Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

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: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby trackwelder » Tue Sep 20, 2011 9:36 pm

i ever so vaguely recall that. how long did that last?
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby Franklin Gowen » Tue Sep 27, 2011 4:44 pm

jtaeffner wrote:i ever so vaguely recall that. how long did that last?

IIRC, from 1982 (the city's tricentennial anniversary) through 1995. Corrections welcomed. I miss the BVTA's "Penn's Landing Trolley". :(
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby RDG467 » Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:43 pm

Pumpers, AFAIK, the City rebuilt American St. from Indiana down to Master Street. American St. narrowed greatly below Master and the tracks were already in the pavement. The Willow & Noble branch was probably handled separately. I have a newspaper article at home about this project- I'll have to look for it to answer the question, but there was a big push to re-industrialize American St. in the early 80's and rebuilding the RR was at the center of that effort.

JB mentioned the U-turn, which made sense to install. There was a connection fm the Pt Richmond Branch at Fairhill Jct, but it was in the NE quadrant and wasn't helpful to reach Schmidts without a long back up move. It showed up on the 1991 Conrail ZTS map that I have. CR tried to turn the Erie Ave yard into a Trailvan (Trailer on Flat Car) yard, but that didn't work out well. End-of-track was just N of Erie Ave.

Sorry for not responding sooner, I've been away from this forum for a while......
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby pumpers » Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:53 am

Rdg, thank you. It was a good effort and real $$ by Philadelphia, but revitalizing urban manufacturing was going against the wind, I suppose.
I looked at old aerial photos at http://www.historicaerials.com . In 1970 there were connections at both the NE and SW corners of Fairhill Junction. It is sort of surprising with the investment in American St in the early 80's they let the SW connection go away (or maybe it was already too late to put it back because of a land sale and new building, etc). In 1967 the Erie shops/yard /roundhouse were still there, but by 1970 (before Conrail, interestingly enough) the yard and roundhouse were all razed. Down on American, in 1970 there was still a big (and active) yard just below Berks St. I wonder what that was used for? That much brewery traffic? JS
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby delvyrails » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:29 pm

Berks Street Yard was the RDG's terminal yard for Philly-Bethlehem through freight service, traditionally two round trips.
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby RDG467 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:35 pm

There was also a roundhouse at Tulip St. on the Departure Yard side of the trackage approaching Port Richmond. As the traffic dried up in Philly, the RDG decided to consolidate their diesel servicing facilites and built the enginehouse at Ann St. in (Pt. Richmond), which is still standing and used by CR Shared Assets. A friend gave me a copy of the Reading Switching district info from the late 50's which shows which yards were responsible for which branches and a bit about the union rules that helped determine these areas.

The Berks St. yard still handled the traffic going to the Willow & Noble Sts. yard, since the W&N branch (not the one in Delaware!) was about to be severed by I-95 in the early 70's. Dry Ice was one of the commodities still handled at Willow&Noble-at least into the late 50's- Olin used to receive reefer/insulated box cars at the Frt Station on Front St. and distribute it by truck. Scrap metal was another big commodity for Berks St.

There's a pic of a CR switcher (ex-RDG patch-job) serving a chemical company on American St. in Delvyrails' book, but I can't remember the date of the photo.

I also think that frieght from the B&O that was bound for Bethlehem (and points along the branch) was added at Erie Ave. It was most likely transferred from either West Falls or Pt. Richmond yards, but this is only a guess on my part. I'll have to check that Switching District guide and see if that info is in there.
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby RDG467 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:34 am

I found those articles about Am. St. The City took title from CR on June 28, 1978 with the intent of rebuilding American St. between Indiana Ave & Master St. Rebuilding of part of the Berks St. yard was part of the plan. The original plan cost was $20 million. (Phila Inquirer, June 29, 78).

A Phila Daily News followup on Aug. 25, 1980, shows a pic of the rebuilding around Jefferson St. in the single track portion of the line. $11 M was earmarked for the track and street reconstruction. Only 15 of 63 sidings remained after the rebuild. At the time, there were 250 manufacturing plants and 350 firms employing about 10,000 people in the American Street Corridor. Schmidt's Brewey was the largest of these companies. This area was defined as Front to Fifth Streets and from Erie Ave in the north to Poplar St. in the south. Most of the firms that either moved or went out of business since 1978 were replaced by new businesses in the area.

A Phila Bulletin article from Dec 2, 1979, emphasized the problems that business owners were having with crime in the area, including car vandalism and break-in's, along with burgularies. " It's so bad that they smashed through a two-foot brick wall about a year ago to steal $2.70 out of a soda machine." Jerry S. New, President of Furniture Imports Inc, American & Dauphin Sts. "They come right into the building's loading docks and steal CB radios out of the cabs of trucks. The drivers tell us they won't come down here anymore."
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby BuddSilverliner269 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:45 pm

Where exactly was this yard at Berks street and how big was it and when did it last until? Was the yard the location of the old passenger terminal?
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Re: Abandoned RDG branch in North Philly

Postby RDG467 » Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:17 pm

The yard was actually two separate smaller yards on the opposite sides of the tracks. The Passenger station was on the west side and the tracks fanned out from N to S to cross Berks St.. The freight yard was on the east side and the tracks fanned out from S to North starting below Montgomery Ave.. The freight station followed the easternmost track on a slight curve and then paralleled Phillip St. (which was between 2nd and American Sts.) I believe it was the freight portion that was rebuilt, but I don't have any pictures of the rebuilt version.

The Montgomery Ave. footbridge spanned this part of the yard. I think it shows up briefly in the original Rocky movie when he crosses it during his run through the city.
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