• Bustleton Branch Trains

  • Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.
Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.

Moderators: TAMR213, keeper1616

  by ChrisE
The cars are being stored there. The only active customer currently on the branch is the beverage distributor, which is on the other side of Grant Ave. I can't recall any customers ever receiving tank cars, but I know back when Allied was still open, they'd sometimes leave a few on the old spur that ran past the switch there. They'd be there for a day or two, then disappear again. Figured they were for a customer on the Corridor seeing as how they came and went so quickly.
  by Gone2long
Seems odd to me that they would put them so far up the line I guess security comes into play with them being tanks.
  by Gone2long
I Passed the crossing at Clement/Muller there are what appear to be two sets of pre-fabricated trackage sitting on the south side of Grant Ave, guess the line still has value although I'm not sure there is an active customer north of Grant. On a side note I went to update the condition of #2202 all seems well they put about dozen tanks on the old bakery siding and at least 50 up along the airport still I guess for storage as they are hazmat #1075 I don't think they would be for any customer up there.
  by ChrisE
UPDATE: There is to be work on the Grant Ave. crossing next week (August 12-15th, 2016). I noticed some gondolas in the yard the few times I went over the crossing this week.
  by JimBoylan
ChrisE wrote:UPDATE: There is to be work on the Grant Ave. crossing next week (August 12-15th.
Yes, the Grant Ave. crossing did get relaid with new prefabricated track and asphalt to replace the rubber grade crossing panels.
  by cdruhl
Would be a bit of a kick in the backside for this branch to go down but it's been headed that way for a while. It gets rustier and weedier as the years pass and customers close up. Allied is now occupied by a textile operation that probably has no use for rail. Testimony to businesses leaving the city, I suppose. One by one the customers go away. The same crew that did the branch also did the whole length of #5 Track all the way down to near Cottman Avenue, old Morris Iron and Metal on Rhawn at Tulip, and the Holmesburg Prison siding off of #4. All of that is long gone. Others in the area as well. Eastern Metals and the varnish company went out and the Baxter Water Treatment plant no longer receives chlorine but instead different chemicals by truck.

Sad. Really sad. I've been watching trains on the branch since the late 1960's. We never thought it would ever go down as far as it has -- it's been a familiar fixture for so long. They would often run two trains each weekday back then, sometimes one on Saturday. Schedule varied but it was frequent - one morning that came back in afternoon and sometimes a second one that went up late afternoon and came back around 10:00 pm or so. Twenty to thirty cars sometimes -- never saw any cabin cars up there. Crews would spend hours up there -- there used to be a supermarket at Rhawn and Torresdale where the crew would sometimes get lunch before heading up -- Power varied; I saw Baldwins once in a while along with the usual "SW" type -- never saw anything else but doesn't mean that they didn't run others. I got to know some of the old Penn Central crews who carried it into Conrail. The beer distributor received big loads for a while back in the mid-late 1070's and a few bad guys robbed it a few times, throwing cases of beer into the woods -- this until the Conrail police set up a sting and caught them. Bleigh Street Yard was a hopping place at one time.

I wandered by the storage track off Blue Grass Road back where Whitman's Chocolates once was (another major customer long gone) and saw the two locomotives sitting, curiously, on the west side of Blue Grass Road -- on a sharply curved siding into an unused commercial building that was, sadly, also customer at one time. Usually they sit on the other side of Blue Grass Road.
  by nmueller
In 1975 I saw a Baldwin switcher heading down the branch toward Holmesburg Junction. It still said "PENNSYLVANIA" on the side. Never saw another active Baldwin on Penn Central or Conrail after that.

Norman Mueller
  by cdruhl
That would have been about right. I do remember that engine. I used to spend afternoons at Holmesburg Junction starting in late 1974. I wish that I still had the pictures that I took back then as I'm sure that I had several shots of it.

In 1975, a buddy of mine and I walked the line from Ashton Station to Holmesburg Junction. We looked for the remains of Rowland Station behind St. Dominic's and the station in Holmesburg (not the Junction) which we were told was around Cottage Street but couldn't find anything left. We did find the remains of a siding into the woods near where the line runs along the perimeter of the Pennypack Woods community -- stone piers still intact. Never went the other direction towards Bustleton where there was once a station at Blue Grass.

Was rubber necking a bit and was surprised to see that the Blue Grass Road crossing had been redone with smooth asphalt like Grant Avenue was recently redone -- Blu Grass crossing sometime after 2012 - Blue Grass crossing had timbers along the rails -- since that section of former branch mainline to Bustleton is no longer used and has no useful purpose anymore since they build the shopping mall around the car dealership. The weeds and brush have done a good job of making it impassible and the switch to it just north of Willits Road was removed when they did MOW work between Ashton and Grant. I wouldn't be surprised to see it paved over at some point, maybe even the rails gone at some point.

On the northern part of Blue Grass Road where Whitman's used to be I found the GP10 and SW8 sitting on the Wal-Mart side of the street, not the airport side where they'd usually sit.
  by nmueller
You are correct about Holmesburg station. It was around where Cottage/Walker Street would have crossed the railroad. I confirmed that about ten years ago in an e-mail exchange with an engineer from the USGS (the topo map people). Also at that location, running along Welsh Road was the Frost(?) Lumber Company. I believe you can still see their coal trestle from Mill Street.
  by cdruhl
I also confirmed station locations using milepost information from a 1920's era passenger train schedule that showed milepost (distance from HG, which was the telegraph call for Holmes block station way back when) all five stations. I did look at various years on "historic aerials" and see what I suspect was the lumber yard. Couldn't make out any station buildings -- maybe Rowland, not sure. I image that one was rather small. I had heard that "HG" was originally on the river side of the mainline but was moved to its final location in late 1940's, can't see all that well from 1940's aerials but did see a picture of it once. Quite a beautiful station there before it was razed and ultimately replaced with the combo block station - waiting area building.

Heard they used gas-electrics on there for passenger service at one point in time -- H Class steamers for freight. Not sure how reliable that info is.

Interesting to see what happens with the current line status. I was surprised to see the Blue Grass grade crossing renewal with the switch coming out around the same time. Switches are operational hazards so it could be easily put back if a new customer arises. The Google map aerial shows the line north of Grant filled to the brim with stored tank cars -- the entire section along the Blvd from Blue Grass to Red Lion and the passing siding north of Grant.
  by cdruhl
Was up along Blue Grass Road a day ago and looked at the engines. Who knows of the last time that they moved. They're exactly where they were a month ago with an orange cone in front of them which also hasn't moved and the rail flange ways on the far side of the crossing are well filled in with dirt and grass indicating that it's been a while. Line looks abandoned with a good coating of rust on the rails and no freight cars anywhere about north of Grant.
  by nmueller
Governor Wolf Announces New Investments in Rail Infrastructure, Supporting Business Development and 400 Jobs Statewide
March 27, 2018

https://www.governor.pa.gov/governor-wo ... statewide/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Phoenix Lithographing Corporation, construct approximately one mile of track, two turnouts, and an at-grade crossing in a Philadelphia industrial park to provide new rail service to Phoenix Lithographing Corp., $700,000.

--I believe this is the Bustleton Branch (Caroline Road)

N Mueller
  by ChrisE
As of about 3 weeks ago there were still some tank cars stored on the line by Red Lion and the Boulevard.

That's very good news to hear industry is growing in the industrial park back there again. I'll have to keep an eye on these developments.