Recently the last of four traveling cranes of the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s pier 122 Ore dock facility in Greenwich Yard fell victim to demolition in a plan to expand container port facilities along the Delaware River Waterfront of South Philadelphia.
With facilities dating back to the early 1900s, Pier 122 and 124 were built in 1929. Pier 124 was equipped with dual 120 ton McMyler rotary dumping units that combined, allowed the railroad to dump a maximum of 800 hopper cars per day into outgoing vessels. Pier 122, although constructed at the same time was expanded through new construction in 1952-1954 primarily to import South American Iron Ore. When opened, the facility's cost was 10 million dollars and originally equipped with two traveling cranes capable of unloading over one million tons in its first year of operation. Two other traveling cranes were added in 1955 and 56 respectively expanding total capacity to over 1.5 million tons per year.
Serving the PRR and later Penn Central and finally Conrail Pier 122 has been dormant since mid 1990s prior to the split of Conrail by Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation, victim to shuttered mills, more modern steel making processes, and more efficient facilities. Neighboring pier 124, the coal loading facility suffered a similar fate earlier when Consol Pier of Baltimore came online, providing shorter transport to export shipping lanes and more modern facilities. The removal of the Pier 122 and presumably 124 will mean another relic of the Pennsylvania Railroad and our industrial past will be gone, soon to be back-filled and paved over for container staging of imports and exports that have become standard in ports around the globe.