecting this thread.......has there been anything going on anywhere on the ROW of
the Bethlehem Branch and/or Saucon Yard area in the last year or so? I am planning to make
a PA road-trip some time in 2014 and am curious what there is to see, if anything.

As someone very interested in the history of all "anthracite railroads", I'm trying to make effort
to jump-start some of these forums to spur discussions.

Thanks in advance for any answers and I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2014! ;-)

Charlie
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby Franklin Gowen » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:26 pm

Happy New Year to you, Charlie! :-)

With one exception, I'm unaware of any new developments relating to the northernmost part of the Bethlehem Branch. That sole exception is a report which came my way (unconfirmed by me) that the coaling tower at the Saucon Creek site was demolished within a few days of the end of October 2013. If that's accurate, it would mean only the former enginehouse remains standing; the powerhouse was demolished circa 2005.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby charlie6017 » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:52 pm

Thanks Mr. Gowen!

Well that's a shame if the coaling tower is no longer standing.......I understand the coaling tower
at Rutherford Yard has also fallen as well?

Too bad these relics are coming down......those towers seemed to be almost indestructible!

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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby MikeMusiowski » Mon May 26, 2014 5:37 am

Good Morning everyone!

Out of inspiration of Anthony Guidotti's (Newtown Line 2.0: Project Rebirth.) Starting next week I will be making a Facebook page myself in efforts to fully reconstruct the Bethlehem Branch from Lansdale to Bethlehem. I did it before with my Trainz 2009 but lost it all when that computer crashed. The purpose of this Facebook group that I will be creating is to break down each section of the Bethlehem Branch for ultimate accuracy so anyone who has the game can use the Facebook page for reference and discussion. After I contribute the layout breakdowns and pictures, I'm going to construct the route myself using Trainz 2012. I know there are so many Trainz sim guru's out there who are pro at the game that can throw it together professionally which is why I want to collaborate with everyone on this project Because it is a tedious task, I will be breaking the layout info info 3 phases.

Phase 1: Quakertown-Telford.
Phase 2: Telford-Lansdale.
Phase 3: Quakertown-Bethlehem.

Like I mentioned, I already accomplished phase 1 but lost it all so this is to new beginnings... My first step is to break down the lines distance. How I will be doing that is through Google Earth, section by section I will be cutting, coping, and pasting the storage freight on the line between railroad crossings and bridges, then count the freight cars between each section for ultimate distance accuracy. The row hike each the line, capture pictures of each section, post it on the Facebook page, throw in the details on the game. I want to note that every little detail of this process will be posted on the Facebook page once created. I will be back in Pennsylvania in July and will do a row hike for the Phase 1 area. I will snap pictures of all views possible of the line to make it easier to reference. I will do the same for Phase 2 and Phase 3. With Phase 3, I will be base my route off of present day. I'm just going to walk the rail trails and snap the photo's of present day scenery. It will be very nice to remove the trails for rails... ;) My personal debate for my line is to finish off at Sands Casino or just improvise to Union Station? Well that's just my personal dilemma but this is for anyone's imaginiation. Unlike trainz 2009, trainz 2012 comes with online multiplayer so let's see what happens... I will post the Facebook link on this page once I make it. I will keep you all posted, have a great day!

Mike Musiowski.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby rwk » Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:48 am

There is a DEM available of the route, I have it and I built some track on it, Lansdale to Bethlehem and a bit south of Lansdale.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby glennk419 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:04 pm

MikeMusiowski wrote:Good Morning everyone!

Out of inspiration of Anthony Guidotti's (Newtown Line 2.0: Project Rebirth.) Starting next week I will be making a Facebook page myself in efforts to fully reconstruct the Bethlehem Branch from Lansdale to Bethlehem. I did it before with my Trainz 2009 but lost it all when that computer crashed. The purpose of this Facebook group that I will be creating is to break down each section of the Bethlehem Branch for ultimate accuracy so anyone who has the game can use the Facebook page for reference and discussion. After I contribute the layout breakdowns and pictures, I'm going to construct the route myself using Trainz 2012. I know there are so many Trainz sim guru's out there who are pro at the game that can throw it together professionally which is why I want to collaborate with everyone on this project Because it is a tedious task, I will be breaking the layout info info 3 phases.

Phase 1: Quakertown-Telford.
Phase 2: Telford-Lansdale.
Phase 3: Quakertown-Bethlehem.

Like I mentioned, I already accomplished phase 1 but lost it all so this is to new beginnings... My first step is to break down the lines distance. How I will be doing that is through Google Earth, section by section I will be cutting, coping, and pasting the storage freight on the line between railroad crossings and bridges, then count the freight cars between each section for ultimate distance accuracy. The row hike each the line, capture pictures of each section, post it on the Facebook page, throw in the details on the game. I want to note that every little detail of this process will be posted on the Facebook page once created. I will be back in Pennsylvania in July and will do a row hike for the Phase 1 area. I will snap pictures of all views possible of the line to make it easier to reference. I will do the same for Phase 2 and Phase 3. With Phase 3, I will be base my route off of present day. I'm just going to walk the rail trails and snap the photo's of present day scenery. It will be very nice to remove the trails for rails... ;) My personal debate for my line is to finish off at Sands Casino or just improvise to Union Station? Well that's just my personal dilemma but this is for anyone's imaginiation. Unlike trainz 2009, trainz 2012 comes with online multiplayer so let's see what happens... I will post the Facebook link on this page once I make it. I will keep you all posted, have a great day!

Mike Musiowski.


Mike, nice to see you around again.
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More Bethlehem Branch tracks being removed....

Postby jrevans » Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:34 pm

Yeah, hard to believe there are still any left, but more tracks are being removed from the Bethlehem Branch. :(

Somehow SEPTA is expanding more trail systems instead of rail systems. Sad.

From the end of this article:
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/Ridership-takes-a-hit-because-of-SEPTAs-rail-woes.html

In other business at SEPTA’s monthly board meeting, the authority approved leasing about three miles of unused freight rail to Richland and Springfield Townships for use as walking and bike trails to connect with Lehigh County’s trail at the border of Bucks County. The stretches of unused rail on the Bethlehem Branch will be leased free of charge for 30 years. The municipalities will handle any construction and maintenance needed, and SEPTA reserves the right to convert the right-of-way back to rail if needed.


I'll assume that this is the last segment with rails remaining, past the out of service portion by California Road in Quakertown. Isn't the park and ride location supposed to exist at Shelly?

There was a neat switch at the Hilltop Siding buried in the weeds when we hiked the line back in 2001 or so. I remember hearing that they used to cut off the helpers up there back in the steam days.

I'll also have to assume that the rails are going to be removed. It would be nice if the RCT&HS could get some of the removed rail and switch components.

Jim_E
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Re: More Bethlehem Branch tracks being removed....

Postby glennk419 » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:43 am

jrevans wrote:Yeah, hard to believe there are still any left, but more tracks are being removed from the Bethlehem Branch. :(

Somehow SEPTA is expanding more trail systems instead of rail systems. Sad.

From the end of this article:
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/Ridership-takes-a-hit-because-of-SEPTAs-rail-woes.html

In other business at SEPTA’s monthly board meeting, the authority approved leasing about three miles of unused freight rail to Richland and Springfield Townships for use as walking and bike trails to connect with Lehigh County’s trail at the border of Bucks County. The stretches of unused rail on the Bethlehem Branch will be leased free of charge for 30 years. The municipalities will handle any construction and maintenance needed, and SEPTA reserves the right to convert the right-of-way back to rail if needed.


I'll assume that this is the last segment with rails remaining, past the out of service portion by California Road in Quakertown. Isn't the park and ride location supposed to exist at Shelly?

There was a neat switch at the Hilltop Siding buried in the weeds when we hiked the line back in 2001 or so. I remember hearing that they used to cut off the helpers up there back in the steam days.

I'll also have to assume that the rails are going to be removed. It would be nice if the RCT&HS could get some of the removed rail and switch components.

Jim_E


Hi Jim. Long time, no hear.

Yes, very sad that the "T" in SEPTA seems to stand for Trail vs. Transportation. I too lament the continued destruction of the Bethlehem Branch.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby rwk » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:02 pm

Why is SEPTA so blind to the transportation needs north of Lansdale? They figure Bieber Tourways is enough. In fact, now with Bieber running express south of Qtown on the PA Turnpike to 30th St. the only way one from the Lehigh Valley can get to a SEPTA train without driving to the station is to take a Trans Bridge bus from Bethlehem to SEPTA Doylestown station. That is the bus that goes through New Hope, PA and Flemington, NJ. How is SMART (Suburban Metro Area Rail Transit) going to work if the only rail link between Quakertown and the Lehigh Valley is going to be a trail? Sure SEPTA reserves the right to build new track, but would the yuppie trail people like that? They want to link with NJ Transit and SEPTA lines to have rail service to Philly and NY from Allentown and Bethlehem using Norfolk Southern freight lines and unused rights of ways. Is SEPTA still planning to extend electric train service north of Lansdale to around Rt. 309 near Perkasie? Ok, if you take the T away from trail you get rail. Change the l in trail to an n and you get train. I'd rather have rail and train than trail. Why do transit systems like SEPTA and NJT cut service and raise fares? Because they depend on government for funding besides what they make in ticket sales?
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby jrevans » Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:25 am

Misc stuff related to the Bethlehem Branch.

Pictures on Facebook show the removal of the tracks around Shelly. I don't know why I torture myself by following the Saucon Rail Trail group, where they proudly keep saying how the trail is expanding....
Sad to see the brush cleared from the line, only to have them rip out the tracks.

Anyways, it appears that there will be some new ties going in on the Quakertown segment. According to the recent press release about the 2017 Pennsylvania state rail grants, East Penn is getting some money:

http://fox43.com/2017/04/24/governor-announces-new-state-investments-in-rail-projects-supporting-375-jobs/

Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties

East Penn Railroad LLC, $594,912 to install 2,500 new ties and complete five miles of surfacing on the Wilmington Northern line and install 4,000 new ties on the Quakertown line.


I also saw on Facebook that the ESPN 3153 is down for repairs and that East Penn brought in a leased switcher to substitute for it.
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Sellerville derailment

Postby jrevans » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:54 pm

I know it's been posted everywhere else, but I'll put it here.

East Penn derailed in Sellersville the other day, putting three refrigerated cars carrying butter, down the hill.

http://www.wfmz.com/news/southeastern-p ... /553519972

Apparently there was some diesel leaking from the refrigeration units, but otherwise, no big dramas.

I haven't heard the cause of the derailment yet. I know that the ties in that area look pretty ancient, but I'm sure we'll read the official cause someday.
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Re: RDG Co. Bethlehem Branch

Postby Franklin Gowen » Sun Jun 25, 2017 2:12 pm

Hi there, Jim. :-)
Thanks for the interesting report of "physics gone bad" at Sellersville.

You of all people know we're always interested in any physical & operational changes to the Bethlehem Branch (especially north of Lansdale) and welcome posts about this subject. The forum's biggest, most-interesting thread marches on!
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