• PRR branch in Pottsville (photos)

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

Moderator: bwparker1

  by carajul
It's a good thing my GPS still shows RRs that have been abandoned decades ago. I was able to follow the PRR line thru Pottsville. Where the engine house was just south of town it's a grassy field. The row is still discernable in this area. However, in town the row has been completely developed upon. Where the tracks crossed Rt 61 into the freight house you can clearly see the marks in the road (see below pic). Going north out of town the row is very discernable. I'd love to know the exact year this track came out. In the first pic below there was a small yard. The line apparently went north of here, then went thru a short tunnel under Rt 61 and exited just west of the RDG Cresonna Yard and continued north.

Also, does anyone know where it went to the north? I think there was a large bridge in an area called Dark Water but can't find it. I think the track went to Lofty or something.

Also there was another line that branched off north of Pottsville (where the sharp easterly turn is on Rt 61 at the top of the hill out of town). It was on a trestle. There are still bridge pillars.

Enjoy below pics...


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  by 56-57
That line ended at the LV connection at New Boston.. At one time the PRR used it with LV rights thru Hazleton and back onto another long-gone PRR branch as back-door access to Wilkes-Barre.. After 1968 nothing west of Pottsville had any wheels turning on it. There is a segment a few miles to the north from New Boston to Morea owned by the Skytop Coal Co. and operated by the RBMN..

One other conspicuous sign of the PRR in Pottsville would be a short, raised (as the surrounding real-estate has been lowered) span over something (a creek I'd imagine, it's been a few years, sorry) parallel to 61 and somewhat to the south of your second photo..

Nice find with the cracks in the road! Never would have guessed those were there. In one of the Kantner Bros. books there can be found a PRR 2-8-2 crossing 61 right there. Sorry I don't have it available just now for title and page number..

  by carajul
The PRR line thru Pottsville swings east in the north part of town as it follows Rt 61. Just where it swung east, there was another branch that left this line and went due west over a series of bridges over the valley. The stone bridge pillars are still in place today. I'd like to know what this line was.

So 1968 was the end of use? I guess that's when the coal business was done. It was the same year the RDG closed the huge St Clair yard.

Looking at the arials from the 30s-60s the whole area was a RR beehive of activity.
  by frank754
Yes, the entire area was a beehive of activity at one time. We just moved to Wilkes-Barre in June, and it's a shame about how many lines were decimated and abandoned, especially the LV line through Wilkes-Barre. There's only one track through downtown with no crossing gates and just a local shortline hauls some trash gondolas and minimal stuff through here. Nice images, I always like to see folks who know where to look for the roadbeds and remnants of the old lines. My personal opinion for eastern PA, I'd like to see 5 things maybe come to pass in our lifetime:
Syracuse-Binghamton-Scranton-NY through passenger trains
NY-Bethlehem-Allentown service
Scranton-Harrisburg service
Philadelphia-Bethlehem service restored and possibly electrified
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre light rail like the Laurel Line once provided.
Best wishes, and thanks for the photos.. :)
  by mitch kennedy
Here's a link to a Schuylkill Division map, official PRR-style from the 20's. It comes from the "Keystone Crossings" website that has more scanned PRR maps diagrams and documents than you can imagine. Plus you can put all the people flaming newbies down in these forums dead in their tracks. The Schuylkill Divison "de-volved" over the years, as it was never the huge money maker the PRR thought it would be, especially since the Rdg had all the water level routes.
http://kc.pennsyrr.com/maps/images/maps ... ylkill.jpg
  by carajul
So it appears by that map that in Pottsville the PRR's Schuhykill Div actually split with the SDiv going over the bridges over the valleies to the west while the PRR Sunburry Div swung east, followed Rt 61 and then went up to New Boston.

As I said this was probably the PRR's attempt to tap the anthracite mines in the area but that biz was gone by '68 for sure. In the Katner books from the 40s-60s pics show the RRs hauling nothing but coal hoppers.
  by 56-57
The rivalry of the two Philadephia HQ'd railroads (PRR and P&R) was very intense in the days of robber-barons and horse-drawn carriages. It was in those days the PRR decided to strike at the heart of their nearest competition by building the Schuylkill Division, as the P&R had been supportive of the NYC-backed South Penn RR, which meant to parallel the PRR from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.. Historically the RDG and NYC were allies against the PRR.. That lasted until the PC merger..

Reading Company closed St Clair yard and scale 7-1-63. ,not 1968
  by BuddSilverliner269
Where exactly was the St Clair yard? Is there anything in the location where the yard once was? Just curious
  by 56-57
St. Clair.

Follow the smell of beer. (Yeungling's new brewery is on part of the site).

  by carajul
Here is another pic of Pottsville. I'm standing on the PRR line. This is looking north. Just beyond the Dominos Pizza is where the line split with the Schukyille branch going left over the bridges and the sunberry branch going right. The road on the right is Rt 61. Just across the street in the foreground is where the RDG's stub end line and coach yard were in downtown Pottsville. The ROW is completely built upon in the downtown area and is also a sidewalk. The RDG coach yard was still there in the '70s but I think the city pressured CR to tear out the rails so they could build a parking lot. After the coal biz went bust the RDG cut back operations to downtown Pottsville and abandoned mostly everything to the north and renamed the line the Skuchylle or Potts secondary or something. Talk about boom to bust.

As for St Clair yard it was due east of downtown Pottsville. I think it was the largest, or one of the largest RR yards in the world. It had a 42 stall engine house. It was used as a central base to classify coal hoppers out of the areas mines. I do believe the engine house and trackage remained until '72 when the hurricane washed it away. There is absolutely no trace today except for the shop buildings (long rectangles). There is a Yingling brewery and industrial park there. Ironically, devoid of rail service. Even more ironically, one of the businesses in the industrial parks makes railroad mow equipment, signs, and switch frogs and it must be all trucked out!

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  by Schuylkill Valley
The PRR tracks were pulled out of pottsville in the early 1980's because Conrail was shipping a few companies up there.

The Reading's St. Clair yard was pulled up in the Late 1970's It was 62 track wide and had a 52 stall round house.

Here's a copy of the 1917 Real Reading Company Blue Print on the round house.

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  by Schuylkill Valley
Here's the part of the yard where the PRR goes through.
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  by carajul
Can I ask who was using the St Clair yard in the 1970s if it closed in 1963? The reason I ask is because the 1971 arial shows the yard intact (albeit in pretty bad asthetic shape) and the lower end and western end jam packed with coal hoppers!?!? Unless the RDG was just using it for equipment storage at this time. Did the yard just sit there deralict from '63-78? 53 tracks just sitting there rusting for 20 years? Seems odd. Was there any activity at all? Then of course I just realized the arial was from '71 and the hurricane didn't hit until '72.

Side note - the RDG coach yards in downtown and the PRR line were gone by '71.
The scale in Reading,Pa. was used to weigh "west end" coal after 7-1-63. the west end "Hauks" coal went to st Nick. ,Newberry coal went to NB jct for billing and weighing. pp&l shamokin plant coal went on a new non weighable car rate. The St. Clair yard was used to store cars for the "dismantling project",which in late 63 into 64 and beyond?, resulted in the scrapping on site ,over a thousand gondola,box,snow plow,and express/passenger cars. this was run under the" Reading Dispatch Inc." The engine house remained open after 7-1-63,for how long ? the car shop was closed 6-28-63 but reopened in later months to provide a weather proof scrapping operation,electric and water had to be restored. Also in the area known as the "Prairie" gondolas were cut up in a seperate operation. there was a 2nd trick yardmaster temporarly. crew clerks remained,crews called as needed, div engineer remained, along with the signal supervisor,master carpenter,claim agent . I went there in 1972 when i first got my drivers license,and it was all still there....tracks,buildings,shops,roundhouse, water plugs ect..the 3 story main office was full of RDG paper files which were strewn on the floors,i am using some of them to tell this account! The local crew passed by with an RS-3. I have to look for the photos i took from that day.the attached pic shows the scale right before it was closed. June 1963
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Last edited by RDGTRANSMUSEUM on Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.