Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

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

Postby glennk419 » Tue Jul 26, 2005 10:16 pm

JimBoylan wrote: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!


Thanks Jim, that's the best laugh I've had all night.......although I can easily picture it happening.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby mrobinson » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:40 pm

Bump

Found this page via another search. Surprised of any interest.

I know the guy with the pictures in Triumph of the Branch. He says he has more, including GG1's on the Chestnut Hill branch and some view of freight trains switching near East Lane. He says when he bought the pictures, it was at an auction where PRR station signs from the Branch were sold off. Laverock, East Lane, White Marsh, some others.

I was told by others that the regular MU train was a single car, specifically outfitted with brakes for single-car operation. Also, there were deadhead trips to and from Chestnut Hill for the train.

I have more but it'll have to wait.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby trackwalker » Fri Jun 13, 2014 11:15 am

Recollections of the White Marsh Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad
The White Marsh Branch branched from the Chestnut Hill line just northeast of Allen’s Lane station connecting to the Trenton –Harrisburg Cut Off at White Marsh station near Fort Washington, PA. The Chestnut Hill Line was electrified in 1918 and the White Marsh Branch in 1924.
My family moved to 1617 Hillcrest Road, Laverock in 1935. We could hear the trains running on the single track railway approximately 600 feet from our house across a vacant wooded lot in the residential development. At the top of Hillcrest Road at Cheltenham Avenue (City Line) was Hillcrest station, a one foot high gravel and creosote timber platform with a 3 sided open faced shelter approximately 10 foot deep and perhaps 20 feet long. The station was in a deep cut over passed by the Cheltenham Avenue Bridge and accessed by a long flight of wooden steps leading down from Cheltenham Avenue. I cannot remember any auto parking near Hillcrest station, everybody walked there. I believe it was in the late 1930s when the railroad announced an expansion of service to 6 trains a day, and a few times we actually availed ourselves of the service for downtown shopping trips. Philadelphia bound trains went underground beyond 30th St. Station and terminated at Suburban Station which had opened in 1930 as a replacement for the above ground Broad Street Station.
On at least two occasion’s blockages on the mainline between Trenton and Philadelphia caused major train traffic powered by giant steam and electric locomotives to be detoured over the White Marsh Branch and through Laverock, much to the delight of this budding train enthusiast. The trains moved slowly, and I recall seeing perplexed and sullen passengers staring out at our unfamiliar back woods, quite a different view from the main line cityscape of their normal Philly bound journey. After the detour concluded and big trains quit rolling through Laverock, I saw a track inspector walking the line looking for damage. The White Marsh Branch was not rated for the big locomotives, and exceptions had been made only for duration of the emergency.
From 1945 to 1949, I rode weekday mornings from Hillcrest to Allen’s Lane and then to Queen Lane for school. Typically 8 to 10 passengers, would board at Hillcrest, those not students being business men making their daily commute to the city. Service had by then been reduced to 2 trains a day. As I recall the Philadelphia bound morning train departed Hillcrest around 8 AM and the evening return arrived about 6 PM. I believe the 4, 5, of 6 car MU trains were pulled from the yard at Chestnut Hill, deadheaded down to and switched onto the branch just above Allen’s Lane. We rode in the forward car heading toward Allen’s Lane, but the second car may have been a designated smoking car.
Hitting The Back of The Firebox
One summer, a track repair train was slowly working its way down the line, pausing periodically to allow the track workers to do their job. The friendly engineer invited me up into the cab to see the locomotive. Steam locomotives are hungry beasts constantly demanding coal and water to keep alive. The fireman taught me to scoop coal from the tender, step on a treadle which opened the doors into the firebox, and hurl the coal into the white heat of the firebox. I was pretty proud when I hit back of the firebox.
Autumn Leaves
For several weeks in the fall, leaves on the track caused slippery traction and problems climbing the grade from Laverock Station to Hillcrest Station. Tractio9n failures was exacerbated by rain, or the presence of one or more non-powered cars in the multiple car train. On at least one occasion the train backed up and made another run at it. On another, conductor and brakeman walked in front ladling sand from buckets onto the rails. Unlike some large locomotives these multiple unit electric trains were not equipped with track sanders. The regular engineer on the morning train eventually rigged himself a homemade sander comprised of funnel attached at his cab window and hose leading down to and just in front of the front right wheel. Acrid smoke smelling of burning leaves was generated by the spinning train wheels.
Spring Caterpillars
For a few days in Spring, large numbers of tent caterpillars crawled on the rails causing traction problems and their own unique odor.
Watercress Harvesting
On a few occasions, curious to see what the rest of the White Marsh Branch looked like I would flag down the outbound local and ride out to White Marsh and back. On the outbound leg the local running like an express because there were virtually no morning outbound passengers, overshot the station and had to reverse and back up to pick me up) During one such ride the engineer set the brakes at the Sandy Run cut near Laverock station and climbed down to harvest some lush watercress growing in a ditch along the right of way.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby Nacho666 » Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:33 pm

As the one started this thread some years ago, I can't thank you enough for your recollections and eloquent writing style. This is exactly what I was fishing for originally.
Having grown up in Ft. Wash. in the '70's, I have many fond memories of hiking to the Trenton Cutoff, to where it crosses the Reading, to watch the big freights pulled by big motors on the Cutoff. Back then the wye for the Ft. Wash. Branch was still mostly intact and you could see the raised roadbed snaking towards Rt. 309 past McNeil. As a kid I always wondered where those tracks could have gone. I also have very fond memories of picking watercress and blackberries with my Mom along the creek that parallels Commerce Dr. in the Industrial Park. You made my day.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby JimBoylan » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:19 am

Thanks also for the excellent stories.
I can also remember 1 leg of the Whitemarsh wye crossing Camp Hill Rd., but not much farther, about 1970.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby trackwalker » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:40 pm

Great to see you still here. Thank you for your acknowledgements. After reading all your prior posts I was hoping you guys would still be around when I posted my recollections. Got to wondering whether traffic may have flowed in both directions when the branch was a detour route after the mainline wrecks. Trains I saw were moving toward Philadelphia, but it is quite possible I missed seeing White Marsh bound trains. Anyone know?
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby Nacho666 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 11:51 am

According to the Historical Society book on the branch I have, it was used both for trains detouring to Philadelphia and New York. Without its own substation, GG1's drew too much juice for the branch so steam locos were put ahead of them to power the detour trains. What I wouldn't give for a photo of that!
Your recent post also inspired me to take a drive around your old neighborhood for signs of the line. Amazingly, you can clearly see the right-of-way all the way to Rt. 309. It's now being used for electrical transmission towers. Do you have any idea when the cut was filled in to eliminate the Cheltenham Ave. bridge? You can see where the cut is and where it was filled.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby glennk419 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:22 pm

Apparently, the Cresheim Valley branch was not the only one to host these detour moves. If you have access to the Rails Along The Schuylkill book, there is a photo on page 31 of a PRR K4/GG1 detour move on the Reading at West Falls in 1947.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby Nacho666 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:24 pm

That makes a lot of sense. The sheer volume of trains to/from NYC would have, I'm sure, left the PRR with no choice but to utilize every line possible. I don't have that book but would love to see that photo.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby trackwalker » Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:09 pm

Do you have any idea when the cut was filled in to eliminate the Cheltenham Ave. bridge?

No, sorry I do not. I went away to school, then the army, and then moved away permanently. During the few times I got back, keeping up with the rr was not high on my list of priorities. I remember, as a kid, standing on that bridge and staring down at the catenary.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby rdgrailfan » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:00 am

in case any interested persons missed these photos.
Bumped across shots looking at the Barringer / Lewis collection. Interesting that Lewis must have spent some time up on the old Ft Washington Branch.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 5167601967
East lane station (Ivy Hill) station shot Ivy Hill road area. I suspect some may call this Wyndmoor station.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 5167601967
Wire train at East lane - wide shot shows service track for the Stotesbury farm and USDA.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 5167601967
Freight train at East Lane
Other pictures #2980 2981 shows a P-5 and 3012 an MU.
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby glennk419 » Thu Feb 19, 2015 8:39 am

rdgrailfan wrote:in case any interested persons missed these photos.
Bumped across shots looking at the Barringer / Lewis collection. Interesting that Lewis must have spent some time up on the old Ft Washington Branch.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 5167601967
East lane station (Ivy Hill) station shot Ivy Hill road area. I suspect some may call this Wyndmoor station.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 5167601967
Wire train at East lane - wide shot shows service track for the Stotesbury farm and USDA.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 5167601967
Freight train at East Lane
Other pictures #2980 2981 shows a P-5 and 3012 an MU.


Great links, thanks for sharing. If you keep clicking, there are photos of a GG1 with a train and what appears to be a P5 on the branch.
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East Lane, Pa.

Postby JimBoylan » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:30 pm

Light streamlined Electric loco"
https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 167601967/


Electric Passenger train, but if siding is on your left, photo is reversed:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrigerl ... 167601967/
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby technic47 » Sat Jul 11, 2015 9:29 pm

This is also from Lewis collection and was a special move on the Whitemarsh branch sometime in the mid-1930s. Train, led by GG1, is inbound from the Cutoff headed to Allen Lane. East Lane station is on right. The road to far right is Ivy Hill Rd. To the left you can see parts of the USDA research station in Wyndmoor, which is still there. East Lane crossed the tracks to Ivy Hill in those days, but now it dead ends at the ROW. I tramped through there a couple months ago and there is still some RR remnants left, including part of a catenary pole and insulator. Passenger service ended in 1953 and the line was ripped out from the jct. with the Trenton cutoff all the way back to Cheltenham Ave. Several freight customers remained on the remainder until Conrail days, when the rest was torn up. The bridge over Germantown Ave. and the old house that doubles as a station there still exist.
Attachments
East Lane-special train.jpg
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Re: Creisham Valley/Whitemarsh Branch

Postby Nacho666 » Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:40 am

Thanks for the great photo! Please keep 'em coming if you have more!
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