Reading's Frankford Branch

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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Reading's Frankford Branch

Postby sjasner » Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:57 am

I teach in Lawncrest and my classroom looks out over the remains of the Reading's Frankford Branch. I know the line branched off from the Newtown Branch just north of Olney Station and ran down to Arrott Street I believe. Does anyone have any information on this line, or pictures of it in operation? I can remember going to the old Sears building as a kid and watching the trains go across Adams Avenue. I am going to post this in the Reading form as well. Any help would be appreciated!!

Postby westernfalls » Tue Oct 09, 2007 12:45 pm

The line branched off from the New York Short Line at Frankford Junction which is a little south of Adams Ave. As it curved away, it occupied the easternmost edge of the present bridge over Adams Ave. by Tookany Creek. Much of the right of way has been reclaimed, but embankments and bridge abutments can still be seen. The facilites at the Frankford end of the branch were replaced by a factory building many decades ago. There's at least one picture of the Arrott St. station in the book "Reading's Victorian Stations".
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Postby jfrey40535 » Wed Oct 17, 2007 1:49 pm

There is a picture book on all Reading RR stations at the SEPTA store at 1234 Market. When I glimpsed through the book, it did have pictures of the old station at Arrott Terminal.

Too bad that branch is gone, would have been a nice shortcut to getting to Frankford, or points along the El from the 'burbs.
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Frankford Branch

Postby franryan » Sat Nov 24, 2007 8:45 pm

I grew up along the branch and had many cab and caboose rides during the mid-fifties. Unfortunately, I have only a handful of not-so-good pictures but am willing to share. I do have some knowledge of operations on the branch for anyone who may be interested.


Postby jfrey40535 » Sat Nov 24, 2007 10:20 pm

Fran, do you recall when the last of the trains ran on the line? Do you also remember when it used to run to Arrott Terminal?
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Postby franryan » Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:56 am

Hi Jeff,

Hope we can stimulate some discussion about this colorful but largely ignored piece of Reading history.

Short answer to your question is 'no'. I had a cab ride one night late in 1972; switched out one customer near end of track in Frankford (around Griscom St.). I moved away in 1980. By that time, I doubt any trains were going past Summerdale Ave. Shortly, after that, someone stole some rail below Summerdale. I recall there were some squabbles about who owned the abandoned right-of-way. A guess would put end of operations on the remainder of the line around 1982. Conrail severed the old Pennsy branch that served Sears mailorder. Those tracks were then accessed by the Reading via the connection at Whitaker Ave. When Sears dried up, the branch had no further use.

This is my memory of the end. I would appreciate any details or corrections.

As time permits I will establish a link to my meager photo collection.


Postby sjasner » Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:49 am

a large warehouse or self storage site has been built on the ROW north of Summerdale Ave. Saw this the other day. THanks for all the info uys! Oh...was there much passenger traffic across this branch?

Postby franryan » Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:25 pm

During the 1950s there was one passenger train, inbound, in the morning. The train, an engine and two coaches, would back down the branch (before 7:00 AM if memory serves). The first loading stop was no longer at end of track in Frankford. I'm fuzzy here: "Reading Railroad Station Pictorial, Lines A-H" by Benjamin L. Bernhart ©1998. Published by Outer Station Project, Reading, PA., shows a station at Arrott St. If you had asked me, I would have said Orthodox St. I'm pretty sure there were not two so close together, so we'll say Arrott is correct.
Crews told me they laid over there until train time, about 8:15 AM. Next stop was Summerdale and then Crescentville. These were the remaining active stations (only Summerdale had a building). I never rode the smoking car. There would be 2-3 people in non-smoking from Arrott. 2-4 more got on at Summerdale. I would estimate 10-15 at Crescentville. Then the train joined the main and made all or most of the stops into Reading Terminal. The outbound Crescentville station was on the main at the end of Godfrey Ave. After passenger service on the branch ended (C1959), there was no inbound station at Crescentville. And, during the 50s, there was no outbound service to Summerdale or Arrott. Power was usually an RS-3. F units appeared once in a while. The bridge over the Pennsy branch was declared off limits to Fs in 54 or 55 until it was rebuilt 11/56. I was 5 or 6 when steam ended around 1951 or 52.
I'm still trying to piece together what the crew did that had them arrive so early. That's for another time.
Corrections always welcome.

Postby sjasner » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:05 am

I can remember as a kid comin home from my grandmother's house and turnin onto Orthodox St (??) which we followed to the El, then turned left to head home. The neat thing was that my father took us that way because just before you got to the El, maybe two or three blocks before, was a large red brick building with a holding yard next to it. There yused to be box cars and tank cars in this yard, but there was the occasional passenger coach. But this was in the early 1980s. Anyone have pics of this warehouse?

Postby sjasner » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:40 am

Yard was at Orthodox and Oakland...took me some time to find it. Google Satellite shot shows it looks like the corner has been redeveloped

Postby BuddSilverliner269 » Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:26 pm

Hi everyone. I grew up in Frankford on Sellers and Penn sts and I remember the branch well. I grew up in the 80's and 90's and nothing ran at that point but my dad use to take me for walks along the line from Penn street to Sears. The entire line was intact until they took out all the bridges. I do remember the turntable pit on the strecth between Penn and Leiper streets and as a kid we use to play in the old freight yard at Oakland and Orthodox streets and close to Penn and Leiper.. I dont remember anything in there other then 1 track and a bumber???. I met Len a few years ago when I worked for the New Hope and Ivyland RR and he made me a copy of the track maps of the line right in Frankford from Frankford Ave to Orthodox street. Of course I would love to see the rest of the line on map but I was grateful. The station was at Arrot street and I believe I found the staircase to go up to track level. Its on the north east side of the bridge at ARrot street you see concrete steps leading up a few steps and then they stop.They are right next to the railroad embankment. Of course that was a few years ago. My dad use to tell me stories of the box car that smashed thru the wall of the giant warehouse that sits between Griscoand Penn street. I never believed him even though you can clearly see then new brick where the car came out. I did manage to find a picture a few years ago of it. Wish I could see it again. Only once did I ever see a train on the line .When I was little my dad use to go food shopping at the Pathmark on Whitaker Ave and a conrail switcher came by with a few boxcars going towars Sears. I was happy because I never use to see trains in Frankford. When I got older I learned that in the end it only went to Sears. I hope this helps alil. My dad pasted a way 4 years ago and he was 76 but he grew up on Elizabeth street right next to the tracks and he told me there use to be a lot of train traffic especially at night.??????
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Postby sjasner » Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:48 am

Hey BuddSilverline, thanks for the info! I seem to remember the yard with two or three tracks closest to Oakland Street, a wide area for trucks, etc, then one track next to a large red brick building. I also seem to remember a Conrail Switcher sitting there. SOmeone must have pics somewhere. A search on the internet proves futile, unfortunately.

Postby sjasner » Wed Jan 23, 2008 8:54 am

Found this on the Philly NRHS website. Some good information here about stations, carloads, etc. No real pics, though ... nkford.pdf

Postby RDG-LNE » Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:54 pm

sjasner wrote:Found this on the Philly NRHS website. Some good information here about stations, carloads, etc. No real pics, though ... nkford.pdf

This is from the USRA's final system plan for Conrail. The three volumes that comprise it go over every piece of track in each of the bancrupt roads that joined Conrail.

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Modeling "America's Largest Anthracite Carrier" and "Industry's Freight Route" in 1953.
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Postby JimBoylan » Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:24 pm

From Employees' Timetables:
Train 890 4/29/34 10/24/54 10/27/57
Rdg. Term. --05:20 05:55 05:55
N. Broad St.--05:27
16th St. Jct.--05:28 06:03 06:03
Wayne Jct.---05:33 06:18 06:18
Crescentville 05:43
(Fkd. Br.)
Summerdale-05:45 06:30 06:30
Frankford-----06:10 06:55 06:55
(Arrott St.)

Train 891
Frankford------07:17 08:25 08:23
(Arrott St.)
Summerdale--07:19 08:27 08:25
Crescentville--07:21 08:29 08:27
(Fkd. Br.)
Fkd. Junction--07:23 08:31 08:29
(Fkd. Br.)
Fkd. Junction--07:23 08:29 08:29
(N.Y. S. L.)
Olney-----------07:25 08:31 08:31
Wayne Jct.----07:29 08:36 08:36
Tioga-----------07:32 08:39 08:39
N. Broad St.---07:34 08:41 08:41
Columbia Ave.-07:37 08:44 08:44
Sp.Garden St.--07:40 08:47 08:47
Rdg. Terminal--07:43 08:51 08:51

Everything time shown is a Regular Stop, except 16th St. Junction and both Frankford Junctions, Crescentville is a Flag Stop in 1934, and Train 891 Does Not Carry Passengers in 1954 and 1957, so its times are only passing times and not stops of any kind.
There is no Sunday or Holiday service on the branch, and Saturday service is only in the 1934 timetable.
None of these trains have the symbol for Does not carry local or intermediate baggage, etc.
The 1954 times for Train 891 on the Frankford Branch must be a misprint, corrected by 1957. How else could it arrive at Frankford Junction on the branch 2 minutes after it was to leave the same place on the New York Short Line?
From the oddities in the travel times, I think that Train 890 worked the Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse in its extra 23 minutes. In 1954 and 1957, it may have picked up cars near Wayne Junction in those 10 extra minutes. In 1934, the cars could have been added before departure from Reading Terminal.
Crescentville for these trains is 1/10 mile closer to Reading Terminal than Crescentville on the New York Short Line. There are no inbound stops for Crescentville on the New York Short Line. Outbound in 1934, there is 1 stop except Sunday, and an extra stop on Saturday for the half day workers. In 1954 and 1957, outbound has 2 evening stops weekdays, and 1 on Saturday.
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