• Bethlehem Union Station: a few mysteries

  • Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.
Discussion Related to the Reading Company 1833-1976 and it's predecessors Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road and then the Philadelphia and Reading Railway.

Moderator: Franklin Gowen

  by Franklin Gowen
In February, 1961, the Lehigh Valley discontinued its final passenger trains. Its Bethlehem, PA. facility at Union Station was of course a joint property with the Reading Company, which kept running passenger trains there beyond its own 1971 bankruptcy, and even past the creation of Conrail.

After LV dropped its last psgr trains, for how much longer did Bethlehem Union Station remain open to the public?

I have seen photographs taken in the mid-1960s that show the building to be closed, windows boarded up, etc. Of course one could still use the south-side covered platforms for boarding RDG trains, but when were Union Station's ticket offices finally closed and the building taken out of service as an operating psgr waiting room?

Here's two more related questions that have bugged me for years:

When did the auto ramp that curved down from the northbound lanes of Bethlehem's Hill-to-Hill Bridge, below to Union Station finally get removed? Same for the covered pedestrian staircase next to the ramp, going down to the northwest corner outside Union Station? You can see these features in many old photos, but both of them are now long gone. When were they taken down?

Thanks very much for any help you can provide.
  by geep39
My dad was involved in the flood control project along the Lehigh in Bethlehem in the 1960's, and his office was where the NS radio repair shack is now. I remember him mentioning that the lunch counter at the station was closing down soon, and I can hear the dishes clanking when I went in there. That had to be around 1960 or 1961. The Reading ticket office was moved out to a shack on the platform. I remember visiting my dad, and we'd go over there and talk to the ticket agent, who seemed to be a bit of a buff himself. I believe that they sold Iron Horse Ramble tickets out of there. I remember that he had an EMD publicity photo of an LV SW-8 tacked up on the wall. Not long after, they also closed off the "subway" that you could walk under the tracks to the other side. It was becoming a toilet, as such things usually seem to.

There was a major renovation of the Hill-to-Hill bridge around the time that the RDC's were making their last gasp in the early '80's (you wouldn't know it today), that eliminated the rather hazardous (traffic-wise) ramp and pedestrian stairway.

  by Hostler
This thread brings back lots of old memories of the Reading station in Bethlehem. My grand parent, aunts and uncles lived in the South Bethelem section near five points. Other relatives lived in Fountain Hill. Coming into or leaving town, my father would always take the Hill-Hill bridge, in those days it ran both ways. I can remember the station back to the early '50s and remember seeing regular diesel powered trains layed up there. I remember it with many tracks, curved train shed type arrangement with a station building next to it. The LV station was just north of it. I also remember when the RDC's ran, I believe some of the tracks and cover was removed. Today, nothing is left. A pancake house or some kind of eatery is where the train shed section was. But a remnant still remains, a concrete freight platform with a hand actuated crane, that I recall from my boyhood days was still there a few years ago.
  by jrevans
I was thumbing through pictures over at railpictures.net and came across this picture, which appears to show the ramp from the hill-to-hill bridge still in place back in 1989:


Pretty neat to see!