Photographs & History

Photographs and History

The Night Before Christmas... Part 3

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 2

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

The Night Before Christmas... Part 1

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

Painting by former PRR employee William W. Seigford, Jr., circa 1953. Photo reproduction by Michael Froio

The classic poem The Night before Christmas by Clement Clark Moore, was first published anonymously in December of 1823. Since that time the story has found its way into many family homes and traditions for the Christmas Season. The following series of posts celebrates this famous poem accompanied by illustrations painted by a Pennsylvania Railroad employee, Mr. William W. Seigford, Jr. who worked in Harrisburg where the paintings were displayed as early as 1953. Later in the 1960's Seigford retired from the PRR and moved to Lancaster bringing the paintings there. Since then the delicate paintings have survived several railroads and changes in management, miraculously intact and in fairly good condition all things considered. Today all 12 original paintings hang proudly in the beautiful 1929 Lancaster Station waiting room during the Holiday Season under the watchful eye of Ticket Office Manager, Donna Whitney who facilitated the making of these reproductions for future preservation.

Juniata River Valley: Part 4

Confluence

In a series of single image posts, I would like to share the beauty of the Juniata River Valley, which plays host to the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s famed Middle Division, a four track water level raceway between Harrisburg and Altoona Pennsylvania. The Juniata, who’s name is thought derive from Iroquoian word Onayutta, meaning "Standing Stone" is roughly 104 miles long, and encompassing 3400 square miles of watershed was the original course North of Harrisburg that the Mainline Department of Public Works and later the PRR would build along to push West to Pittsburgh. At the confluence of the Susquehanna River in Duncannon Pennsylvania, the Railroad follows the broad shallow path of the River as far West as Huntingdon Pennsylvania. In the small town of Duncannon Pennsylvania, is the confluence of the beautiful Susquehanna and the Juniata Rivers. Though I have discussed Duncannon in relation to the railroad, the River deserves a special notice. In a broad sweeping view we see the wide rivers coming together, looking upstream toward the confluence. To the left is the waters of the Juniata, and right, the Susquehanna. In the distance one can see the Route 322/22 bridge spanning the Susquehanna (the bridge of the Juniata is partially obscured). This area is well known by PRR fans as the Mainline swept around a long curve right against the River and provided a beautiful backdrop on any given day.

The Juniata River Valley: Part 3

Newton_hamilton

In a series of single image posts, I would like to share the beauty of the Juniata River Valley, which plays host to the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s famed Middle Division, a four track water level raceway between Harrisburg and Altoona Pennsylvania. The Juniata, who’s name is thought derive from Iroquoian word Onayutta, meaning "Standing Stone" is roughly 104 miles long, and encompassing 3400 square miles of watershed was the original course North of Harrisburg that the Mainline Department of Public Works and later the PRR would build along to push West to Pittsburgh. At the confluence of the Susquehanna River in Duncannon Pennsylvania, the Railroad follows the broad shallow path of the River as far West as Huntingdon Pennsylvania. In the area West of Newton-Hamilton Pennsylvania, the Juniata River Winds South in an oxbow with the PRR Middle Division bypassing the River altogether North of the Valley. Here in the Fall of 2007 we see the Wide and shallow Juniata River looking East with early signs of Fall leaves on the mountain side. This area is accessible by Rt 103 between Mt Union and Lewistown Pennsylvania and is a nice scenic alternative to Rt 22/522 to the North.

The Juniata River Valley: Part 2

MFROIO_PPT031

In a series of single image posts, I would like to share the beauty of the Juniata River Valley, which plays host to the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s famed Middle Division, a four track water level raceway between Harrisburg and Altoona Pennsylvania. The Juniata, who’s name is thought derive from Iroquoian word Onayutta, meaning "Standing Stone" is roughly 104 miles long, and encompassing 3400 square miles of watershed was the original course North of Harrisburg that the Mainline of Public Works and later the PRR would build along to push West to Pittsburgh. At the confluence of the Susquehanna River in Duncannon Pennsylvania, the Railroad follows the broad shallow path of the River as far West as Huntingdon Pennsylvania. View looking West in Mill Creek Pennsylvania. The image was actually made from Trough Creek Valley Pike, the Mainline of the PRR runs on the North Bank (right hand side) in the tree line.

The Juniata River Valley: Part 1

prr4

In a series of single image posts, I would like to share the beauty of the Juniata River Valley, which plays host to the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s famed Middle Division, a four track water level raceway between Harrisburg and Altoona Pennsylvania. The Juniata, who’s name is thought derive from Iroquoian word Onayutta, meaning "Standing Stone" is roughly 104 miles long, and encompassing 3400 square miles of watershed was the original course North of Harrisburg that the Mainline Department of Public Works and later the PRR would build along to push West to Pittsburgh. At the confluence of the Susquehanna River in Duncannon Pennsylvania, the Railroad follows the broad shallow path of the River as far West as Huntingdon Pennsylvania. There are several crossings over the River by the PRR, many utilizing Cheif Engineer, William H Brown's trademark masonry stone arch bridges of various sizes, certainly a series of posts to be discussed in due time! Here we see the the broad course of the Juniata River looking  East of Huntingdon Pennsylvania, with the PRR mainline running on the Northern Bank in this location. In the distance to the East are the upheavals of rock, known as Jacks Narrows covered a few posts back on Photographs and History. Though the mainline has been reduced to two tracks, it still sees a variety of traffic, playing host to over 40-50 trains a day.

An Institution of Steam Preservation

While there are many dedicated people operating steam locomotives in 2012, an institution among those in the Northeastern United States is the Strasburg Railroad. Reborn from a weedy right of way in 1958, by a group of dedicated business men who partnered to resurrect the historic line chartered in 1832. Running through the beautiful countryside of Lancaster County Pennsylvania, the company has continued to provide generations with an opportunity to ride living history through bucolic rolling farmlands.

Number 89 a former Canadian National Mogul Type Locomotive built in 1910, stands cold in August of 2011 waiting for its routine inspection.

Number 89 a former Canadian National Mogul Type Locomotive built in 1910, stands cold in August of 2011 waiting for its routine inspection.

As I child I was fortunate enough to visit several times, and now share it with my son and daughter making the occasional trip and also visit the neighboring Pennsylvania State Railroad Museum, another treasure of the Northeast.  Currently the Strasburg rosters four running steam locomotives including former Canadian National #7312 0-6-0 built in 1908 (renumbered 31 - subsequently the first locomotive purchased and operated by the 1958 Strasburg group), 1924 Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-10-0 #90 formerly of the Great Western Railway, A 1910 Mogul type, former Canadian National #89, purchased from the Green Mountain Railroad, and finally No 475, a former Class M Norfolk Western 4-8-0 built by the Baldwin Works in 1906, and finally a former Brooklyn East District 0-4-0 from the Porter Company which has been converted into an operating replica of Thomas the Tank Engine. In addition scores of beautifully restored period passenger, freight and non-revenue cars, a very special gas electric car, and even a few early diesel electric switchers!

Former Great Western Light Decapod Class 2-10-0 #90 stands on the ready track early in the morning on a foggy August day in 2011.

Former Great Western Light Decapod Class 2-10-0 #90 stands on the ready track early in the morning on a foggy August day in 2011.

Strasburg has a world class reputation for their mechanical shops, where everything is fabricated and maintained by skilled craftsmen of various trades  to keep the equipment in as new shape. These same men and women also contract out their services to other railroads and steam operators all over the Country. Something else unique about the Railroad is their dedication to preserving the landscape it operates in, the lush Amish farmlands. Several years ago, the company initiated a land trust to preserve open space along the line, putting proceeds from ticket sales into a trust to preserve the view for generations to come.

There has been quite a bit written about the historic Strasburg Railroad, but in my opinion, its best to go and visit, take a ride, chase the trains, get there early and watch the daily routine of prepping the locomotives for the day's run, or when they put them to bed at dusk. Its been instrumental in captivating my love for history, steam and the railroads that built our Country, and I hope sometime you'll have the opportunity to experience it too!

Marysville

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View Looking East at Dawn, of the former #1 track in the foreground ascending the jump over and #4 Track in the background. Barely visible in the lower middle are the Enola running tracks. Just west of the famed Rockville Bridge and Enola Yard, the flying junction that separates Harrisburg traffic from freights in and out of the sprawling Enola Yard complex begins to come together, heading West in the sleepy backyards of residents along South Main Street in Marysville Pennsylvania. The junction included a small freight yard for the Northern Central in the mid-1800's, which later served as a processing yard for trains coming off the Northern Division from places like Erie, Buffalo, and Williamsport. Situated in a narrow stretch between the beautiful Susquehanna River and busy combined Route 11/15 the yard is not much more than cinders today, having slowly lost its importance after a direct connection was built off the West end of the Rockville Bridge to Enola Yard in 1939. In contrast the mainline and running tracks to Enola continue to serve current owner Norfolk Southern Corporation supporting a high volume of freight and intermodal traffic and the daily round trip of the Amtrak Pennsylvanian.

Jacks Narrows

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Looking east into Jacks Narrows from the Mapleton area we see the fabled PRR Middle Division turning south in a bend along the Juniata River. Note the access road to the left, which prior to abandonment, was the former number three and four track, which were part of the Pennsylvania Railroad's  famous Broadway mainline. Located in Huntingdon County, Jack's Narrows is the name of a glen in Jack's Mountain that runs over two miles long between the towns of Mt Union and Mapleton, Pennsylvania.  Jack's Mountain itself soars to 2,321 feet and creates a narrow gorge funneling the Juniata River, US Highway Rt 22, and the former Pennsylvania Railroad Middle Division from east to west. With little access in the narrows, the railroad runs on the southern bank leaving Mt Union's interchange with East Broad Top Railroad behind, heading west to re-emerge in the sleepy town of Mapleton. Roughly midway in the narrows was a lonely outpost staffed by PRR tower operators for an interlocking tower aptly called "Jacks". The name of the mountain and narrows took their name from Captain Jack Armstrong, early pioneer and Indian trader who traversed this area frequently from roughly 1730 to 1744. He was allegedly murdered by the Indians and buried on the Juniata shore near this famous gateway.

From the Mainline...

As most of you have seen, this blog centers around all things Pennsylvania Railroad for the most part. Even though the Railroad is what brought me to create this work, and using the blog to further it with research about location specific notes, history, etc, the landscape itself along the former PRR (and all other railroads for that matter) is an open book for interpreting how the railroad helped develop our Country. Over time, the relationship between the community and the railroads has changed, industry has gone away and the visual clues are left behind for young people that care, to piece together what once was. As a photographer, my goal to is to consider the "big picture" looking at the whole package and where the railroad fits in, hence the title, "From the Mainline". Its sort of a cultural/ historical/ industrial archeology project that is brought together with a camera.

My inspiration came from many photographers including William H Rau, Walker Evans, George Tice, David Plowden, Frank Gohlke, and William Clift to tip the iceberg, but the real drive is simple, a love for the railroad and history. Interestingly enough when I am fortunate enough to travel for this project, I have seen places and things that already have vanished with little to no recognition. I suppose its a double sided sense of loss that preservationists feel at the loss of a landmark or what most railfans feel when their favorite railroad succumbs to merger, or how O Winston Link felt when the last fire was dropped on a N&W steam locomotive, but like some I am driven to photograph at exhaustion the places and things that tie back to the past, if for nothing else, to satisfy my only personal curiosity.

Former 1911 Lincoln High school of Tyrone Pennsylvania,  Fall of 2008. Made just a few days before its complete demise. The gloomy fog is fitting for this image of what remained of the beautiful relic.

Former 1911 Lincoln High school of Tyrone Pennsylvania,  Fall of 2008. Made just a few days before its complete demise. The gloomy fog is fitting for this image of what remained of the beautiful relic.

Picture 7

Take a case in point, the Lincoln School building in Tyrone PA, built in 1911 as the new Senior High, later expanded with a Junior High wing in 1929, and then becoming the Lincoln Elementary School with the construction of a new Central High School in 1962. This building continued to serve that purpose until construction of a new facility in 1999.Eventually sold to S&A Homes, the building was slated for removal. Here is where I come in... I happened to be in the Tyrone - Huntingdon area for a trip to photograph in September of 2008, my first to the Tyrone area. While driving aimlessly as I normally do, this site caught my eye. We scoped out the location, the light was all wrong, so it was deemed necessary to come back the next morning. So we did, arriving at some ungodly hour with heavy fog, and there it stood, like a Greek or Roman ruin. A flat bed trailer presented itself for an elevated view, the negative was made, and most likely the following Monday the pillars came down. That is why I do this, every image is important, and if you are serious every one needs to count!

 

For more perspective on the historic town of Tyrone Pennsylvania please visit http://www.tyronehistory.org

Ohio River Connecting Bridge

View of Ohio River Connecting Bridge from California Ave in Woods Run Section of Pittsburgh on the North Bank of the Ohio River. Note the diverging trestle,the left leading to Island Ave Yard and right to the Fort Wayne Line. The Mainline is just visible below Ohio River Boulevard in the foreground. The first large through span crosses the Main Channel and measures 508' while the further spans the Back Channel and measures 406', all maintaining a clearance of 68' to the Ohio River below. 

View of Ohio River Connecting Bridge from California Ave in Woods Run Section of Pittsburgh on the North Bank of the Ohio River. Note the diverging trestle,the left leading to Island Ave Yard and right to the Fort Wayne Line. The Mainline is just visible below Ohio River Boulevard in the foreground. The first large through span crosses the Main Channel and measures 508' while the further spans the Back Channel and measures 406', all maintaining a clearance of 68' to the Ohio River below. 

Moving to the Western Limits of Pittsburgh from Wilmerding, we come to a key location on the PRR Eastern Division Mainline. Three miles from the Pittsburgh Division boundary and  Penn Station proper, the Ohio River Connecting Bridge served as the western end to a freight bypass early on routing trains around the congested Pennsy terminal in Pittsburgh by means of the Port Perry Branch from Pitcairn Yard, the Monongahela Line and the Ohio Connecting Bridge to rejoin the Fort Wayne Mainline.

OCBridge

On the South bank of the Ohio River, a "branch" came West from the junction of the Monongahela Line and Panhandle Main across from the City Center, through a complicated junction, the Scully Branch made connection with OC Bridge at Esplen Interlocking. From here the East leg of a Wye directs traffic to the Fort Wayne line accross the OC, and the West Leg moves traffic from the the Fort Wayne to the Panhandle via the Scully Branch connection in Carnegie PA. On the North side of the bridge, a fly-over junction with the Fort Wayne Line ties the East leg of the Wye into Island Ave Yard, the Mainline East, and the Conemaugh Line via Federal St. On the West leg the Panhandle makes a long descent to Jacks Run interlocking (later renamed CP Bell in Conrail's CTC project) allowing bi-directional access for diverting traffic around the City Center.

The bridge itself deserves some attention, originally being built in 1890 as the single track Ohio Connecting Railroad Bridge, after completion and several years of service, the key structure proved worthy of expansion. Started in 1913 and completed in 1915 construction took place in full Pennsy fashion. Engineers expanded the structure from single to double track, literally at times around the existing structure to avoid shutting the connection down causing major delays to rail traffic. Once completed the new bridge complimented several other projects, mainly the Brilliant Branch to add another bypass for traffic to and from  the Panhandle around the station area, onto the Conemaugh Line, then back to the Main in East Liberty via the new 1.8 mile four tracked Brilliant Branch.

Unlike the Panhandle Mainline and the Brilliant Branch, the OC Bridge still serves the busy Mon Line bypass for Norfolk Southern, moving long intermodal and heavy mineral traffic around the City Center, a testament to the construction and forward thinking of engineering staff who built the Standard Railroad of the World.

PRR in the Turtle Creek Valley

View looking East from Greensburg Avenue. Note the former Westinghouse manufacturing buildings opposite the mainline along Turtle Creek. The home signals at the curve belong to former WG Interlocking, the location of a full interlocking, departure and arrival tracks from the west side of Pitcairn Yard, and divergence of the Port Perry Line to Duquesne, and connection to the Monongahela Line. Today this is Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh Line, and though greatly simplified both the Main and Port Perry Branch serve as a vital artery to both merchandise, intermodal and mineral traffic through the area.

View looking East from Greensburg Avenue. Note the former Westinghouse manufacturing buildings opposite the mainline along Turtle Creek. The home signals at the curve belong to former WG Interlocking, the location of a full interlocking, departure and arrival tracks from the west side of Pitcairn Yard, and divergence of the Port Perry Line to Duquesne, and connection to the Monongahela Line. Today this is Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh Line, and though greatly simplified both the Main and Port Perry Branch serve as a vital artery to both merchandise, intermodal and mineral traffic through the area.

The town of Wilmerding Pennsylvania was a significant place in the history of railroads, not only for its trackside affiliation with the PRR, but because of a local manufacturer, The Westinghouse Air Brake Company. In 1890 George Westinghouse opened a plant in Wilmerding, 13 miles east of the City of Pittsburgh to build one of the primary devices that lead to the rapid growth and speed of the modern railroad, the air brake. Peaking at aprx. 3000 employees, Westinghouse was a forward thinking employer, the first to offer 9 hour work days, 55 hour work weeks, affordable housing for employees that diverged from the typical dismal "company towns" typical through out PA,  and cultural activities for employees and their families. Further East the PRR had a sprawling yard complex know as Pitcairn Yard. The facility, originally built in the late 1880's, served as a classification facility for Westbound Pittsburgh Division traffic and Eastbound Panhandle Division Freight. Once the largest facility on the Pittsburgh Division, having multiple roundhouses, car shops and two hump yards, Pitcairn lost its status as in the 1950's with the construction of the Samuel Rea Car Shops in Hollidaysburg and the modernization of Conway Yard, west of Pittsburgh.

One last and final significant note on the Turtle Creek valley was the divergence of the Port Perry Branch from the Mainline. The Port Perry Branch was part of a traffic bypass for the PRR, joining the Monongahela Branch in Duquesne to route traffic around the congested Mainline and Station Terminal Complex of the Steel City. Traffic from the Mainline could take the Port Perry to the Mon, connect with the Panhandle Main, or back to the Fort Wayne Mainline West via the Ohio River Connecting Bridge. In addition, the Perry also provided connection with the Mon Valley Line south to the various coal mines, coke facilities, and mills along the Monongahela River, and ultimately connected to the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie and infamous coal carrier Monongahela Railroad in West Brownsville Pennsylvania.

Munhall Yard on the PRR Mon Line

View southeast from the Rankin Bridge of the Mon Line and Union Railroad Interchange. From left to right, the first four tracks serve as the interchange leads for Munhall Yard, the last two are the main tracks of the Mon Line, now a double stack bypass for NS container trains with clearance issues on the mainline through Pittsburgh proper. Note the US Steel Edgar Thompson Works in the background in the industrial town of Braddock across the Monongahela River.

View southeast from the Rankin Bridge of the Mon Line and Union Railroad Interchange. From left to right, the first four tracks serve as the interchange leads for Munhall Yard, the last two are the main tracks of the Mon Line, now a double stack bypass for NS container trains with clearance issues on the mainline through Pittsburgh proper. Note the US Steel Edgar Thompson Works in the background in the industrial town of Braddock across the Monongahela River.

Formerly known as Munhall Yard, this location on the former PRR Mon Line (short for Monongahela, the River the line follows)  was an important interchange with Union Railroad, operated by  United States Steel (USS). The Union Railroad at one time served several major steel making facilities in the Pittsburgh area and remains integral to the Irvin Works, Edgar Thompson Works, Clairton Coke production facility hauling raw materials and finished product to the mills and interchanges. To the southeast of this location the Mon line Connects with the Port Perry Branch, crossing the Monongahela River and eventually connecting to the Mainline near Pitcarin. From that junction the Mon continues south to connect with famed Monongahela Railroad in West Brownsville PA. In the background, across the river is the last remaining integrated mill in Pittsburgh, the Edgar Thompson Works of United States Steel, still a major customer of the railroads.

PRR Bridge 147, Mt Union Pennsylvania

Upstream side of Bridge 147 on the Former PRR Middle Division, completed in 1906.  Note the center pier (center of the image), expanded to emphasize the center of the bridge, a nod to traditional   stone arch bridge building aesthetics. To the immediate right the railroad crosses Croghan Pike, Route 522 and enters town to the North of the sprawling interchange complex of the East broad Top Railroad.

Upstream side of Bridge 147 on the Former PRR Middle Division, completed in 1906.  Note the center pier (center of the image), expanded to emphasize the center of the bridge, a nod to traditional stone arch bridge building aesthetics. To the immediate right the railroad crosses Croghan Pike, Route 522 and enters town to the North of the sprawling interchange complex of the East broad Top Railroad.

Built under the supervision of Chief Engineer Alexander C Shand, Middle Division Bridge Number 147 was completed in 1906. In a tradition started by PRR Chief Engineer William H Brown, with his bridge in Johstown PA spanning the Conemaugh River, the bridge was built of cut stone because of its low maintenance and increased durability over early steel and iron structures. The bridge spanning the Juniata River on the Southeast Side of Mt Union consists of six segmental stone arch spans each 100' in length and 58' wide. Because the bridge consists of an even number of spans, the Center Pier was expanded by 8' to create a visible center to the bridge, a nod to traditional bridge building techniques in which an odd number of spans was utilized to define the center of the structure.  Bridge number 147 brings the former four track main of the PRR into Mt. Union on an elevated fill, avoiding grade crossings through the once bustling interchange town with the East Broad Top Railroad. Today, the bridge serves the Norfolk Southern Corporation's busy two track Pittsburgh Line, though later altered with reinforced concrete casing, the bridge remains another great example of PRR's tradition of Cut Stone masonry bridges that were built to last.

PRR: A Johnstown View

Johnstown, Pennsylvania is a town dear to me, through my travels photographing the Mainline Series, the location was key to other areas that lacked amenities, central to the railroad's Western ascent of the Alleghenies, and home to some amazing people, landscapes, architecture, and history. Beginning in the 1850’s with Cambria Iron works, the area flourished, with the steel works growing and changing, the facilities eventually became part of the Bethlehem Steel Company. In early times, tragedy in the way of the Great Flood of 1889 struck, taking over an estimated 2200 lives, with almost 1000 more missing. Subsequent floods in 1936 and 1972 necessitated additional flood walls and engineered river channels to prevent the loss of life and property that devastated Johnstown at an early age.

Later, in the 20th Century tragedy would come in other ways, mainly the collapse of domestic steel production. In the early 1970’s employment was holding steady at approximately 11,800 employees. Ten years later compounded by environmental regulations, a location that couldn’t compete with the inter-modal transport Pittsburgh and Burns Harbor was privileged to, and damage incurred from the Flood of 1977; employment plummeted to 2100 workers in 1982. As time progressed some facilities have been re-purposed, others survived only later to be shuttered. While much of the Steel Production is gone the City has embraced re-invention moving forward into the 21st Century.

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Over the three plus years traveling the Mainline from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh I stayed in Johnstown many times, through out the various seasons. It allowed me time to become aquatinted with the area and photograph in the surrounding landscape more than many other places. While Altoona, Pittsburgh, and the Harrisburg areas have plenty to offer, for me, Johnstown is a particularly special place.

Though the steel industry at large has been absent from Johnstown for quite some time, the resilient people have moved on, adapted and are moving forward to bring more business and tourism to the area. Small boroughs, beautiful and unique architecture and a sense of small town life are things that really attracted me to the area, not to mention the history and railroad!

Over the next two months we will examine the region and its relationship to the former PRR Mainline moving from East to West, establishing a larger view of not just the trains, but the greater landscape that thrived around it.

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

Classic Christmas Spirit Railroad style!

In the spirit of Christmas, here are a few festive ads from railroads past celebrating the season! 

Farm Journal, 1948.

Farm Journal, 1948.

New York Times Magazine 1953.

New York Times Magazine 1953.

Saturday Evening Post 1949.

Saturday Evening Post 1949.

All Images are courtesy of the Duke University Library Collection

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!).