Discussion relating to the PRR, up to 1968. Visit the PRR Technical & Historical Society for more information.
  by XC Tower
"Going to Emporium to see the leaves". always meant something special when my Dad said them each Autumn: forest-covered mountains covered with trees ablaze with the hues of Fall, a topography so different from here in the flatlands of the Lake Erie Plain (Erie had "hills" but Emporium had mountains, being nestled in the Appalachians) and a drive with plenty of railroad tracks and chances to see trains! The two lane winding roads of Pennsylvania took us through towns which were served by the route of the Philadelphia & Erie plus east of Corry, Pa into Warren County, the Erie Lackawanna paralleled Route 6. ( The memory of a short trailer train pulled by two EMD hood units just rocketing by westbound as we drove the other way still delights me. There were often eastbounds just stopped at CM Junction due to New York State's 6 man crew law, which we didn't know,)
At Pittsfield, PA. on one drive, a westbound to Erie on the P&E went rumbling by with three high hoods to the cheers of my brothers and I. The tracks continued right along the road. A railroad bridge crossing over the PRR at Starbrick, PA (named for the Star Brick Company located there at one time, so I was told) aroused curiosity. Years later, I found out it was the "Dolly Varden" line to East Titusville, PA: the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley & Pittsburg Railway of the New York Central.
Warren, PA, was another highlight with its PRR station, then a huge double-tracked bridge over the Allegheny River, with the United Refinery an industrial object of awe with all its pipes and tanks. We even crossed a set of old tracks going seemingly nowhere along the river...turns out it was the remnant of the Salamanca Branch that Kinzua Dam eliminated.
Driving into Emporium, we crossed the Buffalo Leg of the wye at Emporium Junction, shortly after were the tracks of the Buffalo line that climbed over Keating Summit, Not too far to the east, sat the train station,sitting in the triangle of the wye, before where the Erie leg joined in..
Emporium was special, due to my Great Uncle and Great Aunt living there. Sunday seemed to be one non-stop dinner, the air filled with the exquisite aromas of pasta, homemade spaghetti sauce, and meatballs with lots of adults coming in, completed by lots of adults coming and going, calling us "cousin", just happy for seeing relatives from Erie. The Pennsy meant something more than a railroad to us, for it was part of our family history, since my Grandfather and Great Uncle worked for it after emigrating to the U.S.A. America meant liberty, for they could work, have dignity, and not just be dirt poor peasants as in Europe. We crossed the Buffalo leg of Emporium Junction then the Buffalo Line leading over Keating Summit right after. Not far to the east was the train station, sitting within the triangle of the wye.
Pusher units were almost always parked on a short spur to the north on the Buffalo Line. I remember three or four unit sets of EMD's parked, just idling away beneath an old sand tower from the steam era, complete with a Russell snow plow in the dull yellow of the PRR MOW scheme (I have a great memory of sitting in the cupola of it.) In the early Penn Central era, we saw from our relatives house a four unit set of new EMD low hoods couple on the back of a mixed freight to make the push over the Summit.
Our Dad would take us to see the locomotives and equipment parked in town. One time to our delight were two light units waiting for a signal to proceed. I was small but could not resist asking the "railroad man" on the ground next to the lead unit (I remember it as an ALCO low hood with a notched nose. Probably a 4-axle), "Where are you going?" "Renovo.", came the exotic sounding, but cryptic reply.
I don't remember an interlocking tower being located in Emporium. Perhaps it was gone before this time, but I did hear of one. Are there any photos of it out there to be seen?
Sadly, most of my loved ones, both living there in Emporium and the dear Mom and Dad that took us on those wonderful rides are long gone, but the magnificent memories remain to relive and cherish of those wonderful folks and the trains that proudly carried the Keystone on them.

  by ExCon90
There was a tower at Emporium (I think it was just called EMPORIUM), which handled, among other things, the splitting and combining of the overnight trains to cut out head-end, coaches, and sleeper for Erie, and assemble the eastbound equivalents. A signal engineer once told me of a memorable evening when an inexperienced block operator cleared an incorrect route by mistake and had to let the time release run down before he could change it. Unfortunately he repeatedly neglected to restore the signal lever in time so that the plant kept clearing and locking the route all over again. This continued until a maintainer arrived and explained things.
  by ExCon90
I checked a timetable from the 60's, and the tower was designated JN, open continuously. So if you run across a photo of JN tower, that's the one at Emporium.
  by XC Tower
Thank you for the information (and story about the tower operator) at JN.
I'll try to find an old aerial photograph of Emporium to check it all out.