Photographs & History

Photographs and History

Delair Project: Highlight Video Is Live!

The Delair project highlights are live! This documentation included fourteen months of work, at times utilizing up to three photographers, working a total of over 800 man-hours to capture 10 terabytes of imagery through bitter cold, snow, rain and miserable heat, day and night. I would like to thank the people at Conrail and all the contractors and consultants for their assistance and patience, without them this project would not have been possible. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Samuel Markey who was an integral part of the entire production and Michael Legrand who’s aerial footage added another dynamic to this already massive undertaking. Please click the image above to check out the highlights of the Delair Improvements Project and as always feedback is much appreciated!

Thank you for your time and support!

Michael Froio

Michael Froio Photography, LLC

Delair Bridge Project: Upcoming Release

In the spirit of anticipation I am excited to announce the release of four trailer videos this week for the upcoming public debut of work from the 14 month project documenting the rebuilding of Conrail Shared Assets Delair Bridge. The Delair Bridge, completed in 1896 and heavily modified in the late 1950’s is a vital link between Conrail’s South Jersey operations and parent companies CSX and Norfolk Southern's transportation networks. With this upgrade Conrail can now handle heavier loads and larger trains fostering economic growth in Southern New Jersey. This project is part of an $18.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to the South Jersey Ports by the US Department of Transportation.

I was initially asked to provide a basic documentation for the project which grew into a major production conducted over 6 - three day/ 72 hour scheduled outages where up to 13 bridge spans were replaced and track renewed. As you can imagine a project of this scope cannot be done by one person; I was fortunate enough to work with two other very talented Drexel Photography graduates; Samuel Markey (Class of 2011) who contributed his extensive knowledge of time lapse production, shooting and editing and Michael Legrand (Class of 2000) who provided aerial footage which added an amazing element to the documentation. At times we utilized up to six cameras to capture the various crafts working together to meet the tight deadlines the railroad required in order to minimize service disruptions. Several contractors including Cornell Steel, Thackray Crane and Railworks were managed by Jacobs Engineering to complete scheduled work within the allotted 72 hour slot through snow, rain, extreme temperatures and physical conditions. Next week you can expect more trailer releases and the finished highlight reel which is slated to go live late in the week. I hope you enjoy the work! As always please feel free to comment and share!

 

End of Summer Update

Construction waits as a late running inbound crude train crosses the Delair Bridge into Southern New Jersey during the April Outage. This week marks the sixth and final shoot for Conrail documenting the Delair Improvements program.

Construction waits as a late running inbound crude train crosses the Delair Bridge into Southern New Jersey during the April Outage. This week marks the sixth and final shoot for Conrail documenting the Delair Improvements program.

I hope you all had an enjoyable summer! I know, I promised an in-depth series of posts on the evolution of the Lancaster area on the Pennsylvania Railroad and so far I have published one part. There is more to come I assure you! Recently with gracious assistance from friend William L. Seigford and accompanied by the knowledgeable Mark Hoffman I made a trip to sew up some loose ends on the Lancaster Terminal and the New Holland Branch. Much of this film has been processed but still needs scanning and editing to add to the series, rounding out the contemporary part of my survey. Adding to the backlog, this week marks the last of six shoots for Conrail documenting improvements to the former PRR Delair Bridge, a vital connection between the South Jersey cluster of Conrail Shared Assets and Norfolk Southern and CSX’s transportation networks. Once complete I'll be shifting gears to finalize and begin promoting the upcoming exhibition I am curating at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ. I look forward to sharing this exciting Fall season for the blog and Main Line Project and as always thank you for your patience and support!

Sincerely,

Michael Froio

Summer Break

As summer begins I have taken a few weeks to look back at the first half of the year, and for the first time was able to take a breath. So far 2013 has been a year of considerable progress for my project documenting the Pennsylvania Railroad. With four lectures, six photographic site visits, an article published online with Trains Magazine, a new website and over 20 blog posts I have come to a point where a little break is in order.

My work isn't just centered around the Pennsylvania Railroad, it also explores places of natural beauty and of a historic nature. The summer is often a relaxed time when I venture out with my family to explore new places and revisit old favorites, sometimes to make photos, but more often just to share the diverse history and landscape with the kids.  Delaware River at Washington's Crossing, Pennsylvania. 

My work isn't just centered around the Pennsylvania Railroad, it also explores places of natural beauty and of a historic nature. The summer is often a relaxed time when I venture out with my family to explore new places and revisit old favorites, sometimes to make photos, but more often just to share the diverse history and landscape with the kids.Delaware River at Washington's Crossing, Pennsylvania. 

I look forward to time with my family and will regroup with my research and writing in a month or so. In the fall you can expect some exciting opportunities, more lectures and maybe even an exhibition in the Philadelphia area, but more on that later! For now I hope you all enjoy a wonderful and rejuvenating summer season, whether you’re out making art, exploring new places, or just spending time close to home with family. I will be staying in touch on a relaxed schedule this summer and look forward to sharing more in the future.

Thank you for your time and continued support!

Warm regards,

Michael Froio

New Website is Live!

Dear Friends, Since the Library Company lecture early in March I have fallen off the radar, but for good reason! I am excited to announce my revamped website, michaelfroio.com which just went live! I have been considering a change in service  for a while and finally began the process a few weeks ago after seeing the huge improvement in image quality and functionality that my new host, Livebooks offers. On the new site you will find more and larger images for the Main Line Project which was in desperate need of an update, including text on each of the Regions/ Divisions covered in the three portfolios. In addition to the Main Line Project you will find the Relic and Watershed Portfolios have been freshened up and reorganized for improved navigation. Of course the site still maintains a link to the blog, sections for news and updates, contact info and social media. I hope you take the time to check out the site, please feel free to email me with any feedback. I should note that the new site utilizes a Flash based template, and IOs users will be pointed to an HTML mirror site which looks and functions much like the main site.

Again the website address is www.michaelfroio.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Best Regards,

Michael Froio

Remembering the Conrail OCS

While I typically keep this to fairly current work of my own, I was recently going through some old slides that I made through the 1990s. Finding the images below were pretty special considering two of three of these locomotives would be lovingly restored to their Pennsy liveries by Bennett Levin and his Juniata Terminal Company. Although the Conrail "Office Car Special" (OCS) trains are of the past, their legacy lives on.

Having made its reverse move from the High Line onto Amtrak at Arsenal Interlocking, the consist runs its final few miles North into 30th Street Station, seen here coming and going near South Street.

Having made its reverse move from the High Line onto Amtrak at Arsenal Interlocking, the consist runs its final few miles North into 30th Street Station, seen here coming and going near South Street.

In July of 1998, I was a student in Philadelphia and was in close proximity of Amtrak's 30th Street Station. Through a friend I learned that Conrail would be running a series of "Farewell" trips with their beautiful business train complete with all three E units and a full assortment of cars including the Budd built full length dome car #55, a former Santa Fe car that graced the San Francisco Chief among other consists, and of course the former VIA Rail Pullman Standard Car #9 a Theater Observation Car. When I received the call in regard to its evening arrival in Philadelphia, a good friend and I ventured track side for one of the last views of a Conrail "OCS" train. Within months the process of Norfolk Southern and CSX carving up the Conrail system would begin and the trademark Brunswick Green train set would be spit up or auctioned off.

CR 4020 a former Pennsy E8A, one of two that would go on to be restored by Bennett Levin's Juniata Terminal Company shares company with NJT GP40PH-2 No. 4146. This former GP40 locomotive that was actually rebuilt by Conrail's Juniata Shop in 1993 in a program for NJT. The photo was taken within Penn Interlocking located on the north side of 30th Street Station.

CR 4020 a former Pennsy E8A, one of two that would go on to be restored by Bennett Levin's Juniata Terminal Company shares company with NJT GP40PH-2 No. 4146. This former GP40 locomotive that was actually rebuilt by Conrail's Juniata Shop in 1993 in a program for NJT. The photo was taken within Penn Interlocking located on the north side of 30th Street Station.

A story from Pier 122

Below is a story from Randy Leiser, who came across the post on Pier 122 and 124. I really enjoyed his story and graciously, he has agreed to post it here as a tribute to his Grandfather, Ted Leiser and the many other men and women that worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad. My grandfather worked at Pier 122 for twenty plus years, from when it was new in the 1950s till the late 1970s or early 1980s (I don't know exactly when he retired).  When I was a kid (I was born in 1971) I knew that he "drove a pusher locomotive on a pier," but not much more.  Being a kid, I guess I just never asked--even though I liked trains.  He passed away when I was 16.

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Views of Pier 122 including the Unloading Cranes and loading tipple and Narrow Gage Pusher Engines that Ted Leiser operated  .

Views of Pier 122 including the Unloading Cranes and loading tipple and Narrow Gage Pusher Engines that Ted Leiser operated.

When my kids came along (the first in 2004, the second in 2006) I began to get them interested in trains, too, which revived my interest in them as well.  I began teaching my boys all about trains--steam, diesel, passenger, freight, etc.

One day around 2008, I asked my dad about where my grandfather had worked.  He told me that it was "on a pier, south of the Walt Whitman Bridge, unloading ore ships.  You know, those big black cranes."  As soon as I heard that I recalled my grandfather having brought home a box of different ore pellets, each labelled with its country of origin.  I also recalled seeing the cranes every time we crossed the Walt Whitman Bridge--even though I didn't know what I was looking at.

I told my kids about their great grandfather, and how he operated a locomotive, etc.  They were quite interested, but I didn't have much more to offer them. A few months later, in 2009, I began Googling "Pennsylvania Tidewater Dock Company," which my dad had told me was the name of the company that operated the locomotives on the pier.  There were few references, and most entries referred to the company's Ohio location.  However, I found an obscure reference to Pennsylvania Tidewater Dock that mentioned Pier 122--the first time I heard the pier's name.  I began Googling "Pier 122" and back came a flood of entries.  I began reading everything I could find.  Before I knew it I'd found a ton of info on the pier, and even photos of the four locomotives they had.  I kept reading, and discovered that one of the four locomotives was saved by the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, PA!  Pier 122 imported ore that was sent to Bethlehem Steel, and when the steel plant closed, they made provisions for a museum--the narrow gauge locomotive was of interest to them, and they moved one into storage there, awaiting restoration.

In the space of a few hours I went from knowing very little about my grandfather's job and worksite, to knowing quite a bit, and even discovering that one of "his" locomotives was still around. Still not certain, I showed the pictures I'd found to my dad, who confirmed that it was the same pier, same locomotives, etc.  He even recalled riding in one with my grandfather when he was a kid.  I later found out that my uncle (my dad's brother) worked at the pier as a summer job, working on the locomotives, too.

At this point I was intent on getting to Bethlehem, but it was not going to happen soon, as my wife was pregnant with our third, and road trips were not in our immediate future.  We were, however, traveling to Philadelphia for my wife's care during the pregnancy, and I began wondering what was left of the pier.  I prepared myself with maps and Google satellite images.  On our next trip to Philly, we left early, and I detoured to the Pier.  To my surprise, it was not gated, and we drove right in.

Randy Leiser with his two boys, Paul(left) and Dan(right)on his Grandfather's locomotive.

Randy Leiser with his two boys, Paul(left) and Dan(right)on his Grandfather's locomotive.

To my delight, I looked to the left as we drove in, and still sitting on the narrow gauge horseshoe track were two of the pusher locomotives.  I parked the car, stepped out, and shot a couple dozen pictures.  Then (by this point somewhat sure I wasn't going to get arrested for trespassing) I got my two boys out.  My wife snapped a picture of the three of us, standing in front of one of the locomotives.  I now cherish that shot. My daughter was born just a few weeks later, and on a later trip, we took her and my dad to the pier, where he stared in disbelief at the locomotives, too.

I've always been interested in trains, history, and family, and in this case I had the rare chance to tie them all together. I've done periodic Google searches to see what turns up on the Pier.  That's how I found your blog--and I enjoyed reading that post immensely. In the time since I saw the locomotives the cranes on the pier have been toppled and dismantled.  They're making way for the new Southport container facility.  It's progress, I guess, but I hate to see it go.  Every time I cross the Walt Whitman Bridge, I glance southward toward the pier.

Recently, I acquired a Pennsylvania Railroad 1957 calendar, entitled "Vital Links to World Trade."  It features a view of the Pier 122 cranes, with the horseshoe track visible in the back ground.  (PRR built and owned the pier.  From what I gather Pennsylvania Tidewater Dock operated the pusher locomotives.)  The calendar is in great shape and will hang on the wall of my office, as a reminder of my grandfather.

Randy's Grandfather and former Tidewater Dock Co. Employee Ted Leiser with his wife Grace.

Randy's Grandfather and former Tidewater Dock Co. Employee Ted Leiser with his wife Grace.

Schuylkill Branch on the Philadelphia Terminal Division

Although the Philadelphia Terminal Division has quite a bit of its original infrastructure in tact, serving its predecessors well, there are a few relics left that fell victim to redundancy during the Penn Central Era and into the creation of Conrail and local Commuter  Agency SEPTA. The PRR Schuylkill Division left the Mainline at Valley Junction located at 52nd Street in West Philadelphia and ran North along the Namesake River, through Norristown, Pottsville, and on to Wilkes-Barre, giving a direct access to the Anthracite Fields and lines North and West via Scranton. The Schuylkill Division followed the Mainline of long time rival Reading Company  often times following each other on opposite sides of the River.

Former PRR Bridge from Green Lane Bridge on the Schuylkill River.

Former PRR Bridge from Green Lane Bridge on the Schuylkill River.

Manayunk, a Northern manufacturing center in Philadelphia, situated on the East Bank of the Schuylkill River was one of the first towns the Division encountered, marked by a branch on the West Bank to serve Pencoyd Steel and beautiful Reinforced Concrete Arch Bridge across the River and Canal entering Manayunk proper near Green Lane slightly North of the downtown business district.

Perched on the hill above the commercial area, the station was located at the corner of Dupont and High Streets in a residential area, far less convenient than the Reading Company's direct access to the business district from their service that paralleled Main St by a block on a dedicated grade separated mainline running South to North through town.

View of the Southbound Platform and Catenary Post Guide Wires.

View of the Southbound Platform and Catenary Post Guide Wires.

Although the division and it's northern reaches were severed in 1976 with the formation of Conrail, SEPTA continued to use the Line into Manayunk until 1990 as part of the R-6 Service. At this point service was cut back due to deterioration of the Concrete Bridge across the Schuylkill, which consequently has been restored but has had all tracks and overhead catenary removed.

Although, really a separate Division, the Schuylkill Division played a major part in supping the home city of the PRR with a steady stream of clean burning Anthracite coal for heat, manufacturing, and export via Pier 124. In addition it provided access to the Lehigh Valley Railroad creating a gateway to New York, New England, and Canada.

View of Mainline Looking North from from abandoned Platform.

View of Mainline Looking North from from abandoned Platform.

Today the mainline right of way is void of trackage and often a dumping ground, strewn with trash through the norther part of Manayunk, until one reaches the bike path on the North Side of town near the site of the former Spring Mill train station. From there one can bike all the away to Valley Forge and eventually it is hoped that the path will be reclaimed to extend through the historic Anthracite Regions of North Eastern Pennsylvania

Pier 122 and 124: Lost Facilities of the Pennsylvania Railroad

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.

View looking East, Pier 122: this view illustrates the massive ore unloading cranes that have recently been removed from the former PRR facility.

View looking East, Pier 122: this view illustrates the massive ore unloading cranes that have recently been removed from the former PRR facility.

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.

Reinforced Storage Bins: These bins, located in the loading balloon tracks served a large fertilizer storage facility that also received bulk materials via Pier 122.

Reinforced Storage Bins: These bins, located in the loading balloon tracks served a large fertilizer storage facility that also received bulk materials via Pier 122.

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.

This was one of several shunting engines that ran on a narrow gauge track between the standard gauge railroad load out tracks. These units shoved the ore jennies or hopper cars through the load out and on to staging to be assembled into outbound trains.

This was one of several shunting engines that ran on a narrow gauge track between the standard gauge railroad load out tracks. These units shoved the ore jennies or hopper cars through the load out and on to staging to be assembled into outbound trains.