Ballast used on the LV mainline

Discussion related to the Lehigh Valley Railroad and predecessors for the period 1846-1976. Originally incorporated as the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Susquehanna Railroad Company.

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Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby walterconklin » Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:07 am

Hello,

Does anyone know which type(s) of ballast the LV predominantly used on its mainline between Easton, PA and Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe, PA) during the mid/late 1920s to the early 1950s? In other words, did the railroad use cinders or stone as ballast?

Sincerely,
Walter
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Re: Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby pumpers » Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:37 am

It's hard to believe that in the more or less modern era, a major RR like the LV with large and heavy trains, would use cinders on its mainline. But I've been wrong before. JS
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Re: Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby lvrr325 » Tue Nov 18, 2014 1:59 am

You wouldn't be able to tell in black and white but LV ballast seems to have included iron ore slag or waste of some sort - chunks of rusty red material. How far back that goes I don't know, but it's worth noting that in the later years the maintenance slowed way down so I suspect it was in place for a long time.
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Re: Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby BR&P » Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:25 pm

pumpers wrote:It's hard to believe that in the more or less modern era, a major RR like the LV with large and heavy trains, would use cinders on its mainline. But I've been wrong before. JS


I agree.

I am not qualified to speak on the PA end of things but on the west end they used rock ballast - and pretty darn big stuff at that. It may be that in earlier times they used smaller stone, but what was there at the end was big enough to defy the use of a stone fork. If you didn't have a mechanized tamper, a pick was about the only option.

As for the slag, they served enough assorted steel plants they may have occasionally gotten some of that. LV served a rock quarry at Lime Rock, west of P&L, and the quarry at Oaks Corners near Geneva. I'm sure there were others farther east. I don't know how they decided what stone to use where.
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Re: Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby toolmaker » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:25 am

The Lehigh Valley line that ran behind my grandparents’ home along Main Street, Shavertown, PA for many years had ballast layer that was black. Since this was on the outskirts of hard coal country I wonder if they used culm from the many breakers in the Wyoming valley. It would have been cheap (if not free) to use and the line only existed to service a few customers in the Back Mountain Area. In fact long after the rails were pulled the remaining pathway was definitely topped with a black layer.
-gary

“If practice makes perfect, and if nobody's perfect, why practice?"
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Re: Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby lvrr325 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:22 am

Very fine black material is typically cinders from steam locomotives and used on branch lines.


My experience with the LV ballast came from in person examination in Geneva, near Geneva Jct., where iron-reddish colored chunks of porous material similar in size to the rock ballast was obvious throughout.

When I mixed some HO ballast up I ended up combining about 1 part iron ore to around 4 parts each of buff colored ballast and dark grey colored ballast to get a fair representation of what remained visible in the 1990s. I don't know if it remains the same, but given the line is a dead-end stub it's not likely it's seen a whole lot of maintenance or ballast cleaning in the last 40 years.

Beyond that I would examine period color photos to get an idea the general color on a particular stretch of the mainline or on branches.
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Re: Ballast used on the LV mainline

Postby JoeS » Thu Mar 12, 2015 11:46 am

I walked the Niagara Falls branch many times and my description of that ballast matches lvrr325's findings at Geneva. It was quite different from that used on other roads I walked at that time.
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