LV Manchester roundhouse

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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Postby nessman » Fri Nov 23, 2007 8:06 pm

I was in Manchester last week and drove by the roundhouse. It's rapidly deteriorating and looking worse and worse as times goes by and is beyond restoration. It's completely exposed to the elements and it's just a matter of time before the condition of the structure will force it's demolition.
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Postby Lehighton_Man » Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:15 pm

Hey Guys,
Just recently, on the LVRRHS 2007 santa train runs, i was able to have a small discussion with Ken May, and Craig(dont quite know his last name) about a certain LV related structure in Manchester.
Yes, thats right, the Roundhouse.
The idea we were discussing, is the possible renovation of the turntable and Roundhouse for revenue service/museum storage. The idea we floated on was that LVRRHS could issue the place as a National Historic Landmark as one of only 3 (or two)Roundhouses from the Lehigh Valley remaining.
The general idea was this:
FGLK buys the turntable, which is located on former ONCT land, im guessing, but i believe the actual building is private property. LVRRHS registeres the building as a Historical Landmark so any plans of demolition cant be pursued.
(im hoping if we registered it as a national landmark, we could get funds from the state, or govt. like steamtown did to rebuild their facilities)
Then, work begins to help re-vitallise the place, add a new roof, re-stabilise the supports, help fix the walls, and un-dig the turntable, and drive mechs. Once everything is in running order, we lay rails into 6-7 stalls of the house, and use the rest for storage, as the FGLK would like to store either extra locomotives, or reubuild cars in 3-4 stalls, and gie 2-3 to us for museum pieces like 211, or 119, or 112, or 414, etc.

Im just curious to know if you Lehighers would be up to see something like this, and or would support it.
Thanks,
Sean
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Postby nessman » Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:34 pm

Restoration of the building is one thing. Environmental cleanup of the site is another. We're talking millions.

Steamtown is different in that it's in the heart of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the Poconos with a sizeable population base and just a few hours from NYC and Philly. Plus many of the LV buildings in Manchester are long gone as is the yard.

Manchester is well, in the middle of nowhere between two small cities. The Finger Lakes wineries are day-trip destinations as opposed to longer stay venues that you can find in the Poconos.
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Postby scottychaos » Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:37 pm

Lehighton_Man wrote:Hey Guys,
Just recently, on the LVRRHS 2007 santa train runs, i was able to have a small discussion with Ken May, and Craig(dont quite know his last name) about a certain LV related structure in Manchester.
Yes, thats right, the Roundhouse.

*snip*

Thanks,
Sean
Lehigh Valley Railroad Historical Society


Sean,
about an hour ago I started to type a reply to your note..
I started to say my usual "forget it, impossible, the building is too far gone, its a lost-cause" etc etc..
but then I stopped..deleted the message, went out to shovel the driveway and thought about it some more..

If everyone always said "forget it, impossible, the building is too far gone, its a lost-cause" etc etc we wouldnt have any railroad museums anywhere in the world!
yes, its a longshot..but anything is possible!
I still think its highly unlikely anything could be done with the roundhouse..but why write it off without really exploring the possibility?
The time to plan is while the building still stands..

Every railroad historical society that wants to form a railroad museum to display or operate historic locomotives has one major obstacle to overcome first..and that obstacle is LAND! a location..you need the space..preferably a historic railroad location.

Manchester fits the bill..especially for a LV museum!
Its on the LV mainline, a historic actual LV roundhouse still exists..in terrible shape yes, but its there.

As for "middle of nowhere" I disagree..
the location is actually quite good!
a few easy miles direct from a Thruway exit, between Rochester & Syracuse..and lots of people travel the Thruway going from the North East to the Mid West..tons of tourist traffic travels on the Thruway.
IMO its a better location than the existing Rush/Industry museum or Wellsboro, PA..and those societies do fine..
(well...maybe not Wellsboro at the moment! but you get the point)

So IMO Location in the state = good.
site itself = good
existing historic structures = good.
relevance to LVRR = very good.

drawbacks:
roundhouse is a derelict..very bad condition.
site cleanup.
would require tons of money..
but so does every other museum!
somehow many museums manage to find the money.
its not easy, but it happens.

As for site cleanup..if Steamtown did it, (which they clearly did)
then Manchester can be cleaned up too!
I dont think the DL&W from 1880-1960 was any more environmentally responsible than the LV! :wink:
Scranton was probably actually worse than Manchester..
much bigger shop facility.

As for the building..IMO the roof is a lost-cause.
not worth sinking any money into it..

This is an idea I just came up with while shoveling the driveway..picture this:

The existing West wall of the roundhouse:
Image
Is in fairly decent shape, and its the original "end" of the roundhouse.


The existing east wall:
Image
is in far worse shape, and its not even the original wall..
part of the east side of the roundhouse was removed, and the existing east-end is not the original end of the roundhouse ..its basically just a patch job.

Gut and demolish the entire structure except for the existing west wall, 5 stalls of the round back wall, and 5 stalls/doors of the front wall.
now you have one side, 5 front stalls, 5 stalls of back wall, and no roof.
just three standing walls.

Build a new replica east wall, and build an entire new roof from scratch.
IMO building a new roof would probably be cheaper, and result in a better quality roof, than trying to renovate the existing roof.

The result is a solid 5-stall roundhouse, with a solid roof and 75% of the walls being original to the structure.

LV Diesels will still be available in the coming years..
CP wont run the GP38-2's forever..could get one of those.
A few U-boats are still out there.
and A&M still has the C420's..
and Manchester is still on live-rail..locomotives could be moved by rail directly to the museum.

Imagine 3 stalls inside the roundhouse containing a repainted LV GP38-2, U23B and Alco C420..all in Cornell Red.
Under a roof, under lock & key, very well protected.
the remaining open 2 stall area inside the roundhouse becomes the new LVRHS museum! displays, open meeting space in the presence of full-size locomotives, lots of wall space for photos/maps/charts.

During open days the 3 front stall doors can be opened to display the locomotives..the other two stall doors leading to the museum space perhaps sealed up and non-opening.
The remaining outdoor space at the former eastern end of the roundhouse is now available for outdoor static displays..more locomotives, caboose, freight or passenger cars..whatever..
all can have radial tracks off of the turntable.

Yep..its a big dream!
but if no one dreams, nothing will ever happen.

IMO my 5-stall restoration idea is much more practical and obtainable than trying to renovate the entire roundhouse as it stands right now.
The roof alone would be just too unrealistic.
keep what is savable and usable (some of the walls) and gut the rest..

thanks,
Scot
Last edited by scottychaos on Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BR&P » Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:45 pm

About once a year someone new comes on the board, digs up dreams, and brings up the same things. Sean, go back and read the countless posts from the past on this subject. The building is seriously falling apart, there are environmental concerns above and below ground including fuel oil creeping through the groundwater, and asbestos, the floors have been covered with a thick layer of cement hiding where the tracks even used to go, the turntable has a building built partway over the pit, etc, etc. We can all dream but reality says the place is way too far gone. RIG has made several expansions of its plant and I would not be surprised if, once the environmental issues are addressed, they buy the land and expand some more. The roundhouse has been looked at several times over the years with an eye on whether ONCT could utilize it as a shop etc. The conclusion was always the same - forget it!. I would love to be proved wrong but if you look at it from dollars and cents perspective, it would take far more money than it is worth. And while the LVRRHS group has been doing well promoting excursions, my opinion is they do not have enough active people for the tremendous amount of work such a project would require.
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Postby scottychaos » Sun Dec 02, 2007 2:54 pm

BR&P,
The logical side of me totally agrees with you..
Im still 95% "it will never happen"
but..just playing Devils advocate..

plenty of other Railroad museums have started with the same thing, or worse, and turned it around.

I would love to be proved wrong but if you look at it from dollars and cents perspective, it would take far more money than it is worth.


how does one define "worth it"?? :wink:

Is the money spent on keeping diesels operating in Rush, or the E-units in Syracuse, "worth the money"?? plenty of people would say no way..
give that money to the poor or something..who cares about old trains??
man, what a waste of money these railroad museums are..

From the perspective of an operating railroad like ONCT or FGLK, yes, its totally 100% "not worth it" to try to use the roundhouse...but we arent talking about an operating railroad! ;)

Museums do things that no buisness would ever say is "worth it"..
Who really needs the Memorial Art Gallery or the George Eastman House?

I dont think we can really compare a railroad's use of the roundhouse to a museum's use..not the same thing at all from a "worth it" standpoint.

Scot
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Postby BR&P » Sun Dec 02, 2007 4:57 pm

Scot, I agree with your point that you measure the "worth" of something historical in a different light than a pure business. And I'll even grant that if the roundhouse were somehow restored like Steamtown, it would draw some unspecified number of visitors etc. The problem is getting enough dollars, workers, and public participation to make it work.

The ownership of the structure is presently in limbo. The most recent owner went out of business years ago and no longer exists. The county has the right to seize the place for unpaid taxes, but has not done so because it would then inherit the environmental problems. The last I knew, there was something in the works whereby the federal or perhaps state government would commission a complete evaluation of the environmental issues, and after than the county could take the place without accepting clean-up responsibility. (I'm sure it's more complex than that, but that's the general idea).

On a couple occasions, ONCT looked the place over. There was a brick building which would have made a decent office (since burned out), the turntable would have - if operable - allowed turning of cars which sometimes need to be unloaded from a specific side. Multiple stalls would have provided a place for locos, car repair, hirail trucks. storage of parts and supplies......and most importantly, it would have saved the building. But even going in with the idea we WANTED it to happen, when you see the depth of concrete on the floors, the roof falling down, the actual walls starting to crumble and fall, even the most optimistic evaluation was not good enough. You are looking at literally millions of dollars.

I'm not saying it CAN'T happen, and I'd certainly love to see the place as an operating museum. But I don't think I could in good conscience support the huge infusion of pork dollars it would take to try. There are industries in the area - maybe even next door - who would like to tear it down and build something which would provide jobs and pay taxes to the county. That's a hard thing for the county to turn away for the hope that sometime down the road the place might become a tourist draw. Too bad, but that's how I see it.
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Postby scottychaos » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:27 pm

yeah, I know you are right..
im not saying my idea was a great or logical idea! ;)
its just that if there is ever going to be *any* idea at all about using the Roundhouse as a museum..my idea of converting to a smaller facility would really be the only logical way to go forward..

but if im saying "using the entire roundhouse is not practical"
then maybe "using only 5 stalls" might be just as impractical!

I dont know..
nothing wrong with brainstorming though..
its more fun than just saying "tear it down"... :(
offering up suggestions and new ideas might lead to something actually happening.

Scot
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Postby nessman » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:46 pm

Tear it down before someone rummaging around in there gets killed or injured. The property is zoned indusrial and its standing in the way of progress by keeping it off the public taxrolls.

It will NEVER be restored. No one wants it. Give it up. The place has been abandoned for over 20 years and the elements have taken their toll on the structure. If you want a roundhouse museum - Scranton is only 3 hours from Manchester.
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Postby nessman » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:57 pm

BTW - there's a nice history of the Village of Manchester on their website with a lot of information about the LVRR.
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My take on Manchester

Postby Matt Langworthy » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:27 pm

nessman wrote:Restoration of the building is one thing. Environmental cleanup of the site is another. We're talking millions.


IIRC from my days as an Earth Science student at SUNY Brockport, clean-up is predicated on the intended use of the land and the contaminants involved. Besides diesel fuel (low levels) and lubricating oil (also low levels), what else would be in the soil there?

nessman wrote:Steamtown is different in that it's in the heart of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the Poconos with a sizeable population base and just a few hours from NYC and Philly. Plus many of the LV buildings in Manchester are long gone as is the yard.

Manchester is well, in the middle of nowhere between two small cities. The Finger Lakes wineries are day-trip destinations as opposed to longer stay venues that you can find in the Poconos.


Ahem... Scranton has a population of just 72,000 or so, which is less than half of Rochester's. Similarly, Wilkes-Barre has a population of about 43,000. That is less than 1/3 of the population of Syracuse (147,000). Throwing in Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Hamilton and possibly even Toronto (just 4-5 hours away), I'd say the the population base is there to support a modest museum like Manchester.

Speaking of that, an advantage with restoring the Manchester round is the small size of the project. Exempting the environmental costs (which may or may not be necessary), the costs will be lower overall than Steamtown... making the funding easier to obtain... or at least I hope so!

You are also sadly mistaken about the nature of tourism in the Finger Lakes. Having grown up in the heart of wine country, I can assure you tourism draws people from around the country and even overseas. It's NOT just a day trip for them, even if it is a short drive for you and me. :wink:

That being said, I have seen the Manchester roundhouse several times over the past few years... and the structure is a hazard. You bring up a valid point about the building's safety, Les. Either save it or demolish it, but the status quo for the Manchester roundhouse is unacceptable to me.
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Postby nessman » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:35 pm

I'm sure there's more than diesel and lubricating oil contaminating the site. All sorts of solvents, PCB's, lead, etc... are likely in and around the site. Remember this is going back to the day where these things were dumped behind the building without a second thought.
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Postby Lehighton_Man » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:09 am

I see many of the Enviromental Concerns placed upon the property, but with careful restoration, these things could be taken care of. This is a possible idea people, stop shooting it down before any progress is made. Hell, like it was said before, Scrantons facilities, was actually WORSE than manchester is today. Talk about crumbling building, and i'll show you a picture of the DLW scranton facilities before restoration even began. Anyway, my original proposed idea, of FGLK using the property as a functional repair facility for locomotives and freight cars is very radical. It CAN be done. You just got to stop shooting the idea down. Like i said, if the building has intentions of being used as a revenue servicable location (IE the FGLK) the State would love to help out, since its going to give them a big tax return in the long run.


Its not just us small group of men and possibly women too, that have began to know and love the Lehigh Valley. People all over the COUNTRY probably know something about the Lehigh Valley. Yes, UP had the bigboys, DH had their challangers, but that doesnt matter. The LV got the Job done didnt it? thats without those big high coupled articulated locomotives. Lehigh Valley has gotten its fame, and im pretty sure, many people would love to see an old LV relic survive. This is one of those opportunites where, once its gone, its gone for good. There' ain't no reclaiming a bad decision.
Now think about this. and reply with a meaningful thought.

@Scotty.. Thats a good idea, but the point i push for is that one day, if there was just those 5-7 stalls left, what about when we obtain another locomotive, but have no room to store it in a non-existant roundhouse stall. I just say use this point.
Restore what is needed currently, but keep the rest, like the East wall would need some patching up, but keep the rest of the roundhouse standing, for the fact that if we did start to get a large collection of LV locomotives, like a GP38-2, a RS3m, a C420, U23B, SW1, SW8, or someother. i have a mind of always looking to the future. Its a matter of what could happen in the days to come.

my $2.
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Postby scottychaos » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:30 am

Lehighton_Man wrote: Anyway, my original proposed idea, of FGLK using the property as a functional repair facility for locomotives and freight cars is very radical.


Sean,
has anyone actually asked FGLK about this idea?
or is this still just an idea of yours?
because I cant really see FGLK going for this..
its a cool idea!
but I dont see it being practical from an operating railroad's perspective.


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Postby Lehighton_Man » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:31 am

It was a topic discussed between myself, Ken may, and one of FGLKs road engineers, whom had the idea. It may hopefully flourish if FGLK helps out.
Cheers,
Sean
PS Sorry scotty for the rant. Sometimes i get bottled up with anger and have to let it out, kinda like a Wyoming lurching to a roll, staccatoing heavily out of Easton :-)
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