Photographs & History

Photographs and History

Fall News and Events

Well its fall, the weather is cooling off, the light is getting nice and its time to get back to work! I have a lot of good stuff in store for next couple of months including a big update of work on my website, a lecture for the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society and an article feature on the blog The Trackside Photographer, a platform that explores the larger idea of understanding the historic nature of the railroad landscape. Additionally I have a lot of great material in the cue for the blog Photographs & History, rounding out the exploration of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Atglen & Susquehanna Branch and continuing east exploring the mainline into Chester County, Pennsylvania. 


View of Peter’s Mountain from Sherman’s Creek, Duncannon, Pennsylvania

View of Peter’s Mountain from Sherman’s Creek, Duncannon, Pennsylvania

Feature Article | The Trackside Photographer
A new article on the Main Line project goes live Thursday, October 13th on the blog The Trackside Photographer, a wonderful online publication that features photographers who's focus is documenting the ever changing railroad landscape.  The article provides insight on my creative process while working on the Main Line project and is complemented by a cohesive gallery of imagery from the project. 

Continuing a Legacy | Photographing the Pennsylvania Railroad

I am honored to once again present for the Delaware Valley Chapter of the NRHS. My lecture will explore the legacy of photographic imagery undertaken by the Pennsylvania Railroad and how it has influenced my own work. The presentation looks at several noted photographers commissioned to photograph the railroad while tying them to a visual dialogue with my own contemporary works exploring the former Pennsylvania Railroad. 

Delaware Valley Chapter, National Railway Historical Society | Friday, October 21st, 2016 | Lecture begins at approximately 8:30PM
Morrisville Public Library, 300 North Pennsylvania Avenue, Morrisville, Pennsylvania

New Work from the Main Line Project

The image above is one of many that is being readied for a big update of new work on the Main Line project. The update will include a new gallery of imagery which includes additional views from PRR divisions already represented as well locations on the New York and Maryland Divisions which were not previously represented in the project. Once live a series of singe image posts will begin in addition to the regular format to highlight the new work and the significance of these places in the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

Lecture Next Week | Harrisburg Chapter NRHS

NRHS_HBG_GRID_Crop

I am happy to announce that I’ll be presenting  a slide show and discussion on my ongoing photographic project, From the Main Line: A Contemporary Survey of the Pennsylvania Railroad for the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Inspired by the work of photographer William H. Rau, who was commissioned in the 1890’s to document the PRR and its destinations, the project explores the transitioning landscape along the former PRR Main Line from New York to Pittsburgh, highlighting the unique vernacular of facilities and infrastructure built by the PRR. Using large format film based images this project combines historical research and imagery to present a creative documentation of one of the most celebrated railroads in American history for both exhibition and web format. Attendees will also be treated to some of the recent commission work I have been doing for Conrail Shared Assets and some behind the scenes insight on the production of a long term video and time lapse documentation project.

The NRHS was founded in 1935 by a group of rail historians. It has since grown from 40 founding members to include over 13,000 men and women of all ages and professions in every state and many foreign countries, making it the nation's largest rail preservation and historical society. The Harrisburg Chapter is one of roughly 160 around the country, and widely recognized for its remarkable and innovative preservation efforts including the restoration of Harris Tower and the creation of a interactive installation combining the old interlocking machine with 21st Century technology to recreate the working environment of one of the PRR's busiest towers. For more information about the Harrisburg Chapter of the NRHS, their activities or to plan a trip to the Harris Tower museum visit their website.

The lecture, on March 10th, 2015, is part of the Harrisburg Chapter’s meeting is free and open to the public and will begin at 7PM at the Hoss’s Steak and Seahouse, 743 Wertzville Road, Enola, Pennsylvania

For more information please contact me directly at michael@michaelfroio.com

News and Updates for Winter 2013

Dear Friends, Happy New Year! I trust that you all had a wonderful and restful holiday and have settled into the New Year. Finishing out the last quarter of 2012 proved incredibly productive for the Main Line Project. While continuing work with many wonderful people at Amtrak for a second year I have begun building new relationships, with noted preservationist Bennett Levin and Eric Levin of Conrail Shared Assets opening many new opportunities. In addition, the release of the NRHS Bulletin article on the Main Line Project and the invitation to present lectures for several events ended 2012 with a promising start to the New Year.

Park. 001
Park. 001

In 2013 we will continue the tour of the Pennsylvania Railroad, focusing on the Philadelphia Division’s fabled Low Grade route east from Columbia, Pennsylvania as well as the main line from Royalton to Philadelphia. With new content and added historical imagery you can expect a more rounded look at the history and current operations of this important division of the PRR. I have already started making new images this year continuing documentation of the extensive infrastructure along the Main Line to finish out the Harrisburg – Philadelphia segment and expand upon my work in the Philadelphia Terminal and New York Divisions for future posts.

In addition to research, writing and photography, this year marks an exciting chapter for the project with the opportunity to present my imagery and research in three lectures scheduled for the winter and early spring. See below for details on these upcoming events!

From the Main Line: Exploring the former Pennsylvania Railroad today.

January 28th, 2013 7:30 PM

Though modern imagery inspired by railroad photographer William H Rau, the presentation will explore the unique landscape and vernacular associated with the Standard Railroad of the World.

West Jersey Chapter, National Railway Historical Society

625 Station Avenue, Haddon Heights NJ 08035

Understanding the Pennsylvania Railroad: Contemporary photographs in response to the historic works of William H Rau.

March 7th, 2013

This lecture will look directly at W.H. Rau’s photographs of the Pennsylvania Railroad made in the 1890's exploring their impact on the Main Line Project to understand the importance of dialog between the historic and contemporary photographer. Details to follow.

The Library Company of Philadelphia

1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Conversation on Photography Annual Conference

April 12th – 14th, 2013

The Center for Railroad Photography and Art hosts this annual conference. The Center has become America’s foremost organization for interpreting the intersection of railroad art and culture with America’s history and culture.

I will discuss the ongoing photographic project (2007- present) From the Main Line, exploring the transitioning landscape along the Pennsylvania Railroad from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh highlighting the unique vernacular of facilities and infrastructure built by the former Standard Railroad of the World. Details to follow.

Lake Forest College, 555 North Sheridan Road, Lake Forrest, IL 60045

I look forward to sharing another year of history and stories from the great Pennsylvania Railroad. I encourage you all to stay in touch and please feel free to share your stories and experiences with the railroad. I am only one person in the fraternity of countless historians and enthusiasts of our railroad heritage; it is exciting for me to understand a railroad that I never had the good fortune to experience though the oral histories and photographs of others!

As always, thank you for your time and support!

Sincerely,

Michael Froio

Harrisburg Passenger Station

Front elevation drawing of the Harrisburg Train Station.   (below) Detail drawings of the fireplace and floor tile work. Drawings collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service drawn by Harry Weese & Associates  .

Front elevation drawing of the Harrisburg Train Station. (below) Detail drawings of the fireplace and floor tile work. Drawings collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service drawn by Harry Weese & Associates.

Harrisburg was at the crossroads of the eastern system, and the largest city on the PRR between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. From the east passenger trains originated from Philadelphia, New York City, Baltimore and Washington DC, from the west traffic came via Buffalo and Pittsburgh gateways to the North, South and West.

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The surviving passenger station, built between 1885-87 is the third such built by the PRR in the general area between Mulberry and Market Streets. Constructed of brick and stone, the Queen Anne style station was altered several times during the early 20th Century and featured details like facing granite and brick fireplaces in the main waiting room, coffered ceilings, wood paneling and intricate mosaic tile floor patterns. After a destructive fire in 1904, the station was completely remodeled restoring the unique gambrel roof while converting the attic space into a third floor for offices adding the eight dormers on the front (east) elevation. A major addition to facilitate the electrification to Harrisburg in 1936-37 added a two story, three bay extensions on the south end of the building to accommodate the new Power Dispatcher’s facility and State Interlocking.

Train shed interior looking east. Notice the intricate iron work on the stair railings and trusses. The active center platform has been elevated to accommodate Amtrak/ ADA compliance needs but the remaining low level platforms are still traditional herringbone brick with stone curbs. This shed is one of few remaining examples of a style of station that was once commonplace in America.

Train shed interior looking east. Notice the intricate iron work on the stair railings and trusses. The active center platform has been elevated to accommodate Amtrak/ ADA compliance needs but the remaining low level platforms are still traditional herringbone brick with stone curbs. This shed is one of few remaining examples of a style of station that was once commonplace in America.

The surviving train sheds behind and to the east of the station were of even greater significance. When constructed they were considered some of the largest of its time, utilizing historic Fink trusses constructed of wood and iron to support the roof. The twin station sheds were extended at various times and measure roughly 540 feet in length providing shelter to 8 of the 10 station tracks maintained in the busy terminal.

View from photographer Harlen Hambright, taken during the 1981 HAER survey. Survey caption reads "View, looking north (railroad west) under shed from concourse, showing exposed truss after shed roofing was removed." Collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service.

View from photographer Harlen Hambright, taken during the 1981 HAER survey. Survey caption reads "View, looking north (railroad west) under shed from concourse, showing exposed truss after shed roofing was removed." Collection of the Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service.

Current view of the south (railroad east) end of the station bound by the Mulberry Street Viaduct itself a beautiful curved concrete arch bridge. The track curving off from the bottom right is Norfolk Southern's connection with the former Reading Company Lebanon Branch, now part of the busy Harrisburg Line. The track immediately behind that and parallel to the station is the Royalton Branch which provides freight an alternate route off the Port Road via Shocks Mill, running alongside Amtrak's Keystone Line west of Roy Interlocking.

Current view of the south (railroad east) end of the station bound by the Mulberry Street Viaduct itself a beautiful curved concrete arch bridge. The track curving off from the bottom right is Norfolk Southern's connection with the former Reading Company Lebanon Branch, now part of the busy Harrisburg Line. The track immediately behind that and parallel to the station is the Royalton Branch which provides freight an alternate route off the Port Road via Shocks Mill, running alongside Amtrak's Keystone Line west of Roy Interlocking.

Today the passenger terminal and sheds survive and are on the National Register of Historic Places and are also designated as a National Engineering Landmark. Known as the Harrisburg Transportation Center, the building serves both bus lines and Amtrak, where the Keystone Service from Philadelphia and New York Terminates, and the daily New York – Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian calls in each direction. While passenger train service is a mere ghost of what it used to be, the historic building survives as a monument of what rail travel used to be for future generations.

Situated on the former #5 Station track, PRR class GG-1# #4859 resides as part of a permanent display owned and maintained by the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, also accompanied by a class N6b PRR Cabin Car (caboose to non-PRR people). The 4859 is of particular significance to Harrisburg as it hauled the first scheduled electric powered passenger train into the station in 1938. The locomotive was part of a fleet of 140 locomotives built by both the PRR in Altoona and General Electric, the ubiquitous G,  was the workhorse of both the limiteds, regional and local passenger/ mail trains as well as freight on the PRR. The last operational  GG-1 ran in October of 1983 and 16 survive around the US as static displays.

Situated on the former #5 Station track, PRR class GG-1# #4859 resides as part of a permanent display owned and maintained by the Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, also accompanied by a class N6b PRR Cabin Car (caboose to non-PRR people). The 4859 is of particular significance to Harrisburg as it hauled the first scheduled electric powered passenger train into the station in 1938. The locomotive was part of a fleet of 140 locomotives built by both the PRR in Altoona and General Electric, the ubiquitous G,  was the workhorse of both the limiteds, regional and local passenger/ mail trains as well as freight on the PRR. The last operational  GG-1 ran in October of 1983 and 16 survive around the US as static displays.

Mainline: Huntingdon Pennsylvania

The Huntingdon County courthouse tower is visible from the mainline on the sweeping curve entering from the east. Note the access road along the right of way which used to be the alignment of tracks 3 and 4 the former westward freight and passenger tracks respectively.

The Huntingdon County courthouse tower is visible from the mainline on the sweeping curve entering from the east. Note the access road along the right of way which used to be the alignment of tracks 3 and 4 the former westward freight and passenger tracks respectively.

Situated roughly 98 miles west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the Borough of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania sits along the beautiful Juniata River and the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline. A county seat for it’s namesake Huntingdon County, the town was situated among rich agricultural areas, healthy deposits of iron, coal and clay, and hosted manufacturing including stationary, furniture, lumber and machinery. Originally laid out by Provost of the University of Pennsylvania, Rev. William Smith in 1777 the town was dedicated as the county seat in 1789 and incorporated in 1796. The Borough was once a port on the Mainline of Public Works, and later the junction of the PRR and the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad and Coal Company. Today the town is better known for its quaint layout, beautiful landscape and Juniata College which plays host to approximately 1500 students.

Entering from the east the relocated mainline of the late 1890s runs along the former Public Works Canal alignment. Here at the mouth of Standing Stone Creek we are standing below the "new" bridge looking north toward the remains of the original alignment and stone arch bridge that runs parallel to Penn Street.

Entering from the east the relocated mainline of the late 1890s runs along the former Public Works Canal alignment. Here at the mouth of Standing Stone Creek we are standing below the "new" bridge looking north toward the remains of the original alignment and stone arch bridge that runs parallel to Penn Street.

The Pennsylvania Railroad gained its presence in the Borough in June of 1850 with the completion of a line from Harrisburg, originally entering town along Allegheny Street. Modernization and relocation of the mainline later took place in several stages; first in 1891 and then 1894-1900 constructing the standard four track system, using the original Mainline of Public Works canal as a new right of way. The project eliminated several curves, grades, and street crossings while providing the citizens of Huntingdon connections with points east and west.

The 1872 Huntingdon train station is an Italianate style brick building. Detail of the (post 1890's) trackside elevation, while the traditional PRR herringbone brick pavers undergo restoration in the Spring of 2011  .

The 1872 Huntingdon train station is an Italianate style brick building. Detail of the (post 1890's) trackside elevation, while the traditional PRR herringbone brick pavers undergo restoration in the Spring of 2011.

PRR Hunt tower has been inactive for some time but remains standing. It was operated for a short time as a museum but now houses city offices. 

PRR Hunt tower has been inactive for some time but remains standing. It was operated for a short time as a museum but now houses city offices. 

Built during the second phase of the modernization Hunt Interlocking, a brick and frame structure housed a Union Switch and Signal machine to control a revised interlocking and interchange with the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad and Coal Company (Reporting marks HBTM). The HBTM was a coal hauler chartered in the 1850′s to tap the rich semi-bituminous coal deposits and provide shippers in the Cumberland, Maryland area providing an alternative to the B&O’s monopoly on train service. Over time the railroad suffered major setbacks including the diversion of traffic off the line by the PRR to its own line between Bedford and Cumberland which led to eventual bankruptcy in the early 1950s.

The Huntingdon train station provided riders a cross platform transfer to HBTM trains which ceased operation in November of 1953. Little is left of the interchange and station tracks except for an overgrown branch diverging just west of the interlocking plant through Portstown Park, crossing on a deck girder bridge over the Juniata and running a short distance along State Road 3035. In addition to the interchange and passenger facilities, the PRR maintained a freight station and mainline icing facility west of the station area for trains of refrigerated meats and produce prior to mechanical refrigeration.

 

Today, while the mainline has been reduced to two tracks, the railroad is still very busy, though no interchange takes place with the HBTM, intermodal, merchandise and mineral traffic rolls though at speed along a mainline refined in the late 1890′s to efficiently expedite traffic to points east and west. The Huntingdon County Chamber of Commerce has taken residence in former Hunt Tower, and the landmark 1872 train station has been renovated and is being used for commercial space.

Rockville Bridge

Susquehanna River and Rockville Bridge, looking East. Marysville Pennsylvania

Susquehanna River and Rockville Bridge, looking East. Marysville Pennsylvania

Teller_Rockville

Opened in 1902 under the direction of Chief Engineer William H Brown, the Rockville Bridge is the longest masonry arch railroad viaduct in the world. Built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the 3820' long span is made of 48 seventy foot spans over the Susquehanna River, connecting the PRR Harrisburg Terminal and Buffalo Line with the Mainline West, and connection to the sprawling Enola Yard complex through a complex junction in Marysville PA. This area of the PRR was the Eastern Hub of lines coming from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Hagerstown, creating a westward funnel, concentrating mainline traffic to Pittsburgh and points west.

While the terminal deserves more in depth coverage, the Rockville Bridge and supporting approaches particularly on the West Bank in Marysville, represent the forward thinking of PRR engineers in designing and managing traffic flow of passenger, thru freight and terminating/ originating freight without interference and delay.

Today this bridge faithfully serves the Norfolk Southern Corporation seeing heavy freight traffic and a round trip of daily Amtrak NYC-Pittsburgh service trains. While the track layout has been altered over the years, changing from the original 4 track system, to three, to the current two track layout, the bridge's appearance is still just as impressive as Griff Teller's "1949 Main Lines-Passenger and Freight" commissioned  for PRR advertising purposes. Located on the West side, in Marysville, is a personal favorite location, to view the traffic crossing the mile wide river. Like many, I never seem to get enough of this impressive structure, another historic piece of the Standard Railroad of the World!

Duncannon, Pennsylvania

Duncannon

Duncannon is a quiet little riverside town that sits just below the confluence of the Juniata and Susquehanna Rivers in Perry County Pennsylvania. Along the banks of the Susquehanna runs the Middle Division of the former Pennsylvania Railroad. Above, we see the view from Cumberland Street looking East toward the former Passenger Station on Water Street. The beautiful brick and wood design is similar to neighboring Marysville, and Newport stations both of which survive today.

South Fork and the PRR

Taken from the former Portage Railroad alignment in neighboring Ehrnfield PA, the viewer can see the South Fork Valley carved by the Little Conemaugh River of which the town of about 1100 is named. The river played host to America's worst disaster, the Johnstown Flood in 1889, which the PRR played an instrumental role in the recovery and rebuilding of the area.

Taken from the former Portage Railroad alignment in neighboring Ehrnfield PA, the viewer can see the South Fork Valley carved by the Little Conemaugh River of which the town of about 1100 is named. The river played host to America's worst disaster, the Johnstown Flood in 1889, which the PRR played an instrumental role in the recovery and rebuilding of the area.

In the small village of South Fork, named for the confluence of the Little Conemaugh River with its  south fork, the Mainline of the PRR follows the path of the former Allegheny Portage Railroad. Down stream, directly center in the photo, the south fork comes North from the notorious site of a dam that burst giving way to the tragic Johnstown Flood of May 31st, 1889, claiming more than 2200 lives, in what is still considered one of America's worst disasters. Today the small mining village in Cambria County plays host to mainline traffic, and local coal trains originating out of the valley to the south. Next to the River, just about directly below the low spot in the ridge, the small rail yard and terminal for the South Fork Mine Runs is visible. This plays host to daily unit coal trains coming and going, with a junction to the mainline in both directions sending the trains West to Pittsburgh and East to the Mid Atlantic Coast.

Mifflin Depot

mifflintowndepot

Built in 1913 after the expansion of the Mainline to the trademark four track "Broad Way", the Mifflin Depot still stands today. While passenger service ended in 1957, the building has continued to serve maintenance personnel along the line. Seen here on a typical Fall morning with a dense fog yet to burn off, the Mission style bay and classic details still look good after almost 100 years and four owners.

PRR: Summit of the Allegheny Mountains

PRR

At the Summit of the Allegheny Range we look east on Sugar Run Valley in Cambria County PA. Immediately below us #3 track exits the New Portage Tunnel, this is the eastbound main commonly referred to as "the slide" on account of its 2.0 to 2.36 grade descending the Summit. Joining from the left, tracks 1 and 2 curve around from Gallitzin and Allegheny Tunnel (now just the newer Gallitzin Tunnel since Conrail increased clearances on the line in the 1990's). While the line is quiet during a steady mid-day rain, activity here can be quite impressive, watching west-bounds top the Allegheny Range and eastbound trains begin there descent to Horseshoe Curve and ultimately Altoona the eastern base of the climb.

Mainline for the Holidays

PRR Summerhill PA

We find ourselves in the tiny village of Summerhill PA on the West Slope of the PRR's ascent of the Allegheny Mountains. What is missing to the viewer is the smell of coal fired stoves, and the silent still of a fresh early morning snow. The temperature is about 28 degrees, and the sound of another eastbound is prominent as the Signal on No. 1 track beckons on with a "Proceed" indication on the company's trademark position light signals. Even though this is Norfolk Southern's property now, the spirit of the Pennsy lives on through so many who are dedicated to the preservation of all facets of this once self proclaimed "Standard Railroad of the World".

Thank you for all you interest in my first year of this blog, from my family to yours I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New year!

Sincerely,

Michael Froio

All I want for Christmas...

Page 18/19 of Lionel company's 1949 catalog illustrating three train sets with locomotives modeled after the PRR S2 Turbine Steam locomotive.

Page 18/19 of Lionel company's 1949 catalog illustrating three train sets with locomotives modeled after the PRR S2 Turbine Steam locomotive.

For many years young boys and girls and even moms and dads find that sentimental spot for the holiday train set buried in the attic that comes out once a year. The Lionel Train Company among others was no exception to many family holiday memories. What captured me as a child were the sleek lines of the PRR styled steam models, spark of ozone, and what seemed to be an intense noise for such young ears! Here are some samples from a 1949 and 1951 catalog the earlier stamped with Dealer "Wagners Roundhouse" of Pleasantville NJ, both courtesy of a close family member. Lets enjoy the memories of the Holidays past, and the excitement of Holidays to come!

Page 26 of the 1949 catalog illustrates the mighty GG-1 model that measured in at 14.5 inches, a dream gift for every child to recreate the high speed stream-liners that delivered them to a vague destination of childhood travels with family.

Page 26 of the 1949 catalog illustrates the mighty GG-1 model that measured in at 14.5 inches, a dream gift for every child to recreate the high speed stream-liners that delivered them to a vague destination of childhood travels with family.

The center piece of the 1951 Lionel Catalog touts "a Rip Roarin' Giant, Lionel's famous Steam Giant" catalog# 2173WS train set included the PRR S2, automated milk car, unloading coal hopper, operating ore dump car, double dome Sunoco tank car, and illuminated caboose (cabin car to PRR folks!).

The center piece of the 1951 Lionel Catalog touts "a Rip Roarin' Giant, Lionel's famous Steam Giant" catalog# 2173WS train set included the PRR S2, automated milk car, unloading coal hopper, operating ore dump car, double dome Sunoco tank car, and illuminated caboose (cabin car to PRR folks!).

ALTO Tower

ALTO tower stands guard over the Western Limits of the interlocking and the junction of the Holidaysburg Branch that leaves the Main to the left.

ALTO tower stands guard over the Western Limits of the interlocking and the junction of the Holidaysburg Branch that leaves the Main to the left.

Looking west from the 17th Street Bridge, no less than four main tracks pass underneath you and in front of ALTO tower, the last remaining tower of 6 that originally guided trains through the busy terminal area of Altoona PA. Built in 1910, the quaint but weathered structure stands equipped with a typical Union Switch and Signal Electro-pneumatic interlocking plant. Through consolidation over the years, the tower's territory was expanded with the addition of CTC machines to control traffic through SLOPE (West of Alto), ANTIS, HOMER, ROSE, AND WORKS (All East of ALTO).

In addition to the steady flow of traffic coming off Horseshoe Curve eastbound, heavy westbounds will stop for helpers here for the assist up the stiff grade to the summit of the Allegheny Mountains. While Altoona is not the Company town it was for the PRR, Norfolk Southern utilizes the Juniata Shops for heavy overhaul projects for both their equipment and contract work to other railroads. In addition the heritage and stories of the PRR live on at the Altoona Railroader's Memorial Museum, soon to be the home again to K4's 1361.

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Station

View Looking East toward UF Interlocking from tracks 7 and 8, former Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Station.

View Looking East toward UF Interlocking from tracks 7 and 8, former Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Station.

Built by noted Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, and completed in 1903, Pittsburgh's Union Station served the PRR and several subsidiary lines, making it unique, as typical Union Stations served several roads. Later renamed Pennsylvania Station in 1912 to reflect specifically the Company it served, this Station was the Gateway to Pennsy "Lines West" including the Panhandle Line to St Louis and the Fort Wayne Division onward to Chicago. While the historic office tower and trademark rotunda has been saved, its importance as a long distance hub of train travel has dwindled. Currently, one through route to Chicago via Washington DC is available on the Capitol Limited and the station also serves as the Western terminus of the Pennsylvanian, which utilizes the former PRR Mainline from NYC to Pittsburgh via Philadelphia. Perhaps someday, with push for more high speed rail in this country, this terminal will once again look like it did circa 1940, with rail activity under the now mostly empty station shed.

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.

Downingtown

The Downingtown Station area as it appears today is one of the Stops of both the SEPTA regional Thorndale trains and Amtrak Keystone Service.

The Downingtown Station area as it appears today is one of the Stops of both the SEPTA regional Thorndale trains and Amtrak Keystone Service.

Having both the PRR Mainline and the Philadelphia and Trenton Branch also known as the Trenton Cut-off approaching the junction of Thorndale, Downingtown had significance for the PRR. The Interlocking "Down" was the Eastern end of of three interlockings including the Junction with the New Holland Branch and Chester Valley Yard. Further West at "Thorn" block and interlocking station, the junction of the Mainline and P&T Branch and "Caln" the Western Limits of the small yard facility, a one time Coaling Station and Junction of the P&T. The Downingtown area provided many car loadings with textile mills, manufacturing as and quarry activity in the area. The train station located along West Lancaster Ave is now a simple affair, the original being destroyed by fire in 1992. With few signs of it's former owner, the Station area still presents some references to the past when one looks across the tracks at businesses and historic buildings on the North Side of Lancaster Ave, some dating back to the early  1900's.

Philadelphia Division Travels

Overbrook

Overbrook Station is a great example of the Old Mainline of the PRR. With the original train station complete with intricate woodwork, position light signals and functioning interlocking tower one could only wonder when the Broadway Limited is going through! Overbrook tower originally served the West End of sprawling freight yards in West Philadelphia that served the PRR at the Junction of the Mainline, Schuylkill Valley Branch, West Philadelphia Elevated Branch, PB&W, and Tidewater terminals at both Greenwich and Girard Point.

Helpers on the West Slope

NS3335_EastConemaugh

At the base of the West Slope in Woodvale Yard, heavy eastbound trains pick up helper locomotives in East Conemaugh, Pennsylvania to begin the climb to the Allegheny Summit in Gallitzin and descent onto the famed Horseshoe Curve on the former PRR Mainline. Flanked by neighborhoods on steep hillsides and the bleak remains of the former Johnstown Steel's East End, this sleepy area witnesses this repeated scene some 20+ times a day. Here the conductor is tying in a four unit set of EMD SD40-2 Locomotives to shove a huge Pennsylvania Power and Light Coal train over the mountain and provide braking assistance down the Eastern Slope into Altoona PA.

The Mt Union Interchange

Mt Union Pennsylvania was the location of interchange between the Pennsylvania Railroad and narrow gauge coal hauler, the East Broad Top Railroad. The 3' gauge EBT ran as a common carrier until 1956, interchanging freight with the PRR in a elaborate facility located on the South East edge of town, where coal and other goods were transferred from the narrow gauge equipment to standard gauge cars. Today deep in the woods between East Shirley Street and Logging Road 44018 lays the remains of interchange facilities, still full of lines of former EBT hopper cars and boxcars rotting away amongst intricate dual gauge trackage that allowed both the EBT and PRR to navigate the facility.

Interchange lead and abandoned hopper cars.

Interchange lead and abandoned hopper cars.

View from a company home on Small St looking North West toward the dual gauge interchange lead and S. Pennsylvania Ave.

View from a company home on Small St looking North West toward the dual gauge interchange lead and S. Pennsylvania Ave.

Delmar Hotel and East Pennsylvania Ave.

Delmar Hotel and East Pennsylvania Ave.

From Franklin St, the Railroad continues West toward the Juniata River and its physical connection to the Former PRR Middle Division. Along the line on East Pennsylvania Ave and Small Street are structures typical of old company housing and local amenities in this rural Pennsylvania town.

Mt Union is truly a treasure for the historian, and speaks of many little towns that made the fabric of our industrial culture. Mt Union and many other towns like it, still provide the clues of a different time for anybody who takes the time to explore the sleepy streets off the beaten path.

Tulpehocken Station on the PRR Chesnut Hill Branch

The Tulpehocken Station as it appeared prior to its renovation in 2009.

The Tulpehocken Station as it appeared prior to its renovation in 2009.

Now served by the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), this station was built for the PRR to serve the suburban Chestnut Hill Branch in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, 8.5 railroad miles from Suburban Station. Built in 1878 by architects William Brown and William B. Powell, the station was occupied by either agent or business up until 1978. Since then the building has been unoccupied and has suffered from neglect, until local efforts worked to preserve this historic structure.

Currently the building is being restored, starting from an initiative taken by the West Central Germantown Neighbors working with SEPTA, Philadelphia City Planning, and local politicians, the local residents raised funds to match a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In the Spring of 2009, SEPTA had received Federal Stimulus Funds to restore the structure in an attempt to bring business back to this quaint PRR station as well as other gems along this short branch.