• An Open Letter to Save Jim Thorpe Rail Assets

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

Moderator: bwparker1

  by John_Henry
Forwarded from RYPN:

An Open Letter to Save The Railyard, Turntable and Historic Trains in Jim
Thorpe, PA

As a concerned student of railroad and anthracite industry history, I am
appalled at the situation being played out in Jim Thorpe, PA. According to
the Times News of Lehighton, PA, Carbon County and the Lackawanna
Chapter of the non-profit Railway & Locomotive Historical Society are involved in a war of rhetoric that is presently headed towards the destruction of the historic turntable and railyard tracks in Jim Thorpe as soon as November 22nd.

Plainly stated, the historical society is going to scrap these artifacts.
Owners of historic rail cars and locomotives on the site have been warned
to remove them from the property before the historical society's scrapping
torches are lit.

The tracks pass the 125 year-old depot (currently being restored as a
visitor's center), downtown Jim Thorpe, the switchback railroad grade and
the Lehigh Canal - all of which are on the National Register of Historic
Place. The turntable has been used to turn historic locomotives as
recently as 5 years ago. The tracks are all operable. How this tragedy
could come to be in one of most significant sites of America's industrial
past is beyond belief.

The Lackawanna Chapter of the R&LHS was donated both the tracks and
turntable in the Jim Thorpe yards by their former owner. These tracks are
used to display the numerous rail cars that are a vital part of the town's
tourist appeal. Carbon County owns the land underneath along with the main
track through town. With the lease on the land expiring at the end of this
year, the Lackawanna Chapter offered the County three alternatives to
scrapping the artifacts for cash profit. The County refused all three
options, and neither party has opened negotiations. Thus, scrapping is near.

I offer this open letter with a solution that serves the interest of the
people of Carbon County, the tourism industry in town and R&LHS's long
standing tradition of saving rail history by assuring the preservation of
the site and the rail equipment displayed there. It is a three-step proposal.

1. The Lackawanna Chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society
drops its demands for compensation (an inflated $250,000) and sells the
track and turntable to the county for $1. The Chapter, according to media
reports, was donated these assets which they now threaten to scrap. By
selling the assets for $1, they serve the cause of history and keep this
site intact. And they would not lose money since the artifacts were a
gift. One would certainly hope that the Railway & Locomotive Historical
Society would value the preservation of the assets more than the cash
gained from scrapping this gift.

2. Carbon County accepts the $1 price. In exchange for not spending a
large amount of money to acquire the assets, the County agrees to
preserve and restore all the remaining rail assets in Jim Thorpe,
including the very rare turntable. These assets have survived 50 years
past the end of steam power on the rails, and the county has an excellent
chance to capitalize on their restoration as an added attraction to Jim
Thorpe's tourism industry (as has been done in North Conway, NH; Scranton,
PA; Orbisonia, PA and other tourist towns with working railyards and
turntables). Turntables have such general appeal that Montpelier, VT is
turning an abandoned railyard with an intact turntable into a city park!
Funding is available from numerous Federal and State programs for such

3. The county agrees to store all historic rail equipment currently in Jim
Thorpe until 12/31/2005 on the tracks in question, giving the multiple
private owners a chance to negotiate continued long-term storage leases or
arrange for proper removal of equipment. Trains on site include
irreplaceable steam and diesel locomotives, cabooses, passenger cars and
freight cars - many of which are currently operational and all of which
are irreplaceable.

If all parties can agree to these steps, they will also be agreeing that
the greater good of history and tourism in Jim Thorpe trumps any other
financial gain. Let us hope these parties will agree to this solution, or
similar, before the railyard, turntable and trains that have been the core
of Jim Thorpe tourism for 30 years - and its history for 150 years - are
reduced to scrap in a town that defines our nation's industrial heritage.


Rob Davis

CC: Local newspapers, Carbon County Commissioners, LC of the R&LHS,
national rail magazines and railroad historical societies

  by Otto Vondrak
So, did these "preservationists" from the RLHS start cutting up cars and dismantling tracks in Jim Thorpe yet? They said they would start Nov. 22...

  by metman499
According to Ross Rowland from RYPN, the scrappers have be told to wait and there has been some progress made in discussions with the county.

  by carajul
The yard tracks can't be torn up. First of all there is only 1 track left and the C&N need to use a portion of it to access their engine terminal. I have no idea about the turntable. I don't know why they would want to tear that up. The historical society are just being babies. They don't want Andy Muller using the track as a runaround, but they don't want anyone else to have it either. So they go and ask for $250,000 (it's worth at most $20,000) from a county where the average citizen earns $18,000 a year. Since the county won't pay, now they are being childish and saying they are going to tear it up. If they tear the track up, the R&N will just relay it and use it the way they want to.

  by Otto Vondrak
I just thought it was silly of "preservationists" to announce they were going to cut up those historic cars that are store there too. Cars that they dont have any business touching without owners consent?

I think Rail Tours and Mr. Hart are getting a raw deal, but the "bargaining tactics" of the "preservationists" leaves much to be desired.