Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.

Postby Urban D Kaye » Fri Jun 18, 2004 4:15 pm

limejuice wrote:One thing I found interesting about that stretch of ROW is where it intersects the R7. I was once told that the PRR had made it a point that no other railroad would be permitted to cross above a Pennsy ROW. This location obviously contradicts this. Has anyone else heard this before?


limejuice-
I hadn't heard that...and I can think of another exception to the rule...the Pennsy's Bel-Del branch at P'burg NJ runs along the riverbank and above it are the bridges of the CNJ and the LV.
Urban D Kaye
 

Postby glennk419 » Tue Jun 22, 2004 12:38 pm

The ex-RDG West Trenton line (CSX) also crossed over the Bel-Del and several rail bridges cross over the NEC in North Jersey, with most of them being ex- LV and CNJ lines. The RDG also crossed over the Pennsy in Trenton and the B&O crosses over the NEC just south of Arsenal in Philly. This may have been a desire of the Pennsy but one that certainly had plenty of exceptions.
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Postby Nacho66 » Thu Jul 01, 2004 10:58 pm

Well - I finally got the magazine. Worth every penny!
The Ft. Wash. Branch (aka Creisham Branch) was opened on July 30, 1893 and was 6 1/2 miles long and did have service on the Trenton Cutoff to Trenton until 1942.
Fully electric service began on Feb. 27, 1924. This branch was electrified because it was deemed less expensive! Apparently, no new substation was required (kinda makes you wonder about the Newtown Branch today, but that's another story).
Catenary supports consisted of western cedar poles spaced 125' apart with angled iron brackets. As with the Chesnut Hill Branch, the catenary carried 11K volt, 25 cycle, single-phase power.
Because no known photos of any stations along the branch exist, most of the magazine conjecturizes station structures as being cheap, wooden structures with Whitemarsh Station (along the Cutoff) Fort Hill, and Germantown Road (not Pike or Ave.!) being the only enclosed stations. Ivy Hill (E. Lane) Asbestos (Wyndmoor) Hill Crest, Laverock, Sandy Hill, Enfield, and Sunnybrook were all flag stops and probably small shelters or only small platforms.
One important aspect of the branch was its use as a detour route for main lines.
One eyewitness account details a Sep. 7, 1943 detour of the westbound Broadway Ltd. hauled by a GG-1 assisted by a Class H-9 Consolidation over the branch to the Trenton Cutoff!
I think I would give a kidney to see a photo of that!
Apparently, there was a wreck of the Congressional Ltd. at Franford Jct. that tied up the main for several days.
I just can't imagine what the Broadway Ltd. would look like going up Rt. 309 North!
It also states that the catenary wasn't strong enough for heavy motors like the GG-1 - hence the branch was populated by MP-54's exclusively (outside of freight).
The end came for the Ft. Wash. Branch on March 28, 1952 with the last returning evening train from Whitemarsh to Allen Lane (where it joined with the Chestnut Hill Branch). Almost one month later, Broad St. Stn. was closed and portions of the line became the Ft. Wash. Running Track.
As before, there is a conspicuous lack of photos. Only 3 new photos were shown in the article bringing my total to 5!
I know, somewhere out there, there are pictures of this line. Maybe in someone's attic, or in an old family album.
Also (again) if any oldtimers, or relatives of, have any recollections, it would be mucho appreciated.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Mon Jul 05, 2004 3:22 pm

Nacho-
Great info. Yeh, the Labor Day wreck of 1943 is a well documented disaster. A hotbox accident if I recall. Am not surprised the PRR diverted traffic until repairs could be made. I agree, a GG1 on that li'l branch woulda been a helluva sight.

You're also correct about the scarcity of station photos along the branch. I've never seen any. But as you say, these were probably more "shelters" than stations.
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Postby AlexC » Wed Jul 14, 2004 7:11 pm

Nacho66,
There are a few pictures in Triumph III.
All on page 129...
Hillcrest. It looks like a shelter.
Whitemarsh - A GG1 is pulling a passenger train on the cutoff.
And on the last day at Whitemarsh; Passengers and crew line up for a final photo.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Thu Jul 15, 2004 9:32 pm

Based on Alex's post (thanks buddy), I went down to the NRHS library myself and had a look.

Just to confirm...yes, the only enclosed stations were Germantown Road (yeh, "road")...Fort Hill...and White Marsh (two words). And yes, the others were shelters or platforms.

As for the photos...basically what Alex already said:
1. Hill Crest--a li'l shelter about the size of a lemonade stand.

2. White Marsh station on the last day of morning pasenger service (28 March 1952)...with crew and passengers (the crew seem to outnumber the passengers). :wink:

3. New York-bound passenger consist led by a GG1 running on the Trenton Cutoff at White Marsh (28 January 1952).

I photocopied the pages but can't post the pix, since they're not mine. Nacho66, if you wanna see'm, email me, and I'll send'm to ya.

-Urban

P.S. - There's another PRR book that features a nice pic of Budd m.u.'s crossing the Cresheim Creek trestle. Sorry, didn't xerox that one.
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Postby Umblehoon » Thu Aug 05, 2004 12:45 pm

Hi all. As a regular at the Trolley Stop Diner, I see where the branch crossed Germantown Ave on a regular basis. I wonder, though, do any signs of stations still exist along the branch? Obviously there weren't many substantial ones in the first place, but it is possible that remnants of Germantown Rd station might still be there, as it was one of the "real" stations. I keep wanting to hop the fence and walk up to the tracks for a closer inspection, but I haven't gotten aroudn to it yet.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Thu Aug 05, 2004 4:28 pm

Umblehoon wrote: I keep wanting to hop the fence and walk up to the tracks for a closer inspection, but I haven't gotten aroudn to it yet.


When I was up there a coupla years ago, I didn't see any sign of the old station...no platforms, foundation, etc...but I was just returning to fanning at the time and my railfan radar was a bit rusty.

I take it from the drawings and descrpitions that the station was on the north side of Germantown Ave (same side as the diner). There's a gravel ramp there now, and I'm concerned that the regrading might have wiped away any signs of the station. But if you get up there before I do, let us know. I'd be interested to learn the answer.
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Postby Nacho66 » Thu Aug 05, 2004 4:43 pm

Urban,

Again, a heartfelt thanks for your photos!
The other day (because of the ongoing Rt. 309 nightmare) I detoured on Camp Hill Road to reach Bethlehem Pk. and decided to check out the site of the White Marsh (2 words!) Station.
I believe I found the pad where the station sat, as well as (I'm pretty sure) bricks from the platform.
It's amazing how little has changed from the view in the 1952 photo of the NY-bound train to now.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Thu Aug 05, 2004 10:07 pm

Nacho66-

Funny you should mention that...about 10 days ago my wife and I were driving up Rt 309. From what little I could see while passing under the Trenton Cutoff (combined with what I've been able to guess from aerial pix) the surrounding area did seem surprisingly undisturbed.

Any photos of the pad or platform remnants you could post or email?
Urban D Kaye
 

Postby Nacho66 » Thu Aug 05, 2004 11:02 pm

Urban,
You're on!
My only problems are: I don't own a digital camera, and I'm always incredibly busy.
I think I'll go back soon, get some photos, and head to Kinko's and post 'em.
I'll try to replicate that 1952 photo too.
Give me a coupla weeks at most.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Sat Aug 07, 2004 8:11 pm

Nacho66 -

I was out at Strasburg today and couldn't resist purchasing the same mag reprint by the PRRT&HS from May 1982. You're right...a great resource on this little branch.

I was very pleased to find the 1945 schedule, complete with the names of specific freight customers at each stop on the branch. For the benefit of other members, I'll share just a few here...

Germantown Road: St. Martins Coal Company
East Lane: Eastern Regional Research Laboratory
Asbestos: R.C. White Globe Hoist Company; MetLab Company; Foote Mineral Company
Sunnybrook: Edison Landscape Company

Also interested to note that, even in the line's earlier years, there were severe weight and speed restrictions for the locos that traveled it. Pennsy's L-1, K-2, or heavier locos were prohibited, except in cases of emergency re-routing, and in those cases they were limited to 15 mph. Following electrification of the line, these restrictions were broadened to include other classes.
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Postby Urban D Kaye » Mon Aug 23, 2004 6:55 pm

I spent the waning hours of Sunday afternoon driving around the Germantown end of the old Cresheim Branch.

I began at Allen's Lane Station, looking for the point at which the branch swung off to the north. The crossover (illustrated in the previously mentioned pamphlet) is still visible from the overpass, and you can see where the branch swung thru a clearing onto the grounds of the Hospital for the Deaf. I drove down the dead-end Rural Lane, which, if you peek thru a fence and some vegetation, gives some idea of the branch's former route. Cresheim Creek Rd south of Germantown Ave was closed for construction.

Picking up the route again at G'town Ave, the trestle (tho floorless) still exists...and a surprising amount of the ROW remains undisturbed northward along Cresheim Creek drive. The Reading's bridge along the Chestnut Hill East line (also illustrated in the pamphlet) is clearly seen from the road as it crosses above the ROW. At Stenton, there is a chance to cross over to the eastern side of the ROW (and get a nice view too), then continue north on Ivy Hill Rd, parallel to the ROW. The ROW itself is used as a power line cut, so vegetation is kept to a minimum until the northern end.

Some businesses (Almo Printing and Chew Motors) use the ROW as part of their back lots. I swung around and returned south at this point, and so did not locate any sign of the former spur at Asbestos, which would have been on the western side of the ROW and inaccessible without some serious trespassing.

Will have to return and walk the ROW from the diner northward.

-Urban
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Postby Nacho66 » Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:34 pm

Urban,

My deepest apologies. I have been in Miami the last 2 weeks (I'm a musician) playing this horrific '50's tribute act as a stand-in.
I WILL get those photos!
In one of my earlier posts on this topic, I referred to how clear the ROW is on this line. In fact, although I was quickly shot down, I even contended that much of this branch's ROW looks better now than large portions of the Newtown Branch (less trackage of course).
I will post those photos as soon as I can.
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Postby JimBoylan » Tue Jul 26, 2005 6:17 pm

About 1970, while the Whitmarsh Branch no longer crossed under Queen St. in Wyndmoor (Asbestos Station), one siding did have a grade crossing. It led to a one car loading dock parallel to the street next to a building on the North side West of the branch. When spotting a 50 foot refrigerator car, the engine would be in the Westbound lane of Queen St.
Suburban legend has it that a motorist hit the engine because he was distracted by a crazy guy waving a red flag in the middle of the street!
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