• LV/CNJ Lehighton area questions

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by carajul
A few questions for those familiar with the area of Lehighton, Packerton, Mahoning et al...

1. When was the CNJ bridge over the LV main taken down? I know the trackage agreement and CNJ connecting track were in 1965 but I vaguely remember the bridge still there in the early 1980s.
2. When was the LV passenger sta in Lehighton torn down? Did CR sell it to the city? I think it came down when they widened Stan Hoffman Blvd as the by-pass around the city.
3. Did Packerton Yard see any activity after 1965? I saw a video of a freight entering the yard in the late-60s and the whole thing looked weed covered. But then I read it didn't get abandoned until 1972 when the LV aquired the CNJ yard in A'town. The 1938 arial of packerton yard show it full of nothing but coal hoppers.
4. Does anyone remember in the early to mid 1980s there was some type of MOW or circus or rail cars parked on one of the unused tracks in Packerton for like 10 friggin years. I think they were white or grey; looked like steel cages. They never moved for like years!
5. Is that searchlight signal in Packerton on one of the seldom used tracks still working? About 10 years ago I was there and CR spotted some cars on the side track just before the signal, and to my amazement the signal was lit up green! I'm assuming that track must have been a mainline at one time. It's near the grade xing.
6. Does anyone remember when all the track was ripped out of packerton? It must have been quite an undertaking!
7. Does anyone ever remember seeing or know when the spot lights in the yard were last illuminated? And how did the one light tower (that's now at Kovatches) with all the lights on it remain all those years after the others were torn down?
8. Was it CR who sold the land or the LV?
  by 56-57
1. 1985
2. 1970's by the LV long before there was any thought of by-passing first street.
3. Yes, until 1973, as did the Packerton Shops. There are 7 remaining railroaders who actually worked in the yards/shops.
4. Sounds like a CR crew bunk car. I was born in 1984, so I couldn't tell you.
5. It's an automatic for the westbound main. I haven't been down there in awhile so I don't know if it's still in service. R&N property.
6. Late 70's. Again, I wasn't there. Done by Moulthrop, a contractor from Franklin Township.
7. I sincerely doubt they were lit after the yard was shut-down.
8. Conrail and the Reading Estate (for the former CNJ mainline right-of-way that skirted the yard).

  by carajul
Since you are so knowledable let me pepper you with a few more...

1. Was the cnj row that scooted the yard abandoned in '65 or did track remain I place? Or were tracks promptly removed?

2. Was the cnj track elevated near the packeton dip road and thus the bridge abutmants that remain today?

3. Was that old house you can see way down off the side of the road rr related? The only way to get there is thru the old yard road entrance.

4. Was the yard slowly downgraded leading up to '73 or did the lv suits just pull the plug quickly? Was there any media coverage?

5. Was the main entrance to the yard where the packeton dip is now? Was therr any signs?
  by 56-57
1. I don't know. One of the Bednar books shows the ROW bare east of the bridge over the LV by 1973.
2. The CNJ was on a fill for the entire length of the yard. Kovatch Corp. removed the fill to use as fill for their dealership along First street. So the CNJ was dumped onto the CNJ there.
3. That may have been a company house at one time. I know there were more in the hollow at one time, actually, that driveway went up and met what's now 209 a loooong time ago, when 209 had more of a horseshoe to it and followed what's now the semi-circular driveway across from the hollow that house is in.
4. It was a slow death from what I've gathered. However, it was busy enough till the end. Then done.
5. The road access to the shops was along the river, and came off of Main Lane, the alley off of the bypass that goes under the CNJ Weissport trestle. The engine house was accessed from First St., I believe in the Jamestown dip.

I don't know if there was any signage. I'd imagine not. The area of the bypass in LV days wasn't really anything to write home about, and no one was there to pass through. It was gritty, as you can still tell, and the only thing down there were alleys.

  by pumpers
carajul wrote:Since you are so knowledable let me pepper you with a few more...

1. Was the cnj row that scooted the yard abandoned in '65 or did track remain I place? Or were tracks promptly removed?
PennPilot old aerial photos are interesting: http://www.pennpilot.psu.edu/
In 1969 photos, the CNJ north of the bridge looks pretty wiped out - you can see the rail south of the bridge connecting to the LV, but no rail north of it.
Depending which 1969 photo you pick, none of which are as good as the earlier ones (1939, 1959), it can be hard to see that the bridge is still there, but in some you can make out it is still there in 1969. JS
  by carajul
Wow you are very knowledgable. Let's see if we can keep this little Q&A going...

1. The CNJ/LV trackage agrement allowed the CNJ to use the Pack Yard main but then the CNJ switched back to their own tracks and went to JT. Quite frankly, I can't see how this made much sense from financial savings. I mean...it's only like 2 miles of track. Did it really save them that much money?

2. What was the main reason the yard was closed and who made the decision?

3. Was the yard mainly for coal mashalling? The photos from the 1938 arials show it mostly all coal hoppers. What happened after the coal biz collapse?

4. What was the large building that remained on the site until it was tore down a few years ago? I often read it referred to as the "packerton shops" but I know the shops were outdoors. What exactly was the funcation of this building? Did railcars ever enter the building? When was it last used?

5. Even trickier question... on the above referenced building on the roof there was a coupula of sorts. What was this? It kinda looked like an air raid siren. It had a small roof over it.

6. When did the LV sell the land and buildings and who bought them?

7. Is the current Kovatch car dealership lot in Lehighton near where the CNJ bridge used to be built ontop of the CNJ row? Did they extend the land outward over the row with fill?
  by 56-57
1. The CNJ would have skipped going back to their trackage entirely through Jim Thorpe except that crews were changed their, and until 1968 the Haucks interchange traffic was fairly significant. The CNJ wiped out their main at Glen Onoko in January of 1972 and thereafter used the LV through Jim Thorpe for the last four months.
2. It was made redundant by the LV takeover of Allentown yard, which had true humps, both eastbound and westbound. Packerton had a 'gravity hump' and employed hump riders on the 'Packerton sleigh ride', which was inefficient and dangerous compared to the Allentown operation. Also, coal tonnage was far from what it was in the good days and so the need to blend that into trains going east and west was far less than it had been.
3. It hung on with local freight work. Realize, it was basically the LV's western end of the Lehigh River Valley as far as having on-line business, so it, Easton and Catasaqua were all busy shooting out locals to handle the local business between each other.
4. That was the LV's Supplies Dept. storeshouse. Mike Bednar explained it as such. If i clerk in Buffalo need more No. 2 pencils, he messaged the storehouse in Packerton and the pencils were sent on their way. I never asked if it went via USPS or aboard LV trains. I imagine during passenger days, intra-company traffic was heavy to and from Packerton. No standard gauged rails were ever in it. The 2nd floor had light rail down the center from one end to the other until the end. Sadly, whatever supply carriages rode them were long gone by the time I ever got in there. It had two post-LV uses. One was to store bagged coal from a company who bagged anthracite in one of the other nearby black sheetmetal buildings. The other use was for a mobile-home manufacturer who went out of business within a year of start-up. It was all over by the early early 80's.
5. I'm guessing shop whistle. The thing in the booth looked like a klaxon, and oddly enough, disappeared in 2005. I have no idea where it is now.
6. I don't know when. Joe Zaprazny from New Ringgold bought the river-side of the yard and owned it until selling it to Carbon County in 2003 or so, which precipipated the demolition of nearly all remaining structures (They missed two!).
7. I answered that yesterday.

  by carajul
Let's see I have some more for you...

1. When the CNJ left PA, did their yard property in Jim Thorpe become the property of the LV or what happened to it?

2. Did the LV operate the Nesquehoning Valley line?

3. If 'yes' to number 2 above, from the time the LV operated the line to the time Carbon Cty bought it was the trackage in bad shape?

4. How often was service provided? Did LV have a local crew or was service provided from A'town yard?

5. What entity removed all the tracks in back of the Jim Thorpe station? When were the tracks removed? Between the time the CNJ left in '72 until the track were removed were they just sitting there derelict?

6. When was the signal mast behind JT station removed?

7. I heard CR petitioned to abandon the Nesq Valley line but Ametek threw a fit and pursuaded the county to buy the line and operate it. Is that accurate?
  by 56-57
1. The entire CNJ property in PA was owned by the Reading Company after 1963, as they bought the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad from LC&N (LC&N stopped mining coal in 1954 and they were leasing coal lands and selling real estate from that point on). The LV never paid for any of the CNJ property they operated after the CNJ left, they just assumed the rental payments to LC&N, as LC&N was renting the property from the RDG until the end. Complex? Yes..

2. Yes.

3. Yes.

4. I don't know. The customers were Air Products (1971), Ametek (1975), Eastern Diversified (don't know when), and a few others.

5. I don't know. I've heard conflicting stories and won't confuse the issue. It's been almost 40 years and a lot of local memories are getting hazy. The yard was closed in September of 1971, and the LV had no reason to use more than they needed to access the NV branch. George Hart bought his tracks in 1973, and when the yard was pulled up, everything except his tracks were removed, which was a mistake, as one track was to be left in for the branch. This is evident in that the 'main' from just west of the station up to PQ tower is panel track, installed by W.E. Yoder many moons ago.

6. 1984

7. The line was known to be low-density from the start and while Conrail did operated it, they didn't want to for long. I want to say it was 1983 that the county ownership began, but I could be wrong. The county did recognize that losing the line would hammer local business, especially Ametek, which recieves pellets, modifies them, and ships them back out, all by rail.

  by carajul
Ok some more...

1. Would you agree that the only thing that saved the NV Branch was Ametek as that was the only steady bulk customer?

2. Is it true that Air Products only gets a tank car once in a blue moon and serving them really wasn't worth the expense to keep the line in place?

3. During the 80s was the end of the branch still connected to the RDG via East Mahonoy Jct? Was that trackage ever used?

4. When was the interchange yard at the end of the NVB put oos? I'm thining late 60s but need clarrification.

5. When was the small yard at Nesq Jct put oos? The ties are still there to this day.

6. During the 80s was the line from EMJ northward thru McAdoo to Halzeon ever used?

7. The upper end of the CNJ yard in JT in the 1971 arial shows it full of coal hoppers. What activity did they still have that warranted all these hoppers?

8. Was the main purpose of the JT yard coal hopper classification?

9. Why did you say it was a 'mistake' to remove the yard track behind the JT station?

10. What was the purpose of the turntable in JT yard? The reason I ask is that as far back as the 1950s arials shows it in poor shape with no engine house or trackage around it and the single track on the other side just stub ends in the woods.

11. Why was the engine house in JT reduced to 2 sheds? Again 1950s arials show just a small shack by the 50s.
  by 56-57
1. Ametek, Air Product, Eastern Diversified, Tonolli Corp.. They all felt they'd be negatively impacted with the loss of rail service. There was also Nescoal in Nesquehoning in the 80's.. I don't know when they started shipping but they were a customer of the Panther Valley's for a few years, to the point where the PV leased hoppers and had a small fleet of them..

2. They get tank cars. It's not many, but it is at least weekly, to the best of my knowledge.

3. No. The SCJRA (Schuylkill-Carbon Joint Rail Authority) built the Lofty Connectoin and restored one leg of the Haucks wye in the mid-80s in order for the Panther Valley to service a customer in Delano. Service was sporadic and this all stopped with the creation of the Reading and Northern and their operation of the former RDG and LV lines in that area.

4. 1971.

5. 1971.

6. I do not know for sure, but I'd tend toward 'No' (other than for the Panther Valley to access Delano).

7. There was a breaker in Trescow that loaded about 55 hoppers every other day until right around 1971. The CNJ had trackage rights over the RDG from Haucks to Audenreid Jct. to reach this branch.

8. Yes.

9. Because everything was pulled except for what George Hart owned, and one track was to be left in to access the branch. Someone missed that memo, so afterwards new panel track was laid from west of the station up to PQ tower to reconnect the branch to the outside world. There was a short time where it was isolated, with the Haucks end being disconnected, and the Jim Thorpe end being disconnected (again, accidently).

10. To turn engines.

11. They had to put the turntable somewhere. The same bridge you see in the pit built in 1945 was also across the river at Coalport. A number of stalls from the oblong-house were torn down to make way for the new turntable pit. The last two stalls were burned down by the Lehigh Valley in 1973. The need for heavy servicing in Jim Thorpe was pretty well diminished by dieselization, also, realize the CNJ had their 3rd and 4th (Bethlehem and Ashley) largest shop complexes not all that far away.

  by carajul
Let's see how about a few more...

1. When did GM Hart buy his tracks and from what entity?

2. How did leaving Penna save the CNJ money? They simply handed their customers over to the LV.

3. When did the trackage in front of Tamaqua station go from 4 track busy yard facilities to 1 track rare trains?

4. The hauto tunnel.... when did the last train go thru?

5. Why was the tunnel put oos? I read due to partial collapse but I walked thru the tunnel in the early 1990s and I was able to walk all the way thru. No collapse or blockage.

6. Did.the CNJ LNE Railway ever use the tunnel in the early 70s?

7. Why were the rails never pulled from within the tunnel?

8. When was the LNE Arlington yard pulled up?
  by 56-57
1. Answered above.

2. The CNJ was bleeding money everywhere. The Trustee recognized the core strength of the CNJ to be in its' terminal facilities and concentration of customers in eastern NJ. They did retain their 'long haul' (not really long compared to most railroads) traffic by instituting the run-throughs with the EL. The PA division was losing money. Something had to be done.

3. 4/1/76. The last day of Reading-Newberry freights was 3/31/76. Conrail rerouted that traffic immediately and after C-day the only thing passing Tamaqua station was coal traffic.

4. 1969 from what I've read.

5. Partial collapse is what I've read as well. I know the portion under SR 54 collaped in 1994 (bringing the road with it), and it was said to be a worrisome tunnel due to the geology it passed through.

6. I don't believe so, however, I do not know.

7. I don't know.

8. I don't know.

  by carajul
Hmmm here are some more oh mighty encyclopedia of knowledge...

1. When did CNJ pax service end in JT?

2. What did the CNJ use the pax station for after service ended?

3. Was the pax sta in deplorable condition in the late 60s early 70s? Was it at all used for tourist related activity?

4. When did the freigh sta get torn down? I've seen photos of it in the late 60s and it looked like it was ready to collapse it was in such disrepair! Was the condition of the physical structures a result of the CNJ's financial condition?

5. Did the county buy the yard area behind the pax station or do they just rent it?

6. Where did the county employees park before the yard was transformed into a parking lot.

7. Was CNJ trackage thru JT in deplorable condition in the 60s-70s even when they had mainline freights going thru?

8. The sand tower that is still in JT yard...exactly how did they get sand up there? Can you believe the hoses are sill in place!

9. What exactly was the small yard by PQ tower used for?

10. Was the main reason for the CNJ rr infrastrucure in JT coal related and when coal died off the rr died too?

11. What was the stone structure in the yard just above the sand tower...it has the chalk board in it with the schedule of train crews and lockers.

12. When would you say the entire yard area went from relatively active to weed covered and rusty?

13. On the south side of the JT station by the second track there is a cement ramp structure of sorts. What was this?